Two Shrubs

We happened upon our first shrub (the drink) on a visit to Washington, D.C. a few years ago while lunching at America Eats Tavern. The shrub is a throwback to our Colonial American past. The English settlers preserved fruits and berries in vinegar for the off-season and those fruit infused vinegars were strained, mixed with sugar, and reduced into a syrup before being stirred into cold water or booze to create a refreshing drink.

Now that spring has finally arrived, the markets will be filling up with strawberries and rhubarb. Putting up jars of them now, packed in vinegar, will yield tart, fruity bases for thirst-quenching coolers in the summer months to come.

If you’re like us, you can’t help but buy more berries than you can eat while still at their best. Creating shrub syrups puts all those juicy berries to delicious, good old-fashioned use!

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Strawberry Shrub
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 cup ultra fine sugar
1 cup of red wine vinegar

Place the strawberries in a clean, sterilized jar with sugar. Smash strawberries with a muddler (a bartender’s pestle). Add vinegar and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 4 weeks.

Strain the liquid into a clean sterilized container. Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or more.

Rhubarb Shrub

2 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
1 cup ultra fine sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 white wine vinegar

Add the chopped rhubarb, sugar, and rice vinegar to a sauce pan over low to medium heat. Smash the rhubarb using a muddler as the sauce heats. Once the sugar is dissolved, take the pan off the heat and muddle some more. Pour the liquid into a clean sterilized container and add the white wine vinegar. Allow to cool before closing the lid. Store in the fridge for at least 48 hours and up to 4 weeks.

Strain the liquid into a clean sterilized container. Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or more.

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Cocktail

2 ounce good gin
1 ounce strawberry shrub
1 ounce rhubarb shrub

Place some ice into a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and shrubs. Give the shaker a few good shakes. Stain into two chilled cocktail glasses. Top with sparkling rosé wine.

Cheers!

Inspiration for the recipes from:

Serious Eats; Cocktail 101: How to Make Shrub Syrups
the kitchn; How To Make a Fruit Shrub Syrup
BuzzFeed; Here’s What You Should Be Drinking This Summer

 


Our Morning Tonic

Changing a daily routine is difficult. We’re still in the process of changing ours (up earlier, taking time to meditate, read and breathe), but as more and more time goes by the things that we try here and there have become more habitual. Our morning tonic was one of the first changes to our daily routine, and the benefits have surprised us. It is warming, hydrating and refreshing. It is the perfect fast-breaker and prelude to breakfast and coffee.

Last year, we started our day with simple warm lemon water.  After only a few days, the morning desire to have something fresh and easy on the tummy grew to something that felt more like a need. It was the sort of change we needed.

This year, we upped our game with the addition of freshly grated turmeric and ginger, along with  crushed cardamom seeds and a pinch of cayenne pepper. All of these ingredients alone are powerful antioxidants, but together they create a super punch of nutrition and flavor.

This warmly inviting tonic gently wakes us without the jitteriness that comes from coffee on an empty stomach. As the tonic steeps, we spend the time in quiet reading, meditating, and journaling before starting our day. The tea itself is refreshing, comforting, and spicy first thing in the morning. It’s also great anytime you feel under the weather or hungover. The concoction gently wakes the body and senses. We feel more awake after a mug of tonic then we would had we gone straight to a cup of coffee right out of bed. Of course, coffee comes next in our daily routine, (the preparation for a cup of coffee is worthy of its own post).

If you can’t find fresh turmeric root in your local market, there is no shame in using the dried variety. But be sure to use fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh grated ginger root. Both are easily sourced from your local supermarket. The processed stuff will never taste as good, or offer as soothing a start to your day, as the fresh stuff!

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Our morning tonic

  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1-3 teaspoons freshly grated turmeric
  • 1-3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • Small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cardamom pod, gently crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

Add all the ingredients to the mug and with hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes before enjoying.