Rhubarb Cordial and What to Do with Too Much Potato Salad.

If you cut the blossoms off rhubarb in a timely fashion—before they bloom out fully—it keeps the rhubarb in useable condition longer in the season. Right now, even though it is starting to show signs of weariness, leaves drooping a little, I can still harvest sufficient rhubarb for crisps, or marmalade, or–if I can summon the energy for it–pie. If it would ever stop raining, I could pick a few strawberries to go with the rhubarb. This year, though, I encountered another interesting this to do with those sour pink stalks: rhubarb vodka, and rhubarb vodka cordial.

All you have to do is cut up a few stalks of rhubarb, cover them with vodka, and let them stand in a tightly covered jar. Some rhubarb vodka instructions suggest adding lemon zest, a couple of cloves, or even a piece of cinnamon stick to the jar. When it has sat around for anywhere between three to six weeks, you strain out the rhubarb, and pour a bit of vodka into a glass, add some simple syrup to taste, a couple of ice cubes, and, if you want, club soda, or Proseco, or even white wine, and then go sit in the shade somewhere to enjoy it. Unbelievably easy.

Instructions follow. Do use glass for the process rather than plastic. Don’t sink a lot of money into buying vodka.

Since that was all too easy to build a real column on, I thought I would add a couple other ideas I had recently.

I made a bunch of potato salad. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I made a vat of the stuff. I suppose it had to do with my potatoes sprouting, and perhaps I thought I ought to do something with them. Or maybe I thought it would be nice to have some potato salad on hand to use for a quick supper, or to go with lunch. At any event, all that salad began to seem like too much of a good thing.

One morning, I grabbed the container, and scooped out some salad, put it on a hot frying pan, and turned it into home fries. Home fries with celery, onion, and mayonnaise is really good, browns beautifully, and plays nicely with an egg.

When I was down to the last three servings or so, I tossed the rest of the salad into the food processor, hit the button, pureed it, adding milk and a generous bunch of dill leaves, until it smoothed out, then poured it into bowls for a lovely cold potato soup. That was that.

Now, I doubt I’ll ever make too much potato salad on purpose for home fries or soup, but these are an option in case I have more than I need sometime. Feel free to imitate.

Rhubarb Vodka and Cordial

Several rhubarb stalks

Vodka

Wash and cut the rhubarb into two inch pieces or so. Put into a clean glass jar. Pour enough vodka into the jar to cover the rhubarb, but no more than that. Put the lid on and allow to stand for about three weeks. Sample the vodka, and when it has a pleasantly rhubarb flavor, strain out the rhubarb pieces by running through cheese cloth or a clean dish towel. You may use the vodka as it is in a mixed drink with soda, lime, or lemon, or grapefruit juice. Store in a clean bottle or jar.

To make a Cordial

Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Rhubarb Vodka

Heat the water and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved completely. Let cool. Add simple syrup to the Rhubarb Vodka to taste. Mix well and store in a clean jar. Serve as a cordial in a small glass, or pour over ice.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.