The upper reaches of the United States are at fifteen and a quarter hours of daylight and counting. My day begins at 6am with the youngest child, and I typically kiss the oldest goodnight between ten and eleven pm. It’s not a period with much sleep, but the outdoors are stoked with brilliant green, the furious buzzing of bees and wasps, sneech kasnitches of the crickets, and the casual side-eye of the garter snakes that shyly circle the yard. Wild strawberries are just beginning to turn red, and if you walk very slowly, you will see their garnet teacups, the size of baby fingernails, peeking out.
The interior of the house slopes into neglect. Dishes gather around the sink, laundry quietly piles up, the floors seem gently rugged with grass clippings and chip crumbs. Walking in from the brilliant sunshine outside the kitchen looks dimly lit–sleepy hollow at noon. No matter how tidy, the sensation of the indoors is a damp envelope compared to the rolling plateau of the lawn and trees.
As a month June is generously supplied with biting insects of many kinds. They come out and disappear again at certain times of day, so the only way to be sure you’re not missing a wonderful hour outside, is to constantly wander out to check. You take the wonderful hours as much as you can get them.
I have so many observations from this wildly vocal and informed time on social media, alongside the viscerally physical protests, marchs, vigils, rallies that I have scoped, as if with binoculars, through my screen from afar. I don’t have any particularly unique thoughts to share yet, but mostly mundanely, for myself, I took on the following delightful commitment: of those I follow on instagram, at least 15% of them should be Black. Such a tiny step, yet far beyond what I had. Therefore far beyond what my daily feed and intake of stories was mixed to reflect. It humbles me to share that with you, and yet I think it’s important to start honestly and begin with the stories.
Perhaps it’s too late for rhubarb in your region, but I’m putting this recipe here for next year anyway. We received three enormous starter plants from Joe’s mom, but my batch of eating rhubarb came from a neighbor–brilliantly pink and tart.
Joe’s mom told us she can remember as a girl sitting with a friend, each of them holding a cup of sugar and a stalk of rhubarb–dipping and biting. I treated myself to this same snack while chopping up the rhubarb for this recipe. Faintly jammy, wonderfully tart and but uniquely rhubarb flavored, you can put this in the bottom of the cup to pour soda or prosecco over. Kids and adults sipped with delight. And it is so pretty in the glass.
rhubarb bellini puree
- 2 cups rhubarb (about 4 slender stalks) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup sugar
- grated zest of a lemon
- 1/4 water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Place the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, water, and lemon juice into a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes. It will steadily break down as you check on it, and stir. Some of the texture will remain, but that’s the fun of it.
- Remove from the heat and place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water to cool it quickly, about ten minutes. (I skipped this step, just turned off the heat and left it alone for twenty minutes.)
- Place about 1.5 tablespoons puree in the bottom of the glass. Pour in prosecco one-third full. Stir well to blend in the rhubarb puree. Gradually top up each glass with more prosecco, stirring to prevent the sparkling wine from bubbling over.
Serve, share, be thankful.
From The New York Times Cookbook.