Summertime, kind of?

I haven’t been posting much lately. Frankly, I haven’t been cooking much lately, either. Our weekends have been busy with races and house guests and travel to celebrate family and friends, and the next two weeks promise more of the same.  The weather here also hasn’t felt particularly summery. OK, that’s not true – last week we had a few days in the 90s, but then it dipped back down to the 60s – so spring has come at last to Ann Arbor, albeit in the middle of June.

The net effect of this is that the first wave of summer cooking and garden bliss hasn’t hit yet. No trips to the u-pick for pounds and pounds of strawberries. No ecstatic first harvests or foraged berries. Just rain. And then heat. And then rain.

We made one of our first trips to the market for the season when Tina was here two weeks ago. It was already bustling with people, though most of the wares were plants rather than produce. I picked up wee zucchini for pre-race pasta, salad greens, eggs, and a bunch of rhubarb, intending to make these muffins for our post race brunch. Instead, the rhubarb sat in the fridge for ten days, getting ever so limp, until the other night, when I chopped it up and simmered it with water and sugar to make this intensely pink syrup for cocktails and Italian sodas. The pulpy leftovers will be spread on toast and spooned over yogurt as a rustic jam. Good stuff, and a good reminder that summer really is here. Well, kind of.

Rhubarb Syrup

Rhubarb syrup from The Kitchn


0526 Roast Pork and Rhubarb

The notes in my cookbook indicate that I made this recipe for dinner with Carl in September of 2005.  While I recall little about the meal itself, I do remember that evening quite clearly.  I was in a weird place emotionally, coming off a dizzying summer of shows and dancing and heartbreak.  I was starting to feel the ground under my feet professionally and intellectually.  Things were about to shift, and I was feeling at loose ends.  After dinner, we laid on the paint-stained hardwood floors and talked and smoked cigarettes, and when he kissed me goodbye, I felt like a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders.

That’s one of the reasons I love cooking – and one of the reasons I’ve liked this project so far: that a note written in a cookbook can bring back so vividly the memories of a meal shared with a friend.  I don’t know that this note will have the same kind of effect several years from now, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a good dinner.  Shane was a bit put off by the texture and flavor of the rhubarb – when it isn’t used in desserts, rhubarb is tangy and sour – but the pork was flavorful, and I’m kind of blown away by the fact that we roasted pork chops in our toaster oven.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Super Pork Fillet Roasted on Rhubarb from Happy Days with the Naked Chef