In the summer days of my childhood memories the weather was always hot and sunny. My parents built an in-ground pool in our large backyard when I was four. It was a great pool. Big enough to swim laps and deep enough to dive. Every day was a party in the pool. Cousins came often. I remember my mom and aunts sunning themselves on loungers on the pool deck while we splashed and shrieked - having the most wonderful fun. The roof of our garage was flat and overhung one corner of the pool, making a perfect platform for daring leaps into the water. Other days were more quiet - no friends or cousins - just my parents and siblings but just as much fun, still a party. We never went away in the summer because nowhere was better. And always, in my memory, the days were hot and sunny. The water welcoming and cool. Even in Calgary.
We have no backyard pool now. But we still need to cool off on days like today. This rhubarb soda syrup is a nice change of pace. Not strongly rhubarb in taste but still a bit tart, the syrup is the most lovely soft pink colour. I added a sniff of vanilla because I love vanilla with rhubarb and used honey instead of sugar. Added to sparkling water it makes a refreshing soda. My personal preference is to mix it with still water - not too strong. Just a refreshing wisp of flavour on a hot day.
The hardest part of making this is finding a bottle pretty enough for the pink to keep it in :) In the end I used a vinegar bottle that I had saved for its very prettiness. Of course, a mason jar would store it just as well - but where's the fun in that?
rhubarb italian soda
(from Chatelaine - adapted)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp vanilla (optional)
Combine the water and honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chopped rhubarb and allow to come back to a boil. Turn the heat off under the pan but leave the pan on the burner. Cover and let steep for an hour. Add the lemon juice (and vanilla if you wish). Pour the resulting syrup through a sieve into whatever container you have chosen. Store in the fridge.
To use: mix in proportions of 1 Tbsp syrup to 1 cup water (still or sparkling) or to taste. As noted above, I like it a bit weak. David prefers it stronger.