Welcome Back to the Farm

My, how farm dinners have changed.  When I first moved to the Kansas City area, a farm-style dinner meant a ho-hum meal of fried chicken, fake mashed potatoes, and gravy that came out of a jar or a can. And nary a fresh vegetable.

When I wrote Prairie Home Cooking in 1999, the big news was that the Midwest actually did have wonderful regional food—surprise, surprise.  The twist now is that our fresh and artisan products are showing up on restaurant tables from coast to coast. You now taste something worth crowing about.  That’s what my new cookbook Heartland is all about.
Farm-and-garden-to-table dining in the Heartland is pretty darn good. That’s because the family farm is changing, specializing. Although many Midwestern farms still harvest the traditional wheat, corn, and soybean crops, still others produce not only organic fruits and vegetables, but also artisan cheeses, heritage pork and poultry, boutique varieties of beef, fuller-flavored milk from grass-fed cows, and fruits—like Harlayne apricots or plump sour cherries—which you just can’t find anywhere else.  Surprisingly, the term “terroir,” which we associate with wine, also applies to what grows best—and tastes best—right here.

So here’s a “sip” of what I’m talking about...
In Heartland, perennial rhubarb goes from nice girl to wow-za in a Farm Girl Cosmo, a signature cocktail you can easily make at home—and garnish with a swizzle stick of rainbow chard.  So, let’s drink a toast to spring—and Heartland!

Farm Girl Cosmo
How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve been to the Twin Cities and sipped Cosmopolitans, Sex-in-the-City style?  Maybe by serving a batch of these drinks, whose secret ingredient is a rosy syrup made from rhubarb, long a reliable staple of the farm wife’s garden.  If you like, serve a trimmed stalk of rainbow chard as a swizzle stick.
photo via Aaron Leimkuhler of Spaces Magazine
Makes 4 drinks
Rosy Rhubarb Syrup:
4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
The juice of 2 lemons

¾ cup vodka
1 cup Rosy Rhubarb Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon orange extract
1. For the syrup, place the rhubarb and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the rhubarb until tender and pulpy, about 10 minutes.
2. Strain off the rhubarb pulp, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and add enough water to equal 2 cups. Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil so the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let cool.  Strain again, then pour into clean glass jars or bottles. (Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 month.)
3. To make the cosmos, combine the vodka, syrup, lime juice, and orange extract in a pitcher. Add ice and stir well. Pour into 4 vintage jelly glasses and garnish with .  Strain and pour a fourth of the cosmo mixture into each glass or enjoy over ice. 

No comments: