The moment I buy a house, I’m moving onto the porch with a bowl of avocados, a stack of oatmeal pancakes, and a pitcher of Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria. You know, the essentials.
If this were a politically correct food blog, I would tell you that my favorite room in the house is the kitchen. And it is…until spring arrives. Once the “feels like” on my Weather Channel app reads 60, the only place I want to be is my hypothetical porch.
No, I don’t actually have a porch. Yet.
Today, Ben and I are kicking off our house/condo hunt, which is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.
Our conversations at the dinner table have shifted from the latest episode of The Colbert Report to intimidating, adult-sounding words such as “escrow” and “origination fee.”
We’re debating downtown vibe versus resale value, old-home charm versus new-home convenience (dear 1920s, could you not have built me a two-car attached garage?), and yard size versus lawn mower.
My two deal breakers: a spacious kitchen and a porch. Any home without these two simply will not do.
As a girl who can’t even select a single dessert on a nightly basis (I take a bite out of the four-or-so we regularly have lying around before I “commit”), I have no idea how I am going choose one home in which to invest my life and savings.
Sure, renting is tantamount to tossing cash out the window on the freeway, but for the past six years, I’ve consoled myself with the idea that my rent buys freedom—and the ability to clear the clogged drain of my hair with a single phone call to the maintenance staff. That privilege is its own equity.
Other happy home buyers have reassured me that I’ll just know. I hope they are right. I’m looking for the home where I can see myself reading cozily by the fire (in addition to a screened-in, wrap-around, and swing-equipped porch, my dream home also has a self-cleaning fireplace), sipping coffee while gazing dreamily out my bright farmhouse-style kitchen window, and throwing fabulous parties for my friends.
If livings could be made from sitting snugly, staring dreamily, and hosting events, I would be quite comfortable.
In all seriousness, I know that the place we decide upon will be the one where we envision ourselves being equally happy serving dinner for two or brunch for 10. In winter, we’ll take turns shoveling snow blowing the drive away, and in spring, we’ll retire to our porch with a pitcher of Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria and celebrate the turn of the season.
In addition to my giddy, toddler-on-Christmas-Eve-like anticipation of asparagus, I await rhubarb with a fervor.
Considering that rhubarb leaves are poisonous and the stalks are bitter until cooked thoroughly with a proper amount of sugar or honey, I have no idea why its first discoverers chose to eat it more than once.
Perhaps those first brave rhubarb-eating souls were so happy to see its vibrant ruby hue after a winter long and grey, their taste buds were oblivious to the tang. Here in Wisconsin, I feel much the same way, and rhubarb has become one of my favorite spring ingredients.
Oh rhubarb pioneers, I only wish I thank you for your fortitude with a full glass of Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria.
A hybrid between a sangria and a mimosa, Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria is a light, fruity cocktail made with Prosecco (or champagne or other sparkling wine if you prefer) that is perfect to serve at a spring brunch or with light appetizers at dinner.
To make Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria, I boiled and strained the rhubarb to create a rhubarb simple syrup, then mellowed the rhubarb flavor with citrus juices and apple butter.
The apple butter adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance the rhubarb’s tartness, and its hint of cinnamon is a wonderful undertone. (Be sure to add cinnamon to your next rhubarb crisp too. The two are a flavor love fest!)
To finish, I piled the pitcher high with fresh strawberries and diced apples. Throw in a few extra, and Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria can stand in for your fruit salad at brunch. We are multi-tasking.
Once you’ve finished sipping Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria, be sure to fish every last piece of the leftover fruit from your glass with your fingers.
No matter how classy a brunch I throw in our porch-equipped home-to-be, Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria fruit-picking will be enforced. House rules.
Sparkling Rhubarb Apple Sangria
- 1 pound chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen and thawed)
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup apple butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh strawberries (hulled and quartered) for serving
- 1 diced apple for serving
- 750 ml sparkling dry white wine (1 bottle) chilled (I used an inexpensive Prosecco)
- In a large, non-reactive stockpot, bring rhubarb and water to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, until the mixture reduces by about half and the rhubarb breaks down. Strain out rhubarb and discard, then return the liquid to the stove. Heat gently and whisk in the apple butter and sugar, until the sugar dissolves and the apple butter is well combined. Stir in the orange and lemon juice. Refrigerate until well-chilled (at least 2 hours) or overnight.
- To serve: Place the fresh strawberries and apples in the base of a large pitcher or punch bowl. Pour the chilled juices over the top. Top with sparkling wine and serve.
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