Rhubarb Schnapps: Another Reason to Love Nigella
…cooking, we know, has a way of cutting through things, and to things, which have nothing to do with the kitchen. This is why it matters.
Sometimes…we don’t want to feel like a postmodern, postfeminist, overstretched woman but, rather, a domestic goddess, trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie in our languorous wake.
Nigella Lawson, How to Be a Domestic Goddess
My love affair with Nigella Lawson began nearly a decade ago. Maybe it was the way she spoke–her lilting voice so beautifully accented and emanating from a sultry set of lips that even Angelina Jolie would envy. Maybe it was watching her whip up a chocolate fudge cake in a little black dress, infusing the scene with equal parts of wit and reassurance, a pinch of whimsy and an overtone of sensuality. How could I not fall for a woman who used the words pleasure, forever summer, and goddess in the titles of her irresistible cookbooks?
I’ve learned so much from Nigella over the years. She gave me the confidence to pickle a plum and make marmalade with grapefruits instead of oranges. She reminded me of the pleasure of cooking for one. She showed me that cake baking is “a great culinary scam” because “…it implies domestic prowess…” but can often be accomplished in less than thirty minutes. Thanks to Nigella I always have vanilla sugar on hand. And most recently she taught me that perhaps the best way to enjoy rhubarb, and arguably the best way to preserve it, is to, well, drink it.
The inspiration for Nigella’s Rhubarb Schnapps, which omits the cardamom and vanilla that I used in mine, came to her in the middle of the night. Such unabashed, all-consuming fervor for food is what I love most about her. For Nigella, and for me, food is a “slavering” passion. We cook first and foremost because we love to eat or, as is the case here, drink. The only drawback to this recipe is that you must wait six weeks before you can enjoy it. But as the rhubarb season wanes, I can look forward to sipping my schnapps on a hot August night. Thank you Nigella.
Adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess
1 ½ pounds of rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, slit down the side
8-10 green cardamom pods
1 liter of vodka (Don’t bother buying the good stuff.)
- Place all ingredients in a large jar.
- Put the lid on and shake well.
- Store the jar in a cool, dark place for six weeks.
- Shake the jar every other day for the first month.
- Strain into a clean bottle.
- Serve it neat and chilled. Or over ice with a little sparkling water. Or mix a little with some champagne. Enjoy!