boozy rhubarb elderflower ice cream floats.

Well hi there, strangers.

It’s been a while, I know. So much has happened, so many exciting things have changed…I don’t even know where to begin!

I mean, I guess I could start at the beginning, but that makes entirely too much sense. Too logical.

In a nutshell, the life I am currently living is entirely and wholly different than the one I was living just two mere months ago.

Doesn’t that sound cryptic? Or spooky? Ominous? Or like the plot tagline from an action movie or something?¬†Well, I’m not in an action movie, or living in a haunted house, or on the lam. Although all of those things would be compelling excuses for not posting anything here in forever.

Instead, I uprooted my entire life and moved over a thousand miles away.

  • We gave away damn near everything we owned and moved to Boston.
  • We stashed what clothing, books, photographs, food props, pots & pans and assorted miscellany we did bring with us in a small storage unit, knowing full well we wouldn’t have the time or wherewithal to even think¬†about unpacking, finding homes for things and settling in for a few months.
  • We lived in a hotel 40 minutes north of the city for about two weeks before subleasing a tiny studio apartment a block away from Fenway Park.
  • I began working at an adorable cafe in Harvard Square as a pastry cook, and had to learn how to wake up in the middle of the night to begin my work day at 3am.
  • On my days off, I alternated between collapsing in a heap of exhaustion and running all over the city, desperately trying to complete a never-ending to-do list. Opening bank accounts. New license. Registration. Insurance. Parking permits. Searching for a more permanent place to live.
  • I grappled with the concept of cooking in our tiny kitchen with its comically unnavigable layout, and quickly understood why many city dwellers prefer to dine out or grab takeout rather than attempt to prepare a meal in their own kitchens.
  • Frustrated with the kitchen and rendered completely exhausted from adjusting to an extremely physical new job, I stopped cooking at home. We ate a lot of takeout. And ice cream. And subsequently gained some weight. Oops.

Did I mention that while all of this is going on, I’ve been struggling to adapt to a gluten free diet, as I discovered that I have a gluten intolerance? Yup.

I’ve been in a constant state of flux for the past two months, and frankly, it’s worn me out. It’s been one hell of an adjustment period, but I think things are finally stabilizing a bit. Sort of. Maybe I’m just getting better at managing the insanity and keeping pace.

Ryan found us an apartment right by his new job, about 25 minutes outside the city. It’s about half a mile from a bunch of farms, dairies and adorable parks where the puppies can run around like maniacs. We move in next month. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be able to stay put in a place for more than three months. I can actually unpack my things and feel like I’ve really, truly moved!

I’ll be starting grad school in the beginning of September at Boston University, where I’ll be studying Gastronomy. I’ve been so busy trying to make sense of my new life here that I keep forgetting that we moved to Boston so I could go to grad school. It’s terribly exciting, and terrifying, and nerve-wracking, but I cannot wait to get started.

Two days ago, I picked up my camera for the first time since April. It was exactly like riding a bicycle for the first time in years–awkward, clumsy, and a little intimidating at first. After a few minutes, somehow, muscle memory kicks in and squashes that initial fear or falling, or failing, or not remembering. And everything is okay.

So. Everything is okay. Better than okay, truly. Everything is a chaotic, beautiful wonderful adventure right now–and I am loving every single minute of it.

I know this is a really rambly, wandering post, but I guess that’s what happens when all my thoughts are left to rattle about my skull for a few months. I’ve been a bit lost lately, but I’m slowly finding my way. Bear with me!

Anyhow. I suppose you got the memo and know that it’s summer now, right? Which means it’s pretty warm outside, and if you’re anything like me, you are avoiding turning your oven on at all costs.

Well, I am avoiding my oven mostly because I can’t open the fridge if the oven door is open. Also, I can’t bake anything over 325 degrees F in my oven, or the fire alarm will go off. It’s been really fun, learning all of these exciting new things about this kitchen!

Seriously, after spending five minutes in my kitchen, I need a drink. Really! We don’t have a/c, and it gets really hot in there. Also, it’s frustrating as all get out.

I find that a boozy ice cream float solves all of my problems. I have a sneaking suspicion it will do the same for you, too!

I don’t drink soda, but I do love a good ice cream float. I love making Italian sodas, which consist of little more than sparkling water and a flavored syrup. Making your own syrup takes mere minutes, and you can completely customize your soda-making experience. Complete control!

Since rhubarb is in season (and everywhere up here!), I decided to make a simple rhubarb syrup for the base of my ice cream float. A vanilla bean, sugar, a pinch of salt and blood orange juice round out the supporting cast of characters, enhancing the sweet-tart flavor of rhubarb without being overwhelming.

I am slightly obsessed with anything elderflower-related, so I decided to spike my ice cream float with a bit of elderflower liqueur. The floral sweetness of the elderflower perfectly compliments rhubarb–it’s basically a match made in heaven. A generous scoop of vanilla ice cream floated right on top makes this float a sweet summertime favorite.

I can’t promise I’ll be posting with incredible frequency, but I am back–and so very, very happy to be here. I heart you.

  • Boozy Rhubarb & Elderflower Ice Cream Floats
  • Boozy Rhubarb & Elderflower Ice Cream Floats

Yield: 2 cups rhubarb syrup | 1 float

These ice cream floats are simple and wonderfully satisfying on a hot summer's day. If you're not in a boozy mood, omit the elderflower liqueur. You can replace it with elderflower extract or syrup, which you can find in some specialty stores or online.

Also, the rhubarb syrup can be used for more than just making crazy good ice cream floats! Drizzle some atop a banana split or strawberry shortcake. This syrup also plays nicely with savory dishes as well--brush some onto grilled fish or chicken, or stir some into your favorite basic vinaigrette for a kiss of sweet-tart summery flavor!

Ingredients:

  • For the Rhubarb Syrup

    • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
    • 1 cup natural cane sugar
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
    • pinch of kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 cups orange juice (I used blood orange juice, but you can use regular orange juice, or substitute another juice if you like! You can also use water!)

    For the Rhubarb Elderflower Ice Cream Float

    • 2 tablespoons rhubarb syrup
    • 8 ounces sparkling water, chilled
    • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur
    • 1 scoop good quality vanilla ice cream (make your own!)
  • For the Rhubarb Syrup

    2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
    1 cup natural cane sugar
    1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
    pinch of kosher salt
    1 1/2 cups orange juice (I used blood orange juice, but you can use regular orange juice, or substitute another juice if you like! You can also use water!)

    For the Rhubarb Elderflower Ice Cream Float

    2 tablespoons rhubarb syrup
    8 ounces sparkling water, chilled
    1 ounce elderflower liqueur
    1 scoop good quality vanilla ice cream (make your own!)

Directions:

  • For the Rhubarb Syrup

    1. Combine the diced rhubarb, sugar, vanilla bean, kosher salt and orange juice in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
    2. Using a silicone spatula, stir often and allow the mixture to simmer and come to a boil, about 3-4 minutes.
    3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has broken down and the liquid has reduced by about 1/3. The consistency should be slightly thick and syrupy.
    4. Strain the syrup into a clean jar through a fine mesh sieve, and allow to come to room temperature before covering and transferring to the fridge.
    5. The syrup will keep, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for over a month.

    For the Rhubarb Elderflower Ice Cream Float

    1. Pour the syrup in the bottom of a glass, and add the sparkling water.
    2. Using a spoon, stir gently to combine.
    3. Add the elderflower liqueur, and stir to combine.
    4. Add a scoop (or two!) of good quality vanilla ice cream to the glass, and serve with a tall spoon and straw.
    5. The rhubarb elderflower soda recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled and so forth quite easily. If serving the floats for a crowd, you can make the soda a few hours ahead of time and store it in the fridge prior to serving. The syrup may settle a bit at the bottom of the bottle or bowl you store it in the fridge, so give it a gentle stir or shake before pouring into glasses, topping with ice cream and serving.
  • For the Rhubarb Syrup

    Combine the diced rhubarb, sugar, vanilla bean, kosher salt and orange juice in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat.

    Using a silicone spatula, stir often and allow the mixture to simmer and come to a boil, about 3-4 minutes.

    Once the mixture reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has broken down and the liquid has reduced by about 1/3. The consistency should be slightly thick and syrupy.

    Strain the syrup into a clean jar through a fine mesh sieve, and allow to come to room temperature before covering and transferring to the fridge.

    The syrup will keep, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for over a month.

    For the Rhubarb Elderflower Ice Cream Float

    Pour the syrup in the bottom of a glass, and add the sparkling water.

    Using a spoon, stir gently to combine.

    Add the elderflower liqueur, and stir to combine.

    Add a scoop (or two!) of good quality vanilla ice cream to the glass, and serve with a tall spoon and straw.

    The rhubarb elderflower soda recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled and so forth quite easily. If serving the floats for a crowd, you can make the soda a few hours ahead of time and store it in the fridge prior to serving. The syrup may settle a bit at the bottom of the bottle or bowl you store it in the fridge, so give it a gentle stir or shake before pouring into glasses, topping with ice cream and serving.

a food + words original