ONE LITTLE CHALLENGE for us folk who no longer go to an office every day: remembering what day it is. Don’t make any “senior moment” jokes; it’s just that, hey, weekends don’t mean what they used to. Saturday and Tuesday aren’t a lot different, and it’s kind of delightful. (Remember Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess character in “Downton Abbey” asking with luscious distaste, “What is a ‘weekend’?”)
Sharing a bottle of wine with dinner used to be a weekend treat for us. Now, we try to exercise restraint and remember that not every night is “bottle o’ wine” night. Becoming a retired lush is such a cliché.
A glass of wine with Monday dinner is no sin, of course. And I enjoy a cold beer on the deck after a long day of working on the boat or pounding the keyboard. But as an alternative to alcoholic beverages we’ve discovered a refreshing new quaff that is a lot more interesting than iced tea. It’s shrub.
The shrub we’ve started making is a vinegar-based drink popularized in Colonial America. Barbara is the Nuthatch cabin’s shrubmistress, infusing coconut vinegar (she likes it better than apple-cider vinegar) with fruit that she purees in her new Vitamix blender, which her family gave her as a retirement gift (a machine so powerful that if the 90-horse Evinrude on our Skagit Express Cruiser ever dies, I’m thinking we’ll just get a really long extension cord and hang the Vitamix off the transom).
An online column from the Institute for Culinary Education says that the word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharbah,” which translates as “drink,” and that even sailors from the 16th-18th centuries drank shrubs to prevent scurvy. No scurvy on our sailboat, I’ve always said as I squeezed plenty of fresh lime into the G&Ts. And now we’re fighting scurvy on our island, too — but a little more soberly.
But just because they’re not alcoholic doesn’t mean shrubs aren’t fun.
Following in her sister Margaret’s footsteps, Barbara has experimented with different shrub recipes, such as blueberry with lavender, blackberry with apple, and blueberry with ginger and mango (quite nice). We typically add sparkling water infused with lemon and lime to make a frothy drink that is as titillating to the taste buds as a fine wine. And because Barbara uses much less sugar than some recipes call for, it’s also healthful (full of antioxidants, and vinegar that is good for your gut). The latest brew to start aging on our kitchen counter: freshly-picked Center Island blackberries, heritage apples from an old homestead on Lopez Island, and peppery nasturtium flowers grown on our deck. Sounds deliciously intriguing.
Got a favorite shrub recipe? Please click on the “comments” and share it.