to be in the middle of winter is an enigmatic moment in time. equal parts lost to the tundra, resigned to the ice, romanced by the warmth-seeking behavior, and reflecting in quandary to the moment where we may be released from such a grip. a grip that doesn’t necessarily carry a connotation, but a grip nonetheless. winter comes assertive and sheer with intention. my only direct point of contention is the inability to flourish beside the garden, but in true fashion, we ready ourselves for these months the remainder of the year.
that being said: it’s been chaotically warm here, record-breaking they have spoken. the dense layer of snow finally melted completely into the atmosphere, revealing a muddy ocean beneath. i have so seen the sun twisting her warmth into the veins of trees, seducing buds to prematurely pucker. the birds have emerged from slumber and solitude with high-pitched songs and business meetings at every fence post. by any account, for the past two weeks, it would seem that spring was defying the clever admissions of a prior groundhog. she may still. but in the midst of this warmth is a burgeoning reminder that this is indeed february – a snow storm later this week to solidify the reality.
and so i’m embracing this charismatic burst of enigmatic season with a little of everything. the citrus fruits are in high tide, (see: blood orange praise), as well are winter roots and spring promises. enter: a drinking vinegar that some may formally know as a shrub. something undeniably bold and bright to punctuate any muted days ahead, and to generously steward in the eventual succession of spring.
- 1 large mandarin, zested, peeled, and segmented
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 lb carrots, grated
- 2 tbl finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- sparkling water, for serving
- in a small bowl, massage the mandarin zest into the sugar until evenly mixed and fragrant - the sugar will be a pale orange color.
- make a simple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combining the sugar into the water until dissolved. add the grated carrots, ginger, and segmented mandarin slices, bringing the mixture to a gentle simmer. simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the carrot and mandarin become tender and the water absorbs their color. stir in the apple cider vinegar, bring back to a simmer, and then immediately remove from the heat.
- strain the mixture in a colander, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids. cool in the refrigerator before serving.
- to serve: pour 2 oz of the shrub in a glass and top with sparkling water.