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Boozy Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemonade

Summer’s over in basically two seconds and it feels like it never happened at all. Where were the hot, sweaty porch hangs, sunburnt road trips, and sticky trips to the pool with hooch hidden in a old Mountain Dew bottle*? This holiday weekend, we’re making the most of the dwindling daylight , fueled by our Boozy Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemonade.

Nothing says “Summer” quite like lemonade— except for Strawberries and Rhubarb. Putting the three together is as nostalgic as it is seasonal. Tangy and sweet, with a heady Strawberry perfume, this lemonade hits all of the right buttons without being too alcoholic for responsible day drinking. It tastes like your grandma’s top secret recipe for strawberry pie in a glass, but it’s not cloyingly sugary. It’s grown up. And damn good.

In all fairness, this lemonade is real good virgin, too, but we spiked ours with a bottle of Art in the Age Rhubarb Tea (generously gifted from their sweet social media team— like last year because we’re terrible at working on promotions [e.g. don’t contact us to do promotions]) and it gave the perfect, light hit of boozy heat, rounding out sugary berries and tart rhubarb and citrus. If you do skip the booze, you will probably want to add an extra ¼-½ cup of sweetener.

Boozy Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemonade

  • 1 pint Strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 8 oz Rhubarb, fresh (washed and hulled) or frozen
  • 1 cup fresh Lemon Juice (about 4-6 Lemons)
  • ⅛ tsp Sea Salt
  • 3-4 cups Water
  • ¾ cup Honey
  • 6 oz Art in the Age Rhubarb Tea (gin or vodka would probz be pretty nice, too)

Makes 6-8 glasses

Combine your Strawberries, Rhubarb, Lemon Juice, and Salt into your blender and puree until very smooth. The Salt does more than season the drink— it helps to break down the cellular structure in the berries for an easier-to-strain puree. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove the hairy Rhubarb strings and Strawberry seeds. Dilute with Water, sweeten with Honey, and add your hooch.

Serve cold, with too many ice cubes.

*not that we do that. also don’t break laws.

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PBR Braised Pork Ribs with Cheerwine BBQ Sauce

Pork and Cherries are a classic flavor combo for good reason. The tartly sweet fruit brings out the delicate richness of that other white meat, making for a perfectly balanced and refined plate. While technically cherry flavored, Cheerwine doesn’t bring the same dainty refinement. Hailing from North Carolina, this “Cherry” drink brings the over-the-top, all-American flavor eXXXsplosion you’d expect from a neon red bottle of soda pop. Perfect for a sticky-sweet, tangy BBQ sauce.

While you could absolutely braise your ribs in the oven, on the stove top, or, hell, skip it and go low-and-slow on the grill: crockpots are the perfect vehicle for cooking down tough cuts of meat. They’re dummy proof, for one, but, more importantly, they don’t overheat your house. If you don’t have access to a slow cooker, consider the investment. We use ours all year long and can’t imagine our houses without it.

PBR Braised Pork Ribs

  • 2 slabs (usually about 3lbs) Pork Ribs
  • 2-4 cans PBR— the number of PBRs you need will depend on the volume of your slow cooker
  • 4 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 8 whole Black Peppercorns
  • 2 whole Cloves
  • 1 tsp Salt

Evenly distribute your RIbs in the slow cooker. Cover with PBR. Toss in the Garlic and spices. Set it to low and cook for 8 hours, or until the meat comes easily away from the bone (4 hours on high if you’re impatient).

Carefully remove the Ribs from the slow cooker (don’t cry if they fall apart, that’s a good thing) and discard the cooking liquid. If you’d like to serve them right away, place the Ribs on a cookie sheet, slather with Cheerwine BBQ, and broil for 2-3 minutes on each side.

If you’d rather finish them on the grill, place them in the refrigerator overnight. This will help to firm up what little colagen and fat is left in the meat, so they don’t disintegrate when they hit the coals. When you’re ready to serve, slather in Cheerwine BBQ and heat over a high flame until caramelized and tasty.

Cheerwine BBQ

  • 12 oz Cheerwine
  • 15 oz can Tomato Sauce— not paste, not diced tomatoes. just plain, unseasoned, tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Molasses
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 clove Garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • a pinch of Allspice
  • Tabasco, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Because this is basically all sugar, don’t just turn it on and walk away. Make sure you stay close, and give it a stir every few minutes.

If you’re lazy, you could totally do this in a small crock pot along side the ribs. Medium heat for 2 hours sounds about right to us.

Strawberry Pretzel “Salad”

In the grand tradition of our favorite midwestern “salads,” Strawberry Pretzel Salad contains no lettuce. This one doesn’t even have vegetables.

Instead, a layer of vanilla-flecked cream is nestled between a thick slab of strawberry-studded gelatain and buttery, salty pretzels. Not too sweet, and not too salty, it has been served at every picnic in rural Illinois since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, the classic ingredient list is predictably dated. Whipped topping and neon-pink, artificially flavored gelatin “product” among them.

While we’d never fuck with perfection, we did think it was time to rethink this classic. We kept what worked (pretzel crusts forever), but swapped the hydrogenated whatevers for more pronounceable ingredients. The end result was a bit cloudier than what we were used to but so damn good, we can’t imagine going back to the old recipe.

Strawberry Pretzel “Salad”

Makes: about 8 servings

Pretzel Crust

  • 2 cups Pretzels, crushed
  • ¾ cup Butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp Sugar— whatever’s on hand

Preheat your oven to 375°. In a 8 x10 casserole dish, toss together the Pretzels, Butter, and Sugar. Press it into a flat, even layer across the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes to set the crust, and set aside to cool completely.

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

  • 6 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp Heavy Cream or Half and Half
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, guts only — or 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup Powdered Sugar

While the crust cools, whisk together the Mascarpone and Cream Cheese until thoroughly combined and a little fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, if that’s your thing. Fold in the Cream, Vanilla, and Powdered Sugar. Pour into the totally cooled crust and place in the freezer while you make the Strawberry Topping. Pouring the filling into a hot crust won’t, like, ruin Christmas— but it will make the crust get soggy quicker and make the middle, fluffy layer kind of flat and bleh.

Strawberry Topping

  • 2 pints Strawberries
  • ½-¾ cup Sugar— you’ll want more if your berries are less sweet, more if they’re riper and juicier
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ½ oz Powdered, Plain Gelatin — Vegetarians, you can use 3 oz Carrageenan, but bring the mixture to a hard boil for 10 minutes (instead of just a wimpy simmer)
  • 1 1/3 cup Ice Cubes (or about 1 cup of ice cold water)

Wash, hull, and slice all of your Strawberries.

Place about half of the Strawberries (one pint) in a large saucepan, add the Sugar and Lemon Juice, and heat over a medium-high flame until the berries start to break down. Pour into your blender (or use a stick blender) to make a smooth puree, and return to the saucepan.

Pour ¼ cup room-temperature water into a small dish. Sprinkle the Gelatin on top and let it hang out for about 2 minutes or until the Gelatin goes from looking powdery to like translucent cauliflower— kind of lumpy and bumpy but smooth and waxy, at the same time.

Add the Gelatin to the Strawberry mixture and heat over a low flame until it almost boiling.  Add the Ice and stir until melted. Immediately pour over the rest of the “salad” and quickly top with your remaining sliced Strawberries.