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Archive for January, 2010

Ginger Beer/roots of fire

My constant companion this winter has been ginger. As I peel this spicy root and pound it in my mortar with my small pestle I can practically hear it saying, “My goodness, what are you going to do with me? Where I come from people are still walking around in shorts and bathing suits. It’s freezing here. Mmmph. I had really hoped to end up in a nice brew with cardamom or maybe in a tea with some rum and hibiscus. You know anything about hibiscus?” I just peel and pound. Peel and pound. Thankful for this sassy medicine that has traveled miles to be with me. I tend to be into herbs that I see growing around me, but for ginger, I make an exception. With all of its digestive gifts and the fire it lends to every drink and dish, I can’t help but make room for this strong and delicious medicine.

Fresh Ginger

I’ve already shared my ginger honey and sorrel recipes. With these the gift of ginger can work in many ways. But over the holidays, I came across a fabulous recipe for ginger beer in Eric Copage’s Kwanzaa: An African-American Celebration of Culture and Cooking. I pay no mind to  measurements, so this is how I do it.

West African Ginger Beer

water (about six cups)

fresh ginger (approximately 1/3 cup once it’s pounded)

one lemon

honey or agave

Pound the ginger and add it to the water. Bring the water to a boil, turn it down and let it simmer for as long as you see fit. Twenty or thirty minutes should suffice.  Turn the stove off, squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, add honey or agave (or both)  to taste. Stir it up. You can either enjoy this warm or let it cool and steep. If you choose to let it cool and steep, chill it before you serve it and prepare for an exquisite treat.

However you enjoy this, it keeps the digestive fires going, helps to break up congestion and treat colds.

Do you have any special recipes that call for ginger?

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