As one of many over carb-ed college students, a junior English lit major to be specific, I often find comforting the occasional well-balanced, poptart excluding, non-microwaved meal. Lately, this has become slightly easier to round up due to my fast growing addiction to not food itself but the vision of it in the form of food network (though the addiction is far from recent, it’s been in development for several years).
Finally after watching dozens of chefs do their food thing and trying and failing at many of those same dishes, I can say with confidence that I’ve come a long way since that first experimental grilled cheese (with ham!). I should say however for clarification that only in some far corner of my dreaming mind have I been to any kind of official cooking school since watching “Ratatouille” dozens of times doesn’t count.
My goal, through the little window of influence here, is to use the accumulated amateur knowledge I’ve sucked from the pros and disperse it to those who may not use up so much electricity in their spare time. The first ingredient expose I feel necessary to expand on has lately become somewhat of an up and coming trendy item, the Zoe Deschanel of the culinary scene if you will; ginger root.
It’s always been around and in fact it’s a staple in Asian and some African cooking, but lately it’s been making star appearances in Western food as well. Just tonight at the grocery store I picked up Ginger Haagen Dazs Ice Cream. Hopefully the flavor isn’t as strong as ginger beer which nearly made me cough up blood (If you happen to be a ginger beer lover then kudos to you).
If you’ve never seen ginger root, it really does look like an extra gnarled version of a tree root with a thinner, lighter brown skin. Not too appetizing, but the ways to use it are nearly endless as you can buy it as the root, a powder, and even pickled. It’s ultra cheap and always at Kroger. Stir frys, fun chicken recipes, Chinese dumplings, quesadillas, spring rolls, homemade chai, and stomach ache cures (this is debatable) are all ginger includers.
The first recipe I ever made with ginger was a really good homemade Chai Tea latte from Mary Anne Mohanraj’s book A Taste of Serendib: a Sri Lankan Cookbook. The recipe is copied below. By the way, Mohanraj’s novel Bodies in Motion is amazing. Just saying…
4 c. milk
6 black tea bags
2 sticks cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
5 slices fresh ginger, sliced crosswise
Sugar or honey to taste, about 2-4 t.
- Over the stove, heat the milk up.
- Lower the heat and add the tea bags, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger. Brew those ingredients until it starts smelling up your apartment, dorm room, house, etc… (About 10 minutes) and add sugar or honey if you like.
- Strain the liquid so that you don’t accidentally swallow a clove.
Also, I realize this seems like a lot of ingredients but you can make a lot of Chai with everything you get. The best way to store ginger is to peel the skin off (this can be tear inducing frustrating if you try using a potato peeler in my opinion, I’d just go for a knife) and then put it in the freezer. It’ll grate up really nice for you once its frozen and then you can add it into your stir fry’s and whatever else you make.