How Should I Use Ginger?
I have a particular affinity for ginger
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I was going through my spice cabinet yesterday and I realized I had a ton of powdered ginger that I didn’t use that much. I realized it was an underrated spice (in Western cooking which is what I’m most familiar with. I would never dare to assume I knew anything about Eastern flavors. Bow down to those fabulous chefs in Asia) and I wanted to use more of it. Ginger is such an interesting flavor and it adds a zest to things. When my stomach isn’t feeling great, nothing works like a Vernor’s. When I did aerial yoga, spoiler alert-I was not good at it, I had ginger to help with the nausea of moving. It really does do wonders for your stomach. My fave store cookie? Carr’s Lemon Ginger Cremes dipped in an herbal tea. I love cookies in milk, coffee, or tea. I love the motion of dipping cookies and just the sensation in your mouth. I had a teacher ask us if we could only taste one thing and listen to one thing what would it be. Mine was acoustic guitar and chocolate chip cookies in milk. Although, I think, I would up it to those lemon ginger cookies in tea. By the way, if you haven’t tried Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea, you are missing out. There was a restaurant that my mother, sister, and I used to go to when we lived in Boulder. I think it’s closed now and it was right by the Mork and Mindy House but the whole restaurant smelled like this tea because they used it for their iced tea. When I have daytime gatherings like various showers (bridal, baby, etc) I like to have a pot of this brewing. Your house will smell fantastic. I’ve used ginger mostly in baking and in tea. I wanted to write about experimenting with this spice and just have fun doing it.
Overshare Corner: Seasonal Depression Edition
I also realize all of my posts recently have been about cooking. It’s colder weather here in Ohio and getting darker earlier. I’ve been spending most of my time cooking as a way of warding off depression. It works? Kind of? One thing I wanted to write about in this blog is being upfront and real. I suffer from anxiety and depression. It’s not easy and it’s not rational. Hence, no deep thought posts because they tend to be overwhelmingly negative this time of year and quite frankly embarrassing to read later. When you are depressed you tend to go through like a mental goth phase and all of your fourteen year old feelings come bubbling up. No one likes me. I’m not good enough. What is the point? Let me take a deep dive into a celebrity’s instagram that I think would be friends with me. Then get sad because my life is really boring compared to that. Oh, do you want to hear what I think about Leonard Cohen? No. Cool. Moving on. I’ll be listening to his album “You Want It Darker” and thinking it’s perfectly dark. I’ll try to write about other things but right now this is what I want to write about. Thanks for bearing with me!
Recipe 1: Soft Ginger Snaps
When I love people, I love hard. It’s just how it is. I adore my family and my favorite thing to do is cook for them. My son’s favorite foods are made by me and the joy it brings me is just intense. Anyway, I know everyone in my family and dear friends favorite foods. My mother loves vegetarian chili and chocolate covered cherries. My mother and her grandmother used to put those in the freezer and watch the Lawrence Welk Show on PBS. My family adores PBS, seriously donate. They are amazing. My husband loves anything tacos and this wonderful sheet pan pork recipe that unfortunately is behind a paywall. My big thing is respecting the authors of works and I don’t ever want to use material that isn’t readily available. I will say it uses hoisin sauce which is a nice thing to have in your fridge. My Dad loved Italian food like Eggplant Parmesan, which we called Eggy Eggy Parm Parm like on Parks and Rec. He also loved these soft ginger cookies which my Great-Grandma Rose used to make. My Mom made these for him all the time and I haven’t made them since he passed. That’s the thing about catastrophic loss, everything reminds you of that person. Things that used to bring you so much joy can make you so incredibly sad. This year, I’ve decided to make them because they are a holiday staple in my family and we use it. If you follow me on Instagram @radiancereflected you can see my baking progress. I also want my son to know what they taste like. We’re putting up our Christmas tree and we usually celebrate by turning off all the lights and eating cookies. Here’s the recipe that my Great-Grandma used to make but apparently the recipe was given to her by my Grandma Rita. This version of this recipe was given to me by my Aunt Meg and I added a few notations of my own. Sidenote- this recipe is like the spirit of the women in my family in that we all have opinions on it and did it our own way. If you make this, eat one that is way too hot right out of the oven and say you are “testing” it in memory of my Dad.
Grandmother’s Soft Ginger Snaps
¾ cup shortening (I substituted butter. Grandma suggested Crisco)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses (Brer Rabbit is considered the best by my family bakers).
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have two bowls for wet and dry ingredients. As always, I suggest whisking dry ingredients to properly mix the spices. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Roll into walnut size balls and dip in sugar. Put on greased cookie sheets or use parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. As soon as you see cracks beginning and the domed center of the cookie is flattening, pull from the oven.
Recipe 2- Roast Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Yesterday, I picked up a meatloaf to quickly cook in the oven. I realized that we needed a healthier side that both my son and my husband would eat. Roasted veggie sides are a great way to add something a little healthy into your meal. If you live with people who only eat meat and potatoes, feel free to substitute the potatoes with other veggies. You add color to your plate and you get to add to crop diversity. Yay! I adapted this recipe from a recipe from Country Living which was adapted from a cookbook by Carrie Morey. Much like jokes, I feel like all recipes are derivative of something else. Again, I always want to give people credit where credit is do. Feel free to check out Carrie Morey’s work. I used items in my house and it smelled incredible while it was baking! I loved it and my husband did too!
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
2 large sweet potatoes (sliced into thin circles)
1 bunch of medium carrots. I would say no more than 8. I used the colorful organic kind that was purple, white and orange. I kind of julienned these carrots. I cut them into long slim pieces.
1 large onion sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
½ teaspoon chili powder
Dash of kosher salt
Dash of pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Feel free to add different amount of spices according to your tastes. Spread on a greased baking sheet. I used parchment paper. Cook for 45 minutes and serve as a side dish.
Recipe 3- Ginger dressing
Alice Waters changed my life. Her book The Art of Simple Food introduced me to simple ways of adding flavors. Her sauces are incredible. Anyway, she has a basic rule for creating salad dressings. 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar, and spices as needed. I used this idea when I made this dressing recipe.
Ginger Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled
1 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions: Place ginger in a food processor. Hit pulse for about 10 seconds until you have a pulpy consistency. Whisk together all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour into serving container and top a salad with it. I prefer darker greens.
It’s cold. Treat yourself to some ginger and take time for you. Love to you and yours. Do you have an underrated spice in your cabinet? Are there any other recipes I should try? What are some things you do to deal with cold weather? I’m currently on a historical mystery binge and just reading and drinking tea. I love you guys and let’s hold on to our butts and get through the holidays.