Thursday, October 25, 2012
Is this not the best idea?! I love the idea of reusing a bicycle wheel rim and the umbrella stand to make something useful. See directions here at http://www.borganic.net/blog/?p=4495&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bicycle-wheel-clothesline
Wish I had thought of it, but at least I can copy it. I think I would paint it all black so that it looks like a sculpture when not in use, plus this would help cover any rust. I could put my bird feeders or a couple of hanging baskets on it when it's not in use as a dryer, OR, I could just disassemble it and store it out of the way.
What a great way to dry those kitchen cloths!!
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Homemade ginger ale, or as some call it, ginger beer, is delicious and refreshing. The benefits of ginger are numerable. It calms the digestive tract, eases motion sickness and relieves nausea.
When my husband was feeling ill, a dear friend recommended that he sip on some real ginger ale. Unfortunately, none of the commercial brands that were at our local store actually contained real ginger. This led us to search for real, honest-to-goodness ginger ale. What we found was pricey, so we decided to embark upon a journey for our own recipe.
|Be sure to purchase fresh pieces of ginger. A small sprout, if any, shows freshness, but ignore those with blackened or shriveled ends.|
|The piece at the top is old and drying out. You don't want it.|
Years ago, my mother told me that her mother made ginger beer at her home in England. Since I recently received a lovely gift from my cousin in England, my grandmother’s cook book, I looked through it and found a recipe that sounded easy enough, although the measurements were from a different era; ie., “a loaf and half of sugar”. The cookbook is over a hundred years old and is a real treasure. One of my favorite parts of this "cookery" book is the section on addressing the kitchen staff. Kitchen staff? Really?!
The ingredients are simple: fresh ginger root, sugar, lemon, yeast, and water. The only tools required are bottles and large cooking pot. Since this recipe dated to about 1900, I thought that perhaps I should look at some that are more recent to ensure consistency. None of my other cookbooks had a ginger ale recipe, so I went online and found only a few recipes. One, by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, was widely used and called for adding a chili pepper, such as here: http://www.eatologies.com/2009/06/11/homemade-ginger-ale/ the other, by Alton Brown, added yeast—and was most similar to my Nanny’s-- here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ginger-ale-recipe/index.html. The third was made completely different and used fruit juices, so while I didn't use the recipe, it does contain wonderful information on the benefits of ginger, so I included it here: http://drbenkim.com/ginger-health-benefits-ginger-ale-recipe.html.
The same basic ingredients and amounts were used in most recipes, and various comments left by readers led me to see that amounts can be varied according to taste, so I felt that it was fine to use my Nanny’s version and adapt the measurements accordingly as I played with the ingredients. Since one of the online recipes used yeast and the other did not, I decided to try it both ways.
When I made it without the chili pepper in my first attempt, it lacked the “kick” we wanted, although it did have that wonderful ginger taste we wanted. I used all white sugar, and it was too pale, so I adjusted the recipe to use more dark brown sugar the next time. The amounts of ginger stayed fairly consistent: We found that grating the ginger gave a stronger ginger presence since it released the juices, but was harder to drain with the strainer. As this version sat, it grew stronger, but my son really liked it that way, and wanted the sediment for that additional strength. I didn’t want to see it, though. The compromise was to chop it finely instead of grating it, just large enough to be captured by the strainer—and cook it a few minutes longer.
Bottles can be boiled or rinsed with a bleach and water solution. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and air dry. Before beginning, be sure all surfaces are clean. I like to work on clean dish towels, but I admit to being a bit fastidious.
Since my family likes a little “kick” and often uses peppers in recipes, it seemed natural to add a chili pepper to this drink as mentioned in one of the versions. My son heartily approves. My Nanny’s recipe sounds as if it will last for months, but we find the drink so refreshing, it hasn’t lasted nearly that long. With the addition of the chili pepper and more lemon, we declared it a success.
Bonus, just for me: After I drain the ginger, lemon peel and pepper, I put them back in an empty pot and add another cup or so of boiling water and about 2 teaspoons of sugar. I cook this for about 10 minutes. It’s my “ginger tea” and reward for making the ginger ale. It has a lovely, throaty, "ginger burn" in the back of the throat. You know what I mean, the kind of "burn" you get from the regular version of Coca Cola. Ahhh.
Here’s my recipe:
· 1.25 cups sugar (1/4 cup white, 1 c. brown) (Note: This may be too sweet if consumed right away. The longer it sits, the stronger it gets-especially with grated ginger sediment, and the sweetness is balanced with the strength.) Dark brown sugar makes a darker ale. You can use all white, if preferred. · 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice plus 2-3 lemon peel slices. (You may use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice if you don’t like a strong presence of lemon.)
· 1 dried chili pepper, optional
· 6 cups water
Bring ginger, sugar, lemon juice & peel and chili pepper to boil with 1 cup water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add 5 cups boiling water and gently simmer 20 minutes or longer. Stir from time to time. Drain to remove ginger, lemon and chili pepper. Note: adding yeast is optional: Skip down to “Bottle mixture” if omitting yeast. Remove 1/4 cup of mixture. Let cool to lukewarm. Add 1 tsp. yeast to ¼ cup lukewarm (not hot!) mixture. Let sit 15 minutes until yeast has “bloomed”.
Add yeast mixture back to lukewarm mixture in pot (make sure mixture is cool enough). Let sit 15 minutes or longer.
Bottle mixture: Add to scrupulously clean bottles. (Boil glass or wash in bleach water then soapy water. Rinse well and air dry bottles.) Makes 6 cups.
Let sit 1-2 days to ferment. Open lids or corks to let gas escape periodically. If you use plastic bottles, you will find that they get "hard" as they ferment. When you can no longer press them, they are ready.
Refrigerate. If no yeast was added, refrigerate once bottles have cooled. Keeps at least two months. We haven’t kept any past that time, but it may last much longer.
If preferred, add mixture to carbonated water at the ratio of ¼ - 1/2 cup ginger ale to ¾-1/2 cup ice and water. This was our preferred method of serving without the addition of yeast. We love the fizziness of carbonated water such as Perrier or Gerolsteiner with the ginger ale.
Using some online pictures from The Graphics Fairy, I played around with various labels.
Since I used to be a Queen Bee (lovingly called that by one of my employees—and I liked it!), I went with the crown and bee theme.
Aren’t the bottles lovely?
Hope you enjoy this refreshing and heathful beverage. To your health: Cheers!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
|The sea oats and dunes at Gulf Shores, West beach|
We were able to meet several artists. Steven Dark sculptures pottery figures, some of which are put in the ocean for barnacles to attach. I love this fanciful piece with the rabbit peeking out of the hat. His work earned "Best in Show." See more of his work, here: http://www.stevendark.com/index%202.htm
By now, we had walked over halfway around and were getting hungry and thirsty. We slipped into The Hangout for a snack and met a charming young man who was our waiter. He is a student at The University of South Alabama and had been a medic in Afghanistan. Heroes are everywhere if we just take time to hear their stories. One of the first questions asked after a strong hurricane on the Gulf Coast is, "Is The Hangout OK?" It is a friendly restaurant right on the beach with stages for bands and three separate bar areas. I loved their collection of lunchboxes on the wall.
LuLu's West Indies Salad (some amounts are not listed:)
|Alabama Wild Seafood: Yum!|
|A sampling of wild Gulf shrimp with a delicious cocktail sauce!|
|Fried Shrimp with Fried Green Tomatoes and Gruyere Cheese Grits|
|Sunset at Gulf Shores, West Beach|
Something that was incredibly wonderful was the original artwork collected and created by our hosts. The lighting in the dining room and over the counter were all crafted by our host, Joe Thompson. This photo is of a glass bowl with amazing blues and pearly colors. My camera (phone) does not do justice to this incredible work of art.
As we were leaving, Joe's lovely wife gave us a pair of beautiful, hand-crafted pottery mugs. They are both obviously laden with talent and are gracious hosts.
The flora and fauna on a beach is always interesting. We saw a coyote, a fox, and of course tons of fowl. The Great Blue Heron was regal, as seen in a photo, above.
What an absolutely PERFECT trip!
Monday, October 15, 2012
|Oh, look! I recognize the return address! It's from Mia!|
|OOh, I see a treat!|
|It's well wrapped, so I can't sneak a peek too soon.|
|I also see a pink envelope.|
|YUM! Guess what I'm having in the morning. I doubt if I can wait, though, so it may become an afternoon delight.|
|I usually underline my name the SAME WAY!! Freaky--in a good way.|
|It's like Christmas! Wrapping, wrapping, wrapping, building up the suspense.|
|BEAUTIFUL! It is soooooooooooo me.|
|A sweet note, a great extra treat, and a fabulous mug in a size that I really appreciate.|
|Isn't it just PERFECT?!|
I LOVE it! Thank you, Mia!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Five Recipes! Black Beans, Black and White Chicken Chili, Chicken and Dumplings (both), and Key Lime Salt
|Dried Black Beans|
|I added salt and a bay leaf early in the cooking process. The ham was added after it was brought to a simmer.|
Combine. Stores indefinitely in cool, dark place.
|Add sea salt to lime zest.|
|Adjust ratio of zest to salt according to taste.|
Now for the "Eureka", aka " 'A-ha!' moment":
|See all those delectable herbs?|
|Chicken and broth from the upper saucepan were added to the black beans.|
|Look at all the chicken and ham! Mouth watering!|
We were so hungry and the aroma so inviting, I forgot to take pictures of the Black and White Chicken Chili in the dishes with the sour cream and key-lime salt! Believe me, this was so tasty, with the chicken, ham, and two kinds of beans. I will be making this again. Since I don't have photos of the dish with the sour cream on top, imagine it with this key lime salt sprinkled on top. In your mind's eye, can you see how pretty it would be?
On to the chicken and dumplings:
Celery and carrots, if you have them on hand, are always a great addition.
|Shred or chop the chicken. Remove any fatty pieces or skin.|
|Seasoning the dough will enhance the chicken and dumpling dish.|
Drop a teaspoon of dough into the hot broth, pushing it off the spoon with your little finger. About 10-12 dumplings will fill the saucepan. These will expand as they cook, so do not overcrowd. After 5 minutes, gently turn over the dumplings and continue to steam for another 5 minutes. Remove the dumplings and repeat with the other half of the dough. Add the first batch back to the chicken and broth and serve.
|After 5 minutes or so, gently turn the dumplings over and continue cooking. The herbs from the broth are what you see on top of the dumplings. |
|I added more dumplings to my bowl after I was halfway through eating. They were so tasty!|
|So fluffy! These are almost ready.|