Happy Friday all!
Today’s word is….
Hmmm….and all this time I thought it was that Swedish singing group….
Have a great weekend everyone!
Henry VIII is said to have used ginger as a medicine for its qualities, as outlined by Culpeper, the herbalist, 150 years later: ‘Ginger helps digestion, warms the stomach, clears the sight and is profitable for old men; it heats the joints and is therefore useful against gout’.
Ginger has an impressive record in treating many ailments: it is said to help poor circulation and to cure flatulence and indigestion. It is taken as a drink for coughs, nausea and influenza. In the East, ginger is chewed to ward off evil spirits. It is considered to be a cure for travel sickness and the essential oil is used in perfumery.
The ginger plant is an upright tropical plant, which is propagated by dividing the rhizomes. It grows to about 3 feet, with elegant lance-shaped leaves and yellow flowers tinged with purple or red flowers. Harvesting takes place 9-10 months after planting and in many parts of the world, this is still done by hand. Much of the crop is washed, sun dried and then ground to a powder for domestic and commercial use.
The essential oil is used in commercial flavorings. Fresh root ginger is extremely popular in a variety of stir-fry or curry dishes. It is used in different techniques; slices can be added to marinades or in cooking and removed before serving. Grated, chopped or crushed ginger is used in pastes or braised dishes. Finely shredded ginger can be added to fried or stir-fried dishes or it may be used raw in salads. Pickled or preserved ginger is served as appetizers or used in savory cooking. It is also used in Western baking, for example, in traditional ginger breads, cakes and biscuits such as ginger snaps. The spice is also used in chutneys, pickles, jams and sweet preserves as well as drinks such as ginger beer, ginger ale and ginger wine.
TYPES OF GINGER
Fresh Root Ginger Look for plump, silvery skinned pieces, which are called ‘hands’. Young ginger has smoother, thin skin firmly clinging to the firm and quite heavy root. Older ginger has thicker, papery skin which sits more loosely on the root. Avoid ginger that is wrinkled, softened or very light in weight.
Ground Ginger Pale sand-colored spice widely used in baking.
Crystallized Ginger Preserved by cooking in syrup, then dried and rolled in sugar.
Pickled Ginger A savory condiment used in Oriental cooking. Chinese pickled ginger is light, sweet and sour and quite hot in flavor. Sweet red pickled ginger is slightly tangy, but mainly sweet as it is candied. Japanese pickled ginger is more delicate than Chinese pickles.
Preserved or Stem Ginger Traditionally packed into decorative, bulbous Chinese ginger jars. The plump, tender young ginger is peeled and preserved in syrup, making it sweet and fairly spicy.
Use a little crushed ginger in marinades for pork steaks or chops.
Try adding a little finely grated fresh or chopped crystallized ginger to fruit puddings using rhubarb, plus or pears. Can even be used in crumbles or pastry pies.
Make a soothing tea when you’re feeling under the weather. Drop a slice or two into a mug and add hot water and honey along with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon or orange or add a slice to some lemon tea. Ginger tea is also a natural remedy for menstrual cramps and helps relieve stress. It encourages normal blood circulation, strengthens immunity and reduces inflammation.
Minced fried ginger can be added to Asian dishes just as you would fried garlic to Italian dishes. It takes ordinary rice to a new level!
Got an overload of ginger? You can freeze fresh ginger. Simply freeze the whole root in a resealable plastic bag. You can then use it without thawing. Using a sharp knife, peel off the skin for the amount needed and then use a microplane to grate what you need. Don’t leave the whole root out to thaw as it will become soft and mushy when thawed.
Hmmm….I may just have to go make myself a cup of ginger tea…..
In preparation of the Christmas Fair, I needed to go shopping yesterday to locate a few items for packaging my gift sets and also for some cutesy Christmasy stuff for the table, so I hit the Pound store and also Hobbycraft.
I also thought I would take a stroll into TK Maxx (the UK version of TJ Maxx) and what to my wandering eyes should appear? Bottles of A1 SAUCE! Now those of you in the States might think, ‘yeah, so what?’ but when you’re unable to get that here, you would jump at the chance.
At least until you saw the price. Continue reading
My friend finally finished her book about cooking with herbs…it’s about thyme.
As it’s pouring rain here today, I decided to do an inventory of my herb and spice cabinet. Yes, that’s right, I said ‘cabinet’ as opposed to ‘rack’. We have one whole shelf dedicated to our spices as we have quite a few; probably not much room left for too many more.
Is 57 jars too much??
I’m surprised we haven’t broken any because when one of us is looking for a specific jar, we have to move things around in here, even going so far as to actually removing jars to see what’s behind them. Some jars are in another cabinet due to lack of space.
So do you want to take a peek into our spice cabinet? Granted, we don’t use all of them, all the time, but it’s nice to have a specific herb or spice when you come across it in a new recipe.
I’ve given them a 1-5 star rating system according to usage, one star being rarely and five stars being very often. Your ratings may vary….
***** basil / cayenne pepper / cumin powder / cinnamon, ground & sticks / dill weed / garlic powder / nutmeg / oregano / paprika / pepper flakes / parsley / rosemary / thyme
**** bay leaves / cardamom pods, green / coriander powder / mint leaves / onions, dried / peppercorns / sage / poppy seeds / sesame seeds / turmeric
*** chives / coriander seeds / cloves / cumin seeds / fennel seeds / star anise
** allspice, ground & berries / chili powder / chinese five-spice / celery salt / coriander leaves / curry powder / garam masala / mixed spice / mustard seeds / taragon
* asafoetida powder / black cardamom pods / black onion seeds / black cumin seeds / caraway seeds / curry leaves / fenugreek seeds / galangal / kaffir lime leaves / mace blades / saffron / sezchuan peppercorns
We also have some spice mixes that we have made up ourselves; one of which is Peter’s chili blend which we use often when doing Indian cooking…oh yeah, and a tin of Old Bay…now if we can only get proper crabs here…
Terri’s Tasty Tip…
Do you have some leftover bread that’s starting to go stale? If you don’t want to throw it out for the birds, cut it up into cubes, put into a ziplock bag and put in the freezer. Use it later for making croutons or stuffing. Add to the bag as needed until you have enough for what you need it for. I usually fill up a two-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup to make stuffing; enough to feed 3-4 people. For croutons, take out what you need, toss with some olive oil and herbs, spread onto a baking tray and bake at 350F 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.
Cook, Eat and be Merry!
In a previous post, I informed you, oh dear reader, of our seriousness when we buy garlic. Well our seriousness also extends to two other items…onions and ginger. We use onions in just about everything…well, we use garlic too, in just about everything!
|20kg is equal to 44lbs.|
|The banana is there for comparison|
For us, the three major food groups are onions, garlic and ginger, especially when cooking Indian food. 🙂
Did you know that some foods have uses other than giving you something to nosh on? Here’s a few helpful ideas that you can use everyday…
APPLES: Extend the shelf life of a cake by storing it with a half of an apple in its tin. It will help the cake to maintain its moisture.
BANANAS: You can use a banana as a natural moisturizing face mask. Mash a medium size banana with 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt and 2 Tbsp. honey. Gently apply over your face and neck and let it set 10-20 minutes. Rinse off with cool water. Your skin will look and feel softer.
BEER: Get a coffee or tea stain out of a rug by pouring a little beer right on top. Rub the beer lightly into the material and the stain should disappear. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to remove the stain completely. Feel free to consume any remaining beer!
BAKING SODA: To clean food splashes from the inside of a microwave, put a solution of 2 Tbsp. baking soda in 1 cup water in a microwave-safe container and cook on High for 2-3 minutes. Remove the container and wipe down the moist interior with a paper towel or sponge.
LEMONS: You use your chopping board to onions, garlic, meat, poultry and fish…no wonder it smells! To get rid of those nasty smells and help sterilize the board, after cleaning it, rub it all over with the cut side of a lemon. Allow to sit for a few minutes and then dry it off with a clean paper towel.
MARSHMALLOWS: Place marshmallows between your toes when applying nail polish. Make sure your feet are completely dry though or they could get sticky!
OLIVE OIL: Gently heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil (don’t boil it) and then liberally apply to hair. Cover head with a plastic cap or bag and wrap it in a towel and let set for 30-45 minutes. Shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
SALT: Fresh spinach leaves are an ideal health food, but their curving surface makes it difficult to wash away all the dirt that collects in the crevices. Wash spinach leaves in salted water; the dirt is driven out along with the salt in the rinse water.
YOGURT: For a quick, temporary relief of minor sunburn, apply cold plain yogurt. It adds much needed moisture and its coldness soothes at the same time. Rinse with cool water.
Terri’s Tasty Tip…
If your fruit or veg has a brown spot or two on it, don’t throw it away. Just cut off the bad parts and eat the rest. Love food, hate waste.
Time for a cup of tea….
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says…’Dam’!
I’m making Lime Marmalade today as someone requested it at the Market last Sunday. I try to please my customers! Someone also asked if I had any Quince Jelly. I’ve never worked with Quince before but I may have to give it a go. It’s related to the apple and pear and is one of those fruits that really must be cooked prior to eating as it’s very bitter.
Terri’s Tasty Tip…
How to choose fresh fish:
When buying whole fish, look for flesh that’s firm and shiny, with no discoloration and that bounces back when pressed with your finger. The eyes should be clear and bright and not sunken. The gills should be pink, not brownish.
Fish fillets should have a moist surface and firm texture, with no mushiness. A little separation of the individual flakes is normal.
Fresh fish doesn’t smell ‘fishy’ – it should have a light aroma of the sea. Oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, should have a light, fresh oil smell, and not a rancid oil aroma.
Refrigerate fish as soon as possible – the lower shelf of the fridge is best as it’s the coldest part – remember, cold descends (heat rises). Fresh fish can also be frozen; defrost it overnight in the fridge before use.
Make your own Tartar Sauce. It tastes much better than store bought and will keep for a few weeks. If you already have a jar of store bought tartar sauce, use that up and keep the cleaned out jar for your homemade sauce. These are ingredients that I always have so can make this whenever I need to. It’s really best to make it before you need it to allow the flavors to mix, but it’s not a necessity.
1 C. mayonnaise (full fat or light – your preference)
2 tsp. mustard powder
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. green olives, finely chopped
1 tsp. gherkins or dill pickles, finely chopped
1 tsp. capers, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh chives, chopped (1/2 tsp. if dried)
1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped (1/2 tsp. if dried)
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix all together and keep in jar in fridge.
Went to to the annual Italian Market that comes here every Easter weekend. It was a perfect weekend, weather-wise, and rather enjoyable walking around the town. They have stalls selling various Italian cookies, oils and vinegars, olives, breads, meats and of course, cheese.
We tasted several of the olives before buying. Got some with garlic and chili and also got a pot of artichoke hearts in olive oil…yum. We also got to taste a Gorgonzola cheese that was creamy and absolutely delicious. I wanted to get some mozzarella cheese as I was making eggplant Parmesan for dinner that night, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any as they said they don’t carry it due to the hot weather. 😦 However, I did manage to purchase some lovely Parma ham.
Handmade Pesto keeps better and tastes both richer and subtler. To make your own pesto with a mortar and pestle, mash garlic and salt with pestle, using a circular motion. Add pine nuts and mash, then add basil by handfuls and mash to form paste. Mix in extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.
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