I love ginger. It loves me. Itís hot. Itís fragrant. It fixes me when I hurt. It tastes good. Itís gnarly.
I mean the rhizome, the rooty looking thing you buy at the grocery store, is gnarly.
Donít be afraid of the gnarly hot root. Go get you some at the grocery store, bring it home, and letís play. Once youíve started with the real stuff, you wonít be so tempted to work with the powder your great grandma used.
Your hunk of ginger is easily maintained in a loose plastic bag in the fridge. It will keep there for a week or so. Cut off a chunk and peel or pare off the brown papery skin and any blemishes. Now youíll have the woody stem, and will have released plenty of spice into the air. Go ahead and lick your fingers so that you right away understand the difference between the fresh stuff and the pickled stuff you get with your sushi.
The difference is heat.
That heat and spice is there in the ginger snaps and ginger bread you remember, but itís been subdued. Try those recipes again using the fresh stuff to see what a tiny bit of heat can bring to bear.
Want to make your own ginger ale? Not hard. Slice up a good half a cup of ginger and bring it to a boil in a pot with 4 cups of water. Remove it from heat and let it steep for an hour. Strain this strong ginger tea. Mix the brew with equal parts of soda water, and add stevia or a sugar substitute to taste. A bit of lemon zest is great in this too. Garnish with mint leaves, and serve over ice.
Crush two slices of peeled stem, and pour boiling water over it for a single cup of ginger tea. Many sweeten it with honey, but I like stevia and a little cream when Iím fighting a bug or a migraine.
When migraines come on fast or Iím facing motion sickness, I will gently chew and nibble on fresh ginger. Thatís an aquired skill, folks. But ginger is well known to help keep nausea under control, and it sometimes (but not all times) helps turn away a migraine for me before it has a chance to fully develop. (Migraineurs, be sure youíre getting enough calcium, vity D, and magnesium).
I add slices of ginger to nearly any tea. I like grated ginger in my oatmeal. Iíll toss ginger in my banana smoothie. Steam some skinny julienned bits with my green beans. Toss it in the pressure cooker with brown rice. I add some shreds to a jicama-and-basil salad, and dress it with a vinaigrette made of orange juice, ginger, garlic, and olive oil. Eggplant stewed with ginger and cinnamon and raisins. Thatís a reason to live right there.
Why eat it so often? Well aside from the medicinal properties for my wobbly stomach and glitchy vascularities, itís believed to help lower high cholesterol, relieve cold symptoms, lower high blood pressure, relieve arthritis, thin your blood, kill scary microbes in food, and work as an antioxidant. The folks who like it believe its kick comes in the fresh form far more than in the dried. So get you some. Maybe we should just carry it with us all the time. Just in case.
I will if you will.