By Kathy Sweeney
For those of you hoping for the traditional Ginger v. Mary Ann blog, my apologies. This is about the kind you eat.
This time of year, I bake bread. I make other things too, but breads and cranberry sauces are my specialties. Hence, this time of year, you'll find ginger in my kitchen. Normally, the only time I see ginger is when we eat sushi. Most places serve sushi with sliced ginger - usually pickled (the pink stuff).
Fresh ginger looks weird. That's because it's a root. Fresh ginger is best, but if you can't find it at your store, you can use the chunks or the ground ginger. Or my favorite for baking and sauces - candied ginger - which is also called crystallized ginger. Yum. It looks wonderful, smells wonderful, and it really kicks up recipes. Want it in liquid form? Ginger beer has the real taste of ginger. Ginger beer is a non-alcoholic beverage that's a cross between root beer (also made with ginger) and ginger ale - but with a lot more punch. It's used to make my favorite summer drink, the Moscow Mule. Named for the vodka and the kick - they go down fast, so watch it.
And here is the good news -- it's good for you! This came as quite a shock to me, because let's face it, most of the food I love is bad. In fact - and I've been saying this for years - the food police are looking at chocolate. One already has to be very careful with chocolate - they are starting to mix that reduced fat crap in with the regular chocolate. I had some by accident. When I say accident, I mean it. The rest of the day was all about avoiding them, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Forewarned is forearmed and so forth.
Ginger is good for digestion, and a bunch of other things. I read in a couple of different places that it helps lower cholesterol, but those are the magic words of food marketing these days, so I'm skeptical. Regardless, this is one food you can enjoy with no guilt.
It does have a bite to it. The first time I saw that sparkling candied ginger, I had to have some. Oops. I don't eat spicy foods, so it actually burned. If you're not used to eating it, start slowly. I know, moderation is good any way, and the older I get, the more my body demands it. Frankly, it sucks.
People grate or smoosh it and put it in everything from tea to smoothies to hot chocolate. Check out the Food Network - all the kids are using it.
Next up is a new recipe from the Barefoot Contessa - real gingerbread with fresh, rummed whipped cream. Sounds like breakfast.
What's your current favorite ingredient? Have you discovered a new taste or flavor lately? If you're around on this Thanksgiving Friday, let us know.