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November 28, 2008



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.  

Blog ginger-root-bsp 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.

Blog candied_ginger 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.


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Hi, Kathy, I'm around. All. Day.

I love ginger. My hubby? Not so much. I have to sneak it into dishes. And, yes, it really is good for you.

I'm currently on a cinnamon kick. Also good for you. But if knowing that ruins the fun, just disregard the fact.

The gingerbread with rummed whipped cream sounds to die for. Can't wait.

Horseradish. It's the perfect addition to that leftover turkey sandwich. A little bite, a little kick.

Here's a relish-y sauce-y condiment to use on leftover turkey sandwiches---one ingredient being horseradish: https://www.zenhostess.com/2008/11/bold-cranberry-sauce.html

Hey, it's nice to be staying home today! Do your shopping online or by phone: www.mysterylovers.com

Cinnamon is always in the kitchen. Just a touch of it can make all the difference, even in a spicy sauce....

I'm on the cinnamon bandwagon, although I confess my favorite is the Cinnamon Plus by Pampered Chef. Not your average cinnamon. On the savory side, garlic is something I try to sneak into sauces and other dishes that don't call for it...good for you and the cholesterol too. Of course, as Kathy says, moderation :o(
I'm off to sell books this morning, armed with brownies, pineapple cake and Chex Mix for my fellow booksellers. We need to keep our strength up :o)
Off topic--anyone have a favorite digital kitchen scale? Cath wants one for Christmas and I am clueless!

Kathy, are we twins separated at birth? First the Christmas music and now the ginger! I was telling my chef cousin about a butternut-squash-and-apple soup I made with curry, and she said she uses ginger in hers. I'll have to try that.

Ginger is good in Asian dishes, especially with chicken.
I also like cinnamon. And sugar. And chocolate. And ---

Hot curry paste. Hubby says I'd eat curried...er, excrement. Can I help it if I love Indian food?

Ginger is great stuff. But my most recent find is dried chiles. I grew up in a white-bread family: meat, starch, veg--period. Exotic was a trip to a Chinese restaurant, maybe twice a year. I don't think I saw Mexican food until I went to Mexico in my 30s.

But since I started writing a series based in Tucson (for a publisher who loves to insert recipes), I felt I should investigate Southwestern cooking. Of course, it's a challenge to find authentic ingredients in New England, but there's always mail order. Now I have multiple kinds of dried chiles lurking in my pantry, and I actually use them. And there's a lot more subtlety to that type of cooking that Taco Bell would let you believe.

I've only recently discovered ginger. I have a great Cooking Light recipe that uses fresh ginger (and onion and maple syrup. Seriously.) in a great sauce for roasted pork tenderloin. It gives it a wonderful kick. So, I'm now on the hunt for more uses for ginger.

I've been a cinnamon girl for years. Garlic too.

A new discovery for me was Ceylon Cinnamon. I saw it at Pennzey's in the Strip District in Pittsburgh and thought I'd try it. A Good Eats episode where Alton Brown had talked about the Cinnamon in the US not being real cinnamon, had made me want to try the real stuff. As I've gotten older I have found that too much 'cinnamon' upsets my stomach. Anyway back to the Ceylon Cinnamon. I've used it in a few baked goods, but I would recommend not using it with other strong spices. It gets overpowered by ginger.

Has anyone else ever been to a Pennzeys? I just love going there. It's a different world than the grocery store herb and spice rack. Their Chicago Steak Rub is great also.

I've never thought about using ginger much. Will have to give this more thought.

Cinnamon - use a lot of it.

Love the smell of cloves. Don't cook a lot with it but love to simmer cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg just for smell.

I'll get on the chocolate boat. I used to say, cover it in chocolate and I'll eat anything (no comments from the male backbloogers. I KNOW how that sounds but not what I necessarily meant.) BUT at the Ar State Fair, they had "chocolate cover bacon." I didn't eat it. Looked gross and the teenagers and men seem to love it.

No shopping for me today (YEAH).

Ooh, ginger! Love it, in every possible form. I make this fantastic red lentil soup that has fresh grated ginger in it that is so yummy. My husband likes everything about it BUT the ginger. He grew up eating the meat-starch-veg-salad meals, and that's still his favorite, although I've expanded his horizons somewhat. Mostly because cooking for my family for almost 30 years get old, and I like to spice things up once in a while (pun intended).

Garlic is another taste I use liberally, and often say that my personal drugs of choice are, not necessarily in this order: garlic, chocolate, basil, and tarragon. Ginger is a close second to any of those. My middle daughter is a big curry fan, and the youngest one would eat anything cinnamon-flavored.

I hope everyone else had as wonderful of a feast as we had yesterday. It was a true group effort. My husband smoked a small turkey and a chicken on the grill; I made the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, and two pies. One daughter made a double pumpkin pie (the only sugar was from pumpkin butter, which was very difficult to find), and a spectacular soup from orange vegetables; the other two daughters helped do vegetable prep, plus they made shrimp cakes that were delish. Son-in-law and dd's boyfriend set up the tables and did the drinks. Other guests brought massive quantities of wine, which were mostly consumed, to our amazement. And believe it or not, the kitchen is now clean.

I'd love the recipe for the pork tenderloin, Judy. That sounds fantastic.

How great to see so many familiar faces today!

I'm a cinnamon lover from way back - there is something about cinnamon and iron deficiencies (like anemia).

Wonderful suggestions on other flavors too. Since my son was born, I've had to cut way back on the garlic (red meat too - who knows what the hell goes on during pregnancy) - but I do love miso. Not brave enough to cook with it yet - the rest of the family still loves garlic.

Off to make more cinnamon zucchini bread. It's amazing what a difference a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon makes!

Auntie Knickers - you know, I think a lot of us here somehow share the same genes - it's very cool.

I LOVE butternut squash and squash soup is fantastic.

Peach - speaking of separated at birth - saw the same "Good Eats" and immediately went in search of 'real' cinnamon. At the time, we still had a Penzey Spice store in Squirrel Hill. Now I have to go to the Strip for my Penzey fixes. No hardship!

Soooo....I'm big on capers these days. Olive oil , garlic, capers and white whistishire then cook chicken to death in it. Serve over linguini or egg noodles. Yum!!!
Ginger I use for my stir fry. Fresh grated smells amazing. Add when you put in the soy sauce and pork tenderloin medallions at the end! Double yum!
My stuffing this year was a stove top cranberry basic then I baked corn bread to cut up and add to it with onions and celery and I chopped up a dried fruit and nut trail mix with soppings from the turkey. My cranberry sauce is simple. Cranberries, sugar and canned mandarine orange. Cook that to death too.
Nothing outrageously time consuming as I'm still taking costumes apart to clean and store.
We won't discuss cleaning the house but my son will be home from college Dec. 22nd and I have to dress the Living Nativity on the 13th. So many shepherds...so little time. And as my grandmother, Winnifred, always said "People with clean houses have nothing better to do!".
Just saying.

Kathy, I'm with you on those bizarre pregnancy-related food issues. I couldn't stand even the thought of pork after my first child was born. Only lately have I started eating---and enjoying--it again. Only took 28 years.

Cinnamon is also supposed to be helpful in controlled blood sugar.

Karen, the orange vegetable soup sounds very intriguing. Can we get more details, or maybe even the recipe?

Nancy, I made the bold cranberry relish and am now a fan! We've all been slapping it on wraps with lettuce and leftover turkey, and it's a huge hit.

Ginger is YUM. Though it took me years to look at it again after I had to grate boatloads of it by hand when I was in Guyana. The folks we were with used it to make a very spicy ginger tea.

A friend told me to buy ginger in capsules before my first cruise; it's the best thing for motion sickness and no drowsiness or other side effects like Dramamine. I still take it with me, in quantity so I can share. I've added candied ginger because it helps sore throat as well and doesn't need water for swallowing it. On both trips to Hawaii, fellow travelers had problems on the winding road up Mt. Haleakela. The ginger saved the trip for them (good thing I'm willing to "get into other people's business" -- born busybody, that's me).
Jamaican ginger beer is wonderful -- I keep some on hand in case of sick tummy, and if I don't NEED it for a long while, I drink it for fun and replace the emergency supply. . .come to think of it, Maria and I drank it one moving day -- I'd better buy some more! It might be fun to make a gingerbread house also!

A friend who travels a lot, and who also gets airsick easily, takes candied ginger with her everywhere she goes to calm a queasy tum. I use ginger tea when I get a sour stomach, and it works really well. Republic of Tea used to have an Orange Ginger Mint that I like, but I have not been able to find it the last couple times I've looked.

Kris, the recipe for the soup (which uses butternut squash, a small pumpkin, carrots, cinnamon, and a bunch of other ingredients) is online here:


Warning: it is labor-intensive, but really worth all the trouble.

I used to make a to-die-for salad dressing using miso. Will have to try to find that recipe again.

And I'm with Nancy on horseradish. Love it.

Note to self: check out Pennzey's.

I just bought pumpkin butter at a farm in Earth City -- delish!!
Nutrition Stop sells a dark chocolate bar with ginger -- Yum! There's also a good one with orange.
This sounds very good! --
a new recipe from the Barefoot Contessa - real gingerbread with fresh, rummed whipped cream.
Where does one find that recipe??

Yesterday, I used a brine (Alton Brown again) to soak the turkey for 6 hours before roasting.

The turkey was absolutely the juiciest turkey we have ever had. I didn't follow the last half of the recipe as our family likes their stuffing inside the bird and I combined it with the upside down roasting method which we've used for several years. We didn't have to salt the turkey either as the brine took care of it. Great flavor too!

The turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes were the only jobs I had yesterday. The other dishes were divided amongst the family. We had broccoli cheese casserole, baked pineapple, cole slaw, homemade rolls, pumpkin, lemon meringue and apple pies.

Had report from my daughter this morning around 10:30 a.m. that K-Mart was absolutely crazy this morning. She had to be at work by 5 a.m. for their 6 a.m. opening. I'll get the full 'Kmart Report' when she gets home later this afternoon. I did ask her if it was tailing off and she said that it keeps coming in spurts. In other economic news from Kmart: in her store alone they have millions of dollars of merchandise in lay-a-way this year. No one else still has lay-a-way and many people are taking advantage of it.

Saving the soup recipe, I came across one from Beliefnet for Broiled Ginger Salmon. This cooking thing could be fun!

I should have put this in my first comment this morning. Here's a link to Penzeys web site. You can order online, but a trip to a store is an experience not to be missed.


I discovered a little spice shop in Belleville,IL. Crystal & Spice. Spice Island crystalized ginger is $8.99 at grocery store, same amount is $2.99 there! And Vietnamese cinnamon (5% oil)is wonderful. Everything they have is so much cheaper (and fresher) than the crap in the grocery stores. I've even gotten my brother hooked on spice shopping there.
BTW Me, Margie, did you have any leftover RediWhip?

Peach, I used the Alton Brown brine also - LOVE what it does to a turkey. I did most of the cooking the day before, then finished the potatoes & stuffing in crock pots, which made life a bazillion times easier. And it was totally wonderful!

Here's the pork tenderloin recipe. I couldn't find the bottled fresh ginger, so I just grated my own.


Somewhere at home I have a Pear Gingerbread Upsidedown Cake recipe. The Gingerbread is wonderful - no sugar added, it uses grated apple and is amazingly moist. I love ginger, cinnamon, cloves, not so much with the nutmeg.

Cut up bits of candied ginger are lovely cooked into oatmeal or hot cereal. Or if you have to take any kind of bad tasting liquid medicine a piece of candied ginger is a great way to remove the taste from your mouth.

Because I am allergic to grains I make Pumpkin custard in a 13x9 pans and eat it for breakfast. Yum.

Did you know? If ginger root hasn't been chilled too cold, you can stick it in a pot of dirt & grown your own. I have one that's 4 or 5 yrs old.

I spent a chunk of my day yesterday with ginger, because my cranberry chutney calls for a full half cup of it, finely grated. Love it. It gives a real kick to the cranberries.

But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Mary Ann. I wanted to be GInger, but i WAS Mary Ann.

Judy, thanks for the pork recipe. It sounds delish.

A few years ago there was a recipe for pork loin in USA Weekend, the freebie magazine that comes in the Sunday paper in some cities. It calls for roasted garlic, dried cranberries and apricots, and a lot of rosemary. This will be the first Christmas in about 8 years I won't be making it for a lunch on that day. It is SO good.


Omigosh, a HALF CUP of grated ginger? I bet it took hours to grate. But it sounds wonderful.

Rita, I didn't know that. Can you harvest any of the root without harming the plant, or do you have to dig it up, cut it up, and then start over again in order to use any?

Rita, seriously? This may change my life--I tried so hard to grow a little slip of Hawaiian ginger that I bought in a gift shop and carefully carried back to L.A., with no success whatsoever! I'm off to Chinatown at first opportunity (fresh ginger, NOT chilled)to begin my new ginger-growing career.
Harley, you never fail to amaze, whether with recipes or roles conquered!
Ginger IS a fabulous spice: if you get over-chilled and headachey, try warming up with a nasty-tasting but hugely-effective combo of diced green onions, a couple of slices of ginger (and perilla leaves if you have 'em, spice lovers)--pour 8 oz. boiling water over them, let sit for not more than five minutes, then sip/drink it before a nice warm shower and crawling under layers of blankets. You'll sweat the chill right out of you and avoid cold/flu. For those who are squirming quietly at the thought of ginger, one caution that may apply: those who have gallbladder disease may find that they experience worse symptoms when eating ginger.

(William, please cue music)

Ginjah. Raw Ginjah.

I love fresh ginger, and use it in many dishes (anything I'm using onion, garlic, celery, etc., in). But one of my favorite spices is saffron. Not only does it make your food a pretty color, it has a lovely aroma and taste. You only need the tiniest pinch of the threads to add to rice or stews, etc.

Basil doesn't like me. Unfortunate, since EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is putting fresh basil on everything these days. I have to pick it off.

I also can't stand miso. The smell of it seems to get up into my sinuses and stay there for days. Ewww!

I've never tried to harvest any root from the plant but you're suppose to be able to cut a chunk off & the plant will keep growing
(use 3/4 potting mix & 1/4 sand, water lightly every 2 days)
I usually keep a hunk of root well wrapped in the freezer. You can grate it frozen on a microplane.

Just back from the mountains and wanted to get into the conversation.
A little candied ginger when you want something sweet after dinner is great -- it is so strongly flavored that a little bit satisfies. Trader Joes has good soft candied ginger; it's almost like gummi bears.

Kathy, root beer may have ginger in it, but its main flavoring is sassafras root. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_beer
"Sassafras bark was banned by the FDA in 1960 because of the carcinogenic properties of its constituent chemical safrole. A safrole-free variety is now used, with some claiming that it has a weaker flavor than the pre-1960 variety. Acacia is also used.
There are hundreds of root beer brands in the United States, produced in every U.S. state, and there is no standardized recipe. The primary ingredient, artificial sassafras flavoring, is complemented with other flavors, common ones being vanilla, wintergreen, cherry tree bark, liquorice root, sarsaparilla root, nutmeg, anise, molasses, cinnamon and clove."

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