Monday, December 22, 2014

Homemade Honey Lemon Ginger Tea

Dear Reader,

A few days ago E turned to me and said, "I feel like I'm coming down with something." These words cause a million alarms to go off in my head because E is quite often sick and very very often tired (which leads to him be sick, etc.). Our remedy is to usually take a food based multi vitamin, probiotics, cod liver oil, and vitamin C. Oftentimes this does the trick but if we catch it too late we load him up with a cup of nice hot tea. Ginger, with its natural healing properties and the boost it gives to your immune system is key, but you need to take it fresh, raw and in large quantities. Here is my homemade recipe. I usually fill a mason jar and keep it in the fridge and it stays fresh for at least 3 weeks!

Honey Lemon Ginger Tea
Makes about 1 quart 

1 cup of grated or sliced ginger (about 5-6 medium sized ginger pieces)
3 lemons
8 ounces of honey (I usually end up using 12 ounces)

Honey Lemon Ginger Tea
Scrape off the skin of the ginger using a peeler or the back of a spoon. Once all the skin is off rinse the ginger to clean off any bits that may still be attached. You can thinly slice the ginger or you can put them into a food processor and purée.  I grated mine because I like to get it really small so that it's easier to consume and all the nice juices come out into the tea. Put into a bowl. Next, clean your lemons and zest the skin of two lemons into the ginger. Slice the lemon pieces and cut into quarters and add to the ginger. Then add the honey. Mix well and pour into a bottle (air tight if possible). You can drink some right away but it will get more potent when you let it marinate. After the tea has been in the jar for a day or two, the ginger taste will be noticeably spicier, but don't fear because that's the good stuff! Feel free to eat the ginger as well, the more the better. Turmeric is another great addition with some amazing healing properties. I haven't tried it yet, but hope to for my next round. Stay healthy this winter!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Holiday Season and Cauliflower Puree

Dear Reader,

It's the holiday season, yet this year my holiday feeling-ness has been slow to come. Maybe because it has been warmer this year than the past, and there has hardly been any snow on the ground. Maybe because I have been feeling pretty lethargic and have yet to come up with a substantial list of holiday goods to bake or meals to make. Whatever it is, I have been slow to join the festivities and I want to rectify this asap. This week E and I have been on vacation, a staycation really, and we have been lazy McGees. All the ambitions of reorganizing our kitchen, de-cluttering, clearing out the linen closet, watching broadway shows and christmas concerts, long drives, etc., have flown out the window and we are instead here on the couch, where have been for the last 4 days. We did drive up to Rhinebeck and to the Culinary Institute of America to have their yummy apple pie and peanut butter latte at the Apple Pie Bakery. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves to cook - their bookstore alone is euphoric.

Cauliflower Puree
I have been thinking of holiday sweets to bake and have only come up with a few items, which I will post about later. For now, let's talk about cauliflower puree. Ever had it? If not, you are certainly missing out! E and I recently had it while in Montreal (which I will have to do a restaurant review of later because it was a culinary party in my mouth that must be memorialized) while at Hotel Herman, the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life. Big statement and I mean it. We had the guinea flower atop of a bed of cauliflower puree and after the entirety of the fowl was consumed, I could not stop spooning the puree into my mouth. Each spoonful was bliss. There were squeals of joy, giggling and lots of words with overuse of exclamation points. So when we returned, I decided to make some for our dinner party of 10.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quick Homemade Dinner - Thai Curry Night

Dear Reader,

Tonight was one of those nights that was so similar to every other weeknight. I got into my car and raced home, starving, stomach eating into itself and I was angry at the world for putting so many obstacles in between me and my next meal. This is what hangry looks like. Hungry + Angry = Hangry. That's me at 6:00 p.m. The stomach rumbles usually start rolling in at around 4:00 p.m. where I then reach into my stash of Trader Joe's trail mix. By the time I'm on the road I've become an entirely different being. This. is. serious.

Nights like these mandate meals that are quick and easy to prepare, yet are still healthy, delicious and filling (for the very hungry man that lives with me). One such meal is my version of Red Thai Curry, a dish that is seemingly complex but is actually quite simple. Prep time is about 20 minutes (give or take) and ingredients can all be found at your local grocery store. Except for one ingredient, fish sauce, that is usually found in any Asian market.

Red Thai Curry
Makes enough for 3-4 bowls

1 14 oz. can of coconut milk (I use light coconut milk - you can use regular)
1 tablespoon of oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 cup of broth (chicken, beef or vegetable. If you don't have broth, you can use water instead)
2 tablespoons of red curry paste (you might want to add more curry paste as you taste test)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce (you might want to add more fish sauce as you taste test)
2 chicken breasts, diced
Mixed vegetables (I like to use broccoli, squash and carrots, but you can substitute with whatever you like)

Start by opening the can of coconut milk and setting it aside. You will need to reach for this quickly in the early stages, you'll see. In a saucepan, pour in the the oil and wait until it gets hot on medium heat. Then add the minced garlic, stirring until aromatic. Add the red curry paste, stirring quickly until the paste begins to loosen and spread. Careful, the oil with the paste will start "popping" and you may get hot paste shooting out at you! I like to mix for a few seconds, then quickly pour in the can of coconut milk, the broth, fish sauce and bay leaves and close the lid. If you haven't diced the chicken yet, you can do so while the liquid goodness continues to heat. Once the chicken is diced, add it to the liquid and simmer. After about 6-8 minutes, add in the vegetables and continue to simmer. Squash tends to cook quickly and gets mushy, so if you want to put it in a minute after the harder vegetables, do so, however, I tend to just put everything in at once.

Thai Coconut Milk Curry
So much of this recipe depends on your preference for the curry flavor. Taste test after the chicken has been cooking for at least 8 minutes. I usually end up putting a bit more curry (1/2 tbsp) and sometimes a bit more fish sauce. Once the veggies are soft, turn off the heat. Pour over a bowl of brown rice (or white, up to you), mix, and eat. Bon appetite!

There are a lot of versions of this recipe out there and I have tried a few. But in my opinion, a lot of the additional fuss doesn't make a huge difference for me, especially if I want this to be an easy go-to meal during a weeknight (and during my hangry moments). You can substitute tofu for the chicken. I take this opportunity to pack on the vegetables and like to include snow peas, cauliflower, etc. since this is one of the ways I can trick E to eating more veggies, and since he is also eating the broth a lot of the nutrients are still being consumed. Basil, lime basil, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and potatoes are also some additional flavors and veggies commonly included.