Lemon Ginger Honey

Ginger, Lemon and Honey for a soothing drink.

This summer on Pinterest I saw a recipe for mixing sliced lemon with honey, and letting it age in the fridge. When your throat is sore, you add a spoonful to hot water and sip. I made a batch with chunks of ginger, and it is wonderful. I have researched it a bit, and the original post on Pinterest seems to have come from the blog “A Little Life.” The trouble with Pinterest is that it is hard to find sources for things. Also, the other problem is that it is a time suck. An incredible time suck.

The original instructions said that it kind of becomes “like marmelade” in the jar. It does, kind of. I used it at all stages of” marmeladification” and now that my jar is almost empty, I can’t say I can tell a difference between the first week and now. I do know that after my first cold of the year, my jar is empty, and I am making another batch.

My 6 step method:

  • Scrub a lemon- organic is probably better, since you are ingesting the peel
  • Slice thinly and place in jar- 1 small lemon is good for a pint canning jar
  • Peel and chop a thumb sized knob of fresh ginger root, add to jar
  • Cover in honey
  • Use a chopstick to get rid of air pockets, if necessary
  • Seriously, you don’t have a chopstick floating around?
  • I got a really nice set from my secret santa last year. Secret santas are the best.

See- another one of my “not-really-a-recipe recipes”

As the lemon juice mixes with the honey, it becomes very liquid, then becomes more viscous. My first jar has maybe one more scoop left, which might be a bad thing, considering this cold.


Lemon Syrup and First-ever Giveaway

Brighten up late winter (yes, it's late winter, not spring, yet) with citrus.

Last summer I started making a lemon simple syrup to put in my iced tea- it adds sweetness and zing, without having to cut up lemons every time. Easy to make, and keeps a long time in the fridge. This winter I did it with Meyer lemons  and it had an amazing fragrance to it. However, Meyer lemon season is over, and my pint of syrup is gone, so it’s time for another batch. This could conceivably be used on desserts or pancakes as well, but around here, we just use it for tea.

I use a microplane grater to get the zest, which is just the yellow part, of the lemon. I love this tool- it was originally designed for woodworking, but it works great as a very fine, very sharp grater. I use it for parmesan cheese, raw ginger and zest. When I was cleaning off the top of the fridge, I discovered one that I got a few years ago as a premium for subscribing to Cook’s Illustrated.  The best comment on this post before Wednesday 3/9 will receive it as a prize. Tell me why you need a microplane grater, why you deserve it, why you want one… Remember, I’m an English teacher – answers written in poetry might get bonus points.

Lemon Simple Syrup
zest from 3 lemons
juice from 3 lemons, plus enough water to make 1 cup
1 cup granulated sugar.

The most onerous task is zesting the lemons. I have a microplane zester, which I highly recommend,  but I can’t stand it when recipes require some tool which hardly anyone has. If you don’t win the zester, use a grater, or even a potato peeler. Be careful not to get the white part of the peel, it will make it bitter.

The girl was helping out, and the boy was giving unneeded advice.

Mix the juice, water, zest and sugar in a pan and boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

eyeew, maybe I need to clean the stovetop...don't simmer too long, you just want to flavor it, not reduce it.

Allow to simmer a few minutes, cool for a few minutes, then pour through a fine mesh strainer. I pour it into a pyrex measuring cup, then into a bottle with a pourer.  I store it in the fridge, although I don’t know how fast it would go bad on the counter…I wonder about doing this with other flavors- what about chai? or raspberry? The simple part means that it is an equal ratio- 1 part sugar and 1 part liquid, so it could theoretically be any flavorful liquid…I may have to experiment.

The Logee’s Catalogue

I am on so many plant mailing lists- they know a sucker discriminating plant buyer when they see one. www.logees.com Got a new one the other day, and on one hand, it drives me crazy, and on the other hand, I feel very want-y about,  like, 6 different items. Logee’s specializes in tropical and subtropical plants for containers and greenhouses. I crave almost everything in this thing.

What drives me crazy is the organization. Flipping through it, there are figs and citrus on this page, then blueberries and passionflower, then…more figs and citrus…then papaya and sugar cane, then…another page with figs. Then more citrus. OOh, vanilla! But I have researched this already, and to grow vanilla you need a 2 story greenhouse. (SOMEDAY!)

What tempts me is the Meyer lemon plant, at only $11.50. In most other catalogues, Meyer lemons run about $50. I realize it will be tiny, and I will have to wait many years for the sweet little aromatic lemons to grow to maturity. At this point in my life, though, I honestly do have more time than money.

Also tempted by a tea plant- imagine, I could grow my own tea!!! And a coffee plant- I could grow my own coffee!!! And papyrus- I could grow my own…Egyptian paper!!!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

What’s the opposite of rice pudding?

The boy’s first grade teacher asked me the other day to make up a batch of rice pudding for their “Christmas around the World” party on Friday.  I thought, “ooooh, I can blog it.” Little did I know that everyone else in the world has blogged it also- google has a ton of extremely “authentic”  Swedish rice pudding recipes. I threw out the ones that called for evaporated milk, and raisins (bleah! the texture!) and also decided I didn’t want to get into separating eggs and making a meringue to spread on the pudding, who cares whether that’s authentic or not?

So, first we weren't Jewish and making latkes, now we're not Swedish, and making rice pudding. I wonder what we aren't going to be next? Chinese, I hope, or Mexican...

            I wound up taking what I know about rice, and what I know about pudding, and making a leap. I can’t really say it’s authentically anything, though. Note- I used 1% milk, because that is what we always have. This would probably be better with whole milk. Also, I just got a brainstorm, what about steeping a Chai tea bag in the milk? Of course, then it would not only be not Swedish, it wouldn’t be great for first graders, either…

Beating the eggs with the sugar, and then adding the hot milk a little at a time prevents the eggs from scrambling.


First Grade Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice (you know how to cook rice, right?)

2 cups milk

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat the milk to almost boiling in a large, heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, beat sugar and vanilla into eggs. Temper the eggs by adding about half a cup of hot milk to the eggs and mixing, then add that mixture to the rest of the hot milk.  Now add the cooked rice to the egg and milk mixture. Add all of it to a casserole dish nested inside another dish.

This is a casserole nested inside a 9x13 lasagne pan. I poured an inch of hot water in once it was in the oven.

Sprinkle with the spices. Place the pans in the oven, and carefully add hot water to the outside pan. This forms a water bath, and helps the custard cook evenly. Cook for one hour at 350 degrees, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

            One of the traditional things Swedes do with this pudding on Christmas Eve is put an almond in it about 10 minutes before it is finished. Legend has it that whoever gets the almond in their serving will get married the next year.  That will go over well with the first graders…

So, as I see it, rice pudding is a blank slate- what would you do with it?

Heating the house with tea

The tea stein.

So, as rain turns to snow outside my window, I have begun the yearly process of trying to heat the house with tea. It works, somewhat. After a gloriously warm and dry fall, we are finally getting some cold weather.
We live in an older house, a mid-century-fabulous, low-slung ranch, with huge windows facing East and West in the living room. Love the house, but it isn’t very draft proof. DH said something about using a stick of incense to find the drafts in the front window, and I said, “Oh, so you can caulk the cracks?” He looked shifty eyed- he hadn’t thought about it that far. We don’t have a caulking gun, so it would involve a trip to Home Depot. Home Depot is a place that makes DH very uncomfortable.
So, I am heating my house with tea. In the past I have tried heating with a pot of soup, simmering away all afternoon. I have also tried it with chocolate chip cookies, but I’d like to be able to zip my ski pants, so instead, it’s tea.
Before I got my electric tea pot, I used to fill the kettle, turn it on high, walk away. When I eventually returned, it would be boiled away. I would have heard the whistle, if the whistle hadn’t broken. This runs in the family. My dad would do the same thing, walk away, get caught up in something, and when he came back, the pot would have boiled dry and started to melt. He burned through the bottom of several tea kettles this way. Eventually, he started making tea in the microwave. This has been suggested to me, but with the microwave you don’t have the advantage of heating up the house as well.

To me, winter interest means it looks good through a window, covered with snow, while I drink tea.

It is probably only psychological, that the house is warmer when the teapot is going, but the placebo effect can’t explain everything. So, once the water is boiling, I slosh some sugar into my big pottery stein, add a teabag and fill it with water. I cup the mug in my hands to warm them, try a sip, but of course it is far too hot to even slurp carefully, so I bring it to the couch, and set it on the end table to cool. Or, sometimes I sit cross legged and put it in my lap, although that sounds kind of creepy, now that I see it written down in black and white. I hear your diagnosis, “deep rooted psycho-sexual problems.”
The tea finally cools enough to drink, and the pottery mug keeps it warm for a longish time, but by the time it is half done, it is too cold, so, I turn on the kettle again, go to the bathroom, and when I get back the water is hot, and I refill. Now, here is the beautiful part, since it is half cold, the tea is just right, immediately, so with the second round, I don’t have to wait as long. The tea might be weak, though, so I tip some more sugar in from the bowl, and add another tea bag. The process repeats itself all afternoon, all winter.

This is a broccoli plant- and after the snow melted, I actually picked the broccoli- and it's fine!