Archive for the 'Let’s Eat! It’s Alimentary, My Dear' Category

Aug 21 2014

Candied Ginger — It’s Mal de Marvelous

Ginger Root

If you’re wondering what the rather odd‑looking object in the photo is, it’s a piece of fresh ginger root. To be stridently pedantic, the “root” is a rhizome, or underground stem, but since you’re not likely to find a label saying “ginger rhizome” on any bin in the HyperMart produce section, ginger root it is. And the smell is as distinctive as the appearance, a pungent but not unpleasant aroma attributed to a number of volatile oils, many of which have demonstrated physiologic properties.

Of course, most of us know ginger by taste, rather than smell. What would gingerbread or ginger cookies be without this versatile spice? But ginger is good for a lot more than just making gingerbread men. Sailors drink ginger tea to prevent or allay seasickness, and back in the day, Farwell found that chewing candied ginger root helped to settle his stomach during short but memorable forays in assault boats (aka “rubber duckies”). He also made use of the selfsame remedy when dinghy sailing on the Neuse River Inlet and Pamlico Sound, and he still keeps a supply on hand for times when the wind and the waves join forces to upset his internal equilibrium. That said, it would be neither wise nor prudent to assume ginger will work the same magic for you. A good summary of the relevant literature, including the evidence bearing on safety and efficacy, can be found in the Wikipedia article on ginger, but any specific questions or concerns should be referred to your doctor.

OK. Are you satisfied that nothing prevents you from taking your ginger straight? And does the doc agree? Good. Then you might want to give it a try, particularly if you often make long open‑water crossings — or like to engage in a bit of canoe or kayak sailing — and you sometimes find that the state of your stomach mirrors the state of the sea around you. You’ll find plenty of products to choose from in health‑food stores, food co‑ops, and “Oriental” (Asian) markets. But be sure you read the small print before you part with your money. All that glisters is not gold, and not all gingery nostrums contain appreciable amounts of real ginger.

There is another way of being sure you get what you pay for, however. Buy fresh ginger root and make your own candied ginger?… Read more…

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Jun 24 2014

A DIY Recovery Drink: Can You Say Naturally Refreshing?

I’m not a bike racer, and I don’t train to race, but hauling a load of groceries the 12 hilly miles back from town can still be a workout. So can long amphibious jaunts in the mountains, especially when the humidity keeps pace with the temperature. I snack and drink regularly while I’m on the road, but it’s not unusual for me to lose a few pounds in the course of a long day, a pretty sure indication that I’m a bit dehydrated. And when my sweat doesn’t taste salty, I know my intake of electrolytes (salts) has also been sub-par. I try to put this right ASAP. Most of the time this means drinking more water and eating some fresh fruit, or even having a light meal. But when time presses, I have another solution: I make a recovery drink.

That’s “make” and not “buy.” Yes, the local HyperMart has plenty of candidates on its shelves. But I’m a DIY type. And just as I prefer my homebrew Newt Nectar to commercial energy ‘ades, I find I like my DIY recovery drink better than any store-bought variety. I know exactly what goes into it, for one thing, and I can usually save a few pennies in the process. Want to give my Second Wind a try? All you need is a banana that’s a little past its prime and a splash of low-fat or skim milk, just to thin the drink a bit and to add some protein to the banana’s natural sugars and vitamins. A quick whirl in a food processor is all it takes.

Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t experiment with a few variations on the theme. Second Wind has many faces. In addition to the banana, I often include one or more of the following:

  • Cherries (pitted, of course)
  • Peach or Nectarine (I leave on the peel)
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Marmalade
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Low Fat or Skimmed Milk

Here’s a for-instance to get you started: Break one overripe banana into pieces and put them in a blender or small food processor. Add any of the additional ingredients that appeal to you (chop up larger fruit first), then toss in a splash of milk or a tablespoon or two of yogurt to thin the mash and blend until you have a thick drink. Add a couple of tablespoons of crushed ice if you want to cool things down, and give it another whirl in the blender. Then drink up! You’ll get your Second Wind in no time.

If I’m down to my last banana—with no other fruit in the house and only a few tablespoons of milk or yogurt left in the fridge, I throw in some jam or marmalade to add sweetness. Simple and good. Just what your body needs after a hard, hot day. Give it a try!

Refreshing and Fruity

This article was originally published in a slightly different form on July 24, 2010.

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Jun 19 2014

Making a Meal of Hash, Without Making a Hash of the Meal

Hash in the Pan

I loved hash when I was a kid, which was a very good thing, because it was a mainstay of the school lunch menu in the little farm town where I grew up. And hash still had a place in my life — and on my table — when I went off to college. Not only was canned hash cheap, but it could be found on the shelves of every corner store. It brought a touch of home comfort to my austerely furnished student room, too.

That being the case, you won’t be surprised to hear that canned hash found its way into my pack, where it remains to this day. I’ve ditched the can, though. Having mastered the art of preparing hash from scratch, I now make my own. The result is a main dish that’s quick, easy, and cheap. It also goes down well at any hour of the day, from a before‑dawn breakfast to a late‑night supper. In short, hash is excellent camp fare.

Not convinced? Then let’s take a closer look at hash… Read more…

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