Saturday, July 14, 2012

Foodie Faves: Ginger

Color plate from Köhler's Medicinal Plants

Today’s bloguette is not only a day late, the topic is nothing new. Literally. Writing about ginger has been a foodie practice almost as old as the use of ginger itself. According to the web site for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (a.k.a. Kew Gardens), the Hindu epic Mahabharata, written around the 4th century BC, describes a meal where meat is stewed with ginger and other spices. Who knew that ancient Hindu Vyasa was a foodie?

I like ginger in almost any form – powdered in ginger snaps, pickled with sushi, grated in Roasted Sesame Green Beans, candied in Sweet Potato Ginger Soufflé,... I have an enduring memory of my mother bringing me ginger ale on ice any time I had the flu as a child. She knew ginger is a tasty way to settle a queasy stomach.

Raw ginger rhizomes, which is a staple in my freezer.

But among these various forms, my favorite is candied ginger. It has the best combination of taste and portability, which is why it’s also the form most often recommended to fight nausea – with chemotherapy patients, with morning sickness in pregnancy, with seasickness, or with post-op nausea. It’s even good as a fat-free snack, though it’s definitely not low-cal.

Candied ginger from Penzeys Spices

In addition to snacking on the stuff, I use it as often as I can with other foods:

■ I sprinkle it on the whipped cream I serve atop my Aunt Marcy’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.

■ I mix it with sections of Texas Red Grapefruit (the official state fruit of Texas) for a dessert.

■ I add it with a teaspoon of honey to plain yogurt for breakfast.

■ I substitute it for the raisins in my mother-in-law’s recipe for Scones.

And I welcome any other suggestions!

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