Thursday, September 9, 2010

Try It Until You Master It!

A good friend of mine often invites me over for dinner. She is really into organic foods and I love to try her recipes, some her own, and others from friends and cookbooks. She is one of those people that can cook from a magazine and have it turn out EXACTLY the way it looks in the photo. I on the other hand know my way around a kitchen, but not nearly as well as this kitchen veteran.

The best example is a mistake I made a few months ago that still causes me slight embarrassment (OK, I've embarrassed myself enough in life to not feel it, but I know I should be.) In her refrigerator, I discovered a half pitcher of wonderful Ginger Lemonade. It was sweet, but had a great peppery kick of gingery-goodness. Of course, myself and her daughters enjoyed the remainder of the lemonade. I thought the only right thing to do would be to replace it by making a new pitcher. I had no recipe, but I figured, lemons, ginger, sugar, pretty simple, right? WRONG! I chopped the ginger root and added it to the lemonade that I made. *sigh* It was good lemonade, but was missing the kick. Where was the kick!?! IT WAS STILL IN THE GINGER! Apparently boiling the ginger was the only way to extract the flavor. (There is a little more to it, check out the recipe.) I felt silly, she laughed, the girls laughed, we drank it anyway. Moral of the story: Just because there are three ingredients doesn't mean it will be easy if you have never worked with it. With any unfamiliar spice, don't be afraid to use it, just remember to do a little research to find recipes that prepare it in different ways; it will give you great (and sometimes not so great) ideas. Here is a similar recipe that I make at home. It isn't the same as the kitchen wiz's, but all chefs have their secrets! ;)

Ginger Lemonade

4 cups lemon juice
4 quarts water
3 cups sugar
14 slices of fresh ginger

    Put water, sugar and ginger root together in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in 4 cups of lemon juice (Fresh please. Yes, I am being a snob about it.). Let it sit and cool for about 20 minutes or so, then remove the ginger root pieces if you would like to. I leave mine in for texture. Chill your ginger lemonade before serving. Sliced ginger will make strong lemonade, but if you really like the ginger taste, you could chop it into smaller pieces for more flavor.