What Ales You

So far, 2013 has been the year of the bug.  Save for a few days last week, one of us has been sick since day one.  We both have our own way of dealing when we’re under the weather.  My other half refuses any sort of drug therapy, opting to suck on cloves of garlic (forcing me swiftly to the other side of the house).  I’m a little less puritan about these things and will happily down a dose of Sudafed or anything that will rockabye baby.   We both, however, honor and  respect the power of nutrition in both prevention and healing.  So today, on day five of this lousy cold, I’m waging war.  My weapon – the biggest hunk of ginger I could find.

I’ve been researching homemade ginger ale recipes and decided to mashup a few of those that look best.  Most call for a traditional simple syrup made by simmering ginger into sugar and water.  I wanted to keep things as clean as possible so I opted for honey instead of refined sugars.  I also added cardamom seeds to amp up the flavor.  And of course, lots of fresh squeezed lemon.

[Slice 1 1/2 cup of raw ginger.]

[Combine the ginger + 1/4 cup cardamom seeds + 1 cup honey with 1 1/2 cups water.
Bring to a boil then reduce to  simmer  for 20 min.]

[Strain the syrup and allow to cool.]

[Collect 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice – roughly 1 1/2 lemons.]

[Add 2 tbsp of syrup and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to a glass of ice.  Top with 1 cup of sparkling water.]

This really is the perfect concoction.  Sparkling and spicy with a bit of tang and not too sweet.
Maybe I’m just desperate to feel less lousy but I’m pretty sure I can feel it working.
Bye bye, bug!

xo – Heather



When the doooog bites. When the bee stings.

What is it called when a thing that defines a thing actually is that thing?  Put another way, if I were to say that The Sound of Music is one of my favorite things, what would you call that?  I mean, besides incredibly predictable.

I’m also loving:

– Slipping back into bed after an early morning run.
– My makeshift fireplace: lighting the fire pit outside and opening the curtains.
– Strategizing a vacation packing plan. Five weeks out.
– A Harry Potter marathon.
– The fact that I can’t find anywhere to volunteer on Thanksgiving because every organization in need has filled their open positions.
– A glass of syrah and a bowl of Castelvetrano olives.
– The nostalgia of holiday tradition.
– And the waft of warm butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Specifically, before noon.  Specifically, during months November and December.  And specifically, enjoyed while still in pajamas.

A tradition for your consideration:

CINNAMON, BLUEBERRY, BAKED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients
1 loaf crusty sourdough or french bread
8 whole eggs
2 + 1/4 cups whole milk
¾ cups sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

Topping
½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoons salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
fresh blueberries (apples would also be fantastic here)

Preparation
Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and combine with the dry mixture until it resembles fine pebbles. I use clean hands for this. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove from fridge and layer the blueberries and then the crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firm, more cake-like texture.

Top each warm portion with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

Have a great week!