Six weeks ago, when I joined Edelman Digital, I had grand thoughts that my new fast-paced career life would not derail my life in the kitchen and on this blog. How wrong I was. As I sprint to learn as much as I can on the new job, it’s been pretty quiet in the kitchen.
I now have a much deeper appreciation for the challenges of balancing a demanding job, household, personal life and finding time to eat well. When one sphere of life gets out of whack, something takes a back seat. So, instead of creating new things for the blog, I’ve been reaching back into the nearly 3 years of archives to cook old favorites. There is great comfort in cooking dishes you can make from memory and know that they will be good, improvising along the way to use whatever you have on hand. Here are a few of the staples I’ve come to rely on that make for good leftovers and quick dinners:
Mojo de Ajo – one big batch of this garlic gold can make any quickly prepared dish seem special – omelets, pasta with parmesan & asparagus, pizza…all are improved with a little mojo.
Quinoa – We’ve been hitting the quinoa habit pretty hard – I love cooking up a fluffy batch of quinoa in the rice cooker, and combining it with whatever veggies are in the fridge from our CSA or the Farmer’s Market for easy lunches.
Steel Cut Oats – You will always find our fridge shelves lined with stacks of single serve containers of oats for a quick, hearty breakfast. We were gifted with an abundance of rhubarb from a friend’s garden, so I’ve been making my oats with chopped rhubarb and strawberries…it’s nearly as good as a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie, and a whole lot healthier.
Eggs – Omelets and egg scrambles have been a blessing for nights when I get home late. I’ll typically grab some asparagus, spinach or chard and saute it up before adding a few beaten eggs, chives and a bit of cheese. Nothing fancy, but a satisfying dinner in under 10 minutes.
Lamb & Chard Tacos – We’ve been enjoying near weekly batches of these tacos, using whatever ground meat we have in the freezer – lamb, chicken, pork – anything will do. Likewise, any hearty green is welcome here – chard, kale, lacinato kale, spinach, beet greens – wash, chop and toss it into the pot at the last minute. I’ve been going for the convenience of Goya canned beans to keep things easy – black beans or chick peas are my staples.
I’ve also been doing a fair amount of traveling for the new gig. In May, I worked the BlogHer Food conference for a client, and dinner out with my fabulous foodie colleagues renewed my interest in interesting cocktail combinations and set my mind spinning. I returned home and made up a batch of this ginger syrup for some summery cocktails, inspired by the divine drinks we sipped on the patio at Bocado.
If you love ginger ale, and feel disappointment in the lack of ginger zing in typical ginger beers, then this syrup is for you. Combine 1oz of ginger syrup with 8oz of soda water and stir for a ginger ale with real zing – add a squeeze of lime if you’re feeling fancy. Sparkling ginger lemonade is also becoming a favorite – 1.5oz of ginger syrup, plus the juice of half a lemon and soda water will make a couple tumblers of very fine lemonade on a hot afternoon.
For a spicy adult beverage, throw some ice in a cocktail shaker and add 1.5oz of ginger syrup, the juice of half a lemon, 2oz of bourbon and shake vigorously. Pour into two tumblers with a few ice cubes, and top off with a little soda water and enjoy on a hot summer day, preferably outdoors.
Ginger Syrup & Crystallized Ginger
Makes about 3 cups of syrup & 1 cup of crystallized ginger
1.5 cups fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
- Peel ginger and slice into rounds about 1/8 inch thick rounds.
- Mix sugar and water in a large sauce pan and bring to boil. When sugar is dissolved, add ginger and boil uncovered for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, the ginger should be sweet and tender. Pour the ginger syrup through a sieve into a clean 1 quart glass jar, seal and stash in the fridge for future use. Reserve the ginger slices.
- Place the ginger slices on a baking rack to dry for 30 minutes, then place the ginger in a small bowl and add 2-3 T of sugar and toss with to coat.
- Return the ginger to the baking rack to dry for another 30 minutes, then store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
What’s your favorite way to get that ginger zing? Please share your tips & tricks for cooking with ginger in the comments below…