Thursday, July 3, 2014

Home Brewed Ginger Beer

This may look just like a small glass of drink. Maybe even a glass of ginger beer, which it is! But did you know it's homemade? So easy! You can do it, too! Even better with added Anchor Steam's whiskey, Old Potrero.

This non-alcoholic fermented beverage is created with the help of making a ginger bug. I got my recipe from Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. For those of you who don't know, Sandor Elliot Katz is a fermentation genius. Aside from touting the health benefits of fermentation, which are huge, Katz makes the idea of fermentation way less daunting than some other authors. He makes me excited to begin fermenting things. And going through the process of starting a new ferment makes me feel like a creative scientist, which is an added bonus!

Here's how to make a ginger bug:
In a clean, hopefully sterilized mason jar or bowl, place a couple of tablespoons of grated/minced ginger, with the skin still on, and a tablespoon or 2 of turbinado (or even white) sugar. Add a cup of water. Stir, place cheesecloth on top, and let sit. For the next couple of days, add a bit more ginger and a bit more sugar (but not more water), until the mixture develops bubbles on the surface. Once the bubbles appear, you know that some friendly bacteria are eating that sugar and releasing CO2, the stuff that makes your soda bubbly. Congrats. You have created a Ginger Bug!

Now, bring a pot of water to boil. 4 c water, 2 c sugar, 6 inches grated or minced ginger, skin on!
Let this ginger base cool. Add juice of 2 lemons, 12 more cups of water, and when it is definitely cooled completely, add your ginger bug! Stir well. Strain through cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve, and bottle in sterilized bottles. I used these awesome fellers with swing tops. Place bottles in a dark place, and let ferment for 2 or more weeks, then move to the fridge for a couple of days and enjoy with ice, plain, or whiskey!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back! For Summer CSA goodness

After an extended hiatus, I'm back, with amazing produce from our organic CSA. If you don't remember from last year's explanation, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It's a coop system where you pay a fixed fee in the beginning of the season as an investment in the farm, and then each week, for a few months, you get a share - think of it as your dividend, in edibles!

Getting a CSA can be particularly daunting. So many vegetables, so little time! What can you do? How do you use them all (or most) before the next week's share comes in? I find the process a bit overwhelming sometimes, and I was a bit worried about this week, since Mr. Ripe is away. Lots of vegetables, all for me. What's a girl to do?

This past week, we got some really good stuff. Fresh onions with greens attached, garlic scapes, arugula, salad mix, summer squash, sugar snap peas, shell peas... I'm sure I'm forgetting something... oh - Parsley. A good mix of things green and other colors.

Dinner last night highlighted the CSA bounty: 2 grilled pizzettes, one with garlic scape pesto and mozzarella, the other with smashed blanched shell peas, grilled zucchini slices, mozzarella, and shredded boiled egg to finish. I sat outside with a friend and munched away, and then enjoyed the latest batch of infused vodka (nectarine/lime/ginger).

What a summer night! Below you'll find the recipe for scape pesto, and an introduction to what, exactly, a scape is:

A garlic scape is the bit of green that grows out of planted hardneck garlic that farmers chop off so as to not let the green drain the garlic bulb of its energy. The green is cut and sometimes sold at the farmers market or thrown into your CSA, and the garlic bulb is left in the ground to grow a bit more before it's harvested.

Scape pesto is like basil pesto, only without the basil, and garlicky!
I used 1/2 c roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/4 c of blanched almonds, toasted, or sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds, or a mix of all!
3 T grated parmesan
1/2 to 1 t salt
juice of half one lemon
1/4 c olive oil or grapeseed oil

Put the scapes, nuts, parm, salt in a food processor. Chop it up real well in there. Then alternatively add lemon juice and oil as the machine is running. Scrape down sides and run again, until a smooth paste is formed. Add more oil if necessary. Taste, add salt or more lemon as needed.