Last week I made bagels. They're not half bad! And it wasn't quite as hard as I thought it be (mostly just the timing, since Shelby kinda needs me a lot, seeing as how she's a baby). Kneading the dough for five minutes made drops of sweat run down my back and reminded me that my mom has my Kitchenaid mixer! They aren't as "pretty" as store-bought, but I'm pretty proud of them:
For Thanksgiving, I made dressing, pumpkin pies, and ginger ale. Sometimes I have trouble feeling like I made some things (like the dressing and the pie) "from scratch" if they have something in them from a can or box. I don't know who I think I am ... am I going to only consider something homemade if I grow the grain, thresh it, and grind it into flour myself too?
Even then - I didn't create grain. Only God can do that. So really everything is from Him. Maybe that's a roundabout way to think about it, but I like to. Even when I bake a pie, that pie is from God! And that, if you ask me, is one of those things child-like faith is about. God gave me this scrumptious piece of pie. He created pumpkins, my grandma whose recipe it is, and my hands that put it together.
So currently my "signature" homemade item is my ginger ale (which is more like ginger beer). If you don't like ginger, you wouldn't like it - I like it pretty strong. It really isn't that hard! I'd be happy to share my current recipe (it does change a bit here and there over time):
- 3/4 a cup turbanado* (raw) sugar
- Unchlorinated water
- Fresh ginger root
- Champagne yeast**
- 2 lemons
- A thoroughly cleaned 2 liter bottle
- Add the sugar to 1 cup of unchlorinated water in a sauce pan.
- Grate "enough" ginger (I'm not even sure how I judge when its "enough", but I'd say two inches of good thick ginger root is a decent guesstimate). I highly recommend a ginger grater for this. Crate & Barrel sells (or at least sold at one time?) one for about $5 made of porcelain - I just love the "vintage" look. Though when we moved someone put it in the bathroom, probably thinking it was a soap dish.
- Heat the water, sugar, and finely grated ginger just until the sugar dissolves. Cover and let steep for an hour or so.
- Strain out the pulp using a fine mesh strainer. I've never tried it, but cheesecloth might work? Really press it and get all the syrup out!
- I like to go ahead and add some water to my 2 liter before adding the syrup using a funnel.
- Add the champagne yeast through the funnel, and wash it down with a little more water. At this point I like to fill the bottle about 3/4 of the way up. In my mind this protects the little yeasts from the acidity of the lemon juice by diluting it as it comes in ... but that may just be silly?
- Squeeze in the juice of the two lemons. I love my funnel, as it came with a strainer with openings a great size for catching lemon seeds. Tim taught me a trick for really maximizing the juice output while minimizing the hand-crampage ... roll the lemon on a hard surface firmly before cutting it.
- Fill the 2 liter the rest of the way, leaving about two inches of air from the lid.
- Replace the lid, and give the bottle a gentle shake. Place it in a warm area where you won't forget about it ... it can explode if forgotten!
- Squeeze the bottle from time to time, and when it gets tight, burp it! Watch for carbonation in your ginger ale, and when it is to your liking refrigerate it to stop the process.
**I use champagne yeast as it lends less of its own flavor to the drink ... I don't want my ginger ale to taste too "yeasty."
If you like adult drinks, Tim found me one that uses ginger beer which my homemade ginger ale is great for called a "Moscow Mule." Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over ice in a tall glass and add 1.5 oz your choice of vodka. Fill the rest of the glass with homemade ginger ale and enjoy!
Now if only I could grow sugar cane and ginger ... and start a little champagne yeast colony. Actually speaking of colonies ... if anyone has some good suggestions for where to get or how to start a sourdough, and some recipes for using it ... I'm all ears!