Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ginger Ale(s)

I've been thinking about audience and genre as if it were my job or something.  When I post on this blog, to whom am I writing?  To my mom?  To my LA friends who appear in this blog?  To my old co-op mates I haven't seen in a year or two?  To the hot girl I just gave my blog address to (hi)?  To the women in my choir?  To my professors, who are probably wondering where I get all the time to blog?  To the community of vegan bloggers who read each other's stuff?  Or to the anonymous readers around the world who find this blog by googling things like "cookies are not for julia" or "tempeh chocolate corn pie"?

My friend Julia--no, not me--came to visit this weekend from her new home in San Francisco.  She brought me a pretty bottle and two recipes for ginger ale.  Naturally, we had to make both of them.

Circumstances led us to Ralph's for ginger, which was 268% more expensive per pound than it was at Jon's.  O, let me count the ways...

Julia also mastered the art of zesting (at right), and pronounced, "I would rather do this than hang out with some people."

The recipes were great: the first one is not carbonated; it's a syrup you mix with soda water.  It was spicy and flavorful, though if you needed to skip the lemon grass I'm sure you could.

The second recipe is fizzy--so fizzy.  Who knew 1/4 tsp yeast could do so much damage?  I reduced the sugar a bit, because I don't really like sweet things, but not too much, as I knew the yeast needed something to work on.

We made our ales, put them into pretty bottles, and were proud of our work.  We watched with pride and excitement as the yeasted ale got fizzier and fizzier.  Then we decided to put zest in them.

Can you guess where this is going?  This was possibly the biggest mess I've ever had to deal with.  The entire bottle, and tons of ginger shards, and 3/4 c of sugar, all over my kitchen.  Even the ceiling.  In retrospect, I'm glad we opened it after one day; another day and it might have broken the glass.  I guess you have to allow some of the gas to escape during the fermentation process--maybe use a jar and don't close it tightly?

Anyway, they both taste great--especially the fizzy one, though after the sticky geyser there was only about 4 oz left of it.

Spicy Ginger Ale (Non-carbonated)

3 c water
1/2 lb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 stalk lemon grass, roughly chopped
1 small chile, chopped
1/4 c sugar
orange zest (optional)
soda water
lime or orange as garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, ginger, lemon grass, chile, and sugar.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow to cool
2. Strain mixture, then transfer to a jar.  Add zest, if using.  Keep refrigerated.  Mix with soda water to dilute and fizzify before serving.  Garnish with lime or orange slices.


Fizzy Ginger Ale

1 1/2 TB grated ginger
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
juice of 1 lemon
water to fill bottle

Combine ingredients in a jar.  Shake and let sit at room temperature for 2 days. *Don't seal the jar completely or you will have a very sticky geyser on your hands!!*  Serve cold.


myer nore said...

I love your meta-narrative ristretto, the way you use a recipe blog to carefully climb the vine of identity with voice. My best foodie memories have one thing in common: afterward, I felt like I had had an intimate experience with a person, family, or culture. It's the little anecdotes like this that make me really feel transported into your kitchen.

It may be too somber to be appropriate, but there's something oddly similar about confronting online identity and confronting death. Both feel like talking into an abyss; the thing you're talking to is either too big or undefined, and the talking effects you more than it does anything else. Heidegger has a name for how we're compelled to confront the unknown yet growing possibilities of technology: "enframing" [Ge-stell]. He talks about it in The Question Concerning Technology, an essay I've whimsically taken to bringing along when I fly on airplanes. I won't attempt to summarize it here, because I'd be here all afternoon, but you should check it out sometime.

You know, I wonder if there's a good short novel to be written about the similarity between confronting death and confronting life grafted to technology. I'm picturing something like The Death of Ivan Ilych, only about identity and telepresence.

myer nore said...

Oh yeah, and you are my new favorite for making homemade ginger brew!

Unknown said...

Mm, this is tempting.

Tego said...

Messing with the sugar content could have actually increased the carbonation. there are 2 things that will really kill yeast... too much liquid waste product (alcohol) and too much food (sugar) Oddly enough by reducing the sugar content you may have brought the overall levels of sugar better in line with the needs of the yeast. If you want to keep.. other interlopers away from the brew invest in an airlock (used for brewing beer) and keep the finished brew in the fridge. The first lets the gas escape, the second slows the fermentation. remember with the active yeast in there they will eventually make your soda into something much more... well some consider it fun, but it becomes frowned upon to give it to children.

Julia said...

This is so helpful; thank you!