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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ginger Root Garden

Ginger Root Grove in a Pot 

Ginger root can be planted in a pot and grown at home. When choosing a root at the market, look for a fresh one with buds.  It will grow into a lovely houseplant, with fragrant, ginger-lemon scented leaves, which can also be used for tea and for cooking. And eventually, (in about a year) it will produce other bulbous roots that you can use in cooking.  This gardening project teaches patience!  It may be a good idea to plant some faster growing seeds, such as radishes, so that children can experience the magic of growing a plant from seed right away.

Here's What You Need:

A pot or container at least 12 inches diameter and 12 inches deep.
Potting soil to fill
A large fresh nob of ginger root

Here's What You Do:

     Soak the ginger in a bowl of warm water overnight.  Let your child handle it first and explain that it is a rhizome, a mass of roots that grow underground horizontally and sends out roots and shoots from its nodes--the little buds on the mass.
     When you are ready to plant, fill your pot with potting soil and let your child break the ginger root into two or three pieces and space it on top of the soil.  Press each piece of root about halfway into the soil, but do not cover with soil.

  Water your new planting thoroughly and place it in a sunny spot.  Keep the planting moist, and practice patience!  It will be several weeks before green shoots appear above the soil.  

Roots are growing underground, though. If you have a root-view type planter, you can see them spreading.

Keep a garden journal and write the date that you planted your ginger, the date when you first spot a green shoot, and the date that you finally harvest a bulb for cooking.

In the meantime, you can explore powdered ginger, candied ginger, ginger tea, and ginger in stir-fry!  
Fresh ginger tea is calming, soothes stomach aches and 
can even help with morning sickness
Use fresh grated or thinly sliced, peeled ginger root.  Several slices or a couple of tablespoons of grated ginger per cup.  Boil in water for 10 minutes, cover and let steep for 5 or 10 more minutes.  Strain and sweeten with a bit of honey  and a twist of lemon or lime if desired.


3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
     Cream shortening and sugar; add molasses and egg; beat well.
     Sift dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture; mix well
     Form dough into small balls; roll in granulated sugar to coat; place 2"
     apart on cookie sheet.
     Bake in 375 degree oven, just until set, 10-12 minutes.
     Let cool on cookie sheet one minute; remove to cooling rack

Click on the link below for recipe

Monday, February 13, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine?

All photograph credits:  Seth Chrisman--what a sweetie!

This post is a grown-up mess-cipe, although you can certainly adapt this and have your children help you.  I couldn't resist posting my favorite sugar-cookie recipe and technique that I have been using for years and years at every holiday--Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Halloween--any time you need a sturdy, delicious cut-out cookie to decorate.

The recipe is from "The Joy of Cooking," Iced Sugar Cookies:

Here's What You Need:

3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature
1 Tablespoon milk
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated lemon peel)  This is optional, but I find it cuts the sweetness and makes these cookies unique.)

Mixing bowls, wooden spoons, measuring cups and spoons.
waxed paper or parchment paper.

Here's What You Do:

Whisk together the first three dried ingredients.  In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the egg, milk, vanilla and lemon zest and beat thoroughly.  Gradually stir the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture until well-blended and smooth.

Divide the dough in half.  Place each half between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. refrigerate until cold and slightly firm, at least 30 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.  Remove top layer of paper from one of the sheets of dough. Cut out cookies in any shape desired and space them on the cookie sheets about an inch apart.  Form the scraps back into a ball, place between sheets of waxed paper, re-roll and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 6-9 minutes.  Watch carefully, and do not over bake.  I like to turn the cookie sheet half way through the baking time.  Let cool for a couple of minutes on cookie sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Decorate with frosting when cool.  If you don't want to use icing, you can sprinkle the dough with sugar sprinkles before baking.

To Make Valentine Sandwich Cookies:

Prepare sugar cookie dough.  Choose a heart-shaped cookie cutter in the size desired.

Cut two heart shaped cookies out—leave one for the base.  In the second cookie, use a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter and  cut the center out.

Bake as directed.  When the cookies are cool, spread a dollop of red jam on the base cookie.  ( I used home-made strawberry rhubarb jam, but you can use raspberry, strawberry, or even blackberry!)

Sift some confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) onto the top of the second cut out cookie.  Place this cookie on top of the cookie with jam.

Voila!  What a scrumptious sweet treat for your Valentine!

Favorite Valentine books to read with your sweetie-pies:
By Eileen Spinelli
By Diane de Groat
By Felicia Bond
By Brenda Ponnay