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Ginger Golden Milk

Ginger Golden Milk - anneliesz

The world does not need another Golden Milk recipe. Or does it? Over a year ago, my mom and I sat in the backseat of a friend’s car shuttling around Mexico City or attempting to, moving at a speed less than a crawl. Her friend passed back a capsule filled with a mustard colored spice–cúrcuma, known in English as turmeric. We waded through traffic talking about turmeric, its anti-inflammatory properties, and how each of them could swallow the pill without a lick of water. At the time, I still only thought of turmeric in reference to what gives Indian curry its bright yellow hue. I had elected to take a hiatus from digital media, wanting to be fully present in the sounds, smells, and sights of the rambling city that mystifies me each time. We wound our way past the Zocalo with riot cops marching into formation (they quickly dissipated). In Coyoacan, we ate a favorite street side snack, esquites, happily silencing our conversation with maize kernels and chili. Around 10 p.m. one evening, we parked the car in a neighboring lot to a street-side vendor purported to make the best tacos in Reforma. I didn’t want to miss a minute.

Several years ago, the word cancer entered what had started as a mostly casual conversation by phone. Followed by the word surgery. For two weeks, I turned my life inside out to step in as caretaker while the one who had weaned me healed. That word, anti-inflammatory, became a pinnacle word, a walking stick to help me down the mountain.

turmeric root - anneliesz

I wonder sometimes how much is appropriate to share in this space on the internet. What is prudent. What is off-color and irrelevant to why you come here. It may be surprising to find an intensely private person wrestle with how much of themselves to put on the page online. Recently I read a small shift of direction for a blogging friend who had elected to turn her focus away from her personal narrative to only discuss recipes. She had begun feeling like her life had become a commodity. I never know how much to share here. It’s always more than my Dad would have ever felt comfortable sharing and less than my Mexican cousins offer up to the digital ether everyday.

The world does not need another Golden Milk recipe, but I wanted to make one for my mom anyway. And though I know turmeric is en vogue right now as is its golden girl, golden milk, what warms me to turmeric is that it’s been eaten and stirred into drinks a lot longer than I’ve been alive. Ingredients’ potency lies in their ability to last. We find comfort that even as the world and its current obsessions change, some recipes are too good to remain secret, and instead get passed down from generation to generation, perhaps tweaked along the way by taste.

Turmeric Juice - anneliesz

For this recipe, I started by using ground turmeric but found the consistency chalky, even after blending the drink. I tried cutting down the amount of turmeric, but the drink was not made better for it as I wanted a turmeric-strong drink. My obsession with ginger juice led me to consider making turmeric juice and that provided the solution I sought. I attempted this drink with coconut milk and cow’s milk, but ended where I started, with unsweetened almond milk. This golden milk is not something to swig, but instead, something to sip. Its spicy flavor owes everything to ginger juice and a touch of freshly ground black pepper for extra heat. If you keep a jar of ginger juice and another of turmeric juice in the fridge, you have enough for about a week’s worth of daily drinks– and really you wouldn’t want to keep them for longer than that. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to Golden Milk? Swap out your morning tea or coffee habit to be surprised how much bounce this cheery drink brings to your days.

Ginger Golden Milk - anneliesz

Ginger Golden Milk

Make the turmeric juice by blending 2 cups of water with 4 1/2 ounces fresh turmeric root, roughly chopped until smooth. Drain the liquid in a fine gauge strainer set over a bowl, raking and pressing on the pulp until all of the trapped liquid has been squeezed out and the pulp appears dried out and clumpy. Discard the pulp. Store the turmeric juice in the refrigerator. Looking for more ways to use turmeric juice? Stay tuned…

Makes 1 drink

1 cup almond milk

1/3 cup ginger juice

3 tablespoons turmeric juice

3 teaspoons agave

Dash of ground black pepper

Dash of ground cinnamon

 

Heat the milk, ginger juice, turmeric juice, agave, pepper, and cinnamon until warm.

Ginger Golden Milk - anneliesz

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Recipes

Ginger Lemon Limeade

Ginger Lemon Limeade

I never knew an Oakland summer might transport me back to Texas. And yet, last summer if the house already pulsated with warmth as we woke up, we knew the day would unfold, sticky and sweltering. I contemplated visiting a mall or seeing a movie just for the coolness of the commercial space or darkness of the theater.

We survived Texas summers in swimming pools, air-conditioned domiciles with doors that palpably cut off the heat from entering, and tall glasses of iced drinks, sweating from the effort. In Oakland as with most of the Bay area, you’ll be hard pressed to find a pool unless it’s indoors at a gym. Air-conditioning is a novelty of other places. But, iced drinks, they are quite possibly the one salvation for cooling down, to be sipped even if your impulse is to chug.

So it brings me back to my obsession with ginger juice. It might seem anachronistic to suggest drinking something heating as a method for cooling down, but whole cultures rely upon hot tea in the heat of summer for the body to self-regulate through the surprising method of sweating. I still find it hard to abide by this idea personally as my mind logically reaches for cold brew tea or coffee instead of pining for a cup of hot. When I set out to make a pitcher of Ginger Lemon Limeade, my goal was a drink spicy enough to make your head whirl, tart with citrus, and just sweet enough. I wanted a drink that would keep me coming back for another taste, but not so pared down that I could drink it quickly. After several attempts, this is what I will be sipping on summer days that have yet to unfold. And, I would invite you to make the drink your own—add chia seeds to it for texture. Perhaps muddle a sprig of mint leaves to add to the mix. I like to drink it with a splash of sparkling water just for the bubbles and effervescence. Whatever you do, stay cool this summer.

Ginger Lemon Limeade

Ginger Lemon Limeade

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 7 limes)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup ginger juice
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons simple syrup
4 cups still water
1 3/4 cups sparkling water

Stir together the lime juice, lemon juice, ginger juice, simple syrup, and still water. When ready to serve, pour 1/4 cup sparkling water into a glass full of ice and top off with about anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the ginger lemon limeade until the glass is filled. Stir and serve.

 

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Recipes

Cranberry Lassi

There’s a pretty good chance this season has been one of indulgence for most of us. And why not? A lot of people let Christmas stand alone as a cordoned off season to bake a few dozen cookies, and keep tasting as they bake. This might have happened in the baking of 8 dozen of these cookies that I am glad to announce all made their way into other peoples’ homes. Then again, a reason to get excited for the onset of Christmas includes a chance to experience traditions that come only once a year… like Christmas music. It can be a bit jarring to find yourself doused in Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s one holiday overlapping another and thus stealing its focus that makes me come undone. Christmas carols might be the sonic equivalent for many twinkling lights on a fir tree.

Their joyous melodies and contemplative moments of dissonance help revelers reflect on the reason behind the season. A few Christmases ago, a final Christmas, involved a piano, a bass and mezzo-soprano working their way through the songs being played. I look on that evening with the fondness of memory and a last call to sing with my Dad while he was still alive. Some things I know for sure. I know at some point I will want to wail a version of “O Holy Night” in the confines of my kitchen without worrying too much about the neighbors thinking a cat has been afflicted in some melee. I will want to attempt to sing the “Gloria” chorus of “Angels We Have Heard On High” using one single breath or to attempt the descant sung many years ago in grade school when my voice could easily reach those rafters. Recently I’ve been grooving to the jazzy interpretations of “Go Tell It!“, finding my foot tapping along as the horn section swells and the double bass thumps its way through the songs.

This year, my thoughts keep turning to “Adeste Fideles / O Come All Ye Faithful.” The song makes me consider what  it takes to be faithful in anything. Having faith that things will turn out for the best, looking to faith to help carry you through uncertain periods are certainly ways in which faith can find application. This season has been one of questioning, one of waiting… which can be good, but is not always easy. The Advent season is set apart as one of waiting. As I match my harmonies with the melody line and sing “O come let us adore Him,” I am reminded that in spite of this season being one with potential external hardships, the internal landscape in all of us sometimes requires a wide space necessary to broach things that have not had time available for proper attention or perhaps that we have grappled with all year. The song is an invitation for others to join in to “behold Him”.

In the challenge of writing advent poetry, namely “A Mother’s Prayer”, I found myself thinking about Mary more than usual and about the kind of faithfulness required for her specific task. If Thanksgiving calls us to consider what we are thankful for, then I would posit that Christmas calls us to consider that to which we are faithful. As “Little Drummer Boy” played in our dark car zooming north last night, we let the words enter our ears “I have no gift to bring, pa ru pum pum pum. I played my best for Him, pa ru pum pum pum, ru pum pum” and found these words to be true.

So, if you are like me and glutting yourself on the last remnants of Christmas carols and music that effectually will cease to play mere days from now, you have set your radio dial to Christmas 24/7. The fun and joy of seasonal songs that soon will be packed up only to unpack them again a year from now reflects my appreciation for cranberries. I can’t get enough of them and know they will soon fade into a year that has passed before I expected it to take its leave. I tend to buy a few extra bags and freeze the berries so that if the urge for a cranberry craving strikes in summer, I can indulge it.

And this is where the Lassi comes in. I might reckon that the Lassi was the precursor to the Smoothie. A lassi is a simple combination of milk, yogurt and fruit with your choice of sweeteners. In India, you can order a Salty Lassi or sweet and the most popular version is easily the Mango Lassi. This drink makes a welcome accompaniment to rich foods as it helps with digestion. A Cranberry Lassi tastes a bit like Christmas in a cup- a little spicy and tart, but mostly sweet. So “joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies” and as you raise another strain of song, here’s a drink to match the music.

Cranberry-Lassi-the-food-poet

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CRANBERRY LASSI
I let the cranberries macerate overnight and then even tried out a batch after a few days of the cranberries blending with the ginger, lime and sugar and found the Lassi tasting great. If you’re interested in your cranberries being ready sooner than the allotted time belowset aside for only 30 minutes in the refrigerator and that will be fine too. For a sweeter Lassi, try using a small glug of maple syrup to make your drink merry.

YIELD: 2 servings

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon grated ginger (a knob about 1 inch long)

splash of fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

½ cup milk

Cut the cranberries in half and in a small non-reactive bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top of them. Grate the ginger into the bowl and stir. Then squirt fresh lime juice over the berries. Leave them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to a day.

When ready to make your lassi, add your milk, yogurt and macerated cranberries to the body of a blender. Puree until smooth. Sweeten to taste.

 

NOTE: Let’s say you just want to make a lassi for yourself – portion 4 tablespoons of the cranberry mixture plus ½ cup yogurt and ¼ cup milk in blender for each lassi.

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Olallieberry Shrub

olallieberry-shrub

When you find something so good it makes your heart beat faster, makes your foot press down more firmly on the gas, it’s meant to be shared.

Love is like that. Back in graduate school, every so often, I would be woken up by a squeal of elation coming from down the corridor as quiet hours were thrown aside. Without opening my eyes, and perhaps turning to the other side of the bed, I would know someone had gotten engaged. That early morning squeal equated with engagement. Something interesting happens after you get married. Similar to that unspoken assumption of mine in graduate school, words like “big news” or “surprise” evoke the next expected rite of passage.

Things I did not realize about marriage before diving into it include the fact that just as each person is so infinitely different so is each couple. Our happiness is different from the couple across the hall’s happiness. Ours includes an hour of uninterrupted writing time when we get home from work. So what happens when one of you is writing daily and diligently, while the other is stymied?

olallieberry-shrub

Writer’s block can be debilitating. For the writer, it feels a bit like showing up at a restaurant across town with a hankering for one of their juicy steaks and finding it closed with the hours of operations removed. It’s hard to find your footing when writer’s block hits. I find this is the best time to crack open the books you keep in close proximity to your writing space, to rediscover the writers who have lit your fire, to abandon the writing… for a moment and instead…

cousine

Take a walk. Settle your body into downward dog. Listen to Mumford and Sons. Call a friend and catch up. Be quiet and listen to the birds squawking overhead. Get out of your rut by getting out. You know that sentiment of looking for something and not finding it only to later discover it was in front of you all along? Sometimes, we look too hard. We fixate with such intensity and fervor. There is much to be said about looking outward. In the looking out, you might just find what you were looking for.

olallieberry-shrub

A few weeks ago, we ventured to our favorite U-Pick farm in the outskirts of Pescadero. This farm, these olallieberries were too good to not share with Erika and her little one. Thus, a few hours before her flight was supposed to shuttle out of the Bay Area, we made the trek. Little hands ripped berries from their branches. Tall adult figures bent down to reach under leaves and find plump juicy ollalies. We left with a pound of precious berries. They sat there, on my counter, in that long cardboard flat looking positively joyous with possibility. I could make jam. I could make syrup. I could make a compote to spoon over yogurt. I could make hand pies. I could make rustic tarts. You get the picture. I was overwhelmed with possibility!

As the evening climbed closer to morning, I put a plea out to the cosmos, disclosing my olallieberry block and my desire for a second me to find time and can them. Luckily, Marisa, the queen of all things preserving, responded as my olallieberry guardian angel with a simple directive: “Put sugar on them and stick them in the fridge. Then when you have time, make jam.”

Macerating in the fridge, I bought time and continued to consider the options.  I left the berries in that bright red bowl in the fridge, checking in on them with the attentive concern of a mother hen looking in on her chicks. My brow continued to furrow with concern of time passing, of losing my window and ultimately losing berries hand-picked by my cousin Erika, her little one, Beck and I. That shared act of love necessitated that they not be taken for granted. It’s an odd idea perhaps, to take food for granted, but I would surmise that food that’s easy to pick up at a store carries little personal investment outside of the monetary. What I had here, was the remnants of our last afternoon with a cousin I see too infrequently and time with her son who will continue sprouting up and deeper into the throes of childhood.

I decided to follow my usual path of creeping out of writer’s block to work my way out of ollalieberry block, and wouldn’t you know, Marisa’s recipe that Friday held the kernel of inspiration I needed to part with some of the berries. And so, friends, I give you a recipe for an Olallieberry Shrub.

Hear me, those of you not prone to sour foods or drinks, a shrub is not for the faint of heart. It should make your mouth pucker and the sweetness should make the tip of your tongue tingle in delight. If you drink Kombucha, then you will be in fine company, drinking a shrub. If you want a clean drink without any pulp, by all means, strain the mashed berries from the liquid. As for me, I chew those berries and remember a sweet afternoon in Pescadero, enrobed in sunlight and spent with people I love deeply. There’s nothing sour about that.

olallieberry-shrub

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OLALLIEBERRY SHRUB
Inspired by Marisa and adapted from Food in Jars

A lovely way to enjoy your homemade shrub is with sparkling water, just make sure to pour to taste. If you want to kick it up a notch, how about including it in a cocktail? You can also use it as the acid in a salad dressing or as a marinade. Your choice. Not feeling like making your own shrub? I can vouch for the smooth, tart and sweet flavor of the Wild Elderberry Shrub from the folks at Wineforest Wild Foods in Sonoma. They gave me a bottle at a blogging conference a while back, along with delightful conversation about the joys of foraged food. The ratio for this recipe is 1-1-1-easy.

1 cup sugar

1 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1 cup olallieberries

1. Rinse your berries in a colander. Then pour the berries into a quart jar.

2. Over them, pour your sugar and vinegar. Now, mash the berries with the help of a muddler or some contraption that fits into your jar and a blunt end to make quick work of berry-mashing.

3. Place the quart jar in the fridge and leave it for a few days, to let the ingredients combine. You want to make sure the sugar has completely integrated is integrated in and no longer granulated.

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Concord Grape Sparklers

Concord grapes remind me of nature’s gummy candy. Last weekend, we invited friends over for our second art salon and I mixed together these sparklers with concord grape puree. Their sweet and tart flavor pairs well with elderflower simple syrup, sparkling water and a cup of pinot noir but it was missing something. Kyle showed up with a bottle of Prosecco! We topped off the glasses and perfected this refreshing fall beverage.

Effervescent and bubbly.

 

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Concord Grape Sparklers

take a bunch of concord grapes

concord skins & pulp

remove seeds

puree concord grape skins & pulp until smooth or just shy of smooth

concord grape puree - pour into large glass jar & add 1 cup pinot noir

concord grape soda - add 2 liters of sparkling water

elderflower_syrup gives it a slight lychee flavor

Concord Grape Soda- add ¼ cup of elderflower syrup

prosecco gives it an extra splash of effervescence

top off each glass with Prosecco right before serving

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Bangkok Lychee Cocktail

Bangkok Lychee Cocktail

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Bangkok Lychee Cocktail

This drink is totally inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, VTK. I had a similar cocktail there about a month ago and have been wanting to drink something similar in SF, but to no avail. The closest thing I could find was Poleng’s “Poleng Me” cocktail- a great combo of spicy and sweet. I made a revision to the drink by using the preserving syrup in a can of lychees instead of pureeing lychees to make juice–my thinking is that you still create that kind of juice from breaking down the two lychees by muddling them. If you want the drink hotter, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the mixture to be muddled. Enjoy this cocktail with Thai food or during the summer when light flavors are in fashion.

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (from 6 sprigs)
1/2 cherry bomb pepper, deveined, seeded and thinly sliced
2 lychees plus 1
2 ounces Pear Vodka (Grey Goose or Absolut)
2 ounces Lychee syrup
Muddle the cilantro leaves, pepper, and 2 lychees. Pour the vodka and lychee syrup into a martini shaker. Add the cilantro muddle to the shaker along with the ice. Shake well. Strain the cocktail into a martini glass and add the remaining lychee to the glass for a boozy fruit finish to the drink.

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