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021223 food column

Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten

I was a little slow to get on the grocery curbside pickup bandwagon, mainly because I’m fairly particular about my produce. However, after finally giving it a try a few years ago I realized how convenient it could be. I still do my own grocery shopping most of the time, but occasionally if it’s an exceptionally busy week I’ll take advantage of ordering my groceries online. And I can truly say I’ve never had a problem with my produce except for maybe a questionable lime one time.

The hiccup that occasionally occurs is figuring out how to order something that is sold based on its weight. For example, I once wanted five individual carrots but ended up with five pounds of carrots. One time my friend Maria thought she was ordering one pound of fresh jalapenos but upon picking up her groceries, discovered she’d ended up with just one jalapeno. My friend Thom once shared his frustration when trying to order fresh ginger for his and his son’s stir-fries. “I don’t know how much ginger 19 cents’ worth is,” he lamented.

I experienced Thom’s issue firsthand recently when I ordered fresh ginger online. I nearly fell out when I pulled it out of the plastic sack and saw the size of it. It was huge. I couldn’t quit laughing. For kicks and grins, I put a dinner fork next to it for perspective and then snapped a quick picture of it and put it on Facebook. And just as I expected, everyone got a kick out of it. “Unless you’re planning on a sushi banquet for 200 of your closest friends, that’s almost a lifetime supply right there,” my friend Joe said. Another friend said you can plant them, and they’ll come back every year, sporting a pretty bloom. I had no idea.

I commented that it’s a good thing it lasts a while if you put it in the freezer. Several folks were unaware you could freeze it and save for later. In fact, there’s no telling how many little knobs of fresh ginger are in the bottom of my freezer right now.

So I decided to look at it as a challenge and to try to come up with various ways to use it, rather than it ending up in the bottom of my freezer. We typically use fresh ginger in stir fries or Asian-inspired shrimp or salmon dishes. My friend Mary said she enjoys it in protein drinks and in salads.

A few days later I was thumbing through the February/March issue of Allrecipes, a magazine that I wasn’t familiar with until a friend recently gave me a subscription. And right there on page 89 under the title “Cozy Cups” was a recipe for ginger-turmeric herbal tea.

I already knew that ginger was good for the immune system. I also knew that ginger is good for upset stomachs. I’ve heard of pregnant women using crystallized ginger or ginger lozenges to alleviate morning sickness. I didn’t have any turmeric or fresh lemon wedges, but using the recipe for inspiration, I just made up my own version of ginger tea. I’d recently ordered organic Pu’erh tea bags from Amazon after one of the bloggers I read commented on how much his cholesterol decreased once he started drinking it. I mixed up some honey, cinnamon and fresh grated ginger, placed the tea bag on top of that and then ran some hot water through the Keurig. I let it steep for a few minutes and then removed the tea bag. Let me just say that that hot cup of goodness was excellent. The combination of the fresh ginger, honey and cinnamon was amazing.

I didn’t use up the gargantuan piece of ginger, but I made a good dent in it before tossing it in the freezer. Let me know if you have any good ideas or recipes for fresh ginger.

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