September 23rd, 2007


Ginger Beer Recipe as I Did It

This was derived from Stephen Cresswell's Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop and the recipe for Virgin Islands Ginger Beer.  I made changes, as you might be able to see.

What I used:
3 ounces fresh ginger root
1/3 cup honey
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (mine was frozen from squeezing the lemons I bring home from my parents)
3+ quarts of water (good drinking water, bottled if your tap is nasty)
1/4 tsp instant yeast (you can also use regular baking yeast, you just have to bloom it first by putting it in a quarter cup of water before throwing it into the bottle)

Hardware I used:
3 6 oz bottles and 8 12 ounce bottles with caps (you can sub in whatever will hold a gallon of liquid under pressure)
1 gallon bottle with cap for mixing things in
1 half gallon sized pot
1 funnel with mesh strainer that could go into the big gallon jug
1 bottle funnel
1 bottle capper
1 plastic mixing spoon

How I did it.
1. I actually went to the trouble of sterilizing pretty much everything that was going to touch the pop by soaking everything in a sterilizing solution that John often uses for his beer brewing work.  He was also moving a batch of beer from a carboy into a five gallon pop cannister to put CO2 on it, so we both used the solution for our work. 

2.  I put 2 quarts of water in the pot, and then grated the ginger root right into the pot.  I added the lemon juice, and brought the whole thing to a simmer.  Then I added the sugar and honey and stirred until it all dissolved and then simmered the whole mass for 20 minutes.

3. I put a lid on it and let it cool for 30 minutes.

4. I put a quart of water into the gallon glass jug.  I strained the warm ginger solution into the jug, and then added enough cold water to make the whole mass lukewarm and up to about a gallon.  I tried using a coffee filter to filter the solids out, but it was so slow and i didn't want it *that* clear.  I wanted some ginger cloud in it, so I used the larger mesh strainer instead.

5.  I capped and shook the jug, and then added the instant yeast to the jug and shook it again, thoroughly.  If you're using normal, dried baker's yeast, you should probably sprinkle the yeast on a quarter cup of water and let it stand for 15 minutes before pouring it in and shaking like mad.

6.  Jet and I poured the jug's contents into the bottles and then capped 'em.

7. I laid the bottles on their sides in boxes and pans in the garage and let them sit in the 80 degree warmth for two days and then popped one of the six ounce bottles to test the carbonation.  It was warm enough here that it was *done* at that point.  The little sixer spouted when we tried to open it, so I put all the bottles in the fridge, and the big ones don't over flow when I open them now.  The cold seems to allow the carbonation to stay in the drink better than when it's warm.

Cheddar Green Onion Biscuits

This was derived from Mark BIttman's recipe for biscuits in How to Cook Everything, which is the book I most recommend for learning how to cook... well... nearly everything... even kohlrabi. Yeesh.

My Ingredients:
9 ounces of all purpose unbleached flour (a little less then two cups, depending on how you measure it)
Scant teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup plain yogurt

What I actually did:

I think I made something of a mistake in that I mixed the scallions and cheese into the other dry ingredients before the butter.  But the results were darn good, so maybe it wasn't a mistake.

Preheated the oven to 450.

MIxed all the dry stuff together.  Then grated the cheese into the bowl and chopped the scallions and threw them in.  Mixed the flour mixture.  Then I grated the two tablespoons of butter, right out of the fridge, into the bowl.  I tried to scrape everything off the grater, then, and used my buttery fingers to squash the butter into the flour a bit.

Then I added the whole cup of yogurt (the recipe says 7/8ths of a cup, but what am I going to do with 2 Tablespoons of yogurt?) and stirred with a spoon until it looked like it wasn't doing much good anymore.  I turned the whole thing out onto a floured board (our kitchen is all tiled which is terrible for kneading on, you can use a table if you have one.  *grin*) and kneaded the whole mass about a dozen times trying to get all the dry ingredients into the mass.  I failed and gave up at that point as I didn't want them to be too tough.   Then I just patted the dough to about an inch and a half thickness.  About a thick as my biscuit cutter.

Then I cut biscuits and put them on an ungreased quarter sheet pan.  I got six out of the first pat, two out of the second, and then used the last scrapes to make the last, rounded biscuit.  The recipe says 10-12, so I must have made them kind of thick, but so it is.  I put the biscuits so that they were just touching on the edges and then popped the sheet pan into the oven.  The recipe said 7-9 minutes.  I actually baked them 12 minutes until the tops were good and brown.

When they came out I let them sit a minute or two before using the spatula to get them off the pan.