I thought what might be kind of interesting is gathering up the foods mentioned the stories I write and sharing recipes so people can try to make them at home. I noticed not long after I started writing that I have a tendency to to mention food a lot in my stories. I figure what I’ll do on days I don’t really have anything else planned, is share a recipe or two along with a section from the story it was mentioned in. This first one comes from Natural Order, out of the very first chapter when Orion is driving Beth to the farm for the first time.
“I picked you up some ginger ale in town today.” Orion jerked a thumb toward the space behind the seat. “It’s back there if you want it. The soda’s warm, but Dad used to make it for Mitexi when she was pregnant and it always made her feel better.”
Beth looked over at him, surprised. “How did you know I was having morning sickness?”
“I pay attention, something my father taught me long ago.” Orion flashed her a boyish grin. “Told me the girls like it when you pay attention.”
Beth laughed and reached behind the seat. She found a flat box that held several glass bottles, and retrieved one. She read the label critically and raised an eyebrow. “All natural organic ginger ale. Sounds tasty.”
Orion chuckled at the sarcasm in her voice. “You’ll get used to it. I’m sure Dusty told you my family runs an organic farm. Free range chickens, wild game, organically grown fruits and veggies, hormone-free milk. We rarely eat anything we don’t make ourselves.”
Homemade Ginger Ale
The first thing you need for any homemade soda is the syrup. You can make the syrup ahead of time, and as long as it’s refrigerated, make your soda later. Now I like my ginger to have a good kick to it, but if you don’t like your ginger quite that strong you might want to blanch it first. Peeling is also something that’s optional, though if you want to use the ginger pulp later after you make your syrup for like spicing up juices or other baking you might want to peel it first.
The making of the syrup is the longest part of the process. You’ll be cooking the syrup for about 45 minutes, and then I like to let the mixture seep for another half an hour or so after that. For the syrup you’ll need…
- 1 cup (8 ounces) ginger, grated or chopped fine
- 4 cups filtered water
- 2 cups sugar
- pinch of salt
In a nonreactive pan (such as a glass pan-my preference, ceramic, or something with a stainless steel finish that will not react to acidic ingredients) place the above ingredients. Bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer, cooking for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes take the pan off the heat and let seep for another 30 minutes while it cools. Once it’s cooled strain the syrup through some cheesecloth and collect the liquid in a clean and sterile jar. I suppose the sterile isn’t entirely necessary but is my preference especially if you want to store the syrup for a few days. Some people say you could keep the syrup up to a couple weeks in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long.
When you’re ready to use your syrup to make your ginger soda, fill glasses about one third full with syrup (less based on taste preference, or more for the same reason), squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice, then fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water or tonic water. Gently stir. You can garnish with a slice of citrus fruit or even a bit of mint if you like, by I tend to like my ginger soda straight up no-frills.
Now personally I love the taste of ginger soda, but it’s also great if you have issues with your stomach especially things related to nausea. Ginger lollipops are great for that too. I think later in the book I might mention ginger candy or ginger lollipops and recently I found in interesting recipe for ginger and mint lollipops that I haven’t tried but I thought I would share anyway. Since I’m working on the sequel to Natural Order I might end up mentioning the lollipops in there once I’ve had a chance to make them and try them.
Homemade Ginger and Mint Lollipops
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
in a food processor or a good quality blender add the apple cider and mint leaves. This will take a few minutes because you want the mint leaves very finely chopped. Make sure you’re using good quality, organic, fresh leaves. If you’re lucky enough to have some in your own garden, that’s a bonus.
Place the mint mixture along with the honey and the ginger into a small saucepan (nonreactive material) and cook on a low heat, stirring continuously. You’ll need a candy thermometer for the next part, mainly because you want to make sure this stuff gets up to 300°.
Once the mixture reaches the proper temperature you want to test it. You do this by taking a container of ice water and dropping a bit of the hot mixture into it. If it forms hard, like hard candy, then it’s ready. You can line lollipop sticks on a piece of parchment paper over a cookie sheet or a silicon mat and then pour the mixture very carefully onto the top of each stick. Or you can do what I’m probably gonna do and get lollipop molds to pour the stuff into and put the sticks.
The lollipops will harden at room temperature and then you could either wrap them with wax paper and store them in a jar, or you can actually store them in the freezer and the likely be less sticky. If anybody gets around to making these before I do drop me a line and let me know how it went and how they taste.