Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lemon Blossoms and Ginger

The air is filled with the scent of jasmine and lemon blossoms. The latter are the little white flowers that grow on lemon trees. I had never noticed that they come out around the time most of the lemons on the tree fall off. Or at least that is how our tree is cycling. Still, we managed to find a few errant lemons this morning and Coralie thought the leaves would make the picture prettier. I think she's right.

Last week's unseasonal heat has gone and now we are back to wearing our sweaters and down vests in the mornings. We've picked up colds somehow along the way so we are drinking miso soup with spring vegetables and making ginger tea with honey and our hand-picked lemons. I discovered a delicious brand of miso called South River Miso from our community- supported kitchen Three Stone Hearth. This miso is made in Conway, Massachusetts and is called inaka miso because it is made by hand in an artisinal tradition. You can see (and eat!) the delicious little beans and the flavor is sweeter and cleaner than I have ever had. I had forgotten how satisfying (and easy! and quick!) a broth miso makes. And I was surprised to find even my eldest daughter--who sometimes shirks my broth proferrances--(imagine!) supping it up and asking for seconds and thirds!

Another cold-banishing product I've discovered is called GingerGizer. The name is a little hard to pronounce but it is a pretty strong--and still, delicious-- ginger drink available at the grocery store that my preschooler will drink. It is perfect for when I am wheeling around the place trying to remember everything I'm supposed to get before good moods are exhausted. In other words, it goes perfectly with all the olives we filch and cheese sticks we partly imbibe on a typical shopping trip. 

Ginger is a miracle medicine in my family. My mom swears by it, not just in her savory food but made into a sweetener with rock sugar for her Earl Grey tea, and in her hot oatmeal with fresh soymilk. It is particularly recommended for us ladies who have children, as it is believed in Chinese medicine that we have to be on the watch for "coldness" in the body after we give birth. I've tried to train my girls' palates to accomodate a lot of ginger in our cooking. Even little Iona pinched a slice when I was making my--er, let us say medicinal tasting-- ginger tea today, and stuck it in her mouth and started chewing it with her three and a half teeth. Since the poor bug is suffering the most of all of us with her first cold right now, I do hope it will work its ginger magic on her. 

Miso Soup with Spring Vegetables 

1 quart filtered water
1 carrot sliced thinly
1 leek sliced thinly
1 cup fresh spinach (or leave this out if you want a thinner soup, or add more water)
Some medium to soft tofu cut in tiny cubes
4-5T sweet tasting brown rice miso

Bring the water, carrot and leek to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the greens and tofu if you want a heartier soup. In a separate cup add the miso and a ladleful of the hot water. Mix and add to the pot. Turn off the heat, being careful not to boil the miso as this will kill its wonderful little enzymes and such.

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