Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get your potatoes ready to plant.

To get your potatoes to sprout so you can plant them, remove them from the produce-aisle bag, rinse them off, under the tap and then put them back in the clear plastic bag.

Leave them still damp.

Leave the bag on the kitchen counter, for a day and then remove them from the bag.  Leave the potatoes somewhere warm and in a few days to a week, they will be growing significant eyes and will be ready to split and plant.  :)

To plant them, I take a look at each potato and decide how to halve it so that each half will have as many eyes as possible. 

Be ready to plant as quickly as possible since you don't want the cut part to dry out.

Cut the potatoes in half and plant them "eyes up", then bury under a few inches of soil.

To get a lot more potatoes, wait for the plants to grow nice and tall and then put an old tire around them and bury all but the very top of the leaves, in mulch.  Every time they grow tall enough, add a tire.

When it comes harvest time, you can pull off the top tire and you will find that the potato plant has grown a ton of potatoes in the mulch, above ground.

They make the best home fries, when you go pick them from the garden, immediately before chopping them up!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Home made ginger ale.

EASY Homemade ginger ale.

You will need:

1 empty, rinsed out, 2 liter soda bottle (to hold your final product)  You can use them over and over.
1 funnel to get the ginger ale into the tiny hole in the top of the bottle.  This is harder when you've been drinking.  As you will be.
1 1/2 cups of white sugar.
1 1/2 cups of cold, tap water.
1 piece of ginger that is about half the size of your palm (available at the grocery store, in the produce aisle).
About 1/8 teaspoon of yeast.  Brewer's yeast is best but plain bread yeast works just fine and it's what I use!
A colander or mesh strainer to sift out the boiled ginger bits once you are ready to bottle it.
A smallish pot to boil it all in.

Easy steps:

1. Open a bottle of tasty wine and let it breathe (or you can pour it right into a glass, since I am pretty sure that, like everything else, it breathes better with a bigger mouth).

2. Dump the sugar and water into the soup pot and put it on the stove (on high), to boil.

3. Start slicing up the ginger into thin slices.  This is cooking.  You do not need to be neat.  Everything you are chopping will go into the garbage in about an hour so no one but you and the seagulls at the city dump are going to see it.

4. Once you have slices that look like ginger-scented potato chips and your fingers are beginning to smell really sexy, cut those slices into slivers ("julienne" them) so they look like thin home fries.  It is really difficult to do this step wrong.  The point of making a chunk of ginger into slivers is simply to increase the surface area of the ginger so you can wring out more flavor in less time.  

It is another form of lazy, that is pronounced "smart".

5. You may be alarmed at how much ginger you now have.  It is normal to have started with a half-palm-sized piece of ginger and now you have an overflowing cutting board.  This is normal.  It is simply "The Magic of Cooking".  The same principles apply to calories.  The ingredients only have 2 calories but the final meal has 1,000.  


6. By the time you have finished pondering the mysteries of ginger slicing, the sugar will have nearly dissolved without stirring (by more magic!) and the pot will be boiling but only on the bottom (magic is fucking everywhere).  So take your ginger slivers and get them mostly into the pan, but be sure some get onto the stove top and the floor.

It is part of cooking.

Look back here at step six and say "Check" and take a sip of tasty wine.

7. Boil uncovered and lower the heat to about 4, on the dial (I hope have a metric stove that goes from 1-10 or you are totally screwed).  Boil for about 30 minutes while you drink your way to the bottom of a glass of wine and read a good book by your favorite author.  

If you over boil it a bit, absolutely nothing happens except that it will get foamy.  At this point, you have a pot full of boiling ginger syrup that, after cooling, will sear the viruses right out of a sore throat as well as a kitchen that smells like sunshine and awesomeness.  

Take the pot off the heat and turn the stove off.

8. Fill the 2 liter bottle about 1/3 full of cold water, to protect the bottle from the hot water, which will burn it and ruin your delicious recipe.

9. Use the colander as a strainer to sort out the ginger scraps from the syrupy liquid by pouring it through the colander and into another pot or salad bowl or something else that can take the heat.  Rinse the ginger shreds with cold water running over them and into the pot below to catch a little extra syrup.

Then toss the ginger dregs in the garbage and you now have the best smelling trash can in your entire neighborhood!

10. Drop the funnel into the 2 liter bottle's top and pour the hot liquid carefully into the bottle (might want to put it in the sink, in case it dribbles since any kind of syrup is sticky like you wouldn't believe, if you don't clean it up while it is a full-on liquid).

11. Fill the bottle with cold water, until it looks like about as full as a 2 liter of soda looks when it comes from the store.

12. Drop in your 1/8 teaspoon of yeast (more or less won't make any difference, but I'd draw the line at about 1 full teaspoon.  Yeast has a bready, mushroomy flavor that is not like ginger ale, at all).

13. Cap the bottle tightly and give it a shake to distribute the yeast.

14.  Leave the bottle on a warm counter (out of the sun) and not too close to a heater.  You want the contents tepid, but not hot.  Yeast dies from heat and doesn't do anything when it is cold so room temperature is great.

15.  By tomorrow, the bottle should be too hard to dent with your thumbs, when you grasp it and push, hard.  CO2 will have built up, from the yeast eating the sugars, forming CO2 and alcohol (in tiny amounts).

16.  This is the most important step!!!  Put it in the refrigerator or begin drinking it AS SOON AS YOU CANNOT DENT IT WITH YOUR FINGERS!!!  If you leave it out in the warm, in about two more days it will open itself.  See #10 about sticky things.  Only in this case, it will be sticky all over your entire kitchen.  Your drapes, walls, ceiling, counters, cat.  All sticky.  Every ant for miles around will be high-fiving and doing road trips to your house, every morning, for spring-break-like orgy of ant snacking.  It will probably be faster to just seal up the house and then burn it to the ground.

17.  When you open it for the first time, do it slowly because sometimes it will foam for a surprisingly long time as the CO2 tries to equalize.

You can add a wedge of lime to it, but I find it makes the ginger ale taste less like ginger ale.