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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Praise the power of ginger

Last week I was still trying to shake a bad head cold, while filling in for a vacationing Sheryl. When I mentioned by email to freelance writer Deb Samuels that I was headed home early one day, she responded in a flash with her prescription: "I'm off the chicken soup circuit," she wrote, "and now firmly believe in making fresh ginger tea." After I tried it, so am I. It calmed my cough, soothed my stomach, helped restore my breathing, and, best of all, gave me a surge of energy each time. I ended up making so much of the base syrup that I'm now scouting for ginger-cocktail recipes for a party this weekend. Here's the recipe:

Fresh ginger tea
Makes 8 cups

1 6- to 8-inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 to 3 lemons

1. Cut ginger into large chunks and smash each with the heel of a knife or with a meat pounder, to break up the fibers.
2. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add smashed ginger pieces, turn heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 8-10 minutes. Strain out ginger pieces. (You should have about 2 cups of strong syrup, which can be refrigerated in an airtight container for weeks.)
3. For each cup of tea, combine 3/4 cup boiling water with 1/4 ginger syrup and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. -- Debra Samuels

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