Sunday, April 8, 2007

Good For What Ails You

Sometimes stress rolls through your life like a river. Nothing you can do to stop it, divert it, or soak it up. Job troubles, unexpected bills, or just people being nasty to you - they can take their toll on you physically. Headaches, digestive problems, and stiff sore muscles can all be caused by stress.

When I'm stressed my number one way to cope is to bake. Nothing soothes like the familiar ritual of measuring, mixing, scooping, and baking. One of my sister's favorite tales to tell on me is when she dropped by to visit when I was two weeks overdue and as big as a house. It was a scorching August day and I was baking cookies. In the buff. Seriously. It was way too hot to have the oven on, but I was too stressed not to bake.

As I've gotten older another effect of stress has crept upon me. Gastric reflux. Ugh. And combine that with lots of freshly baked cookies sitting around. Double ugh. And once started, it's a cycle that takes a while to subside. Well-meaning friends and family urged me to take drugs, to go to the doctor, to get surgery. But then a kind friend offered me a cup of ginger tea and my life changed.

Ginger has historically been used medicinally to treat digestive disorders, including nausea and gas, and arthritis, among other ailments. Plus it adds a zippy, biting flavor to foods. Bonus! A medicine that tastes good.

I've found so many fun ways to add some ginger to my menu that I'm making this Ginger Week on the blog.

The obvious starting point is Ginger Tea. The tea bags at the grocery store can be tremendously pricey. I looked at the ingredients and thought, "But that's easy!" Plus, fresh is always better.

I store my ginger in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap. That way it's always on hand and doesn't get mushy, like it can in the fridge. When I want some tea, I take it out of the plastic and shave off shards of the ginger root, then wrap it up and toss it back in the freezer.

I use Stevia as my sweetener. Stevia is a leaf grown in South America that is naturally sweet. I use the refined powder and it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar, with virtually no calories. A tiny bit goes a long, long way. That's a bitsy baby spoon in the picture. Stevia is available at natural food stores.

Soothing Ginger Tea

Ginger Root (fresh, not dried or candied)
Stevia - about 1/16th of a teaspoon, or honey
Boiling water

Pre-warm your teapot with hot water. Fill a tea ball 1/2 full with the ginger scrapings. Discard the water from the teapot. Drop the tea ball in the pot and pour boiling water over the ball. Quickly stir in the Stevia or honey and replace the lid on the teapot. If you have a tea cozy, place it over the tea pot. I am coziless, so I wrap my teapot in a hand towel and let the ginger steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour yourself a cup and sip slowly, enjoying the warmth and soothing powers of ginger.


Sean said...

I'll have to keep this idea handy. Living in a college town I know more than a few people that would benefit from this wonderful remedy. Heck, maybe I should pour myself some.
Did you come up with this while trying to help Sarah deal with her stress? ;)

Anonymous said...

We should for sure make up a pot of this later today. Ugh. Life needs to go away.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... I'm going to have to remember this one.

Btw, Jonathan and I made the lemon cake and it was a big hit on Easter. Unfortunately the edges got pretty brown because the center simply refused to bake. It was ok though, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions about how to avoid that in the future. I was using the right pan but it was glass and I know that can make a difference. At least, I think it can.


**doffs her cap and vanishes**

Lady Di said...

It's 10pm, I'm sitting in my cold office and all of a sudden I feel the need to wrap my hands around a steaming mug of ginger tea. Unfortunately I have no ginger, so I will offer up Rosemary tea as another wonderfully aromatic and beneficial beverage. It's a kidney health liquid that soothes the soul as well.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sean - College life can be stressful? Who knew?

Sarah - Deep breaths. Sip slowly.

Gabe - I used a glass pan as well. Perhaps your oven runs a little hot? You could try turning down the heat a little. I know I baked it longer than the suggested time, but assumed that was just because of the oven I used (it always cooks slowly). That's why I suggested the cake tester. I hope that helps.

Diane - Mmmmm, rosemary. Wonderful suggestion! Way to make it work with what's on hand.

Anonymous said...

Longaberger! :-)


Love it.