Thursday, January 3, 2013

What To Drink

Gingerly, With Ginger Tea: The New Year

If you’re like me, you don’t know what to do drink.  I don’t mean after 5PM, when drinking alcohol stops raising eyebrows (from what I understand, it’s even earlier in other countries.  Almost enough reason to move, no?).

Places you can drink before 5PM without being frowned upon.

Day Drinking
My question is: what do you drink during the day?  I know water is good for you, but after the second glass, I’m so bored I’m thinking of trying to drown myself in it.  No one drinks soda anymore, and as someone who believes in the evil of sugar, I find myself supporting Bloomberg’s semi-facist, semi-controversial ban on large sodas.  Coconut water is delicious, but even when you buy it in bulk from Amazon

As I do, it’s still super-expensive.  Fruit juices are out, because they’re too sweet and carby for me (I’m getting married, remember?  Sugar shan’t pass these lips until I say, “I do”). 

One of my gifts to Rafa This Holiday Season

I got Rafael this juicer for Xmas,
in the tradition of getting him something that I’d like as well, and we’re looking forward to extracting all the liquid out of kale and carrots and cabbage, but I’m not sure if that’s a daily solution, given how labor intensive the prep and clean up will be.

I like tea and make myself a small pot most mornings, but it’s only great when it’s very hot and I don’t own a microwave and man cannot live on tea alone.

Maria Thayer

My dear friend Maria Thayer (I've linked her up to her wiki page, which I'm shocked to say, does not include the downtown production of THE SEAGULL we did years ago) was coming over on New Year’s Day, and I wanted us to started the year right.  With a face like this, how could I not?
This is a picture of Maria from a production of Kate Moira Ryan's play OTMA that I directed at the Lake George Theater Lab (where I proudly serve as Resident Director).
In addition to the onion/cheddar cheese/frittata I was making, I wanted to serve a simple, inexpensive beverage that was healthy and sugar free.  I ended up with this delicious recipe for ginger tea.  It was freakin’ delish – hot and spicy with a good amount of kick.  I refrigerated the rest, and have enjoyed chilled as well.  I also had Eric Roberts and Taylor Stewart over for cocktails last night before we hit Hell’s Kitchen’s best BYOB Nook.  It's so hard core it doesn't have a website, but here's the Yelp Page.

and served it with whiskey and it acted as a brilliant mixer.  And isn’t that, in some ways, what we all aspire to be? 

But I digress . . .

Ginger: FAQ

Ginger is a reed-like plant with leafy stems that buds in white and pink flower buds.
Flowering ginger plant

Rhizome, from the Greek, obvi.
The part of ginger that we eat is the rhizome, which is the root.  When the ginger plant is harvested, it’s uprooted, and a piece of the rhizome can be replanted to create another ginger plant.

Everyone likes to talk about how healthy ginger is, and with good reason.  It’s medicinal properties include easing muscle pain, reducing colon inflammation, and alleviating nausea.   Ginger oil has also shown to prevent skin cancer in mice, and on and on it goes. 

Some studies indicate it might have mutagenic properties, so as much as you’d like your kid to be one of the X-Men when s/he grows up, you might wanna stay away from it if you’re preggers.

This recipe is hella simple, and creates a gallon of ginger tea

Cooking time: 1 hour and change


A gallon of water
A lot of ginger (a root the size of your hand or just smaller is a good place to start)
A few cinnamon sticks
A lemon

Junniper Berries
Sugar or Brown Sugar or Honey or Agave or some other sweetener if you’re not getting married in a few months and can afford such luxuries
Anything else you think might be delicious


Bring the water to boil[MB1]  in a pot or stock pot.

Peel the ginger.  Because of it’s abnormal shape, I find it easier to break it into somewhat regular shapes first.

Mince the peeled ginger.  You can use the same technique I use for mincing onions, as illustrated in the terrible-quality video I made here:

Make sure to keep the juices on the cutting board with the ginger – that’s good stuff and you don’t want to waste it!

Quarter the lemon (“Mothers shall but smile when they behold their lemons quarter’d”).

Stare at the pot of boiling water until it comes to a boil.  When it does, dump the ginger, cinnamon sticks and lemon quarters and anything else (except the sweetener, if you’re using it) into the boiling water.  Bring it back to a boil.  Then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, allowing it to simmer for around one hour.  I like to fish the lemon out after around ten or fifteen minutes.  Or, you can omit the lemon all together and just add lemon juice to the final product.
Mine came out on the darker side because I went a wee bit crazy with the cloves and cinnamon.

After the  hour of simmering, strain the solids out of the liquid.  Make sure the vessel into which you’re straining the liquid is large - you're gonna have a lot of tea, y'all.

You’ve now got a delicious gallon of ginger tea.  Enjoy it hot, as is, or chill it and serve it iced.  If you're a tea drinker like me (and thus, superior to coffee drinkers) who has some left over tea from the morning or the day before, throw that in for a caffeine kick - earl grey or white teas are especially delicious. 

 You can add sweetener now to the whole batch if you’re decadent, or keep it as is and serve each cup as you like.

Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do – I’m about to have to make myself another batch I’ve been slamming this back so fast.

 [MB1]I always told myself that if I ever started giving out recipes, I’d make sure to include this instruction first when a recipe called for it.  The amount of times I’ve prepped everything and then had to stare at a pot of water coming to boil because the stupid recipe didn’t tell me to do it first makes me crazy.  So here. I’m doing it.  Put the freakin’ water on the stove and as it comes to a boil, do everything else.  If it comes to a boil before you’re ready, just drop it to a simmer.


  1. So thoroughly enjoying your blogs! Inspiring and fun in the true Barakiva voice. And missing you from LA!

  2. Mo -
    Thanks for writing, and for inspiring me to figure out how to make leaving comments more user-friendly.

    Come play on the east coast!