My desk is covered with printouts about reusing cooking oil, turning old cooking oil into biodiesel, maltrodextrin, MSG, and a recipe for making homemade Funyuns. What began as a challenge by my daughter to make a healthier version, has blossomed into a two-part cooking series with her sixth grade class. The crazy part here is that none of us have even tasted a Funyun. It began as a discussion in class, while reading the ingredients on the package from another student. Isabella chimed in, and said “I bet my mom can make them healthier”. I love her confidence in me, but food can be a tricky issue with families. Not everyone has the same litmus test for what they should, and shouldn’t be eating.
In our house, seasonal is king, but it’s not the only measure with which I make decisions about what we eat. Ethical and environmental issues are a huge factor, too. As I began doing my research into making Funyuns, the one thing that became clear is we need Home Economics back in school. If we truly are what we eat, then how do we expect our children to understand what that means unless we give them the information they need to make an informed decision? I don’t believe in denying anything. I think moderation is key to both a healthy diet, and relationship with food. More important than moderation, though, is information. The truth about homemade Funyuns is that while they may be healthier, they are by no means healthy. They’re a deep fried snack. I thought it was important for the kids to see the process so they can take ownership of their decisions.
Before you get excited, thinking I’m sharing a recipe for Funyuns, I’m not. You can get the recipe, though, by buying Casey Barber’s cookbook Classic Snacks: Made From Scratch. My girls went crazy for them, devouring a few dozen in the blink of an eye (no joke, I turned around, and “poof” they were gone).
My real reason for popping in today is to share a tea recipe I’ve been enjoying for the past week. I’ve been achy for months now, even longer if I think long and hard about it. Two years ago, I found myself in physical therapy to help heal a major case of tendonitis in my knee. Even though I’m careful about that leg, the reality is that I’m on my feet most of the day, standing over the stove or counter. Arthritis also runs in my family. Panic creeps into my mind when I’m working with doughs, and feel the aches in my hands. If I can’t cook, what am I? Who am I?
I decided it was time to take a holistic approach to my aches and pains. I remembered a turmeric tea recipe Heidi shared last year. In her post, she mentions that black pepper aids in the absorption of turmeric. It’s a common ingredient in almost every variation I’ve found on making tea. Here’s some more information on why. An interesting bit of research I did find is in a study conducted by the McCormick Science Institute, as in the spice company. Oddly enough, their clinical trial results were inconclusive as to the actual health benefit of turmeric, mostly with a note that more research is needed. Regardless of their findings, what I can say is that I feel an overall difference in my body since I added this tea to my daily routine (I drink it regularly, throughout the day). Lately, my tendencies have been more towards finding holistic, herbal, and homeopathic treatments for what ails me.
A few notes about my recipe for turmeric tea. It’s based on using fresh turmeric root. Many recipes use powdered, but one of the farmstands in Woodstock keeps a big basket of it at the front register. If you want to swap in powdered for the fresh in my recipe, a good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of dried for each tablespoon of fresh.
The second printing of the magazine arrived this past weekend, so I’ll be spending Wednesday writing out labels, and stuffing envelopes. Just typing that makes me realize the insanity of it all, but I’ve so enjoyed connecting the names and places with all of you who take time from your day to visit here. The Winter Issue is in the works, and will be available for pre-order just before Thanksgiving. It’s scheduled to ship around December 10th.
Along with turmeric, cinnamon is also hailed for its anti-inflammatory benefits, so I added some of that to my tea mixture, too. I think this small amount makes for a nicely balanced flavor, but you can add extra cinnamon if you like.
Two 2 1/2 inch pieces (24 grams total) fresh turmeric root, finely grated
2-inch piece (13 grams) fresh ginger root, finely grated
Few grinds of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (80 grams) honey
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon
Combine all the ingredients in a medium jar. Stir until well blended. Cover with a lid, and store in the fridge. I usually mix a teaspoon with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water, and add a few more grinds of fresh black pepper.