Pomegranate Ginger Lemonade

4 03 2012

One of my favorite things I learned from working at Kyllo’s was how to make Candi’s delicious, delicious pomegranate ginger juice. Well, I found POM in Korea last week and decided it was time to try it out, Korea style.

I scoured the shelves of a few different stores for juices that weren’t too sweet, and after a year of trial and FAIL, I found a few that I wanted to play around with.

I found a pomegranate juice made by Lotte, but it is pretty sweet and diluted, Sunkist Lemonade, and a white grape juice that turned out to be closer to simple syrup than anything else.

I borrowed Jessica’s brave little blender and scrubbed off all the dirt on the half kilo of fresh ginger I got from one of the local markets. I broke it up and blended it until it was on the coarser side of pulpy. When I opened the blender, it was an overwhelming smell of ginger. If you know me, it’s one of the flavors I can literally consume constantly. Ginger tea is almost a daily thing for me. I dropped $5 on 5 ginger cookies that were more licorice than ginger, but still thoroughly enjoyed them. The whoooosh of the burn made me want to make ginger lemon bars. That recipe has been taunting me for months. Alas, it was nearly midnight, and I was making juice.

I boiled the ginger in about 1.5 liters of water for about 30 minutes, then let it sit to cool for a bit.

In a big pot, I mixed the bottle of lemonade, the bottle of POM, the Lotte pomegranate juice, and just a glug of the white grape juice. It was a good mix of tart and a little sweet. The closer I can get to tart flavors, the better. I strained off the ginger chunks and mixed in some of the gingered water, which with a spoonful burned on the way down like it was spiked with something. It was hot. Awesome. Then I added some more.

After everything was bottled, I made some black tea and mixed in some of the spicy goodness. It isn’t cheap to make here, but it is delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again!!

Doing things, going places.

18 02 2011

This next week is going to be somewhat bittersweet.

For the last few months, I’ve been subbing NON-STOP at Taft Elementary, Taft High, and Oceanlake Elementary. My alma maters. It’s weird, but interesting to see how things (mostly kids, teachers and policies) have changed. Hannah’s an 8th grader and has classes where I did as a senior. My former teachers are now my peers. I still feel like that over-achiever/suck-up/leadership nerd high school kid I was… when I go to the high school especially!

Recently, I took a daily position at the after school program at Taft Elementary, a school I never went to, but is now in the building where I attended middle school (and my dad went there for high school. WEIRD.) Memories of 6th grade band pop into my head every time I’m in the portable working with the special education kids. For some reason, I always think of the time I hit Chris Lowes in the mouth via his own trumpet. Then I always think of jazz band at god-awful hours in the morning in the carpool with Collette Page and Ashley, whose last name is no longer the same.

You know what that means? It means people my age are growing up. Female Peter-Pan syndrome minus the awkward Freudian crap. Right here.

Every day, I work with first graders, some of which are awesome, others… I hate to say are not quite as awesome. These kids have the hardest time focusing on anything, and they’re all quite the cast of characters.
We have:

  • The Blonde Diva
  • The Gentleman
  • The Quiet Girl
  • The Emotional Basketcase
  • The One with an Oral Fixation
  • The “Evel Knievel”
  • The Futbolista
  • The One Who’s Boy Crazy
  • The Intellectual New Girl (Next Door)

Seriously, if you’re working at Taft, you’re more than likely able to identify each one of these kids. At first, I said that “I can’t deal with little kids.” And it was legit. I didn’t know how. I’m starting to realize what things are effective and things that are useless. For instance, I was specifically told that “routines are sacred and should NEVER, under any circumstances, be broken.” (HA.) If Indonesia taught me anything, it was how to go with the flow and not get worked up over things, then, get resourceful. Here, I just wave something shiny in their line of vision and it becomes, “What routine? What are we doing now, Miss Dani?”  Win for me.

Oral Fixation girl seriously annoys the crap out of me, but I’m slowly teaching her some etiquette. She will yell across the room, “TEACHER! TEACHER! TEACHER! teacherteacherteacher! TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEACHER!” And I just ignore her. I’ve told her before that I don’t answer to that; it isn’t my name. My name is Miss Dani. The second she calls me that, I acknowledge her. She even self-corrected today. I was so proud!

Getting kids to work the way I want them to is tough, but I’m finding my way in a reward system. I even spray-painted a whiffle ball gold Tuesday night.  It was so pretty and shiny! I told them that the person who was most helpful, most on-task, and was responsible would win a golden ball. I’m sneaky like that. O.F. Girl looked at my shiny new toy, held it, then sighed. “What is this?”
“It’s a whiffle ball.”
“Miss Dani, this is just plastic.”
“What did you expect?”
Indignant, hand on her hip, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe a GOLD BALL?”

She held the ball like a goblet in one hand off to the side, and she was as disappointed as a wine snob drinking a wine only commoners and peasants drink.

At that point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or hope that the paint I used was lead based. (Because, of course it was in her mouth within seconds.)  I need to find a sprayable something nasty…

But this week is going to be my last week at school and in America. My kids were sad when we told them that I’m leaving, but I have that innate urge to migrate again. Saying goodbye to the community I’ve re-built roots in is going to be tough, but there are adventures to be had and languages to learn!

South Korea, here I come! (In a week.)

As I promised…

27 11 2010

Recently I tinkered with a few recipes until they were PERFECT. Some cookie recipes are dry, others puff up too much, some burn easily, some are just too specific for a cookie that just isn’t worth the effort (ex: butter that is half melted then whipped, let cool in the refridgerator for 2 hours blah blah blah). Well, I’ve figured it out. Easy.

Dani's newly famous cookies

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour, slightly heaping
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • White/milk/dark/peanut butter chips/M&Ms/toffee bits to your heart’s content.

Set out the butter while you’re getting everything out so it has some time to soften. I put my butter/sugar bowl in the sink with hot water to speed up the process while I mix the dry ingredients.

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder completely.

Once the butter is on the softer side, cream it together with the sugar. It takes some muscle to make it fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat it together. Slowly mix in the dry powder ingredients.

Now the fun part! My family all love different things in their cookies. Sharon’s son Jared inspired the Heath bar toffee, and those are my favorite. I (ballpark) split this recipe into 4 parts so that everybody gets what they want. (I’m nice like that.)

Each part gets about 2/3 to 3/4 cup to “oh we’ll just finish off the bag” of the chips/goodies. Mix them in to your liking.

Bake on an UNGREASED cookie sheet at 350° for 9 minutes. They’ll look undercooked, but that’s the best part. Let them sit for about 2 minutes before moving them off the sheet to cool, if you can wait that long.

Enjoy! Please let me know what you put in and how you liked them!

F— Intolerance, this is ‘merica.

7 11 2010

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, I get it. But what really gets me going is how intolerant people are still allowed the right to the press.

Recent facebook status:

“The mosque near ground zero, I say let them build it. But across the street, we should put a topless bar called, “You Mecca Me Hot”. Next to that, a gay bar called, “The Turban Cowboy”. And next to that, a pork-rib restaurant called,” Iraq o’ Ribs”. And a check cashing center called, “Iran out of Money…” Lets see who… is really tolerant! Post if you agree!!! F— TOLERANCE”

I edited the last 3/4 of that F bomb out for humanity’s sake, but let me get down to what gets me the most frustrated. “Let THEM build it…” “WE should blah blah blah…” Why does it always have to be a matter of “us vs. them?” Sure, there are also a few sharp cuts of snarky religious banter, but that’s just mindless indifference. By the way, I’ve also never heard anyone outside the western world say “Iran” like it was an Apple product.

I may have also been a bit harsh in naming my friend’s husband a certain feminine product… but I’ve been seeing TOO MUCH HATRED and too many indifferent people in my community. Recently, Pacific University faced some hateful messages written in chalk at night all over the campus, targeting sexual minorities, Muslims and others. This is my home. How dare you be an ass at my house. My friends Chris and Kayla from the Center for Gender Equity put together an effort to counter the hatred with encouraging messages and it put off this amazing vibe all day on campus.

See the video after the jump for a real way to “F— intolerance.” (Video via koin.com found here.)

Please, be nice to each other.

Becoming Martha Stewart… sans jail time.

6 10 2010

Or maybe Rachel Ray?

Lately, I’ve been on this spree of making my own things. Like dill pickles. And kahlua.

Amazingly enough, both endeavors were successful.

The pickle fiasco started with Sharon from Kyllo’s, one of my favorite people on the planet. She has been such a positive, encouraging force in my stateside life. She was talking with some people we work(ed) with about how she had this recipe for dill pickles and it was really delicious. So, being curious and always up to try something new, I ask for the recipe. What I don’t expect is to get all the secret family tricks for crispy pickles and homemade cookies while I’m at it! Yum!

I had to wait a couple weeks to try to make the cucumbers into pickles since most farms had had a pretty tough summer with growing cucumbers. Apparently there was high demand with a little supply. I finally got an order from Farmer John’s Produce in McMinnville. 25 lbs of little cucumbers for $29. Stopped at Bi-mart for quart jars ( I needed about 24 for the whole 25 lbs.) and to grab some pickling salt. Apparently everybody had the same idea, because they were sold out of salt. Weird. Safeway? Nope. Winco? Strike 3. The lady at Winco was really nice and told me that she “knew for a fact” that Albertsons had it, so I drove back and got it. Albertsons is right across the street from Bi-mart. Whoops.

I was supposed to leave Lincoln City a lot earlier to get to Mychaela’s place, but one thing after another led to me getting a late start. Donald and I were going camping at Waldo Lake, so we needed to get out of town at a reasonable hour to make the ~4 hour drive. Yet another whoops.

Please take note- first time pickles aren’t exactly a “sure, I can be done in an hour” type thing when you’re doing it by yourself. I did 25 lbs in about 2.

Make sure you have lots of open windows, because when I came back to Mychaela’s almost a week later, it still reeked of dill, garlic and apple cider vinegar. Just saying.

And for the completely different flavor/purpose — We made Kahlua! Super easy recipe made from instant coffee, sugar, water, vanilla and vodka. Piece of cake. We got the recipe from Mychaela’s Aunt Tiffany, who supplied us (me indirectly…) with tasty goodness for Christmas a couple times.

water, sugar, instant coffee, vanilla and vodka.

Basically, you make a simple syrup from the water and sugar, just with instant coffee. I’ve heard of people making the syrup using brewed coffee instead of using plain water and instant… I’ll have to try that next time. Once it has gently-boiled for an hour, let it cool to room temp, add vanilla and vodka, mix for a few and then pour the mixture into sealable containers. We used these cool jars from Kitchen Caboodle, which were kind of expensive, so I don’t know if we’ll do that again… we might have to require a deposit on those containers since we’re giving them out as Christmas gifts. If you want a re-fill for next year, bring the jar back! haha.

sweetest strong instant coffee you'll ever not want to drink before it's finished mixing. Trust me, just wait.

The jars got sealed and washed off, and now they’re in the cupboard, waiting until Christmas. Aunt Tiffany said that they needed to sit at least a month, so we’re going to wait at least until Thanksgiving to sample the amazingness. The longer it brews the better. Get ready for some RAD Christmas gifts this year! Pickles and Kahlua!

Once it's cooled, mix it all together and then put it in the jars!

Homemade Kahlua!

yum. Iain thinks that this will be going into our coffee every morning. Maybe I'll send him some so he can do the same 🙂

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