Ginger: My Mr. Darcy

I have many childhood memories of shoveling my mother’s homemade Korean food into my mouth until BAM: I hit a chunk of what I thought was a lovely water chestnut or bamboo shoot when in fact, it was a piece of ginger. Gross. No matter how much good food I ate after that, it seemed like I could never get the sting of ginger out of my system. By continually popping up in my mother’s otherwise delicious chicken soup and potstickers, ginger ruined many a childhood meal for me.

To be fair, ginger was far less intimidating and even inviting when ground up into a powder and mixed into sweet drinks and baked goods of the Western persuasion. Still, I stood by my opinion on ginger, even when gingery treats lured me outside my home. Whenever I was on the verge of enjoying a glass of ginger ale or a gingersnap cookie, the rebel inside me would exclaim, “No! I’m not supposed to like this…it’s the medicinal herb that Mom forces me to eat!”

Ginger finally wooed me in the form of the Dark and Stormy cocktail at Twenty-Five Lusk in San Francisco. This was my gateway drug to ginger: dark rum, lime, and ginger beer. The fizzy combination of sweet and spicy drowned out all echoes of my mother cajoling me to eat more potstickers. How had I thrived four years past the legal drinking age without discovering the Dark and Stormy?

Jen and Anita at Twenty-Five Lusk drinking the Dark and Stormy

My roommate Anita and I enjoying Dark and Stormies at Twenty-Five Lusk

Forget the cosmo – the Dark and Stormy is the truly cosmopolitan drink, with a history that spans generations and cultures. Ginger has its roots in Asia, having been used in Asian cuisine and medicine for over 5000 years. In 13th and 14th century England, ginger was so sought-after that a pound of it cost as much as a sheep. Thanks to the ginger plant’s affinity for the Caribbean climate, the Dark and Stormy has become regarded by many as the national cocktail of Bermuda. Lounging with my drink at Twenty-Five Lusk, I had no idea the brown liquid in my frosty glass had such a colorful history, but I knew for a fact that I was hooked on ginger from that moment on.

The Dark and Stormy is just the beginning of what’s possible with ginger-based beverages: Pimms cup (the drink of choice for English cricket matches and Wimbledon), Moscow Mule (dark and stormy with vodka instead of rum), cider-based drinks, spicy mulled wine. All these would make for a rousing house party.

I’m still not a fan of finding large chunks of ginger in savory dishes, but I now love anything flavored with ginger juice, and I can eat ginger candies, cookies, and cakes by the bucketful (arguably not a good thing; I try to focus on the health benefits of ginger). A true chameleon, ginger is as complementary to garlic as it is to vanilla. A pinch of ginger can enhance foods as different as fried chicken, pumpkin pie, agedashi tofu (a savory Japanese fried tofu dish), and yes, even my mother’s potstickers. By learning to like ginger, I know I’m giving my parents some degree of satisfaction, but I relish the fact that it took an alcoholic beverage to awaken my inner ginger beast. I’m sticking to my subversive guns.

Dark and Stormy
Recipe and photo courtesy of Esquire

2 ounces dark rum (Gosling’s Black Label if possible, but any dark spiced rum will do)
3 ounces ginger beer (for sufficient spiciness, make sure it’s ginger beer and not ginger ale)
1/2 ounce lime juice (optional)

Combine the rum, ginger beer, and lime juice in a tall glass full of ice cubes. Stir.

Apparently, it’s an American thing to add lime – no Bermudian would dare add it to their Dark and Stormy. Like a true American, I prefer mine with lime.

Meals 134 + cookie within a cookie

I love Girl Scout cookies, especially Thin Mints and Samoas/Caramel DeLites. Accordingly, my sister sent me a recipe for Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookies.

Baking frenzy re-ignite.

Whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, two clementines, and vanilla Activia yogurt

Breakfast: Whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, two clementines, and vanilla Activia yogurt

Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers

Lunch: Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers

Brisket and rare steak pho

Dinner from Pho Garden (take-out): Brisket and rare steak pho

Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookies baking mess

What the kitchen looked like after I baked the Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookies. Brace yourself…


Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookies (from Lovin From the Oven)

Yields 32 cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
32 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (Keebler’s Fudge Shoppe Grasshopper Mint Cookies work equally well)

Cream together the unsalted butter and sugar.

1. Cream together the unsalted butter and sugar.

Stir in melted chocolate, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

2. Stir in melted chocolate, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

Gradually mix in the cocoa powder and flour until just combined.

3. Gradually mix in the cocoa powder and flour until just combined. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Cookie building process with thin mints

4. Take about 2 teaspoons of the chilled cookie dough and flatten in the palm of your hand. Place the mint cookie on top of the flattened dough. Flatten another piece of the dough and place it on top of the mint cookie. Fold and pinch together the sides so that the cookie is completely covered, making an even layer of cookie dough around the thin mint. Repeat process with remaining cookies.

Baking and cooking process for thin mint stuffed chocolate cookies

5. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, spacing about an inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on the pan before transferring to wire cooling racks.

The result? A decadent, cakey chocolatey layer surrounding the crisp minty center. I attribute the soft cakiness to the rare inclusion of both baking powder and baking soda in this cookie recipe. Delish.

Cross-section of Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookie.

Cross-section of Thin Mint Stuffed Chocolate Cookie.

Meals 133

Cinnamon shredded wheat cereal with almond milk

Breakfast: Cinnamon shredded wheat cereal with almond milk

Cheeseless pizza with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and caramelized onions

Lunch from Trader Joe's: Cheeseless pizza with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and caramelized onions

 Passion fruit and banana caramel cupcakes Ramen with soft-boiled egg, seaweed, corn, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and shoyu (soy sauce) broth

Meals 132

Made it through my morning meetings but ended up going home sick. Hence the frozen pizza and vegetables for my PM meals. To be fair, I’d say this cheeseless pizza from Trader Joe’s is my favorite frozen meal in a pinch. Love the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the chewy crust.

Pineapple, grapes, grapefruit, roasted carrots, scrambled egg whites

Breakfast: Pineapple, grapes, grapefruit, roasted carrots, scrambled egg whites

Cheeseless pizza with red peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and caramelized onions from Trader Joe's

Lunch from Trader Joe's: Cheeseless pizza with red peppers, mushrooms, and caramelized onions

Broccoli, carrots, roasted bell peppers

Dinner: Broccoli, carrots, roasted bell peppers

Meals 131

red grapes and pineapple

Breakfast: Grapes and pineapple

Ratatouille pizza, quinoa, black eyed peas, okra, arugula, carrots, radishes

Lunch: Ratatouille pizza, quinoa, black eyed peas, okra, arugula, carrots, radishes

Potatoes, green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, refried beans, quesadilla

Dinner: Potatoes, green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, refried beans, quesadilla