Fare Exchange: Make-your-own ginger ale? Do try this at home

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Good morning, readers. Not a few of us envision a doctor's appointment as a brief encounter, clinical but not warm. Not so for Roseann Strazinsky of Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, who promised her physician that she would bring him cookies on the next visit.

"On my last visit with one of my doctors, somehow we got on the subject of butterscotch and how we both love it. So I told him I would bring him some butterscotch cookies on my next visit. He said, 'OK. I'm writing that down; next appointment I'm getting butterscotch cookies from Roseann.' "

Then she responded, "I could use some help from your great readers. I wonder if anyone has a good butterscotch cookie recipe I could practice with, until my next appointment in April? Thank you."

Here are two more Clarice Jackson and the second, a repeat. Can you provide ideas for duplicating the cornmeal fried okra as served with pimiento cheese at 1885 Grill, and while you are at it, a recipe for homemade lemon vinaigrette?


Clifford Burdette lost no time in fulfilling the request for recipes using avocados and ginger - not in the same recipe, mind you. He sent us one of each, pronouncing the first recipe as "awesome." He even sent a photograph as proof. And the second recipe is for making your own ginger ale, using fresh-grated ginger.

Everything Bagel Avocado Toast

2 slices bread

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1 large ripe avocado

Everything Bagel Seasoning (recipe follows)

Toast the bread.

Spread cream cheese evenly on slices of bread.

Mash half of the avocado, and place mashed avocado evenly on slices of bread.

Slice the other half of the avocado, and place slices on top.

Sprinkle with seasoning, and eat immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Everything Bagel Seasoning

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried minced onion

2 teaspoons flaked sea salt or coarse salt

In a small bowl, combine the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion and salt. Stir until well combined. Store in a sealed jar or container.


Ginger Ale

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon fresh granular baker's yeast

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root

Juice of one lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons)

Cold, pure water

Add 1 cup of sugar to a 2-liter plastic soda bottle through a dry funnel. Leave the funnel in place until all the steps are complete and you are ready to cap the bottle.

Measure out 1/4 teaspoon of fresh granular active baker's yeast. Use any brand that you might buy in the health-food store. Add the yeast through the funnel into the bottle. Shake the bottle to disperse the yeast grains into the sugar granules. Grate the ginger root on a fine cutting grater to produce 2 tablespoons of grated root. Use the side of the grater with the finest teeth. Place the grated ginger in a measuring cup.

Juice a whole lemon. Lemon is important to keep the pH level low and ward off unwanted microorganisms. If you don't like lemon, try grapefruit juice instead. Add the juice of a whole lemon to the grated ginger. Stir the lemon juice and grated ginger to form a slurry, then add it to the bottle. It may stick in the funnel. Don't worry, the next steps will wash it into the bottle.

Rinse the container that held the lemon juice and grated ginger with fresh clean water. Add the rinsing water to the bottle. Cap and shake the bottle. This helps activate the yeast and gets the carbonation process going. Reopen and fill the bottle to the neck with fresh, cool, clean water. Leave about an inch of headspace, and then securely screw the cap down to seal. The headspace is necessary to leave room for gasses that will be produced during fermentation.

Invert the bottle repeatedly to thoroughly dissolve sugar. Check the bottom of the bottle because the sugar tends to stick in little pockets there. The ginger root will not dissolve, of course. Place the ginger ale in a warm location for 24 to 48 hours.

The warmth is necessary for the yeast to be able to ferment the brew. But don't forget about it. Too long and the alcohol concentration starts to increase and the taste changes greatly. Test to see if carbonation is complete by squeezing the bottle forcefully with your thumb. If it dents, it is not ready; the fermentation produces carbon dioxide (like in sodas and seltzers) that will inflate the bottle and make it difficult to squeeze.

Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually after only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill before opening. Crack the lid off the cool ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. You do not want a ginger ale fountain.


There's always space and time for another chicken recipe. This one is from the generous collection of E. of Henagar, Alabama. If you've got a mint bed going wild in your yard, here's a season-perfect use for 1/3 cup of that aromatic herb. The credit goes to Rachael Ray's magazine.

Tropical Chicken With Mint Rice

1 cup long-grain white rice (such as basmati)

3/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1/2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/3 cup sliced fresh mint, plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring the rice, 1 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the pineapple and chili-garlic sauce. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

Mix 1/3 cup sliced mint and the butter into the rice. Divide the rice and chicken among plates. Top with the pineapple mixture. Garnish with mint.

Makes 4 servings.

Chef's hint: Add an authentic twist to your favorite rice dishes with Royal Basmati Rice, from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. It is a flavorful, aromatic, extra-long-grain white rice.

We'll close with a reminder that the rest of us would love to hear of your memorable meals - the food, the hosts, the companions: whatever makes the magic for you. Please send your memories not just your recipes but don't forget those recipes either.


* Butterscotch cookies

* 1885 Grill's okra

* Lemon vinaigrette

To Reach Us:

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com