"So do you want to come over? I made chili last night," I'd say as we stood in our perpetually drooping knee socks waiting for NJ Transit bus #163 to pick us up outside our school.
Though undoubtedly a tempting offer, the girls always hesitated because they knew that accepting could potentially mean having to take a second bus home afterwards if they could not find another ride. Sara rarely needed more than a promise that she could nap on my bed to accept. (Always a remarkably sleepy girl, we nicknamed her "the dormouse" after the mouse in Alice in Wonderland who was always falling asleep in strange places.)
"I'll make you ginger tea with nutmeg..."
To this day, the promise of ginger tea is often enough to lure Vanessa from her apartment in Queens to mine in Harlem.
***Edited February 2015:
This was actually my very first recipe post on this blog all the way back in 2008. This picture on the left is actually the original image that I had posted with it back before I knew how to take decent photos.
Though I've since updated the post with a prettier picture, I wanted to keep this one as a memory of how far I've come since then. I hope you enjoy the recipe, which is still one of my absolute favorites!)...and BOTH photos! :)
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Ginger Tea with Nutmeg
I learned this recipe from my mother who used to make it for me whenever I was feeling sick. This spicy tea is easy to make, and because of the strength of the root, can last you up to two days as long as you keep adding fresh water to the pot. Ginger Tea is perfect for sharing with friends on a cold winter's night and is definitely worth the long trip home (even on public transportation).
1/2 cup thinly sliced or chopped fresh ginger. (No need to peel.)
5 cups water
Brown sugar or honey, to taste
Milk or heavy cream*
Combine the water and fresh ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 to 45 minutes, being careful not to let the water evaporate. Note that the longer you simmer, the stronger and spicier the tea. When the tea reaches your desired strength, remove from heat and strain into big mugs. Sweeten each serving to taste, and pour in just enough milk to turn it white. Finish off with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and serve.
*If you would like to skip the dairy, a squeeze of lemon mixed in with the honey will
serve to brighten the flavor, or you can enjoy it just with the touch of sweetener.