Summer is here. Cool off and take refuge from the sun with some homemade ginger ale, perfect for sitting by the pool, with rum as a cocktail or with dinner on the patio. (Note to self: finish patio construction.)
Most days, my mornings are hectic. I get up to the sound of Ole’s alarm going off. I push him until he gets up, and then I sit in bed thinking about how responsible it would be of me to get up with him and start my day. Instead, I try to savor the low spot in the middle of our ancient mattress without two bodies occupying it, and when he comes to kiss me goodbye, I begrudgingly rip myself from between the sheets and start my day.
I walk through the living room and over to my desk, flipping my computer on in hopes of answering a few emails and getting things set up for the day before the four kids I call mine roll out of their beds and start begging for breakfast. This lasts for ten minutes before a child emerges with tussled hair and bunchy pajamas twisted every which way.
Work will wait a few minutes…err, hours more. Breakfast is made and served. School lunches are packed. Kids are sent off to the bus and others are busied with crafts or set about as engineers of the ever-changing wooden railroad set. I settle in to work: coffee in one hand, mouse in another, clicking and sipping.
The phone rings, which often has me giving the present children dagger eyes in an attempt to threaten them should they decide now is the perfect time to squeal and give away the fact that I work 60 or so hours a week from a desk situated in my living room with my kids at my side. This time, though, it’s the school.
I wonder if it’s my eldest, calling to tell me what homework assignment she forgot, but with only four days left of school, homework has ceased. When I hear the school health professional on the other line, I worry that my kindergartener is sick, as he was just home the day before for that very reason. “Kjell fell off the slide.” I pause, wondering if this is a courtesy call, which I’m used to receiving, as someone has a bit of a head issue.
This particular call, however, will mean eight hours in the hospital, four spent juggling a crying son, a quiet four-year-old, a curious two-year-old and a hungry 7-month-old niece as we get x-rayed and splinted and sent to the orthopedist for surgery and a proper cast. This particular call will signify the end of summer days at the beach, family bike rides, baseball season and soccer fields all before they begin.
Commencing Operation Summer Fun-in-a-Cast for the Olmanson clan.
Step 1: Buy a good amount of ginger and then a little bit more. Look for ginger that has smooth light brown skin.
Peel it. Chop it up.
To a pot, add the ginger cubes, water and the peel from about 1/2 a large lime, avoiding the pith as much as possible. Boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add in sugar and simmer again until it reduces.
After your syrup is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Strain out the pieces of ginger and the peel.
When it is room temperature, it can be stored in a bottle or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
When you’re ready for ginger ale, pour 1/4 cup or so of ginger ale over ice. Add one cup of club soda on top.
Drinks, check. Nothing like a glass of homemade ginger ale to get the creative juices flowing.
A 15′ pool for the broken boy doesn’t hurt either. (Um, there is no question why this child is the one in a cast, that one up there posing triumphantly on the slide. Also, we are now accepting any and all bread bag donations.) Truth: I was relieved when they said it was Kjell’s arm looked mangled. Mangled arms can be put back together. Bizarre neurological episodes are more frightening.
Besides, I happen to enjoy sitting in my swimsuit and watching my kids jump into a bright blue pool in the middle of my yard as I sip on homemade sodas. And I have a feeling the kids enjoy it, too.
Bonus for the “Big Kids” (otherwise known as adults): A shot of rum makes this a fabulous cocktail, and ginger syrup on its own can be added to several other mixers and liquors for spicy summer drinks. The fun is never ending, even after small heads are resting on pillows and it’s just Ole sitting next to me at the end of a summer’s day.
1 tablespoon lime peel
6 cups water
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar or sucanat
Peel ginger root and chop into small chunks. Add ginger root, lime peel and water to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in sugar and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and liquid has reduced down to 3 1/2 cups or so.
Turn off the burner and let the ginger syrup cool. Strain out ginger chunks and then pour cooled syrup into a bottle or other airtight storage container. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make ginger ale:
Pour approximately 3-4 tablespoons ginger syrup over ice. Add 1 cup club soda. Stir lightly to combine and serve with a wedge of lime. Sip and enjoy.
Makes 16-18 servings.