August 8, 2011

I’ve been thinking about a line in a letter from a friend: “After all, aren’t we basically the same people we were when we were sixteen?”

In a way, I totally know what she means.  We’ve known each other that long, longer even, and there are glimpses of ourselves and each other that absolutely resonate with the people we were back then; we may have jobs and cars and spouses and adult concerns, but somewhere down there, we’re still slightly insecure and geeky sixteen year olds who know all the words to every Indigo Girls song and dream about changing the world.

After all, how much of our personalities stay consistent?  Our tastes, proclivities, weaknesses, strengths, tendencies, traits, quirks, abilities, etc. –the things that make us, us—are they trace-able through time?

Because, at the same time I can still see the sixteen-year-old inside and find myself wondering “How can I be grown up enough to have life insurance?  I still feel like a kid?,” a part of me shudders at the notion that my personality has remained static for the last dozen years.  Since then, I’ve completed high school, college, & graduate school, fallen in love, committed to a relationship, lost a parent, started a career, started a blog, and supported my spouse through an episode with cancer.  I should hope that these things have altered me; I have taken on certain changes, and rigorously worked to make them stick.

My middle school students sign each other’s yearbooks, as we used to, with things like “UR awesome!  Don’t change!” and I want to tell them that change is the whole point.  Life will come, and it will change you, and thank goodness for that.

Of course, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The essential parts of me, the things that make me, me, I think I am learning to see and trust and let flourish more and more—change in itself, but a kind of consistency in change, if that makes sense.

Speaking of change, I am very excited to announce that the lovely pictures you see in this and last week’s post belong to none other than my very wonderful partner-in-life-and-so-far-only-theoretical-crime, Jill.  She will be the primary photographer for Blue Jean Gourmet for the foreseeable future!  Jill had already been serving as the primary stylist for the blog, and has wanted to try her hand at photography for a long time now—you can see she has a real eye for both.

For the last two-plus years, this blog has proudly featured photographs from the very talented Sonya Cuellar; she quite literally helped make this blog what it is today.  I would like to thank her publicly for all of the work she has put into this blog, and encourage you to check out her impressive painting and photography portfolios.



My love of ginger ale has been constant, but my taste for type has shifted somewhat; as an adult, I tend to favor less sweet, more gingery brews over the generic bottles my mom used to buy for me when I was sick or had a stomach ache.

It’s very easy to concoct your own ginger drink at home using this recipe for ginger syrup from Imbibe magazine.  When you’re ready to assemble the gingery ale, add club soda, lots of fresh lime juice, and a dash of bitters, if you have them around (they really help deliver that “bite” you’re expecting).  Extremely refreshing.

Keep the ginger syrup in the fridge and use for other summer-y purposes: add to blenderized fruit and freeze for popsicles (ginger especially loves pineapple!), mix into cocktails (like Dark ‘n’ Stormys), or use a dollop to sweeten your tea.

Ginger syrup would also make a lovely present, methinks, especially to a friend who keeps a well-stocked bar.  It looks pretty in bottles.



  1. Can’t wait to try this! Jill’s photos match beautifully with your writing. Nice match.

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    Comment by Lizlizliz — August 8, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  2. YAY! Jill!!!
    Great post Nishta…as always!

    Comment by jodycakes — August 8, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  3. Man, I am so glad I did change.
    Love the idea of bitters in this. Never would have thought of that. I was making a rhubarb ginger syrup this spring, serving it the same way. Okay, maybe with some rye in it…

    Comment by Cheryl Arkison — August 8, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  4. Gorgeous photographs. I love homemade ginger ale because it lets me control how gingery to make it–store bought ones aren’t nearly gingery enough!

    Comment by Tanvi @ The Hathi Cooks — August 9, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  5. I love ginger anything! I like to soak my ginger in a pitcher of Tito’s vodka. When cocktail hour comes along, I mix the ginger infused vodka, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup for a tangy lemon drop!

    Comment by AthenaVox — August 9, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  6. jodycakes–you are kind, as always! and YAY! Jill!!! I agree 🙂

    Cheryl–I know, right?? and I’m so fine with the addition of rye to things, or bourbon with ginger….we don’t get such great rhubarb down here, so I’m jealous.

    Tanvi–I will pass along the photography complements to Jill! and I completely agree with your assessment–I think we brown girls may have more of a hankering for ginger taste than others.

    AthenaVox–love, love, love your cocktail idea. I am going to steal that one!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — August 9, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

  7. Okay, I have tried this before, with not much like. I didn’t like it at all. But you, I trust and I’m gonna try your recipe and see what I think. . .because I really wanna love it, cause I soooo love ginger.

    Comment by Nicki Woo — August 9, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  8. Nishta, I think you’re totally on point about how we change & stay the same. Last weekend, we had a “gypsies, tramps & thieves” weekend at camp, so of course, there were fortune tellers & lots of Cher impersonators… but one of the guys broke out some tarot cards. He put down the card that signified me in the reading & when he explained the meaning of it, he said it was (and I am paraphrasing of course because my memory isn’t THAT good) a force that is not completely understood. It brings about circumstances and changes and events that people don’t always understand or comprehend, but that, for some reason, end up working out in the end. (the card was “Magic”) Then he looked up at me & said, “yep, you’re definitely our steps to the beat of a different drummer gal!”

    It made me laugh because that’s the same message I’ve gotten my whole life – you’re a little odd & we’re not quite sure we’ve figured you out, but somehow, you still make some sort of sense.

    I couldn’t own this concept if I tried, and yet, I guess I do! 😉


    Your food stylest/photographer is quite talented! You two make a perfect team (in this & so many many ways!!) xoxo


    Comment by mel — August 11, 2011 @ 6:47 am

  9. Thinking of ginger ale, one book club night at Courtney’s house you made a cocktail that had gin and ginger ale, maybe among other things. I don’t think I had one, because Lu was a bun in my oven, but maybe a taste or even just the smell of them has made me dream of them for a long while. Do you recall the recipe?

    Thanks for this lovely recipe, either way, and thanks for distilling for me not only how nice it is to still be the same essential you under the change that life brings, but how nice it is to stay connected with friends who love that you. Makes my night.

    Comment by Christie — August 14, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  10. Nicki–I hope this try works out better for you!

    Mel–that reminds me of something I heard a friend say once. to paraphrase–it’s often the things we think we want to change about ourselves that end up being what people love about us. and, we couldn’t get rid of those essential parts of us if we tried. it was a wise, reassuring thought and I have clung to it. also–yes, I happen to think Jill & I are a good duo, but I’m obviously biased. you’re sweet to back me up on that 🙂

    Christie–yes! that cocktail was a gin shandy that Courtney had found in Real Simple Magazine, and it’s PERFECT for summer, I’m so glad you reminded me of it!: 1 cup lemonade, 12-oz ginger beer, & ¾ cup gin (I believe I used Hendrick’s). I was using a jarred lemonade, but it would be even lovelier with homemade…and the mix of lemonade & ginger beer might make a kid-friendly version?

    I’m feeling especially grateful to and mindful of the people who have stuck with me for some time, and who see me even more clearly than I see myself. feels a little bit like a miracle sometimes, to have them, still. thank you so much for reading, and making me think. xo

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — August 14, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

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