TASTE BUDS

Comfort food for dealing with a cold

Posted Feb. 14, 2012, at 2:36 p.m.

There is a lot of sneezing, blowing and hacking going on around here this week. This rotten little cold has turned both good friend Toby and me into zombies. So how does it go? Drown a cold and feed a fever? So I have taken the drowning business pretty seriously, which means no one gets a night’s sleep without a few excursions to the bathroom, which is fine, because usually about that time another swallow of cough syrup is in order.

Toby caught it first, and I followed soon after. For a while I could put together comestible little comforts but now I can’t taste anything and don’t feel like cooking.

A hundred and more years ago invalid cookery was its own department in cookbooks. Beef tea, toast, little custards and gruels. When I was little and had mumps I remember my mother plying me with chicken noodle soup out of a box, which was the only thing I wanted to eat. When I was stuck at home sick, she’d try to tempt me into eating by bringing a muffin tin with little tasty things in the cups: my favorite toasted oat cereal, raisins, peanuts and cut-up apple.

This week we found three things have comforted us: chicken bouillon, lemon and honey tea and hot whiskey punch. I would love to know what any of you do for yourselves or loved ones when the common cold or flu strikes your household. Is there some little recipe for something that makes you feel better right away?

There are a fair number of bouillon possibilities available and my favorite is a soup base paste whose name implies that it is better than the little squares. We merely wanted a hot, salty, comforting beverage, but you can enhance it with tiny pasta if you wish, such as orzo, star or alphabet pasta, or tiny noodles plus vegetables to make it into a simple soup.

The lemon and honey worked well for the sore throat stage, and the whiskey punch came recommended years ago for a cough, to drink while watching the news and waiting for supper or for a nightcap before bed.

Chicken Bouillon with Pasta

Bouillon

Hot water

Small pasta stars, orzo, alphabets or tiny noodles

Onion and-or celery finely chopped, optional

Dissolve the bouillon in the recommended amount of boiling water and add a tablespoon of pasta. Bring to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender. If you feel ambitious, chop onion and celery very finely and add them to the bouillon, too.

Hot Lemon and Honey Tea

Lemon

Honey

Hot water

Cut the lemon in half and juice it. Put at least a tablespoon of juice and one of honey in a mug and add hot water. Sample and add more juice or honey to taste. Repeat as needed.

Hot Whiskey Punch

Slice of lemon

Sugar

A shot of whiskey

Hot water

Put a slice of lemon in a mug, add a spoonful of sugar, and macerate; that is, mash the lemon and sugar together with a spoon until the juice has run out. Add a shot of whiskey and top off with hot water.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. Email: sandyoliver47@gmail.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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