4 Questions About Common Cold Cures

I’ve got another cold and I always resort to the old tried and true 4.Soup1

1.  Does chicken soup cure the common cold?  No, but it sure eases the symptoms.  One Mayo clinic study I read years ago found that it promoted the flow of phlegm so ridding the body of the virus quicker.  I’ve had a crockpot of it going for 2 days now and I’ve been sipping the broth throughout the day and replenishing the broth in the pot.  An hour before supper, I might add some vegetables, more onions, more garlic and turn it up before actually serving myself more than just the broth.

Chicken Soup
Brown some chicken parts bone-in (Thighs, legs, wings…)
Add 1 chopped onion and sauté til golden
Add 3-4 smashed and finely minced garlic cloves and sauté a few minutes (don’t brown)
Add spices and stir briefly (cinnamon, salt, pepper, cumin, dash of cayenne, and a bay leaf)
Immediately deglaze pot with white wine, vermouth, or chicken broth and water to fill pot.
Add favorite veggies only an hour before a meal, if you want so they’ll be a dente and not mush.
Simmer til done.

2. Does a hot toddie cure the common cold?  No, but it also eases the symptoms and I personally believe it speeds recovery.  My earliest memory of this particular remedy goes back to early childhood.

Hot Toddie

1 hot whiskey
Juice of one lemon
1 generous tablespoon of honey
8-12 ounces of boiling water or tea.

Sip slowly, then wrap up warmly and go to sleep. As a child, I assure you I went to sleep and woke up wet from sweat and ready to go to school.  As I’ve grown older, it takes 2-3 such toddies to, but the effect is the same.

3. Do you really have to drink so many fluids and why?  Yes you do and the reasons are many.  The body loses fluids in a variety of ways: constant blowing of nose, fever and sweating, mouth-breathing. Remember teas are okay if herbal and not diuretic – water is the best.  Flavor it with some juice concentrates, or stir in some frozen OJ or Apple Juice.

4. Does the adage starve a cold, feed a fever have any merit?  I know that feeding a fever makes sense as we’re burning more calories.  But the starve a cold part probably comes from the fact that appetite disappears when you have a cold, or at least mine does.  I notice I eat less and on the upside, I drop a few pounds.  This close to the over-indulgent holidays, that’s a welcome reward for surviving the cold.

Figs Every Which Way

One of the many pleasures of my apartment is the fig tree in the back yard.  It is old, as old if not older than this 4-plex I live in which was built in 1938 figs in bowl gardenaccording to county records.  That’s three quarters of a century.  It is bent and gnarled and many of its branches lie upon the ground, but every summer since I moved in the branches are laden with the largest figs I have ever seen.

Here are some ways I use my bounty – recipes follow post with a secret at the very end –Enjoy.

  1. Fresh:  Sliced onto my almond butter sandwich for breakfast or lunch, quartered and tossed in salads, minced into a balsamic vinaigrette, added to balsamic reduction relish w/red onions.
  2. Frozen whole: Freeze many whole in Ziploc bags. They make great ice cubes for white wine or champagne, which once they thaw are a tasty treat.fig tree 1
  3. Fresh and Frozen Raw Jam Spread: Use blender or food processor to make a fresh raw fig jam spread. I make some chunky and some pureed, and some plain fig and some spiced up (recipe below).  Store the amount you will consume within a week in a sterile jar.  Freeze the rest in ice cube trays. Store them in the freezer Ziploc bags.  The cubes come in handy as natural sweeteners for:
    1. Oatmeal and other cereals – 1-2 cubes
    2. Spread on toast.
    3. Stirred into yogurt.
    4. Added to cookie, cake, bread recipes in addition to honey and molasses or whatever sweetener you use.
    5. Stirred into spaghetti sauce. 1-2 cubes add an interesting flavor note, fiber and valuable nutrients without being overpowering or readily identifiable.
    6. Added to mole and other sauces in lieu of sugar or chocolate.
    7. Added to various salad dressings.

Today, as my freezer is maxed out, I’m adding a new recipe to the list.

  1. Fig Butter/Jam made in the crockpot.

I don’t particularly like to cook my fruits. I think nutrients are lost in the process, but I’m out of room in my freezer and I have many figs to go, so Fig Butter or Jam seemed like the next best way to go.  I will store them in the fridge, however instead of the pantry.

I found several recipes on-line that are almost what I want, and I’ve taken a little from each and made my own.  I always say, if you don’t cook, follow the essentials of a recipe exactly.  But, as any true home cook knows, if you know the rules, you can break them, change them, tweak them and make any recipe truly your own.

I object to over use of sugar in our prepared foods today especially in fruit that is already sweet on its own.  That is usually the first thing to go in any recipe of mine.  My oatmeal cookies are sweetened with a purée of golden raisins softened in hot frozen concentrate apple juice and a fig to jarlittle molasses for flavor and nutrients.  You get the point.

I love the flavor of maple syrup or organic wild honey which both marry well with figs, so I’m making my first batch with  1/2 cup Maple syrup (Grade B is more nutrient dense and flavorful than Grade A).  I’ll probably be picking more figs later in the week, so I’ll do a later batch with raw honey, but I’m out of honey at the moment.

My little crockpot only holds about 5 cups really packed in of chopped figs, so here’s my recipe:

Easy Crockpot Fig Butter jam

Makes: Approx. 4 – 8oz jars

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups figs washed, stemmed, halved then quartered
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, or apple juice or white wine
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla optional – all the recipes I read called for vanilla; I personally consider it non-essential.

Directions:

  1. Toss all ingredients in bowl to mix ingredients then and put into crockpot.
  2. Cook on high for 2 hours, checking from time to time to mash down with potato masher and stir.
  3. Turn crockpot to Low; crack lid to let steam escape for duration of cooking –  6 – 7 more hours.
  4. Remove lid occasionally, shake of condensation off lid into sink, stir and mash figs.(I prefer chunky jam consistency; if you prefer buttery smooth, use immersion blender in last hour of cooking)
  5. Fill hot sterilized jars with hot fig butter, put on reusable canning lids and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool.

If you have a cool pantry, store there. I prefer to refrigerate or freeze in portions (when I make room in the freezer).

This recipe only makes about four 8-oz jars, but as it’s so easy and I work at home, I can do a batch a day without too much effort.  If you have a larger crockpot (wish I did), larger batches work just fine. For those working folks, it’s a good weekend or overnight project.

Raw fig jam

Makes: Approx. 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 20 – 25 fresh, ripe figs
  • 1/8 cup water or white wine (more if liquid needed
  • 1/8 cup orange or apple juice (more if needed)
  • 2 T honey or maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract optional

Directions:

Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until it the mixture is desired consistency.  I like chunky; some folks like smooth.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of Jam – Store in clean preferably sterilized Mason jar and keep refrigerated.  Lasts up to 2 weeks as long as only clean utensils are used to scoop out.

Or

Freeze in ice cube trays, store cubes in Ziploc bags for future use.

  1. Here’s my secret. The freezing and blending are a piece of cake, but truthfully, after the 2nd or 3rd crockpot batch (mine is small and holds only 5 cups of cut figs), running low on honey or maple syrup, I simply tossed cut up figs in ½ cup frozen concentrated apple juice and 1 tsp cinnamon and then cooked as above.  They are just as sweet and just as good.

Foodie Friday – The Perfect Easy Soothie

Food for the weekend, or a weekday for that matter, should be easy.  What could be easier than a frosty smoothie for breakfast on a hot summer morning.  I put a lot of good things into my smsmoothie 2oothie, so instead of taking out all the ingredients every time I want a one, I prepare 6 or more at a time, then I can go several days without having to go thru all the assembly.

Breakfast Smoothie premix (store in next to smallest mason jars).

  • 1 or 2 scoops favorite protein powder (follow package directions)
  • 1 Tbs golden ground flax seed
  • 1-2 Tsp ground psyllium husk
  • 2 Tbs rolled oats
  • 1 Tbs Organic cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop MSM (follow package instructions)
  • 1/8 Tsp cayenne (I like heat and it’s good for metabolism)
  • 1/8 Tsp Tumeric (because it’s good for me)

Make the Smoothie

  •  8-12 oz Liquid (I use juice, almond milk or water and sometimes I use yesterday’s coffee)
  • 8-12 oz Liquid (I use juice, almond milk or water and sometimes I use yesterday’s coffee)
  • 1 container of smoothie premix
  • Fruit if desired (I love half banana, figs or blueberries in season)
  • 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses (acquired taste – I love the stuff)
  • 3 or more ice cubes.

Blend til cubes assimilated – may have to scrape down sides. IMG_4529

This smoothie usually consumed around 7 in the morning, keeps me going til way past noon.

Happy Friday – Off to Art show and lecture this evening at Space One-Eleven.

Happy 4th of July

For my NaBloPoMo | BlogHer participation I’d planned on making Fridays – Foodie Friday as that’s the day I have traditionally decided what I would eat for the entire weekend so IMG_4312I didn’t
have to bother with cooking and could concentrate on writing and/or painting.  I’d put on a crockpot of something deliciously fun: white chili, roast, whole chicken.  I’d prepare a triple recipe of tuna salad for lunch and save the rest for later, or a large frittata (quiche w/o the crust) for breakfast and save the rest for the weekend.  You get the idea.

This practice began when I worked in that concrete jungle I designated as Dilbertville.  I’ve since retired from that jungle to write and paint and collect my ‘entitlement’, but still find it helpful to prepare food I love and can eat for days for the weekend and longer without thought or preparation other than putting it on the plate.

Ah, but this is the 4th of July, and I will shortly be off to John and Karyn Stalcup’s wonderfully restored Southside house for their annual 4th of July party, so I will prepare my ‘covered dish (aka ziplock container) to contribute to the feast.

I’ve decided on an orzo pasta salad.  I cooked the orzo pasta al dente in salt and a pinch of savory; scalded and shocked a bag of Publix pre-cut bagged stir fry vegetables adding a few of my own (I did chop them into smaller pieces); into the pasta and veggies I mi
xed in a  simple vinaigrette I whipped up (white balsamic and malt vinegars, 1 tsp, of honey, extra virgin olive oil, spicy mustard, dash of salt, pepper, cayenne.  It’s chilling in the fridge as I sip wine and finish reading a book I started on Thursday.

I’ll be walking the 7-8 blocks to the party.  I never un-park my car on the 4th of July for a number of reasons.

  1. I’ll be drinking there and here and there along the way back home.
  2. I have many friends in the ‘hood, and there are lot of places to stop and visit and sip along the walk back home.
  3. People come in from all over the city to visit and to watch the ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ fireworks show atop Vulcan’s Red Mountain that go off around 9pm tonight, so traffic is the proverbial ‘bitch’.
  4. Walking home is faster and more entertaining that the gridlock of driving with all the suburbanites trying to get back out of town.
  5. Many of the drivers on the road have imbibed far too much to be driving and I’ve no desire to run into them nor have them run into me.

    Plus:

  6. I like to walk and enjoy every bit of this unique neighborhood on this my favorite holiday.

Happy 4th of July y’all.

pic-happy 4th of july

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