I’ve been sidelined the last little while by a nasty lingering cold.
This is a magical concoction that has been making me feel a lot more present, and a lot more well, so that most of day to day life still gets managed even though I’m not feeling my regular bubbly self. Last week was extra yucky because the cold came on the same day as I hurt my knee. I was a hobbling, coughing mess and felt pretty darn pathetic. With lots of rest, ice for my knee and a sweet Mr to help me feel better, I’m certainly mostly mended now.
Hopefully all my regularly planned for events: work, wedding planning and ahem… blog posts will go back to their appointed schedules!
This steamy cup of pick-me-up includes:
- Echinacea, a common herbal remedy used for fighting colds.
- Lemon for Vitamin C to improve immune function. Yay citrus!
- Honey, which is full of antioxidants and antimicrobials, soothes a sore throat.
- Ginger to reduce fever, soothe the throat and help you rest.
- Cinnamon as an additional antioxidant, used in China as a remedy for the cold.
- Cayenne, a stimulant, to warm and ease pain.
It all comes together to make a heady cup of tea, but a potent treatment is what you need for a potent cold.
Cold Conquering Cordial
1 bag of echinacea tea (echinacea tea might be difficult to find, if you can’t get it try camomile!)
2 C boiling water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp grated ginger
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
- Use the boiled water and the tea bag to brew a pot of echinacea tea, allowing it to steep for five minutes.
- Assemble the remaining ingredients and stir them together.
- Pour the prepared tea over top.
- Sip your cold away. Fantastic.
Cups of this have been keeping me moving this week. It helps a craggy, froggy throat feel more like itself. I’ve got a rather high up, squeaky voice. When I’ve got a sore throat I sound ridiculous, my voice cracks and pitches something awful. Anything that helps with that situation is really appreciated. The heat from the cayenne and the steam from the tea help unplug your nose too!
If you’re having some trouble conquering your cold, you should try a nice warm cup of cold conqueror. Every little bit helps!
This time last year: Fudge Drop Cookies
And the year before: Cinnamon Bacon Buns
And the year before that: Buckwheat Honey Madeleines
Our house is an old house. We’re talking about built in 1907 old, older than any of my grandparents old. It is full of character, full of pretty moldings, and when we bought it it wasn’t so full of insulation.
Brr. It was cold in there. Some of you who live in much more sensible climes may not be so concerned about the insulative properties of your homes. Living in Winnipeg with a poorly insulated house makes for a chilly winter as well as pretty high heating bills.
Anyway, there was one January morning that first winter (before we got the insulation done), where Mister had already left for work, and I was having some trouble inspiring myself to get out of bed. My morning classes beckoned, but it was so cold out of the blankets. One of those mornings where there wasn’t yet a time impetus, so staying in that half asleep haze is an option.
And then I heard footsteps.
As I said, Mister had left for work for the day. Trooper the Wonder Puppy hadn’t joined the family yet. I thought I was alone in the house. And there were footsteps. Someone was there.
Was there a stranger in our house? How did they get in? We don’t live in a neighborhood that is terrible, but it certainly isn’t known to be the best one around. An intruder!
Making decisions informed by all of the scary movies I’ve ever watched, I grabbed my cellphone from the bedside table and hid under the blankets. Being relatively small, laid out flat and very still, the terrible intruders couldn’t find me… right?
I turned my phone to silent (in film the soon to be hostage is too often found because their phone rings). And I sent Mr a text message: There is someone in the house. This way, whoever was in my house wouldn’t hear me talking.
Mister immediately phones me. Luckily I had turned my ringer off, right? Mister obviously hadn’t studied up on his scary films. His calling to help would be what made the boogeyman find me.
He must have figured my line of thinking, because he then sent me a text back.
Me: I heard their footsteps.
Him: Do they know that you are there?
That’s when the real wave of fear kicked in, the potential gravity of the situation. Someone was in our house, and though I was hiding, it wouldn’t be very hard for them to find me. What was I going to do?
My limited knowledge of scary films didn’t help. I’m a scaredy cat, I don’t watch too many of them. I was hiding. The potential kidnapper wasn’t going to hear me talking on the phone. But what comes next?
And that’s when I heard the giggle.
A far away sounding giggle.
It was followed by a child’s voice, and more footsteps.
I got out of bed and looked out of the window. It was the neighbor’s kids playing in the yard.
The thing about winter is that it is cold. Another this is that sound travels further in cold air. Cold air is denser air, and denser air provides better transmission. Houses with almost no insulation in the walls do not create much of a sound barrier either. It sounded like the footsteps were in the house, when really they were in the neighbor’s yard, being made my the neighbor’s kids.
Luckily, I got to phone Mister and tell him that everything was fine. No home intrusion, no burgling of Dana. Needless to say, we were happy that it was only a scare. It inspired Mister to tell me what to do if someone broke into the house and he wasn’t home.
Looking back I find it pretty hilarious how quickly my panicked mind went to the movies. And how silly the solutions gleaned from film had been. Luckily there was no real danger, and if a time occurs when there is I will be better prepared.
Curried Squash Soup
(recipe adapted from Jyl Chegwin)
1 butternut squash (or other squash of choice)
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup coconut milk
1 Cup water
- Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Cut the onion in half.
- Place the squash halves, onion halves and garlic cloves in a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast the vegetables in a 375° F oven until the squash is fork tender (~1 hour).
- Let the contents of the pan cool enough to handle. Scoop the squash from it’s skin with a spoon, peel the onion, and squish the garlic out of it’s skin.
- Add the chicken broth, ginger, and curry powder and then either use a blender or an immersion blender to make the soup nice and smooth.
- Put everything in a pot over medium heat, and stir in the coconut milk and water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes for the flavors to marry.
- Soups on!
Who wouldn’t want a bowl of this tasty goodness? It’s sweet from the squash, creamy from the coconut milk, and a little spicy from the curry. If you have vegetarian friends coming over, all you need to do is swap out the chicken broth for vegetable.
Mister, who still claims he doesn’t like things with curry in, liked this soup too! He says: This is the best thing I’ve ever had with curry in it.
This time last year: Cream Puffs
And the year before: Mister’s Woodgrain Birthday Cake
Hello black rice, nice to meet you. Let’s get to know each other.
You seem so familiar but mysterious at the same time, everyday but exotic.
The purple-gray residue left on my pots wasn’t so cool, but luckily it washed off right quick. Not an ideal trait to bring into my kitchen, but forgivable.
Black rice is fabulously nutty. I do love a fabulously nutty character or two. And it is friends with shrimp? Black rice and I will get along just fine.
Getting to know a new ingredient is such fun.
Prawn and Black Rice Salad with Vietnamese Dressing
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer)
For the dressing
2 cloves of garlic
2 Thai chilis
1 1/2 inch knob of ginger
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 Cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
For the salad
250 grams black rice
1 Tbsp butter
500 grams raw prawns
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp lemon juice
- To make the dressing, finely mince the garlic, chilis and ginger.
- Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing together in a bowl and let it steep while putting together the rest of the salad.
- In a saucepan (that has a lid) combine 1 3/4 Cups water, the rice and a pinch of salt. Bring the contents up to a boil, then cover with the lid and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the rice from the hob and let it stand covered for approximately 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
- Saute the prawns in a pan with the butter, lemon and garlic until just opaque and still very tender.
- If you’re planning on eating this warm, follow the remaining steps immediately. If you’re planning on eating the salad cool (my preference, personally) let the rice and prawns cool.
- Stir the sauce and spoon a little bit over the rice. A little goes a long way. Toss and taste is the best method. Tumble the prawns into the salad once you’re happy with the amount of dressing.
I’m pretty sure this salad is intended to be eaten cold. When I read the recipe, though, I somehow got the impression you could eat it hot. Cold is definitely the way to go, I think, though it isn’t too shabby warm.
When I first made the dressing/sauce I found it really intensely salty, so my recipe uses a fair amount of water more than Nigella’s version; but I still used a little less than half of what the recipe made. Maybe I was a little salt sensitive that day, but if you just add slowly, you will be able to adjust to how you like it.
Where I was quite enamored with the nuttiness and bite of the black rice, Mr was less enthused than I was. He really liked the prawns, though.
This time last year: Beet Towers with Blue Cheese Mousse
And the year before that: Our First Kitchen