Food for a Summer Cold

Being sick in summer is the worst.  Especially if you live in England where blue skies and sunshine are rare.  When my Casablanca lilies are in bloom and the berries out back are ripe, I want to be outside.  Not tucked up in bed surrounded by Kleenex, wearing socks,  and smelling of menthol.

To me, summer means swings on which to swing.  Or if you’re Southern, swangs on which to swang.  A boat pond begging for paper schooners to sail across its surface.  Berries for crumble and cobbler that won’t pick themselves.  Bubbles to blow, daisy chains to make, and roses that I want in my cheeks instead of just in a bedside vase.

That’s why this weekend I said chest colds be damned and made a delicious lunch to heal all the family.

If you’re like me you might not think much of celery on its own.  Sure it’s great for adding depth to things like chicken stock or bolognese, but by itself I’m never tempted.  Unless it’s in a soup.  Which is exactly what I made.  My recipe is as simple as it is savory and equally delicious.

The other thing I made was a drink I call Hot Ginger & Dynamite.  It’s a potent hot lemonade with a fiery kick that’ll burn whatever ails you.  Ginger to heal, honey to soothe, and lots of lemon for vitamin C.  Cold medicine’s never tasted so good.  Except maybe at night when I like to add a splash of whisky to it.

Below are my recipes.  Though they have healing powers they’re also great to make when you just want to eat something good and clean.  I hope you enjoy them.

Celery Soup

Ingredients:

2 bunches of celery (with leaves–that’s where the flavor is), washed and chopped

1 onion, chopped

chicken or vegetable stock (or just water)

2 Tbsp olive oil + 1Tbsp butter

Marigold stock powder (optional)

Method:

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Sauté the onions and celery until soft.

celeryonion Sautéing

Here is where I stir in a tablespoon or two of Marigold powder for a extra depth, but you certainly don’t have to.

Add the stock or water.  I put in enough to cover the celery by half an inch.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Lastly, blend until smooth then serve.  If you haven’t used Marigold powder, do be sure to season with salt.

simmer bowl of soup

Hot Ginger & Dynamite

Ingredients:

the juice of 3 lemons

1-2square inches of freshly grated ginger

2 mug fulls of water

1/4 cup honey and then some to taste

Method:

Bring the lemon juice, ginger, and water to a boil.  Turn down and simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Stir in the 1/4 cup honey until dissolved.  If you want it sweeter, add more 1 tablespoon at a time to suit your taste.

ginger lemon tincture

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January, March, April, May. . .

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Ever since college, I’ve not liked February.  Perhaps that’s because being in the Northeast it always felt like the coldest dreariest month.  Or maybe that’s just when my winter depression would peak.  No matter the reason, I hated it.  I still do.  Here is why:

This month, the local council decided to put speed bumps up and down my beautiful street.  Forget the fact that the communal garden is overrun with brambles and infested with rabid foxes or that many of the council owned buildings have balconies and built-in window boxes that are crumbling and almost braining residents on a daily basis.  The council thought money would be best spent installing speed bumps.  These speed bumps combined with all the construction for the new town centre at the bottom of the hill have made daily traffic jams and incessant honking unavoidable.  The result?  I’ve become Ray Ploshansky from GIRLS.

street traffic

Also, a new noisy neighbor has moved in who cares not at all that we share walls.  I hear everything, EVERYTHING, she says, listens to, or does.  I’ve politely tried to ask her to keep it down and she accused me of harassment for ringing her doorbell to do so.

Then there was the month of illness.  Everyone in my family was sick–coughs, fevers, chest infections, earaches.  And as my three year old has just started pre-school, I keep getting health notices about chicken pox, measles, and scarlet fever as that’s what’s been going around her class since January.

Oh yeah, and I was told I need glasses.

So it’s been a month of Aretha Franklin and cooking many delicious things, but mostly just to pass the time.  Cochinitos, ardillitas, ratatouillebread, and brownies.  All I can say is come on spring!  I could certainly use the sunshine.

cochinitos ardillitas bread stirring Photo on 2015-02-28 at 12.43

Recipes from The Rabbit Hospital (Lemon Raspberry Muffins and 5 Bag Chamomile Tea)

Photo on 2013-06-11 at 08.38 #3

Recently, I was quarantined at The Rabbit Hospital.  The Rabbit Hospital is the bed where my husband and I sleep, but only when it is full of all our daughter’s plush toy bunnies.  Particularly when she is, or they are, feeling weak and in need of extra love.  A state my husband calls broobly.  Brooble rhyming with ruble.  The Rabbit Hospital came to be one evening when our one year old, who has slept in her own bed in her own room since her second week of life, was feeling extra broobly and wanted extra cuddles but only in our bed and only if all her toy rabbits could join.  Well as of Friday afternoon, I’ve been The Rabbit Hospital’s resident invalid.  The reason for admission?  A virulent stomach bug.

I blame the baby germs from the cesspool of toys at my daughter’s playgroup and England’s damp foul summer weather.  For the past few days when I have not been sick, I have been asleep or generally pathetic.  The only thing that hasn’t got my morale completely down is thinking how much svelter I’ll be post-illness.  It’s true.  I’ve not been able to eat a thing.  Until today. . .

I made lemon raspberry muffins based heavily on Joanne Chang‘s raspberry rhubarb muffin recipe from her cookbook, Flour, which bears the same name as her famous Boston bakeries.  If you’re not familiar with her and you love baked goods, buy her book and remedy that situation right away.  She is an Honors graduate of Harvard with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics who left the world of business for that of baking.  I mean really, with what and with whom would you rather spend your days?  Puffed up bankers or perfectly puffy profiteroles?  I would choose the latter, but then again I am a Chubby Princess.

And in the tradition of all sick bunnies, I had a soothing pot of five bag chamomile which seems to have set me on the road to recovery.  After all, if this daisy-like herb was what Peter Rabbit’s Mother used to dose him upon returning home from his famously frightful adventure in Mr. McGregor’s garden, then it’s good enough for me.

Ingredients for Lemon Raspberry Muffins:

3 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/4 sticks butter, melted

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

1 cup of Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons lemon zest

the juice of one small lemon

2 cups fresh raspberries

Method for Lemon Raspberry Muffins:  

Position a rack in the center of your oven then preheat to 350°F/176.7°C/Gas 4.

Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornmeal, and salt.

Then in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed.  Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest until well combined.

Now pour the wet mixture into the dry and use a spatula to gently fold the ingredients until they are just combined.

Lastly, fold in your raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the cups.  Be sure to fill them to the rim.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the tops spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip.

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes then remove the muffins from the pan.

*This recipe yields 18 muffins for me.

To Make 5 Bag Chamomile:

Warm a tea pot then add five bags of chamomile and fill with boiling water.  Let steep for a couple of minutes then stir in 2 teaspoons of honey to taste and a splash of milk.  I promise it will not only help you sleep but it will make you feel like the bunny in Goodnight Moon.