Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Mmm 'Mmm Flu

This was not how I was planning on honoring the conclusion of the semester. There was suppooosta be a lot more Christmas shopping and beer-drinking involved. Instead I've spent the last forty-eight hours drifting in and out of consciousness like I had an oxy habit, hacking up archaeological remains from my lungs that would make Indiana Jones swoon, and catching up TV-via-the-internet. Several hours of the Daily Show later, I have to say that I'm shocked that the naughty-language-no-no crew is ok with Jon and Co.'s rampant use of “dick,” “dickishness,” and “assface,” but puts the iron fist down on “cock” (eehheheheh, รก la Peter Griffin). I mean, at least “cock” has a counterpart in the animal kingdom. But who am I to question? I'm just a helpless recipient of third-party infotainment.

Between fits of feverish delirium and picking up the graveyard of used tissues on my bedroom floor, I followed through with hankering for something similar to chicken noodle soup. It started when my amazingly matronly sister brought me some velvety-delicious red lentil and rice soup on Thursday. I ate half of it and it got my wheels turning in the way-back direction of my mom heating up some Campbell's with Ritz crackers when we were young and sick. Of course, even when I was little, those dark, globular, pseudo-chicken bits freaked me right out. So, I have an updated, chikless response that has lots of immuno-boosting goodness. It's got all the tiny minced vegetables of the original, but it replaces the mystery meat with lentils. It took me a day and a half to finish it. I kept crawling back into bed over the effort of standing. Hopefully health input will balance out the net energy output.

Sick Day Noodle Soup

1 quart vegetable stock
2 cups water, or more as needed
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, finely diced
a whole mess of garlic (six cloves or more), vertically sliced
2-inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
olive oil for saute
1/2 cup lentils
salt and fresh pepper
hot sauce
1-2 ounces spaghetti

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot. When it's warm, add the onion and saute for a couple minutes, until just translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the carrot, celery, pepper and ginger and saute for a couple minutes to soften. Add the stock and water, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, cover, and cook until the lentils are cooked, about 20 minutes. Check the liquid level and add more water if it starts to look more sludgy than soupy.

In the meantime, cook the pasta and set aside. When the lentils are cooked, add the pasta an season the soup with a good pinch of salt, several grindings of pepper, and as much hot sauce as you're up for. It's good for your sinuses.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cocoa Cram Fest

By no rights whatsoever should I be interrupting my researching/writing cram session to write a blog post right now. But of course in the frantic twilight of the semester we have the first legitimate snowfall of the year. As the sunlight reached my window and bounced the vibrance of fresh, fleeting snow through the glass, I finally put the academics on life support to go for a quick walk. It was lovely out there; the Jamaicaway looked more like the interior of a snow globe than one of the more suicidal tracks in MarioKart. I came back invigorated, ready to focus – only after satiating one relentless craving for hot chocolate. It was a perfect storm of needing to make something, and actually having everything I need to make it. And as I write this and fish out the last cinnamon-y, cocoa-y bits from the bottom of my mug (so?), I feel prepared to take my sugarized, caffeinated brain back to business.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

½ cup almond, rice, or soy milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

sugar to taste (I used about a teaspoon, since I used sweetened almond milk)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon spicy (Vietnamese, Saigon) cinnamon

1 cinnamon stick

Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat. When it just starts to steam, add the rest of the ingredients and whisk constantly for a minute, checking to make sure that the cocoa doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour into one or two (but really one) mug, garnish with a cinnamon stick.