Feed A Cold
There are all kinds of home-brewed recipes for flus and colds, but soup's the best.
Thursday, February 17, 2000
Coughing, sneezing, snarfling all over your friends and co-workers during this cold and flu season? The cure may be as close as your kitchen cupboard. Here are some over-the-counter, innovative ways to spell relief that have actually been used somewhere at some time by someone and are guaranteed fun to try at home.
How''s this: Take an orange. Peel it. Now take the peel and roll it up, inside out, and stuff it up your nose. This was a favorite trick of the American colonists, who also suffered from acute boredom.
More recently, an exciting study conducted in Lancaster, Pa., found that research volunteers actually shortened or altogether alleviated cold and flu-like symptoms by clothes-pinning their nostrils together. Finally a cure, or simply a placebo effect, you ask? The answer is likely to remain unclear, since medical support for the "Cold Clip" fizzled after the FDA said it could only be marketed as a way to "keep foreign material out of the nose."
Popular home remedies are also big on onions, used as a poultice, mixed with butter or goose grease and rubbed on the chest, strung around the neck in a tidy sachet, or worn whole, tied around the back and placed between the kidneys. These measures all have the added advantage of discouraging contact with both the healthy and virus-bearing public.
Thankfully, there is a much better and more friendly way to use produce and get rid of chills and fever at the same time, with a soothing pot of simmering soup. These cool, wet months are the days to braise, to look to the stockpot for its healing powers and inhale deeply of the savory vapors that unclog the sinuses and aright the appetite. Soup is a lot like chopping wood--it warms you twice, first while you''re chopping up all the stuff, and again while you''re sitting in front of a steaming bowl and, ideally, a crackling fire.
Since, modesty aside, I just made a pot of the best butternut squash soup I''ve ever consumed (when you''re not following a recipe, the results are always a surprise), I''ll share in the sport. Start by poking a large squash all over with a knife, so it doesn''t dilute your enthusiasm by exploding all over your oven. While it''s safely roasting, slice and saute a jumbo onion until caramelized, then throw in chopped carrots and celery, and sweat until tender. Add some minced garlic and fresh grated ginger, and transfer everything into your best winter friend, the stockpot.
When the squash is soft all over, slice it open. When it''s cool enough to handle, remove the seeds and scoop the flesh into the pot. I ended up with about equal parts chicken stock and unfiltered apple juice for liquid, pureeing everything together in the end and finishing it with a subtle pinch of curry powder, a bold splash of sherry and a squirt of crème fraiche. Ole!
Deamer Dunn, chef and owner of Pajaro Street Grill in Salinas shares some more soup wisdom. He starts with a roasted vegetable stock, caramelizing onions, carrots and celery for about two hours in the oven. "That goes into the kettle," he instructs, "with purified water and a similar quantity of the same fresh vegetables. After that''s simmered and strained, I reduce what started with 30 gallons of water all the way down to 12 quarts." You''ll know you''ve reduced enough, he asserts, "when the finished stock is the color of a beer bottle, a rich brown."
When he''s doing squash or broccoli or asparagus soup, he uses the trim from the vegetables to fortify the roasted vegetable stock. After straining out the broccoli peelings or asparagus ends, he''s got a killer soup base.
A popular potage at Forge in the Forest and The General Store in Carmel is Chef Bruce Silverblatt''s tortilla soup. "I put onions and whole bulbs of garlic that have been roasted into the stockpot along with tortillas, cut into small pieces, and add chicken or vegetable stock. Then I roast dried and de-seeded ancho chilies until they''re nice and brown, grind them up in a food processor, heat the chili powder in a pan and add it to the pot, along with some chopped tomatoes and epazote, which is similar to cilantro. After that simmers for a while, it''s pureed, strained, and ready to serve, garnished with hominy, diced red onion, a little cheese, and a fine julienne of fried tortilla chips." To benefit fully from the intense, curative wafts of smoky chilies, garlic, and maize, Silverblatt advises removal of all foreign nose gear.
News Flash...Where formerly there was Triples, (behind the DoubleTree, by Heritage Harbor in downtown Monterey) look for a new, upscale Indian eatery. More on Indian Summer soon.