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Cold season is upon us. As I type this, I’m looking out my kitchen window at a dreary rain and wet leaves plastered all over the deck. It can’t be long before I’m feeling that characteristic tickle in the back of my throat.
This is one of my favorite natural cold remedies. I always use honey in it, as it seems to act as a throat soother and cough suppressant. I hope you won’t be needing it any time soon, but just in case, go ahead and stock up on the ingredients now. (By the way, you can keep the ginger root in the freezer, where it should last the whole winter.)
- 6 to 8 thin slices fresh ginger with peel, about the size of a quarter, smashed lightly with the side of a knife
- 6 to 8 scallions, white part only
- 2 to 3 teaspoons raw sugar (such as Demerara), honey or maple syrup, according to taste
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups water
Put the ginger slices and scallions in a small pot (preferably glass or ceramic) and add the sweetener, sea salt and water. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and serve hot.
This recipe comes from A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds.
I am reinstating the tradition of afternoon tea. For those of you who aren’t familiar, that is when you sit down at 3 or 4 o’clock to have some tea and a little taste of something to tide you over to dinner. Hot or iced tea, I don’t care. Juice is also acceptable. The point is that you sit down, eat a little something and stop doing for a small part of the day. It makes for a nice break, a take-a-breath moment.
Here are some resources:
OK, I have been making and drinking this iced tea for weeks now, after having seen the original recipe in the excellent Eating Well magazine (which I have since adapted a little, of course). This tea is extremely quaffable, very light and just a touch sweet, without that bitterness that iced tea can sometimes get. It can be made in caffeinated and decaffeinated versions, depending on the type of tea you choose. I fill a thermos with it and ice cubes so I can suck it down all day at work.
Maybe you can’t tell, but I am an iced tea connoisseur. During the summer — and for most of the rest of the year — it is all I want to drink. And it’s not true what they tell you, that a Southerner’s version of iced tea is brown sugar water. We do appreciate the different nuances and flavors that can come from using various types of tea, from adding or withholding lemon, from the judicious application of mint. At least, this Southerner does.
Minty Green Tea Iced Tea
- Fill a pitcher half full with just-boiled water and add 3 regular-size bags of green tea (I prefer Tazo Zen) and a handful of mint leaves.
- Stir in 1 tbsp. honey.
- Let brew about 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags and fill the pitcher with cold water.
- Serve over ice. Drink till you can’t drink no more or you have to make more tea.
Whatever it is, it hit me on Wednesday like a tornado, knocked me flat, and I am only just now beginning to recover. I spent two full days ensconced on the sofa with my Kleenex, Tylenol, cough syrup, VapoRub, books, laptop and TV tuned to the Food Network, HGTV and a marathon of Top Design on Bravo. Of course, I missed the brief respite from February — two sunny days of 60+ temperatures! I will spare you the gory details, but instead muse on those foods we crave when we’re sick.
“Feed a cold, starve a fever,” is the aphorism, and the one thing I don’t have is a fever. But when I’m sick, I don’t have much of an appetite either. I crave bland, filling, basic, comfort foods, foods that aren’t too difficult to make in my bleary-eyed condition. Foods like:
- Toast with butter and honey
- Cinnamon toast
- Soft-boiled eggs and English muffins
- And of course, that old standby, chicken soup
Is it any coincidence that such foods hearken back to my childhood, when Mom would bring a tray to me in bed or on the couch with a hot mug of tea? Of course not.
The following tea is not quite like what Mom used to make — as far as I know, lemongrass wasn’t readily available back then, at least not around these parts. But this is a dynamite recipe for when you’re sick. It’s easy to make, it makes the house smell terrific, and you can get therapeutic value just by standing over the pot and breathing in the steam. I keep a pot on low for most of the day.
Combine in a saucepan:
- 5 cups water
- 4 stalks lemongrass
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 3-4 tbsp. honey
Bring to a simmer. Let simmer gently over medium-low for 20 minutes. (Recipe from Healthy Latin Cooking.)