I hate getting a cold. It only happens a few times a year but when I do, it goes right to my nose and I can't smell or taste. As a foodie, my sense of smell and taste are my greatest pleasures. When I can't taste, I don't eat, and that is not a good thing for me. I have tried steaming in a shower. I have tried blowing my nose until I look like Rudolph! I have taken Mucinex (what an ugly name) but to no avail. I know that I just have to wait it out. It doesn't help that I cry at the drop of a hat, missing my sweet husband Peter, which adds extra snot to my already stuffed schnozzola. When Peter was around, and I was sick, he cajoled me with delicious food tidbits. He brought up bed trays of my favorite goodies like soft scrambled eggs with crisp bacon, tuna sandwiches on well-toasted rye bread, or angel hair pasta with butter and cheese. Ok, he did make a mess in the kitchen, but I forgave him because his "Florence Nightingale" skills were off the chart. He even ran to the garden to get a rose, which he put in a glass because he didn't know where the vases were. That was classic Peter, the kindest husband ever.
I just got a whopper of a cold and for the first time since Peter died, I am ministering to myself. I started sneezing in earnest and immediately ran to Whole Foods to get the fixings for chicken soup. My grandmother and mother made the best soup and taught me just how it should taste. I begged the butcher for backs and necks, which have the best flavor since they have more bones and give extra-added health benefits. Once I secured the chicken parts, I ran around the market picking up onions, parsnips, carrots, celery with leaves, parsley, and from my Russian background, the secret ingredient, dill. I ran home before the cold overpowered me. I cooked the soup for two to three hours, while I caught up on The People vs. OJ on FX! I strained the soup and kept the veggies to eat later. I discarded the chicken parts and then used a fat separator to remove all excess fat. It was a lot of work, I mean a lot of work, but then I had soup for this day and many to follow and stowed some in the freezer for a rainy day (although in LA, a rainy day is more of a wish).
CLASSIC CHICKEN BROTH
A classic chicken broth is prepared from a whole chicken, but can be prepared from less expensive ingredients such as chicken backs and necks. My mother taught me a few tricks to a clear, flavorful broth. First the ingredients must be cooked at very slowly at a slow simmer -- if the soup boils too fast, it may become cloudy. The other trick is to use a little frozen or canned broth to start off the flavors.
5 pounds of chicken backs and necks or 1 large chicken, about 5 pounds, rinsed well and cut up into 8 pieces (liver and giblets removed and saved for another use)
2 quarts water
4 cups defatted chicken broth ( I like Whole Foods Chicken Stock as a starter)
4 ribs celery, cut into 2 inch lengths, including the leaves
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
2-3 large onions, peeled and quartered (keep a little of the brown skin for color in the soup)
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 large leek, cleaned and cut into 1 inch lengths (white part only)
3 sprigs fresh dill
3 sprigs fresh parsley
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1. Place the chicken parts in the bottom of a large heavy, narrow stockpot. Add the water and broth (the liquid should cover the chicken completely) and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium low heat and allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes, removing and discarding any scum that comes to the surface with a large spoon.
2. Add the carrots, onions, celery, parsnip and leek. Place the dill, parsley, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth, tie up with kitchen twine, and submerge in the soup along with the salt. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very slowly for two hours.
3. Allow the soup to cool slightly. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bag of herbs and spices, squeezing out any excess liquid into the soup. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pot and save them for another use. Strain the clear soup into a container. Cool and then refrigerate the liquid so that the fat can be easily removed.
4. When ready to serve, remove the accumulated fat, and reheat the soup.
The chemistry of stress after a loss tells us that grief makes us susceptible to diseases such as the common cold, sore throats and other infections. I know I have to eat right, exercise, get sleep (still hard), and talk about my emotions to relieve the stress. I know I should get massages and do all the right things. But sometimes, I just have to let chicken soup and rest do the trick!
To quote Miss Adelaide, from the show my father wrote, Guys and Dolls:
"It says here:
The average unmarried female
Due to some long frustration may react
With psychosomatic symptoms
Difficult to endure
Affecting the upper respiratory tract.
In other words, just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold
A person can develop a cold.
You can spray her wherever you figure there's streptococci lurk
You can give her a shot for whatever's she's got, but it just won't work
If she's tired of getting the fish eye from the hotel clerk
A person can develop a cold."