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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters:  I can’t tell you how much I love corn fritters.  When I was a kid, my mother was an absolute pro at stretching the food budget and making food that felt luxurious and special without breaking the bank.  I didn’t realize until I was an adult with a food budget of my own to manage, just how creative she was with cheap food.  Corn fritters fit that bill. They’re just good, satisfying food. They’re yummy. They’re festive.  They feel luxurious and special. And best of all, they’re good cheap food.  I found a recipe (from an old edition of All You) that brought back memories ---

Corn Fritters:

5 cups of oil (I will NOT be using that much)
2 1/3 cups of pancake mix (the kind where you just add water)
½ cup cornmeal
1 package of frozen corn
1 small red onion, chopped

Pour 2 inches of oil into a cast iron fry pan.  Heat until water droplets snap back and sing (my great grandmother’s directions for knowing when oil is hot enough). 

In a large bowl, mix the pancake mix, and cornmeal.  Stir in 1 1/3 cups of water to make a batter.  Stir in the corn and the onion. 

Scoop 2-3 Tbs of batter into the hot oil and cook until golden brown and crispy (3-4 minutes each)  Cook in small batches to avoid greasy fritters. 
Drain on paper towels and serve.  Yum. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Flu

So – as long as I’m fighting off colds this season, I thought I’d get a jump on sinus infections as well.  I hate getting sinus infections – and I seem to get one every year.  They’re painful, debilitating and annoying.  Anything I can do to help prevent them  --- I’ll try it.   Here’s what I’ve learned lately that I think might help:

·       Using massage – But surprise!!  You need to massage your hands and feet for this trick to work.  This sounds iffy to me – but like I said – I’ll try anything to avoid another sinus infection --- Apparently there is some kind of connection between the hands and feet and the nerve pathways to the sinuses.  Supposedly massaging your hands and feet for 5 minutes a day will alter the blood flow and nerve pathways to your sinuses – leading to less congestion and less pain.  We’ll see.
·       Scrubbing windowsills and under the kitchen sink with bleach.  This is where most of our homes have hidden mold growning.  We breathe in the mold spores and they get all stuck in the mucus in our sinuses and breed until an infection develops.  Kill the mold and reduce the opportunity for something to irritate your sinuses and launch an infection.
·       Walking!!    People who walk every day have less congestion and swelling in their sinuses. 
·       Eating horseradish or wasabi or other spicy foods.  You know the sensation of tingling in your nose when you get a good dab of wasabi??? That’s the feeling you want if you’re seriously fighting sinus infections.  It makes your nose run – which drains out all of the irritants that can launch the next infection. 
·       Take a morning shower.  Remember how your grandmother used to set up the steam kettle when someone had a cough or cold??  She was smart.  It worked. Steam opens up your sinuses and makes them drain.  Standing in the steamy shower for 10 minutes can open and drain your sinuses.  After 8 hours (you are getting enough sleep aren’t you??) of lying on your back – your sinuses are grateful for the steamy cleansing.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cold Season

I hate cold season (know anyone who likes it?? I’d like to meet them).  So I’m always on the look out for ideas for keeping healthy in the wintertime.  I ran these past my doctor and got the okay --- Here’s the plan
1.    Gargle with plain old water every day.  Yep --- he said it works.  Apparently it flushes out viruses before they attach themselves to the lining of your throat and work their way down into your respiratory system.   He suggested getting in the habit of doing a quick gargle a couple of times a day --- before lunch – mid afternoon etc. The only trick is:  don’t swallow the water when you’re done with your gargle.  You want to get rid of whatever the gargle flushes out!!
2.    Spray your nose with saline spray.  This keeps the membranes in your nose moist and less susceptible to invading bacteria and viruses. They also have been shown to reduce congestion --- which can go a long way toward preventing my other winter-time nemesis:  sinus infections.  I’m a huge fan of SaltAire --- because I love the little pump on the side of the bottle.  But I’ll confess, I make my own refill – and re-use the bottle for a little while (not too long, I don’t want to grow bacteria in there and undo all my hard work)
3.    Have fruit for breakfast.  I’ll admit, I’d never even thought of this one.  But it makes some sense to me:  In the summer (when I almost NEVER have colds or respiratory problems) I eat a ton of fruit.  When fall and winter arrive, I naturally eat less fruit.  I just never made the connection.  Apparently fruit helps your body produce its own natural anti-viral compound. 
4.    Drink tea and wine --- yep, the doctor really okayed this one too.  Tea has been shown in all kinds of studies to increase the body’s production of proteins that are used in fighting attacks on lung cells and mucus membranes.  And wine (the red kind) has flavonoids that fight the virus responsible for most colds --- the rhinovirus.  Now we’re not talking about finishing off the bottle yourself – but a cup of tea in the afternoon and a glass of wine with dinner sounds like a very civilized way to battle cold season to me.  

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Stone Soup

We’re having a Stone Soup party at church this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it.  The menu is simple:  Stone Soup, bread, apple pie, and cheddar cheese.  Everyone is bringing something --- I’m just responsible to keep the broth boiling.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story of Stone Soup, here’s Wikipedia’s version of it: 

A kindly, old stranger was walking through the land when he came upon a village. As he entered, the villagers moved towards their homes locking doors and windows. The stranger smiled and asked, why are you all so frightened. I am a simple traveler, looking for a soft place to stay for the night and a warm place for a meal. "There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "We are weak and our children are starving. Better keep moving on." "Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his cloak, filled it with water, and began to build a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a silken bag and dropped it into the water. By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come out of their homes or watched from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their fear. "Ahh," the stranger said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage -- that's hard to beat." Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a small cabbage he'd retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. "Wonderful!!" cried the stranger. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king." The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for everyone in the village to share. The villager elder offered the stranger a great deal of money for the stone, but he refused to sell it and traveled on the next day. As he left, the stranger came upon a group of village children standing near the road. He gave the silken bag containing the stone to the youngest child, whispering to a group, that it was not the stone, but the villagers that had performed the magic."

As we thought about starting the season of harvest and Thanksgiving, this seemed to express the sentiments well.  We each bring the little we have, and together we can produce something wonderful and nourishing (for the body or the soul) 
Each person coming to the party is bringing something --- we won’t know what until they get there.  A carrot, a potato, some leeks, a few green beans.  Add it all to the boiling broth and bouquet garni and we should have a glorious vegetable soup to share.  

Monday, October 05, 2009

Squash Soup

I’m experimenting with squash soup recipes --- here’s my latest try from a neighbor’s recipe (I don’t know where she got it from)

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 apple peeled and chopped
2 packages of frozen butternut or other winter squash (I’ll be modifying this to use fresh squash – I can’t bear the idea of spending extra money on the frozen stuff)
1 can of vegetable broth (I’ll be using stock from the freezer)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 cup apple cider
1 cup of cream

heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the onion and cook until softened.  Add the apple and continue cooking about 5 minutes.  Add the next 4 ingredients.  Boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly

Process soup in batches until smooth using an immersion blender.  Add in apple cider and cream.  Re-heat over low heat, stirring constantly until heated through.