26 January 2010

Mulled Cider

It's hard to believe that George and I are still struggling with the virus I caught three weeks ago. The cough has acheived legendary status; it must be some sort of über-genius virus. So we have been cooking very little: microwaved sweet potatoes, udon in broth, camping food (broccoli and garlic potatoes), and artichoke-mushroom sandwiches, which I've already posted about on this blog.

When you have chest congestion, nothing is quite as helpful as moist heat. Putting a heating pad on your chest helps and of course so do hot baths and showers, but the best method is steaming your head. George's doctor taught him this trick: pour boiling water into a bowl, start breathing in the steam through your nose while both your head and the bowl are enclosed within a towel, and when you feel really clear in your sinuses lay down with your head upside down for about 5 minutes so that your mucus can drain back into the top of your head (which is where it came from). It feels really good, but don't be surprised if you cough a lot at first.

If you prefer the culinary method, you should definitely try mulled cider. George and I bought watery, bland cider (cider in the South cannot reach the heights of quality of cider in New England). Pour the cold cider into a pot with a stick of cinnamon and either a few whole cloves or some gratings of fresh nutmeg (buy a whole nutmeg and grate it a little—be careful, it's strong!). Simmer on very low for quite a long time, an hour if you like, and then ladle into mugs. The cider darkens, sweetens, thickens, and develops spicy warming undertones.

I once served a huge amount of this at a party and months later people still mention to me how delicious it was. Another benefit of hot cider is that the whole house smells like Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas rolled into one. Mmmm....

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