Seasonal Pantry: Drinks to help ease sicknesses
It begins oh so subtly, like a tap on the shoulder you almost don’t feel. Suddenly, there’s a catch in your throat that wasn’t there a few minutes ago. Then one sneeze leads to another, and another, and another. Next thing you know, you’re sweating, shivering, aching, and longing for a rendezvous with your pillow.
Welcome to virus season.
There are already several bugs circulating, some that seem like full blown flu, some that are clearly colds, and others that are rather amorphous. “Am I sick?” you may wonder, or, “Do I have supercharged allergies? Have I become lazy? Depressed? Fed up with the world? All or none of the above?”
At such times, a well-stocked pantry can be your best friend. If you have chicken stock in your freezer, you can make congee (rice porridge, typically savory) or soup with little effort. If you’re really sick, all you need to do is let the stock thaw, heat it, and add the juice of a lemon, a few shakes of hot sauce, and, if you’re up to it, a couple of cloves of garlic. Sip as much as you can until you fall asleep.
This year, like most years, virus season caught me by surprise. As I snuggled in bed, drifting in and out of a troubled sleep, I found myself wishing I’d started making fire cider several weeks earlier. It’s a powerful potion, one that many people swear by as both preventative and a cure, but it takes a few weeks to make. There are retail versions, too, though none are as good as homemade versions. Still, they can help you through until yours is ready.
Both of today’s recipes, for fire cider and for golden milk, are praised by the wellness community as beneficial to our health in myriad ways. I can’t take on all these claims in a single column, but I do know, from personal experience, that they taste delicious and seem to ease symptoms. The golden milk can also help you fall asleep, a welcome thing when your nose is stuffed up and your head is pounding.
Most of these ingredients are readily available in any local market. The one that can be a bit tricky to find is fresh turmeric, but I’ve seen it at Oliver’s Markets, Pacific Markets, Andy’s Produce and every Asian market in the country. Some people confuse it with ginger because it is a similarly-shaped root. But it is darker and smaller, with deep orange flesh. It is also typically labeled so finding it shouldn’t be a problem.
Makes about 1 quart
1 medium red onion, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
2 organic oranges, quartered
2 organic lemons, quartered
— About 4 ounces fresh horseradish, peeled
3-4 ounces fresh ginger
2-3 ounces fresh turmeric (see Note below)
3-4 garlic bulbs, cloves separated, lightly crushed, and peeled
5 serranos or other hot chiles of choice
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 quart organic apple cider vinegar, preferably local, plus more as needed
½ cup raw honey, preferably local, or maple syrup, plus more to taste