Finally, just when it seemed winter would never end, March has arrived, and if it’s March, spring must be just around the corner.
We can look forward to the sudden appearance of crocuses, tulips pushing through to the light, tinges of green on trees and bushes, blustery winds and, unfortunately, that totally artificial and unnecessary phenomenon called daylight-saving time.
We can also look forward, alas, to the coughing, sneezing, hacking season, as the spring colds hit.
I’ve already talked to a couple of friends who are in the early, miserable stages of coming down with the insidious enemy mistakenly called a “common” cold. There’s nothing common about a spring cold, as far as I’m concerned; it has managed to baffle medical minds since the beginning of time. The plain fact is, even after centuries of trying, man has not yet found a cure for the “common” cold.
I read at some point that the average adult contracts between two and four colds every year, often in the spring months. Such as March, perhaps?
Even though there is no cure for your cold, there are some suggestions for possibly avoiding colds and/or easing the symptoms and lessening the impact. I have quite a fat file of articles about ways to treat a cold, many of which are proven home remedies that may help, even if they can’t cure.
Garlic, for example.
Garlic contains allicin, which is a natural antibiotic, with antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic qualities. It also acts like a decongestant and expectorant, so you can get rid of that expensive bottle of cherry-flavored syrup that works for maybe 15 minutes.
To ease the severity of your cold, eat four cloves of freshly crushed raw garlic three times a day, until you think you feel better. This will also aid in keeping unwanted company away while you’re “under the weather.”
If you just can’t stand eating raw garlic, you might want to consider the following alternative, popular in Germany for fighting off both colds and flu.
Peel and dice a half-pound of garlic; add to the garlic one quart of 90-proof cognac and seal the mixture in an airtight bottle. Store in a cool, dark place for two weeks, then strain out the garlic and reseal the liquid in the bottle.
For flu symptoms, add
20 drops to 8 ounces of water and drink three times a day, before each meal. If you suspect a cold is coming on, use 10 to 15 drops per 8 oz. glass of water. Obviously, this treatment is not for children or people with drinking problems.
Other possibilities? Sauerkraut, 2 T. of sauerkraut juice two or three times a day may reduce the chances of catching someone else’s cold.
Or consider trying vinegar and cayenne pepper to stave off the sniffles and early discomfort of a possible attack.
Vinegar is a natural anti-inflammatory, and cayenne pepper is loaded with capsaicin, which acts as a painkiller. (It’s also good for arthritis aches, by the way.)
And for a sore, scratchy throat, add 2 t. of cider vinegar to 6 oz. of warm water; gargle with a mouthful and spit it out, then drink a mouthful. Continue doing this until the mixture is gone. Repeat the vinegar gargle every hour or so, as long as your throat feels scratchy, but remember to rinse your mouth with water after each session to prevent the vinegar from eroding your teeth.
These are tried-and-true home remedies which may help and can’t harm (well, the cognac thing could, if you get carried away), and even though spring is just around the corner, we all know March can be a deceivingly treacherous month.
We may not be able to do much about the March weather, but at least we can perhaps fight off that spring cold.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out and buy about five pounds of garlic.
No, I haven’t forgotten good old chicken soup. It is still considered soothing and helpful in easing both cold and flu attacks, but it’s even more powerful if you add garlic, lots of garlic, to your chicken soup.
If this creamy bowl of chicken and garlic delight doesn’t make you feel
100 percent better, nothing will.
ROASTED GARLIC CHICKEN SOUP
26 cloves garlic, unpeeled (no that’s not a misprint; it is 26)
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
2¼ cups sliced onions
1½ t. chopped fresh thyme
18 cloves garlic, peeled (yes, another 18 cloves; again, no misprint)
3½ cups chicken broth (preferably homemade but canned, if necessary)
½ cup cream
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Place the 26 garlic cloves in a small glass baking dish. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until the garlic is golden and tender, about 45 min. Cool; squeeze garlic with fingers
to extract cloves from skin and transfer them to a small bowl.
Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over med.-high heat. Add onions and thyme; cook until onions are translucent, about 5-6 min. Add roasted garlic and the 18 peeled, raw garlic cloves; cook 3 min., then add chicken broth. Cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 min. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide cheese among
4 bowls and ladle the soup over the cheese. Squeeze the juice of a lemon wedge into each bowl and serve. Makes 4 servings and can be made ahead; cover and refrigerate. Re-warm over med. heat, stirring occasionally.
One of our all-time favorite garlic recipes also involves chicken, and is worth every bit of the time it takes to peel so much garlic. My husband, John, makes this about once a month, and we eat it for two nights; it’s even better the second evening.
If you lightly crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a chef’s knife, more flavor and aroma, as well as more of the healing allicin, is released.
40 GARLIC CHICKEN
1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into pieces (or use packaged leg/thighs, which we do because we like the dark meat)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup plus 2 T. olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves garlic, peeled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the chicken all over with the 2 T. olive oil; season all over with salt and pepper.
In a 12-inch straight sided oven-safe skillet over high heat, cook the chicken for
5-7 min. per side, until browned. Remove pan from heat; add remaining ½ cup oil, thyme and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1½ hrs. (less for legs/thighs; test for doneness, but probably only 45 min.).
Remove pan from oven and set aside for 15 min. with the lid on. Serve with toasted French or Italian bread on the side to spread with the softened garlic. YUM!
Here’s a soup guaranteed to make you feel invincible to that spring cold or flu bug.
CHICKPEA GARLIC SOUP
1/2 cup olive oil
12 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped or minced
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained (or use already prepared, canned)
8-10 cups chicken broth
1 t. ground cumin (I use more because I love cumin and it’s also a good spice for health, but use to your taste)
1 t. ground coriander
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
6 celery stalks, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 T. chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Heat half the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 2 min. (Be very careful not to burn the garlic.) Add the chickpeas to the pan along with the chicken broth, cumin and ground coriander. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hrs., or until chickpeas are tender.
NOTE: If you’re using canned chickpeas, you’ll obviously not need to cook the mixture that long, probably 15 min. to heat everything and develop flavor.
Heat remaining oil in a separate pan. Add carrots, onions and celery. Cover and cook over med.-low heat, stirring occasionally, about 15 min., or until vegetables are tender. Stir this into the pan of chickpeas. Transfer about half the soup to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return the puree to the pan, add about half the lemon juice and stir to blend. Taste and add more lemon juice as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Serves 4-6, depending upon serving size.
Margaret Walton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.