Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Dose of Man Flu

Well, I suppose it had to get to me eventually: the cold/flu bug that seems to have affected bloggers all over the WWW. I'm not very good at being poorly and have been crawling into bed at every single opportunity. I'm starting to feel a little better - it feels more like a cold now, so I thought I would share a couple of my secret weapons with you all. First, elderberry vinegar:

The recipe I had was for blackberry vinegar, but elderberries are full of good stuff that fights against colds and flu. For every pound of elderberries, you need a pound of sugar ( you can use half that amount if you are particularly health conscious, but it won't be quite the same) and a pint of vinegar - you can use posh stuff if you want, but I just use cheap and cheerful malt vinegar. Put the elderberries in a bowl and cover with the vinegar, stirring and mashing twice a day for 3 or 4 days. If you don't mind purple hands, get them in there and give the elderberries a good squeeze to get all of their juicy goodness into the vinegar. You can also add warming spices such as cloves, root ginger and cinnamon if you fancy, but you need quite a lot for the flavour to come through. At the end of the infusing period, strain through a sieve or muslin into a large saucepan, making sure as much of the juice is out of the elderberries as possible. Add the sugar and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then pour the vinegar into warmed bottles and screw down the top (I use the old vinegar bottles). To use, you can either have it by the spoonful or two (preferred by my little people), or, my preferred way, pour about an inch into the bottom of a mug and top up with boiling water. The vinegar makes it quite sharp and that's why I use a pound of sugar to make it a bit more comforting. I make a batch of about 6 pints a year and generally have requests from a couple of friends for some, 'cos once you've got a cold it goes quite quickly. Sorry to give you this info when elderberries aren't available, I'll remind you at the end of the summer. If anyone has blackcurrants or blackberries in their freezer still, you could try those.

My second secret weapon has also been a firm favourite with poorly people: Tomato Rasam (spicy tomato soup). Now if you're thinking creamy or Heinz, forget it! This is nothing like that. First take 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and heat in a saucepan, add 1-2 tablespoons curry powder mix of your choice ( I have the whole spices because I'm a curry fiend and so grind a mix of my choice, but don't be put off, any curry powder mix will work just as well), finely chop an onion and add to the frying spices. Then add a tin of tomatoes ( you could use fresh, but it's a bit of a waste of flavour in my opinion). Bring to a gentle simmer and add 1-2 chillies according to taste, 2-3 cloves garlic and the juice of one whole lemon- the last two are crucial ingredients. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then serve.

This Rasam should have a sour taste and will do a sore throat the world of good, so if you want to add more chillies, garlic or lemon, go ahead. Now, this will make you sweat whilst eating and you will need to blow your nose frequently. If you have stuff on you chest, you will be coughing it up for the next few minutes - sorry, but we're all friends right? So be armed with tissues when you eat this. This will serve 1-2 depending on your appetite, but at only 200 cals for the pan full, you can afford to have a second bowl. Like all good curries, casseroles & stews, it tastes better if left a day before eating; but if you can manage that, you're a better woman than I am!
I just thought I'd post a picture of my rescue rabbit Missy who's lived with us since August. She was only 9 months old and had already had 2 litters - breeding to supply pet shops apparently. She was really wild when she arrived at the Small Animal Rescue in Barwell with the lovely and devoted Liz. She was supposed to be a lionhead, but didn't look like one. She was incredibly underweight and wouldn't let anyone near her. Now on a good diet which includes lots of love and cuddles, she has gained weight, her mane has grown and here she is helping youngest pixie face learn her letters:

And here she is whispering the answer, I think:


Felted House said...

Thank you for both these recipes, I look forward to a reminder about the vinegar at elderberry time as I'd really like to try it The soup I can have a go at soon, even though I haven't actually got a cold surely it'll help my immune system anyway?!
Lovely pictures of Missy helping! xx

tammykingdon said...

Thankyou, a dose of spice should absolutely be used as a preventative measure!

Cathy said...

Oh they are such sweet pictures Tammy. How wonderful that she now has a loving home. She certainly looks healthy. Sorry to hear about the flu. I have managed to remain free, touchwood. I have just come back from London today so I hope I haven't brought winter vomiting virus with me. I would rather have flu to be quite honest. Feeling sick is the absolute pits for me. Anyway, enough of that. I think the soup might be too much for me but the elderberry vinegar sounds good.

tammykingdon said...

Thanks Cathy. A friend if mine sent me some info on leaving out cut onions which absorb bacteria from the air and prevent you from succumbing to illness. I'll definitely try that next time there's something doing the rounds!

andamento said...

Both recipes sound really good. Will take a bag for elderberries next time I'm out.