I feel miserable today. I have a cold. Not just any cold but a really bad stuffed-up-head-can’t-breathe-sore-throat-achey-feeling-blocked-ears-feverish cold. Kind of sounds like a cold remedy commercial for a medicine I don’t use.
But I will share with you my own concoction that I am about to start sipping on. If I had actual lemons, I might have gone to the trouble of taking a photo.
But I don’t have actual lemons. The green and yellow bottle of “real” lemons isn’t very beautiful. But I’ll be loving that bottle all day today, and probably for several days to come.
A green and yellow bottle of lemon juice, a gold asceptic container (juice box) of my favorite chicken broth, and my red/yellow/cobalt lucite pepper grinder will see me through the worst of this cold. (I’ve gotta keep the “in color” theme of our blog in mind ;) )
Those are the ingredients for my Creativity-Through-Desperation congestion treatment I put together several years ago when my mom and dad stopped by my house one day. I’ll tell you what I do with those ingredients in a bit, but I’ll finish the story first.
My mom and dad lived 1 block from the Pacific ocean. They had decided to go on a road trip across the state to attend a funeral and visit some relatives. You may not realize how big Washington State is, but their destination was more than an 8 hour drive away from their home. I’m around a 2 hour drive from their home. They’d already made two stops for mom to drink coffee and relax. In 2 hours.
She had “a bit of a cold” … right. But she was very determined to go to the funeral since it was for a special person in her life.
When they got here, she could barely talk without bursting into a tight chested cough, her nose was plugged up, her ears blocked, and she looked miserable. Beyond miserable. Except for the cough — so far, anyway — I’m in the same boat today. M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E. Surprisingly not exhausted feeling (don’t worry Sam — our trip didn’t tire me out) but oh, my stuffy head.
I tucked mom into my guest bed with my favorite decongestant and antihistamine tablets on board, then Dad and I had a visit over a cup of coffee about whether they should keep going or bail out of the road trip. We were both pretty worried about her.
I got to thinking about how I could do something immediately, without more drugs, to help her feel better. Chicken soup? Vitamin C? I love Hot and Sour Soup from Chinese restaurants when I have a head cold (hey, dinner tonight!) Something spicy makes your nose run… but she didn’t do spicy. Except she peppered everything. She loves black pepper.
And so my natural decongestant drink was born.
This is how I do it. Whether or not you want to try it is up to you.
1. Heat 1 cup of chicken stock to almost boiling (180F-200F) in a mug in the microwave.
2. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon. As much juice as you can get from that lemon. You could even drop a piece of the skin/pith into the broth to steep, as that pith has fantastic bioflavinoids in it (Vit C complex vitamins.)
3. Grind fresh pepper over the liquid. How much? Hmm. Cover the top of the liquid. I do about 8 grinds, or 12… I seem to grind in multiples of 4 :) You can do as much as you want, but the hot liquid makes it pretty potent.
4. Then, while the mug is cooling down to drinking temperature, cuddle it close to your chest and inhale the aroma and the steam.
5. Start sipping as soon as you can stand the heat.
Keep the tissue box handy. Repeat when the cold symptoms overtake you again.
It broke up mom’s congestion that day. It has helped me through multiple colds. It’s strangely addicting for that reason. But it is drug-free so you can repeat it without watching the clock. It is not a cold cure, but it makes you feel better when you can clear things out now and then.
Mom and Dad bailed out on the trip. They spent the night at my house while we heated chicken broth and ground pepper. I’m pretty sure we ordered Chinese food for dinner so she could have Hot and Sour Soup for a change of pace :)
She went home to her own doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis-almost-pneumonia. If not for my concoction, she would have ended up in the hospital with pneumonia somewhere in the wilds of northeastern Washington state.
Now, to tend my own misery.
That first mugful always tastes terrible, but after using this treatment for a decade, it is a comforting kind of terrible. And then you love it.
See you next week with some less desperate creativity to share :)