Monday, April 18, 2011

UnRecipe: Chicken Soup for a Hot Mess of a Soul

It happens. You're doing a million and one things, going at a million and two miles and hour, not enough sleep and the only fluid intake is coffee. Getting one's health on? EPIC FAIL. So inevitably, you start feeling run-down and the flu comes in to "sweep the leg," amping the productivity of snot rockets to Eleven. What else can you do, but go into Sick Food Mode.

Dr. Indy says: I  prescribe lots of rest and snuggling the dog in between naps - Photo by Wasabi Prime

This was actually a while back when I got sick, it's just taken me this-freakin'-long to post about it. I had been traveling, sharing many germs with many strangers on a long flight, so it was no surprise when I developed a cough and head to toe body aches that endured for over a week and a half. Despite the nasty punishment of a cold, I sometimes wonder if it's also karma's way of intentionally putting up barriers to keep you from running yourself completely into the ground. I managed to catch up on movies and totally throw Mr. Wasabi's Netflix recommendation list into an estrogen-fueled calamity with selections that included Bright Star, Young Victoria and The Duchess. Mwah-hah-haaaaaaaah!

It's interesting to see what you end up craving when you're not feeling well. Aside from massive amounts of hot lemon ginger tea, the main thing I was craving was food that didn't require a lot of effort to prepare. I had the odd hankering for something sweet, so I took to eating an entire freaking bag of Kamuela Gourmet granola, which was full of big chunks of oats, nuts and seeds, sprinkled heavily with cinnamon, mixed in with plain yogurt. I wish I had a website to order more of this granola, as it was addictively good -- it was one of the things I brought back from Hawaii. Strangely, the bag had no website! I also had a bag of passionfruit or lilikoi shortbread from my absolute favorite cookie company, Kelly Boy's. Another small, local company who makes great product and frustratingly has no website, but if you're in Hawaii and are in a Longs Drugs store, they usually sell it there. My favorite is the Peanut Braddah cookies, which are peanut butter cookies so massive, it's literally a handprint on it to give it that crosshatch design. Kelly Boy's cookies are super crumbly and rarely survive the trip home intact, so you always wind up with almost a cup's worth of crumbs, which are just as tasty sprinkled on plain yogurt or ice cream. I never let one bit of those cookies go to waste when I have them!

Best food to enjoy while sick -- no preparation, plenty of flavor! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Generally when people feel under the weather, the go-to food is chicken soup. When I started feeling well enough to putter around the kitchen, I had the basics to make a simple soup -- chicken broth, chicken breasts, carrots, onion, peas and sweet potatoes -- but I wanted something heartier. I had it in my NyQuil-addled brain to make sort of a shepherd's pie version of a chicken stew, topping it with thin slices of the sweet potato, versus the traditional mashed potatoes. At the time, the dish had sensible potential, and despite my adherence to the cold medication's warning not to operate heavy machinery, they should probably include a suggestion not to come up with wacky meal ideas. Not that the resulting dish was bad, by any means. I made a basic chicken and vegetable stew, cooking everything in a pot, but I think I added too much chicken broth towards the end, assuming the oven would just magically "make up the difference" somehow, reducing it to a thick gravy. I poured the runny stew into a casserole dish, covered it with seasoned slices of sweet potato, and into the oven it went to bake off. When the potato slice topping was cooked and crisped, I tried using a spatula to cut out a portion of the casserole, but I had to switch to a ladle, as it was essentially a baked stew. I poured it into a bowl and ate it with a spoon, and to be perfectly honest, it hit the spot. Heartier than a soup, but something you could savor with a spoon. Make all the comments you want, comparing it to the annoyingly-named "stoup" that Rachael Ray calls her soup/stew concoctions, but I have to say, this chicken soup for my hot mess of a soul was delicious, and by the time all the leftovers were gone, I was feeling better enough to get back to my workaholic ways. Winner!

Chicken soupy-stew for the sickened soul  - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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