Monday, April 9, 2012

UnRecipe: The Lost Weekend

This is what should have happened -- an action-packed weekend of attending this year's Emerald City ComicCon and then an evening of liver-pummelling at the annual Cask Festival. But, no. Thwarted. Defeated. Left a smouldering husk of a superhero that once was... burning through one tissue box a day and a really chapped nose from the Evil Sinus Infection from the Phantom Zone. It was a rare day when the Powers of Evil and Mucus reigned supreme. Bummer.

So... yeah. The last few weeks have been a rip-roaring good time of battling a chest-rattling cough and other sickly sundries -- and I know I'm  not the only one. It seems like everyone is suffering from the same bug. I feel your pain. Literally. Let's share sick stories -- add your horrific tales of pestilence below in the comments section, it'll be theraputic. Maybe it's the change of seasons, perhaps the sudden spike in pollen causing massive irritants leading to a mass outbreak of sinus-related problems. Whatever. It sucked. What sucks even more is how dull and bland food becomes. Granted, you're so zapped for energy, you don't want to do much, but on the early end of being sick, I immediately craved one thing: spice, and lots of it. So I cooked what I considered to be My Last Supper, knowing things would get worse before it was going to get better.

The spice must flow... into my belly - Photos by Wasabi Prime
We had some fresh green beans in our CSA delivery and all I could think of was dousing them in spicy chili sauce and giving them a quick pan-fry. I marinated sliced pork in chili paste, some sugar and soy sauce, and cooked that into a kind of curry-type dish with carrots, chickpeas and onions. I don't even know what it was. I just threw in every strong-flavored spice I had, like cumin, coriander, the works. Not quite as sweet as Japanese-style curry, not quite as heavily-spiced as Indian curry -- at least, not that my fading tastebuds could tell. But it was delicious and this combination literally blew my socks off, they were so spicy and satisfying. I finished off the last of some pickled cucumbers, to add some chilled spice to the mix. Oh, my poor insides, trying to digest this onslaught of heat, but I don't care, when you're feeling sick, you're like a tragic comic book hero, deadened by the prospect of a doomed future -- you do anything just to feel aliiiiiiiiiive.

Food packed with flavor... keep it coming, I'm only getting sicker - Photos by Wasabi Prime
One bright note, I was glad to sprinkle in some fresh garlic greens. I saw we had a fresh batch of green shoots from some garlic cloves that thankfully overwintered and returned this spring. Yet another nice way to use oddball kitchen scraps. I used to plant green onions, but shoving the too-small garlic cloves from the center of a bulb right into the dirt has been an even better, lazier way to get something similar to green onions. They taste similar to scallions, with a mild garlic flavor. Bugs tend to avoid them, so yet another bonus for lazy gardeners like myself.

More flavor, less effort, the I'm So Freakin' Sick Diet continues... - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Like some Outbreak-style Patient Zero study, my progression into Congestion City only worsened, so I cooked up a beef broth. Getting caught up on the latest episodes of The Walking Dead felt like a promise of things to come. Zombie-fication -- engaged. I had some beef bones in the freezer and pulled some goodies from the frozen scrap bag like leek trimmings, ginger, plenty of onion tops and bottoms. I added whole dry spices like star anise and peppercorns, as well as a little packet of dried kombu, or seaweed. It's typically in sheet forms, and you add it when you're making a traditional Japanese dashi or broth, for that uniquely savory umami. Which of course is a fancy way of saying, "MSG High." I had little dried seasoning packets from Uwajimaya, so I threw some of that in towards the end of the simmer. I strained all the solid chunks, added a spoonful of chili sauce to sweat my sinuses open, and drank it up with somen noodles. Very simple dinners for the next several days of feeling too tired to do anything.

Soup is good food - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Highlight: I had some awesome fever dreams of solid food. A very clear vision of soft bread filled with creamy, gooey Brie cheese. And possibly honey or pear slices. I followed my Food Vision Quest, and while waiting for my prescription of Action-Packed Antibiotics, I found some soft bread rolls and a big ol' wheel of Brie. Let's make this dream a reality, people. I hadn't used the grill pan in a while, and it was good practice getting the heat just-right. Medium-low is just enough to melt the cheese, but not enough to char the bread into a lump of coal, as cast iron can have that effect on things.

Do you dream in cheese? Apparently, I do - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Somewhere between all this, I toasted some almonds with more spicy seasonings because I needed something to snack on that wasn't an orange. At this point, things were looking up. I appreciate all the very kind well-wishes over email, Twitter, Facebook, and even a nice e-card, to boot. You are all awesome people and deserve SuperLotto-like fortunes, but all I can offer is Super-Lotto-sized Thanks. Indy was a good nursemaid, staying on the bed, not judging the fact that I was an absolute wreck. I was popping pills like Valley of the Dolls, eating ibuprofen like candy to stay propped up for work (probably didn't help things, but there's no such thing as sick days when you're self-employed), and taking fever-dream-fantastic decongestants that left me in Bat Country most nights.

All remedies aside... drugs are best - Photos by Wasabi Prime
At least the Mister was able to enjoy Cask Festival this year. He sent me a nice photo of a friend face-down from drunken fury and everyone returned in one piece, so that's a successful beer festival if I've ever heard one. While I'm still disappointed at missing all the fun at Emerald City ComicCon, thank heavens for Local Independent Superhero Web Series! Is that a thing? I think that's a thing. Friend and Brock's fellow workmate at Runictown, Wonder Russell, is blessed with superhuman abilities and Top Pot doughnuts in this funny web series that kicked off at ECCC - meet The Collectibles!  Think Superfriends Meets The Office, which I think we can all dig, because even with special powers, you're still fighting The Man. It got a great live kickoff at the Con, and since it's a web series, you can be anywhere on the planet with the interwebs and watch it (except maybe China and likely North Korea). It's been a nice diversion, along with big breakfasts and Star Wars marathons as I continue to get better and pop more pills. So please check out The Collectibles!

All the things that will truly cure what ails you - bottom pics by Wasabi, top from The Collectibles

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