A weakness


I have one, for things containing peppermint and dark chocolate.

Last year, this particular vice was displayed by my observable penchant for Peppermint Bark from Trader Joe’s. As always, it started with a well-placed sale display: half off! the handwritten poster exclaimed. Well, then, if you’re gonna put it that way, I’ll bite.

This weekend, it was easy to pass up the bark, since it was not yet on sale, and I am cheap frugal above all.  I almost made it out of the store. There with my sister-in-law, we were making our final passes along the aisles when we came upon the “New to Store” display. She asked me if she could get us a treat, their having been houseguests for a mere 36 hours. I quickly scanned the items while voicing my honest protest to her offer, when she honed in on a box of Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s.  “What the heck is a Joe-Joe?” was my question. “It’s their version of an Oreo,” was her answer.


Instant flashback: it’s the 80’s, and while never a fan of Twinkies, Dolly Madisons, or grocery store doughnuts, I honestly love a chocolate-covered Oreo, and think it might be one of the greatest junk-food-inventions, ever. Flash-forward: it’s February of ’09, and I am savoring every last crumb of my Peppermint bark, wondering how I will make it the span of months before that precious seasonal item is available to me, on sale, again. Flash-to-present: this might be a marriage made in heaven.

“Sure, I’ll take a box.”

I pride myself on will-power when it comes to store-bought sweets — they usually don’t appeal to me like their homemade counterparts; but these little devils have me by the scruff, and can feed me my what is left of said-will on a peppermint-crumbed plate.

Which simply means that, my next trip to Trader Joe’s, when it comes to seasonal confections, my assets are hereby frozen.

A warm drink to leave you with (Happy Thanksgiving!)


We are headed to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, where I will not be cooking a turkey, but will be providing the infamous sweet potato casserole (I’m making this one, from Cook’s Illustrated, which I made two years ago and thought it fantastic). The sweet potatoes have been roasted and skinned, I just need to put it all together and drive it to my mother-in-law’s refrigerator before it bakes off on Thursday.

So, it’s Thanksgiving. Which means most Americans are about to descend or be descended upon to partake of poultry, pumpkin, and potatoes in various forms. Isn’t it odd, our traditional holiday menu? Is this Thursday the only day of the year where you can have a 75% chance of correctly guessing what most Americans will be eating? And is there another day of the year when previously-stated Americans ever eat turkey (outside of on a sandwich)?

I admit to some relief at not being responsible for this year’s dinner. Though I did get a tiny bit jealous, earlier today, when my friend Kim was talking about her brine. And wondering how to remove the turkey neck from her heritage bird (just the kind of kitchen challenge I oddly covet). How fun is it, that she gets to google “how to remove neck from turkey.” Maybe, if I googled it, I would no longer be jealous.

Wishing all a happy Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a recipe for spiced cider. I’ve been drinking a hot cup of this almost every afternoon for a month — starting way back at my daughter’s late-October birthday party. I buy my apple cider by the gallon, from a local orchard who sells at our farmer’s market (it’s Wild’s Orchard, for anyone in Indianapolis, and they sell at the Winter Farmer’s Market). It’s unpasteurized, and some of the best cider I’ve ever had (good cider will make all the difference in this recipe). Five bucks will get you the gallon, and then you just need an orange, some ginger, and spices you probably already have on hand. I simmer a half-gallon at a time, and then put it in two quart-sized mason jars in the refrigerator. Around 4 o’clock each afternoon, I heat a mug-full for my afternoon treat.

This recipe is adapted from one in Everyday Food, from a fall issue about 4-5 years ago. The original recipe called for more orange and ginger, but I haven’t found it all necessary. This way, one orange will get your whole gallon spiced.

Spiced Cider (adapted from Everyday Food, October 2004)

  • 8 cups (half-gallon) apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 orange, thinly-sliced
  • 1 piece (2″) fresh ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for half an hour, then pour through a strainer into cups or 2 quart-sized jars. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate and reheat later.

Do this, three times.

My friend Scott sent me a video last week. It was Jaques Pepin, de-boning a chicken. Scott confessed to a man-crush, after watching this video, and although not a man, I can completely understand why. I couldn’t find a linkable version of what he sent, but here is a similar clip of him with Julia Child, removing the bones from both a chicken and a turkey:

Tell me this isn’t sexy.

Coincidentally, I was just reading about making a turducken: a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey, with all three of those boneless birds having their own unique stuffing. It sounds to me like a tiny bit of overkill, and so far I’ve not seen any photographs that convince me otherwise. I would wonder whether those who make them have martyr complexes or something to prove, but usually when you read accounts, people swear they are worth the effort.

But what else can you say, when you just spent an entire weekend boning three birds, making three unique stuffings, putting it all back together like a Russian nesting doll and roasting it for 8 hours? I believe I’d say it was worth it too, just to avoid crying myself to sleep that overstuffed night.

Anyway. Back to Jacques. If I could show you the original video, you would see him remove the bones of a chicken, and then stuff it with spinach and mushrooms for a ballotine. He makes it look so easy. How many years, and how many chickens, would it take me to be able to do that?

Sigh. I’m going to have to try this. Time to get out the knife sharpener, and prepare my family for the probable barrage of expletives.

In support of the pumpkin ice cream… (Ginger Cookie recipe)


“Hey, Dad. You know what the best part about eating these cookies with the ice cream? It’s all the crumbs, that get in the bottom of the cup, and mix with the melting ice cream.”

Yes, daughter of mine. Right you are.

I promised that, if it was good, I’d pass on the details. You can assume that since you’re looking at a photo and reading about my 6-year old’s personal take on the experience, it indeed qualified as good. And, since I know you all made the pumpkin ice cream already, you must be chomping at the bit for the ginger cookies, right?

This is a yearly cookie-making excursion for me. I can’t remember where I got the recipe — it might be a variation from a Martha Stewart magazine. These are ginger-molasses cookies; soft and chewy if you make them huge and don’t overbake them. I made smaller ones (as describe in my adaptation below), and baked them a little longer, so they’d get a little crunchier since I knew I was using them with ice cream (and the goal is the afore-mentioned crunchy crumbs). If you are looking for a ginger snap, this isn’t your cookie. By the same token, these aren’t deep-brown molasses cookies, either. Somewhere in between, with a zippy kick from the addition of ground black pepper (yeah, baby!).

This recipe makes two dozen good-sized cookies; perfect for freezing half your dough for later use (something I love doing during the holidays to save time). Of course, you could always bake them all, and see how long they can last on your counter (I’m placing my bet on empty containers over stale cookies).

Ginger Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart? maybe?)
makes about 24 4″ cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger (yes, that much! — make sure it’s still fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for topping)
  • 6 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350º.

Whisk dry ingredients (flour through black pepper) together in a large bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and eggs. Gradually add dry ingredients until just mixed.

Divide dough into two balls, then flatten each into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap (at this point you can freeze one or both halves for future use).

If baking immediately, freeze the dough for 20 minutes, or refrigerate overnight before baking. Divide a disk into 12 1-inch pieces. Dip balls into sugar (I use turbinado sugar, for large crystals), and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten balls slightly with palms of hand, and sprinkle a little more sugar on top.

Bake 12-15 minutes. They should flatten out a good bit, and crack on top — it’s hard to tell if they are overbaking since they are already brown, so watch them carefully. Cool on racks.

Speaking of Bourdain…

After reminding myself in Monday’s post about following Anthony Bourdain on Twitter (I actually follow @NoReservations, named for his show on The Travel Channel), I read a few of his latest. There was a link to an article about one of his public appearances, in the UK. It included a few quotes of his; I heard him, a year or so ago, open an old-fashioned Can O’ Whoopass (as we say in the South) on Sandra Lee (of Food Network’s Semi-Homemade) on a public radio broadcast of the Commonwealth Club — and here he does it again:

“This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. … This is simply irresponsible programming. Its only possible use might be as a psychological warfare strategy against the resurgent Taliban — or dangerous insurgent groups. A large-racked blonde repeatedly urging Afghans and angry Iraqis to stuff themselves with fatty, processed American foods might be just the weapon we need to win the war on terror.”

This is why I love Bourdain. To say he doesn’t mince his words is more than a mild understatement — and he can totally get away with it, because he travels to remote areas of the world and eats or drinks whatever the locals cook up for him. Who can argue with that level of adventurousness? And while I don’t think I would phrase it quite as dramatically as he does (at least not in a public forum, since I haven’t yet eaten the pickled brains of various animals prepared by equatorial tribal people), I agree with him (sans-personal commentary) about this one. Sandra Lee seems like a very friendly person who had a hard time growing up and is now interested in helping low-income folk (or so I learned from a public service advertisement on FoodTV last year). But I see a disconnect between helping those people and emphasizing tablescapes on the level that puts decoration above serving real food.

But just when you think Bourdain couldn’t be a bigger crass, he whips out a gem of wisdom. Here is his quote about feeding his 3-year old:

“There’s no convincing your kids to like something they don’t want to like. If you’re a foodie or you’re trying to be all sophisticated about what your kids eat, it’s not going to work. What it comes down is your kids are going to choose what they see you eating.” *

I really hope this is true — it paints a brighter future for my green-vegetable-deficient 3-year old. I admit it’s encouraging, though, to think that while my children might not know which side of the dinner plate the fork resides (I still rely on my husband for this information on the rare occasion our table is formally set), they might end up knowing how to make a loaf of bread from scratch, or maybe, in my pipe dream, enjoy a can of smoked sardines. On crackers with dijon mustard.

I’ll leave you, though, with Bourdain’s ultimate tweet, from yesterday:

Pro Tip: Eat bacon on everything

Words to live by.

Pumpkin Ice Cream: third time’s the charm


I am sometimes embarrassed to admit that I am “one of those pumpkin people.” I like it, this time of year, when everything becomes pumpkin-flavored (I winced a bit recently while reading an Anthony Bourdain tweet about people like me — as I’m sure you can imagine). In my defense, I think I am reasonable with the mild obsession: I am a sucker for a pumpkin latté (I tried and failed to make my own homemade version), and love my pumpkin bread. I will, however, pass on a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, since it looks too much like a piece of pumpkin pie and I get totally thrown-off by the cheesiness of the first bite — it’s just not right (see the restraint?).

Last year, I made my first go at pumpkin ice cream. You can read about my adventures here, but basically I wasn’t satisfied with the results. The first try tasted like cold, sweet, canned pumpkin. The second recipe was a French-style custard with all the spices, but was really just too rich, with a chalky aftertaste that I could only attribute to too much pumpkin. When I read David Lebovitz’s recent post about his new version, I decided that, after a year, the pain of failure had subsided enough to try again.

A quick read gave me hope from the beginning stages: his recipe used less pumpkin, and a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream (last year’s second version used all heavy cream). The spice list called for freshly-grated ginger and nutmeg, which is always a good sign. The only drawback was the overnight refrigeration of the spiced milk before adding the pumpkin and then churning away (a stabbing realization, when you’re expecting to chill over an ice bath and have soft-serve ice cream in about 45 minutes).

It just finished churning, and I am so happy with the results. Rich, creamy, smooth, and spicy. I think I finally managed to channel the good ice cream vibes from The Hop, and came close to a good cross-country, homemade version of their original.

If you’re interested, David’s recipe can be found here. I did use canned pumpkin (I had a frozen partial-can leftover from my adventures with the above-stated lattés). Per his suggestion, I whipped up some ginger cookie dough last night (I had to do something with all that pent-up energy after realizing I wasn’t going to be eating a late-night snack of pumpkin ice cream) and plan to serve them together. If it works, a ginger cookie post will follow.

Our new favorite pizza


At our farmer’s market, two Saturdays ago, I gleefully purchased a few heads of broccoli and a stalk of brussels sprouts (yes, I wrote stalk, and no, I didn’t really know that’s how they grow). I was filled with said glee because I’ve never purchased these items locally before. I think I paid $7 for all of it — I’m guessing it was a heavy pound of each (a pound of actual sprouts, sans-stalk).

But here’s where my happy-morning-story takes a tragic turn: this was the Saturday of my son’s battle with the flu — and while that battle wasn’t actually that bad, and no one else in the family has fallen ill, it made for a week of logistical changes, keeping him at home (read: logistical changes require a donation of my brain cells). A secondary factor in the tragedy was that, with little space in my refrigerator, I decided the green goods could stay for a day or two in a bag in our unheated mudroom (it can act like a 40-sf extra refrigerator when the weather’s cold). I unfortunately discovered that plan doesn’t really work well when the weather turns unexpectedly warm, and you forget you put stuff out there.

I found my bag-o-green-vegetables, the next Saturday. The broccoli was a goner. Totally yellow, with a stinch. The brussels sprouts, at first glance, also looked like a casualty — but upon closer, desperate examination I saw that only the top portion of the stalk was effected. At least half the sprouts, with a little creative trimming, would be totally fine.

But I decided to use them THAT DAY, and we were supposed to have pizza for dinner.

And I tried my hardest to conceal what I was doing — I knew it would not go over well. My family loves our pizza, and is sometimes willing to experiment, but really would be happiest if we just ate sausage, pepperoni, and cheese every week. I read online about someone making pizza with brussels sprouts, by only using the leaves pulled apart, so that you didn’t have to chomp down on a huge chunk in the middle of your piece of pie. The same person recommended combining them with the smokey flavor of bacon. I was sold, and hoped others in the household would be as well.

I’m happy to report that at least one member of our house agreed that it was one of the best pizzas we’ve made (I’ll leave it to you to guess which member — my hint being that he and I had to fight over the last piece). The sweetness of the sprouts is a perfect balance for the smokey bacon, and the textures dance nicely together as well. So I pass it on, in hopes that you, too can embrace your brussels sprouts. Just try and do it before you forget about them.

Pizza with Bacon, Prosciutto, Caramelized Onions, and Brussels Sprouts

Cooking the vegetables takes a while, so you’ll want to start about an hour before you plan to eat (or cook everything ahead, and assemble just before dinner).

  • 3 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • about 2-3 oz (or more) prosciutto
  • one large onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • olive oil
  • 5-7 brussels sprouts, fresh if available, with leaves pulled apart and washed
  • 4 oz (or more) mozzarella
  • tomato sauce of choice (see below for our recipe)
  • pizza crust (see this post for our recipe)

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a couple teaspoons olive oil. Once shimmering, add onions, garlic, and dried thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized (about 25 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, and remove to a plate (discard garlic cloves if desired).

Add bacon to now-empty skillet, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon pieces to a paper-towel-lined plate. If your pan has rendered more than a tablespoon or two of fat, pour a little off. Add brussels sprout leaves to pan, and cook over high heat until caramelized, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.

After par-baking your pizza dough (for about five minutes in a 450º oven), spread desired amount of tomato sauce on pizza. Layer on the onions, brussels sprouts, and bacon pieces. Then scatter on your cheese, and lay the prosciutto on top (it’s best when it gets crispy from direct heat, on top of the cheese). Top with a little black pepper, and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

No-Cook Tomato Sauce for Pizza (adapted from The Cook’s Bible, by Christopher Kimball)
plenty to top one pizza

  • one can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until blended and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, and use immediately (or freeze for later use, but sauce will be more watery).

A cry for help, or When Katy Met Sally

Oh, Sally Fallon. You smirk at me from the photo on the back of your book. Your look says, “See? I can soak every nut, grain and seed; ferment every vegetable; and never let the poison of processed food enter my mouth. All while keeping my hair coifed and my shirt puffy.”

Readers. If you have not yet purchased or read (or even heard of) a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions, then let me fill you in: Sally Fallon wrote this educated and resourceful tome as a cookbook that follows the teachings and ideas promoted by the Weston-Price Foundation (an organization founded to further the ideas and eating philosophy documented by one Dr. Weston Price, a nutritionist and dentist in the 1930’s “whose studies of isolated non-industrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets”* [translation: he studied tribal peoples, and saw that while they might easily die from a run-in with a wild boar, they had Hollywood-worthy teeth and almost no degenerative disease, i.e., everything that kills us today]). Anyway, he took a lot of notes and wrote a book about it.

And the thing is, I totally buy it. I think the guy was onto something — and moreover, I think Sally Fallon is a very intelligent woman who understands the science behind it all. The diet (I hate to call it that — it’s more a lifestyle of eating) is all about “nourishing” foods in the truest (now long-lost) definition of the word. What foods actually nourish our bodies, and what ways can we prepare them to make the most of what they offer? How do our modern-day food preparations and processing prevent our bodies from absorbing necessary nutrients, and how does this cause the very diseases that modern-day science says we should be working through our diets to avoid? It is important to note that this philosophy is not for the ethical vegetarian or the dietary faint-of-heart; they have you eating organ meats (I’m not quite there), lots of thick, raw cream, and foods left out on the counter for longer than you think they should and still be edible.

So what attracted me to this? Well, I have a friend who showed me the cookbook a few years ago, so I was a little familiar with it. Then — remember the raw milk hunt? While looking for local sources (no, I didn’t end up with the Bearded Milk Man, but that’s a story for another day — and honestly, I’m now truly worried about revealing too much information on this, especially after my friend Gretchen alerted me to the Athens Locally Grown Raw Milk Debaucle) I ended up doing a lot of reading about the benefits of raw milk. Most of these articles were linked in some way to the WPF. The more I read, the more I became that girl I talk about in this post — the one who is so easily swayed into trying a new diet? — and once I start on that rollercoaster, it becomes all downhill, very fast.

So fast, that one day soon after, my easy-going, always-along-for-the-culinary-ride husband comes home to a kitchen full of jars, bowls, and pots; all full of this or that item soaking or lacto-fermenting. It was like he was transported back in time to the house of an early-19th century Welsh family who was preparing for winter without the use of a refrigerator. Except that we do. Have a refrigerator. Over the next few days, his kitchen routine involved lifting a plate or lid off of a random bowl of gunk-infused liquid, and he would just ask, with reservation, “And what’s this?” To which I would respond, with mild irritation, “It’s my oatmeal. You don’t have to eat it. But I’m going to digest my breakfast better than you will digest yours. So there.”

And, really, I think I have a handle on this. I can eat this way. Not only that, but I can also feed my children this way (Tim politely declined, and withdrew from my pickled adventure the morning I tried to force our family to switch to a pancake recipe that had, of course, soaked all night in a vinegar-infused liquid. I went too far, and should’ve known it, since pancakes have always been his baby). But one fateful evening, I found myself in my kitchen, looking at a flurry of failures. I had, on an otherwise regular weekday, attempted to:

  • Bake bread. Normally a very routine task; but this bread flour had been soaking for 24 hours in acidified liquid, making it slightly more difficult to work with.
  • Bake and begin fermenting sweet potatoes for use as baby food. Don’t ask.
  • Cook a large batch of soaked oats, for use as breakfast for myself and baby (since no one else in the family will eat it).
  • Make homemade yogurt from raw milk.
  • Make homemade dairy-free yogurt from a homemade coconut tonic. Again, best not to ask.
  • Cook dinner.
  • Feed 3 children 3 meals.
  • Wash diapers.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Keep myself fed, and my teeth brushed at least once. No, wait: that didn’t actually happen.

That night, after the kids were put in bed (thankfully with full bellies, I did manage to feed them), I sat looking at two disastrous loaves of bread that my sweet husband swore he would still eat (I had put them in a warm oven to proof on a cold day, but forgot about them, so they over-rose, and then collapsed in the pan), a quart jar of non-dairy coconut tonic that was not resembling a cultured yogurt in any way (I had used an expired starter), and a filthy kitchen. I was completely exhausted, and realized with defeat that not only did I not have the energy to clean up the mess I’d created, but I also had not enjoyed my children or my life at all that day.

So there I sat at my kitchen table, pondering these things, flipping aimlessly through the book that started it all — perhaps I was looking for the chapter where Sally tells me where I’ve gone wrong. I landed on a page about mushrooms. The first sentence claimed:

Mushrooms must be very fresh or they are not worth cooking.**

And the lightbulb went off. I was, in that moment, set free from the binds of Nourishing Traditions. Sally: I refuse to believe that the good folk of cultures past threw out mushrooms that looked a little less than perfectly fresh. I tend to think that, when they got their hands on some, if they had traveled a few days and got a little bruised in the pocket of the guy who picked them, they ate them anyway. Sally, I have prided myself on finding things to do with less-than-very-fresh mushrooms. I like using them, because that means they won’t be wasted; and while I agree that past-their-prime mushrooms might not make the best salad, they still make a mean pot of creamed soup.

The moral of the story is: I just can’t keep up with it. I suppose it would be nice to be a woman who was able to make all of our food the most nourishing and digestible that it could possibly be; but if that means I must resolve myself to utter exhaustion and irritability at the end of the day, if it means I miss out on leaf-raking with my 3-year old (not a very efficient task, by the way) because I’m too focused on the livelihood of my sourdough starter (not that there’s anything wrong with that), if it means I must throw out food because it doesn’t look like it came straight that day from the soil of its making, then I give up. I throw in the the towel. I succumb to a life of nourishing mediocrity.

Ok, no, I don’t. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater; plus, deep down, I’m too competitive to give in. I’m just looking for the middle ground — which, in some ways, is what we all have to do on a daily basis. I know that Krispy Kreme doughnuts aren’t good for you; I don’t eat them daily, but once in a blue moon, a Hot Now! treat is completely and utterly enjoyable. In the same way, if soaking my flour before I make bread makes the wheat less toxic and more digestible, then I’ll do it when I can; otherwise, it’ll be the homemade bread I’ve been making for years, which has served us well. If my husband wants to make his pancakes his own tried-and-true way, then who am I to turn down a made-from-scratch breakfast from the father of my children?

Really — when it comes down to it — I just want Sally to tell me I can use the mushrooms in soup. And assure me, along with every other mom out there who is trying to feed her family the best she can, that cooking the way she cooks is not easy, and while it’s better for you, there are days in this modern world where you just have to let the wheat go un-soaked, the yogurt be store-bought, and sit down to enjoy a coffeeshop latte made with ultra-pasteurized milk.

And maybe, just maybe, let the hair go uncombed.


Note: Author excluded, there are lots of women who manage to pull off the Sally Fallon way of kitchen life. If you are interested (like I still am, even amidst my bitterness at failure), there are wonderful resources at this site and this site. These girls make it look easy, and have tons of recipes and suggestions.

*Quote from the Weston-Price Foundation website.

**Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions, p. 389

Open wide…


It’s time for your flu shot.

Or rather, mine. We’ve been hit by (in the words of my friend Liz) “The Flu Which Shall Not Be Named.” At least we think so. Our neighbors (the ones my kids play with on a daily basis) had the flu, and then my son started a fever and nasty, croupy cough a day or two later. Since I have some semi-reliable sources that say that almost any flu that’s going around right now is probably THE flu, we’re assuming that’s the one.

I cannot tell you how excited I am.

Within reason, of course. While I probably wouldn’t have attended a so-called “swine flu party,” I AM a big fan of natural exposure as opposed to vaccinations. Since we don’t have any immuno-suppressed members of our family, I’d rather be exposed, let our bodies fight it off, and be stronger against similar strains in the future. But that’s just me, and most of my friends and extended family disagree. I’m ok with that.

That being said, I’m not exactly dying to lie in bed for five days with a fever. So I’m turning to all my tried-and-true au naturelle methods of fighting viruses. I have my dear friend Caroline, in Athens, to thank for the one pictured above. What you see there is a spoonful of finely chopped fresh garlic. I eat it, twice a day (three times if I’m already feeling sick). You don’t have to chew it, but it does work best when the garlic oil coats your throat a little before washing it down with water. Garlic is a potent antibacterial/antifungal/antiviral, and truly works wonders fighting a pesky cold or other virus.*

I must admit here, however, that my husband hates this practice of mine. Not only will he not do it, he is mildly horrified by my propensity toward chomping down and then reeking of the stuff. This is one case where we agree to disagree, and I try to avoid partaking in his presence. We would employ a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, but, well, there’s no way to hide the tell.

I won’t sugar-coat this (although, that’s not a bad idea: for three glorious days last winter, I actually had my children eating raw garlic, if only I would put it on a cracker topped with a teaspoon of honey). It’s not as easy as popping a decongestant. But I still like it better, because it actually keeps me from getting sick (or gets me better faster) and I don’t feel loopy the rest of the day. I do, however, tend to feel a bit lonely.

Whew. I sort of feel like I just confessed something seedy. Maybe I’ll sleep better, knowing my secret is out. If nothing else, my friends around town might have a better understanding of why, on some days, I smell like I’ve been working the line at our local Olive Garden.

* Contrary to what some people near and dear to me might believe, I am not simply an easy target for any and all form of snake oil remedy. Read this.