All stuffed and no place to go

I’ve got a code in my node. Sniffle, sneeze, cough.

I probably could have used a quiet day in bed today. I’m really not one of those super over-achievers who feels the need to be stoic and flop their way through a work day when they should really just keep their germs to themselves at home. The fate of the western world does not rely on me showing up at the office. Nobody dies if I don’t make it in.

Cold be gone!
Cold be gone!

But I assessed my physical situation this morning: stuffy nose, but not 100% blocked; balloonish head but not dizzy; no body aches except in my jaws; mild headache. Then I assessed the work situation: down staff already, boss would be all by his lonesome without me; possibility of incoming attacks on a few fronts. So I hauled myself into a steamy shower and then out the door to work.

Yes, a day in bed would have been better. But really, it wasn’t so bad at work. I packed a bottle of 1000 mg vitamin C slow-release tablets and swung by Pete’s Frootique to purchase supplies and provisions: oranges, lemons, honey, OJ and water.

And a croissant, but that was just to have a yummy croissant.

With these supplies, I marched into the office with an “I can do this” attitude and boiled the kettle for one of my cold-busting concoctions: a very generous teaspoon of honey, juice of half a lemon, and boiling water. I sipped on two of these lovelies all morning…and ate the croissant and one orange.

Early in the afternoon, I hit situation critical: I ran out of Kleenex! Out I trekked to the drugstore, and returned to my desk with a big box of Kleenex with lotion for my poor nose and a bag of chips. Don’t judge me. I crave salty crunchy when I have a cold. On the plus side, they make me drink lots of water. I finished off the afternoon with a bottle of OJ.

Notice that honey is in all these drinks? Honey power!
Notice that honey is in all these drinks? Honey power!

I didn’t move mountains at the office, but I was able to knock off a number of things. I was very careful to wash my hands in stinking hot water then sanitize (and moisturize). I faithfully coughed into my elbow, and only touched common things like the microwave with a protective layer of paper towel. I came home to turkey soup feeling no worse for the wear. So I think I made the right choice.

As I prepared to head home, I had two suggestions to try for other hot drinks to sooth my condition. Dad suggested making a paste of honey and cinnamon, which you can eat straight by the teaspoonful, or mix with hot water. I tried the drinkable version….not bad but I wasn’t fond of the floaty bits of cinnamon. I’ll try eating the paste straight up next time.

Dear whiskey, please don't kill me.
Dear whiskey, please don’t kill me.

My co-workers suggested I have a hot toddy tonight. I’m not much of a drinker, and the hardest liquor I ever consume is Bailey’s with lots of milk. I was worried I’d taste the whiskey — I’m not so far gone that I can’t taste or smell at all. But I thought I’d give it a go. So far, all I can tell you is that it’s potent. And didn’t stay hot for long. But it looks nice with its cinnamon stick, lemon slice and cloves.

Bottoms up!




My little brother once thought it would be fun to calculate how many biscuits our mom has made in her lifetime. I don’t remember the tally he came up with. So as I was making biscuits myself a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try the math, too.

Biscuits and jam.
Biscuits and jam.

Let’s make a conservative estimate that mom made a pan of biscuits a week. And let’s scale it back from a full lifetime to her married life – that’s 47 years and counting. There’s roughly two dozen biscuits to a pan with her recipe. So 24 biscuits per pan x 52 weeks per year x 47 years of marital bliss = 58,656.

That’s a lot of biscuits.

We always had biscuits in the house. Sometimes mom would say the wind was blowing when she made them, because they’d all be leaning one way on the pan. But they were still perfect. They rounded out meals and served as snacks. We made little ham and cheese sandwiches with them. We had them with molasses as the traditional dessert after a dinner of herring and potatoes.

My favourite way to eat them is piping hot from the oven with butter melting on contact. My next favourite preparation is to split them open, spread on a bit of butter, and pop them under the broiler just until they get a bit crispy on top. Then I spoon on some jam and sink into heaven. Sometimes I sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter and broil them, just like mom did on Sunday mornings.

These days, I often make a ham and cheese variation that goes over well with H and D. They’re great to tote along to have with my morning tea at work. And I still do them under the broiler on weekends.

Ham and cheese biscuits.
Ham and cheese biscuits.

Mine aren’t as good as mom’s but they’re still good. And I don’t have recipe memorized like she does. But I keep making ‘em. Hope you will, too.






4 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. butter
2 beaten eggs
enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid

Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until it’s about the size of peas. Beat eggs in a measuring cup and add milk until you have 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Make a well in the middle of the mixing bowl and pour in egg and milk mixture. Mix with a fork and then form dough with your hands. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times to form a nice ball. Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thickness and cut out biscuits. Re-roll as necessary until all the dough is used. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until tops are browned.

The best laid plans

I realize I’m probably a rare specimen within the human race when I say that I draw up a weekly menu before the weekend trek to the market and grocery store. Then I make up a grocery list based on what’s needed for the menu that I don’t already have in cupboards, fridge, freezer or garden.

This week's menu.
This week’s menu.

Our mothers used to do this. My mom would even organize her list, grouping items according to which aisle they were in at the store. So that’s what I do, too. Mom’s list was on paper, whereas I usually type it all up with Evernote on my laptop and then sync it so I have the list on my smartphone as I head out the door. But otherwise, it’s the same idea.

This common practice has largely fallen prey to the breakneck pace of life in the new millennium. Lots of people rush in and out of the grocery story several times a week, often grabbing quick, convenient frozen or packaged food in a desperate attempt to get their families fed. Or they swing by the drive-through to get little Johnny a burger before taking him to trot around a field for an hour of soccer practice – oh, the irony.

I refuse to give in to that madness. If there are frozen dinners in our fridge, it’s because I made dinners and froze them. None of this salty crap in boxes, thanks very much.

Does it take effort? Sure it does. And some organization and flexibility. Because there’s always something coming up to change my menu plan. A hockey game gets added to the schedule and bam – I can’t make that saucy minute steak I’ve been wanting to make because we need something faster. And into the deep freeze I go for a bag of chili.

Saucy minute steak with root mash up. Yum.
Saucy minute steak with root mash up. Yum.

But this week, I finally got to make that saucy minute steak with a root mash up recipe I’d found in Chatelaine in November. It was delicious. I didn’t have grape or black current jelly so I used some cranberry jam that a friend gave me for Christmas. The result was naturally more tart than the recipe intended, but very tasty nonetheless.

So you see? The best laid plans can work out, if you keep trying.