Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Garlic, ginger, and hot chili

This has some carrot too, but the theme is clear
You know how it's all the rage these days to be consuming large quantities of miracle medicine foods like blueberries and probiotics, whatever they are (bacteria, I think)?  I'm personally not convinced.  The only way you can get me riled about nutrition is by inflammatory statements like, "You can't get the nutrients you need to survive on a vegan diet," and then I'm just irritated because if you're saying it to me the proof that you can is standing right in front of you and you are clearly a fool.  For most of us, the ones without medical degrees or advanced training in nutrition--and even those, often enough--it's my opinion that vitamins go into the same mental category now that demons and fairies and magic spells used to, that most of our thinking about nutrition is a mixture of superstition and prejudice, which is why people tend to be so adamant about and emotionally invested in their nutritional convictions, whatever they may be.

The cooking sauce, with plenty of garlic chili sauce
With that preamble, I caught a little cold a week or so ago.  Colds are going around, but I haven't had one for seven or eight years, though I had them frequently when I was younger.  Actually, I kind of enjoyed it.  It was mild enough that after the first day when the sore throat went away it was mostly just a nice buzzy feeling, augmented from time to time by the odd dose of medication--decongestants make me pretty high so sometimes it was more than just nice, but anyway.  Why did I get sick?  Looking back over past posts, the reason seems all too clear: all those hot pots and Japanese stews, which do not contain the anti-cold substances garlic, ginger, and hot chili.  Sometimes they have one--ginger--but Japanese cuisine despite its many other virtues is not a garlicky, hot cuisine, and frankly Japanese dishes just don't taste right if you add those magical ingredients to them.  Is Japan a nation of chronic coughers and sneezers?   I've never been there but probably would have heard about it if it was.  However, I believe with all my heart in the prophylactic properties of garlic, ginger, and hot chili.  There's no point in disagreeing with me on this.  It's true, and truth is just truth, you can't argue about truth.

Brightly-coloured foods are good for you
Of course after I caught the cold, I couldn't taste much anyway, and although my diet was mainly composed of garlic, ginger, and hot chili soups, it was too late.  Even though I wasn't very sick, it's not much fun cooking when your sense of taste is all off, and not much fun blogging when you're eating more or less the same thing at every meal, which is the reason for the lack of posts recently. 

A delicious cold-fighting stir fry
I spent a lot of time lying about reading, and got kind of obsessed about the state of my couch.  This couch is pretty old, but it's still in excellent shape and it's perfect for a reader because of all the pillows that can be rearranged this way and that so you don't get a sore back or other reading-related injuries, even if you read all day long and into the night.  Over the years the Moon Goddess and I have made various coverings for it, as the Moon Goddess is an excellent seamstress and I am adequate for pillows and other simple tasks.  After her shoulder replacement surgery last year (though it went very well), the Moon Goddess retired from heavy upholstery-type labour, and I have cats, and even though they're good cats and never intentionally scratch the furniture their little claws do inadvertently stick in here and there, and I'd washed the fabric several times, and in short, the couch was looking a little shabby.   I did some research and they have these super-stretchy tight-fitting slipcovers now--these ones are from SureFit--and with pillows and armrest covers I made, this is what my couch looks like now:

With its matching chair:

Very splendid, no?  It's extremely luxurious reading in it now, let me tell you.  My sister Diane's opinion is that "It will go really well with your Christmas tree," but scoff away, I can change it to something else in the spring if I wish, and maybe I will!

Eventually I did get back to cooking, and was very very weary of soups and stews and one-pot meals generally, so I broke out with this, braised Soy Curls with brussels sprouts and edamame beans (based loosely on a recipe for braised seitan in Veganomicon), with mashed potatoes and roasted kabocha squash, and of course sweet millions, of which I still have infinity ripening down in the basement:

So that's how I spent the last two weeks...


  1. Your cold-fighting stir fry looks so satisfying!

  2. I'm just stunned by the stretchy slipcovers; I just don't understand how they can fit so well and look so much like real upholstery. Amazing. (What book was the cat reading before it fell asleep?)

    I'm totally not convinced that hotpots will lead to cold-catching, but your garlic and hot chili dishes look like they could cure anything! Hope you are fully recovered soon.

  3. Thanks, Tami, it was delish as well as healthy!

    Andrea, I'm stunned by the slipcovers too. In my day they all looked like sheets tossed over your furniture and you had to tuck them back in every time you got up. You tuck once with these and that's it; they are sticky as well as stretchy so they don't move around.

    Cheeta was re-reading Mary Renault's _Fire from Heaven_. But cats are easily tired by any kind of intellectual activity, as no doubt you know.

    And thank you for your good wishes, but I never really was all that sick, just enough to justify all the lying around, but not enough to miss work or even feel sincerely sorry for myself.

  4. That stir fry is making my mouth water!

    The slipcover seems to have worked a charm. Those seats and cushions do look incredibly comfy...I'd almost want to get a little cold in order to have an excuse to lounge on them all day.

  5. I am so glad that you are feeling better and on to a new post! I LOVE your new slipcovers!

  6. Katee, my spring ones will be green, I promise!

    Thanks, Rose. There has been a certain amount of illness-related hedonism going on around here, that is for sure ;-)

  7. I just want to curl up in that chair with one of my new books and sit for hours! Those pillows make the chair and the couch look SO cozy and inviting.

    I also haven't had a good ol' fashioned cold in a while, but I know *exactly* what you mean - sometimes there is something nice about being mildly sick! And the fact that it justifies extended periods of lying about and reading doesn't hurt either. ;)

  8. Ever since I read this post yesterday, I've felt like I've been coming down with a cold. So strange. Anyway, still have to try Soy Curls I guess.

  9. Your furniture looks great :)!
    Do you do anything to help your toms ripen? We have a bunch of green cherry tomatoes on their vines that we brought in, but in the past they seem to rot without ripening first.

  10. Kelly, you may imagine as much curling up and reading as you can handle, and it probably still won't come up to the fact ;-)

    Shenandoah, Soy Curls are great. If you don't have an easier source, order directly from Butler Foods; they weigh almost nothing, so even to Canada shipping was pretty minimal.

    And Stacy, how nice to hear from you! My sweet millions are on the basement floor between two layers of newspaper, which seems to do the trick. I took mine in on the stem rather than on the whole vine and they're still okay, except that I'm not eating them fast enough.

  11. That stir-fry looks pretty unbelievable. Little known secret: I'm awful at stir-fry tofu, and not fantastic at stir-fry in general. How on earth did you get your tofu that perfect? I must have your secret!

  12. Mark, ahem, I bought the tofu in a package. It just always looks like that. "Tofu puffs" is what it's called. Slay me, I don't deep fry. I just don't. My house is too small. Anything you see deep fried on my blog is purchased pre-fried. But it is pretty :-)

    P.S. I'm sure you're awesome at stir fry, really. Before I became awesome myself, I used to cook everything at medium temperature so that it stewed and turned all soft and unpretty...the secret is HOT HOT HOT.