Saturday, October 24, 2015

Real Moms Get Sick. Like Bosses.

Pin It "Moms don't get sick days!" is something you hear all the time from the moment you sneeze your first postpartum sneeze. (And if this is the first time you just sneezed postpartum, you probably care more about your lack of bladder control than a sick day. It gets better.) It is true.

I was fortunate. My tonsils started to ache around 1pm on a Friday. I changed the dinner plan slightly, having the girls set it up early (Raddish Kids apple curry! WIN, post to come.) and tossing it in the crockpot  By 3pm, I had changed into sweats, hit "play all" on Doc McStuffins, and settled into my corner of the couch with some tea, attempting to rest to the dulcet sounds of a contractor and plumber ripping apart the bathroom piping. By 5pm my husband had come home to take over, so I could be properly sick, or at least as sick as I can with two kids and a household to run. Maybe I'd be better by Monday, because really, what choice do I have?

Every day, I miss teaching. I miss being in a classroom, watching kids figure out why math works, discussing the intricacies of language acquisition with specialists, sharing silly stories with coworkers at lunch. But the only time I wish I was working and my kids were daycare goers is on a sick day. I'd love to be able to drop my kids off somewhere and curl up on the couch to hack up a lung in relative peace for a few hours. Can you imagine?

I've learned, in my almost-five-years as a stay-at-home parent, that you need to have systems in order for when you do get sick. I'm awful at maintaining systems, but not this one. The stakes are too high.

Step 1: Have a drawer full of various teas.

When I'm sick, I want Traditional Medicinal's Seasonal Sampler. This stuff is voodoo herbal ancient magic at its finest. I kept it in my desk, too, and would start drinking the Echinacea Plus tea the moment a kid came in with faucet nose. Throat Coat will bring back your voice long enough to make it through a lesson comfortably. And whatever is in the Gypsy Cold Care is delicious and alleviates that foggy head cold feeling. I'm not paid to say any of this. In fact, I spend a good deal of money on this tea every year, the way I chug it. (The way I chug it is out of my biggest mug, with honey, after it has brewed and then cooled for 5 minutes.)

Step 2: Have bones in the freezer.

I start to feel sick, I put this in the crockpot, generally in this order:

Whatever chicken frames I have in the freezer
A few carrots, broken into thirds
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
a large onion, unpeeled and quartered
about 5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, chopped in half (you can just chop a whole head in half if you like garlic. Five makes the garlic a nice background note, not a really discernible thing.)
a few stalks of celery, rough chopped
a bay leaf
Water, to cover all the ingredients

I generally always have chicken frames frozen. When you roast a chicken, or have a rotisserie chicken, put all the bones, the neck, and any pan drippings into a bag and freeze it. You can thank me when you feel better.

If I don't have chicken in the freezer (What?! But you just said...) I will drag my starting-to-get-sick self to the grocery store and grab a rotisserie chicken (dinner, done.) or some cheap bone-in chicken pieces (drumsticks work well for this) so that I have some. Ideally you want two frames, but whatever you have is fine. This time, I had one roasted frame and a few uncooked wings and necks. In they go.

Set it on low and leave it. Ideally, you need at least 10 hours so that the nutrients can be sucked out of the bones. You can't overcook this, so even two days is fine. Shabbat Shalom, my cold-hearty people.

I started this after dinner last night and had some for lunch, over white rice, with a squeeze of lemon. I strained out what I needed in the separator and left the rest, still cooking. My bones hurt. I'm not going to futz around with it more than I need to.

If you have turkey bones on hand, those work nicely, too. 

If you want a vegetable broth with this sort of ease, throw this into your crock pot for hours on end:

Two onions, unpeeled and quartered
A head of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
A bulb of fennel, with fronds, rough chopped
1 pound of carrots, rough chopped
A small bunch of celery, rough chopped
Bay leaf

I like to add ginger to my soup broths (chicken and vegetable) but ginger is strong and specific. If you are just going to drink this or have it with rice, I recommend a nickel-sized slice of fresh ginger. If you are going to use this as a base for dishes, you may want to omit ginger and just add it to the dishes (or stick some in your soup mug to steep) later.

Strain your broth and separate out the fat if you used bones. Freeze any unused portions.

I don't add salt until consumption for the same reason that I hold back on ginger. If you pull out a cup of this later to put in a dish that is already salty (Use broth to make your rice pilaf or couscous. Really.) you'll be disappointed. I also tend to use chicken frames and pan drippings from well-seasoned birds. 

Step 3: Books. If you are like me, your body gets sick, your brain won't shut off, and you end up driving yourself mad overthinking what needs to be done in relation to your physical inability to do anything worthwhile. Expect more posts today. 

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