Finally done with all the English 101 stuff, the grades finally entered in the District’s system. Let’s hope nothing there comes back to bite. That’s a forlorn hope, of course: as anyone who teaches anything knows, someone has to make an exception of himself. Every. single. time. So let’s rephrase that: let’s hope that whatever comes back to bite isn’t a pit bull. 😉
We now have three days until class starts again, this time not one but two eight-week gigs: the magazine-writing course and another English 101 crew. People are already turning in stuff for the magazine course, it having gone online a few days early, for their convenience. Oh well.
Having been sick for the past two and a half weeks with some sort of indigestion and heartburn paired with an unending headache, I’ve been madly self-medicating. Started with my usual subtractive medicine: stop ingesting things I love that I know are probably bad for me. Getting rid of the coffee helped some—alas. One of the small things that makes life worth living, or at least tolerable, is starting the day with a delicious cup of top-quality French-press coffee. But it must be admitted that the stuff keeps me awake at night, contributes hugely to the tooth-clenching, and does annoying things to the gut.
Then it was off the sauce—damn it. The other small thing that makes life worth living is celebrating the end of the work day with a beer or a glass of wine. But we suspect that daily tippling is not good for our health, or at least not good for our moral standing. After I snuck back into the grocery store two days ago to purchase a Murphy’s stout to go with dinner, the instantaneous and unmistakable protest from the belly showed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there will be no more swizzling for the likes of me!
I’d been using a generic version of Pepcid AC, which was laying around the house because the vet recommended it for the dog, who occasionally would barf in the weeks after I got her. This stuff did so little that it soon became apparent it was doing nothing. So yesterday when I was at the Safeway I picked up a package of omeprazole, the stuff that’s in Prilosec. The pharmacist said it had virtually no side effects.
These days I don’t take anyone’s word for that, so looked up a non-woo-woo study to check the side effects and their incidence rates.
HOLY God! Headache? Chest pain? Severe diarrhea? Severe stomach pain? Pancreatitis (some fatal)? Esophogeal candidiasis? Liver failure (some fatal)? Liver necrosis (some fatal)? And on and on…
Like I’m not sick enough?
So we’ll be returning that stuff to the store.
Moving on, I turned to the woo-woo pages, where I learned that a tisane of sage leaves and hot water has been used for centuries to treat indigestion and heartburn. Supposedly, too, chewing up and swallowing a half-dozen blanched almonds calms your stomach. We’re also told that raw apple is imagined to be soothing.
Well, what the heck. I happen to have a sage plant growing in the back yard, almonds in the freezer, and a lifetime supply of apples in the fridge. None of these things is known to cause necrosis of the liver.
So I picked some sage leaves, made a tea of them, and then blanched some almonds. Surprisingly, munching the almonds seemed kind of calming. Probably all in my head, though.
The sage tea, however, actually did seem to work to good effect. Can’t say it cured anything, but after drinking it, I did feel quite a bit better.
This morning, having awakened queasy again, munched some more almonds, brewed some more backyard sage tea, and took the dog for a walk. When we returned, I ate some of the rice I’d fixed for the dog’s cuisine, and afterward felt OK.
So, who knows? Maybe the stuff helps. Or maybe the passage of time helps (three weeks seems like a lot of passaging…but when you get old, your body heals very, very slowly). Experience suggests that these little ailments will do one of two things: kill you or go away on their own. Not much exists in between.
Old age. 😀 It’s not for the young or the faint of heart.
Right now a gigantic pot full of chicken carcasses and the bone from a chuck roast (found yesterday for $1.69/pound!! and converted to hamburger) is simmering with onion and herbs to make a glorious stock for future soups, which we hope also will be duly therapeutic. So good…
How to Make Leftovers Stock
You can make this in a slow cooker, but for some reason I think the stuff tastes better when it’s made in a pot on the stove.
Save a bunch of bones from chicken, beef, lamb, and pork—toss them in the freezer till you’re ready to use them.
When ready to spend the better part of a day keeping an eye on a slowly simmering brew, break out a large stock pot. Skim the bottom of the pot with olive oil. You’ll want to start this process in the morning, BTW.
Then coarsely cut up a fresh onion—no need to peel it—and brown it gently in olive oil. Add some cut-up celery and carrot. Toss in a couple of garlic cloves. Add herbs to your taste—I used some dried fines herbes and (what else?) the sage leaves wilted when I made the sage tea. Anything will do nicely.
When the onions have lightly browned or fully caramelized, depending on your mood and how closely you were watching the pan, add your collection of bones. Cover the whole mess with water.
Turn the heat to medium high. This is the only time you’ll need to hang around the kitchen. Keep an eye on the pot, and when it just comes to a boil, turn it down to low. Cover and go away.
Allow the broth to simmer for hours. Many hours.
When you get around to it, much later in the day, turn off the heat and heave the pot over to the drainboard next to the sink. Set a large bowl in the sink and place a strainer over it. Ladle the broth and cooked stuff into the strainer, draining the juices into the bowl. Use the back of the ladle to press as much of the broth out of the bones & veggies as you can. Discard the used-up bones and veggies.
You now have a stock that you can use for any number of delicious things, either to cook with or simply to eat as a light soup. You can add stuff to it to make a sturdier soup—pasta, rice, veggies, barley, whatever. A little white wine or sherry gives it a very nice flavor.
This is not real stock, which has to be clarified and reduced. But it’s sure good enough for government work!