When I was working, getting sick was a two edged thing. On one hand you got to stay at home and you didn’t have to work but on the other hand, well, you were sick. Now, getting sick is just such a waste of time. But since I couldn’t face knitting, painting, quilting, cleaning or anything else on my list, I took the time to read a bunch of books. I have a pile of books that I’d been meaning to get around to reading but I’ve been too busy. So I didn’t read any of those books but I read other ones. You know how it goes – whatever you “should” do isn’t what you really want to do. But I was sick and so none of the rules applied and I read what I wanted to. Wait a minute, I make up my own rules about my life so shouldn’t I be able to read what I want any time? I’ll ponder that. The Compadre went downstairs and brought up a stack of books from our overflowing bookcases for me to read while he was at work. I read through the 3rd volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul, a very old Mary Stewart novel, the Yarn Harlot’s newest book, finished the book about Fred Rogers, and I read two books that I want to tell you about.
The first, Never Miss a Sunset, by Jeanette Gilge is out of print. It was published in 1975 and I can’t remember buying it. Maybe it came from a garage sale. It’s one of those heartwarming pioneer hardship stories. It’s a fictionalized true story that takes place in Wisconsin in 1903, during the time that they were turning the forestland into cropland. The thing that struck me while reading this book while I was sick was how very lucky I am. I have modern medicine at hand. I can take any number of things to help me get over my sickness and to just feel better while I’m sick. In the central story of the book the mother of the family (of 10 children) has a still born child and gets a post partum fever and almost dies. She had this fever for weeks, all they could do was sit by her, pray, and cool her with cold cloths. They didn’t have aspirin, ibuprofen, penicillin, or even a hospital. I can’t even imagine how much she would have suffered. And this is not just a story – this kind of suffering happened all through history. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928. We live in amazing times and we just take it for granted. So next time you’re prescribed an antibiotic for an infection, give thanks!
The second book I want to tell you about is also about Wisconsin. This one, Population: 485, is by a current author, Michael Perry. It’s subtitled Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time. I took this one out of the library because of a review on one of the blogs I read. But I read so many that I can’t remember who recommended it. Whoever it was, was right! Michael Perry really has a way with words. He makes his town of New Auburn, Wisconsin come to life as he tells his stories about being a volunteer fireman. As a first responder, he sees things that you and I hope to never see. His stories about his life and the others that he works with and meets along the way are fascinating, all the more so for me, because my brother in law is a retired fireman. This is one of those books that reminds you of the fragility of life. It’s also one that I’m going to have to have in my own personal library. I recommend you go get it and read it too.
The Compadre took good care of me while I was so sick. He went to the store and brought home Nyquil, he fetched things for me and he made dinner several nights. He makes the best pancakes. He’s a very creative cook and knows just enough about how things work with food to be dangerous. He developed this recipe over time and with a few disasters that live on in family lore. You see, one the the ways to make a batter rise is to combine baking soda and an acid. In pancakes you often see buttermilk as the acidic ingredient. Well, we usually don’t keep buttermilk on hand so one of the ways around this is to put some vinegar or lemon juice into the milk to acidify it. And here’s where the Compadre’s creativity got going, imagine using ranch salad dressing as the acidic ingredient in pancakes. Yeah, he still gets teased about it (like right here on this blog!) But the Compadre doesn’t give up easily despite the family’s groans, blechs, and “I won’t eat its”. He continued to experiment until he got the perfect pancake recipe and I’ll share it with you here. It’s really simplicity itself. As he says, it’s all ones.
1 cup flour
1 cup milk (or one cup water and 1/3 cup dry milk powder)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 rounded tsp. orange juice concentrate (this is the acid)
A little bit of oil
Measure all these ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. Put a little more oil onto the griddle and heat it until a drop of water skitters around. Pour the batter onto the griddle using a small metal measuring cup. This recipe makes enough for 2 hungry people. When we had all the kids at home we tripled the recipe.
Every family has its comfort foods that you reach for when someone is sick. One of the ones that we always turn to when we have a sore throat or a fever or stuffy nose (all things I have recent experience with) is Russian Tea. It’s completely artificial, very sweet and just the thing you want when sick. I never drink it any other time! I measure all the following ingredients into a glass jar and shake them until mixed completely. It keeps forever as long as it’s in an airtight jar. Use a couple of tablespoons per mug of hot water or to taste.
2 cups Tang
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
You can add a pkg. of unsweetened lemon koolaid if you want – we never do