We'll keep it short and sweet this week, because we've been felled. What did it, I can't say for sure. The snowball fights, maybe. The snow-shoveling, possibly. Snow-eating, whole roly-poly fists full, well yeah, probably didn't help. (Not that I wouldn't do it all over, in a heartbeat. No sane Northwesterner squanders fifteen white fluffy inches, right out the front door.) Whatever, fact remains, we've been tumbling like dominoes to the great winter crud.
Henry fell first, fast and hard, and for a good week I thought he'd keep it to himself, very kindly. But then, this week, came the moment. You know the moment. The one where that scritch-scratchy throat loitering for days in the undecided camp suddenly goes all partisan on you? The one where you wake up one morning with your head out to here, so full of wool you could pluck a Fair Isle out of each ear? The one where no amount of sleep or vitamin C or pointing out your Parenting Contract lacks so much as a single sick day will change your fate? The one where you realize you are In For It, period? Right, that one.
I'm sure we all have coping mechanisms in moments like these, and for me, said mechanisms look a lot like my favorite striped socks and several wool sweaters and heavy, heavy drinking, pretty much non-stop. Truth be told, the tippling often begins when the cold's still a tickle, a negotiation with wiggle room still to be had. But once we've arrived at the take-no-prisoners point, I chug mug after mug of this hot golden brew.
What it is is, well, I'm not sure, exactly. Lemon ginger tea is what I've always called it. But it's not really tea, as it lacks any leaves. Tisane, I suppose, is technically better, though those always strike me as gauzy and thin, whereas this comes across like Geronimo in a glass. You wouldn't know it to look at it, all transparent yellow, like faded sunlight. But beware. Or rejoice. The stuff goes down like fresh neon, vivid spicy and bright.
Were this alcohol, it would be 80 proof, easy. Espresso, a double. A race car, Corvette. But it's only lemon and ginger in four-alarm quantities, plus just enough honey to soften the edges and coat the throat. It's sort of like those honey-lemon teas and lozenges, I guess. Sort of like Velveeta and Double Gloucester are both orange cheese, anyway.
It doesn't sound like much, but it seems almost magic, somehow soothing and feisty and fortifying at once. The sweet heat of ginger clears the fog, quick. The shot-glass of lemon calms a voice, raw and ragged. And even a honey-phobe like me can see it's the perfect third leg, sweetener and salve, all in one go. Without fail, it puts a spring in my step, at a time when all I want is to collapse in a heap. It sounds strange to say, but I hope you don't try this one, any time soon. Though if you do, if you must, may it keep you truckin' the way it does me.
Lemon Ginger Tea
A Good Brew for a Bad Cold
Yields: 1 generous servingI like this brew stiff as starch, though you may prefer it half-strength, or somewhere in between. Try it this way, a sip anyway, then adjust to your taste — more water to weaken, more honey to sweeten. It's endlessly flexible. Note that I make this in quite a large mug, one which holds a generous cup and a quarter of boiling water (on top of the lemon and ginger).
I'll often triple the recipe below to fill a teapot, which I pour from all day,re-heating as needed (there's no bitterness here, as in a true tea). With the ginger left in, it gains heat and bite as the day progresses, until by 3 p.m. it's positively sinus-searing. This calibrates pretty well to my day and needs, but if you prefer less spice, take a slotted spoon to the ginger early on. Also, I don't peel the ginger here, as it's only the essence I'm after. Just give it a good scrub and slice.
1 piece fresh ginger — width of a quarter, length of a thumb (or rough equivalent)
2-3 tsp honey (a 2-second squeeze)
Put kettle on to boil, with enough water for one generous mug.
Roll lemon on counter to loosen the juice, then squeeze directly into a large mug. Add 2-3 teaspoons honey (a 2-second squeeze). Cut ginger into 8 slices, each the width of a quarter (save any remaining for another cup), and add to mug.
Pour boiling water over all. Stir to melt honey and loosen ginger slices, then let sit to infuse for 10 minutes. Stir again, and taste. If you'd like more bite, or are too cranky and crabby and desperate for comfort, leave in the ginger and drink up as is, dodging the little discs as you sip. It's what I often do. If have oomph enough for niceties, or find it plenty strong, strain into a second cup for a lovely clear, jolly yellow brew.