Invisible Demons: Slurp The Soup and Kill The Bugs

My Beautiful Girlfriend and I were attacked by an invisible demon this week.  I was the first one to be stricken:  sneezing, coughing, then Bad Body Pain With Fever (BBPWF) and Absolutely No Stinkin’ Appetite For Any Food Of Any Sort (ANSAFAFOAS).  In other words, I got the stinkin’ flu. Came on rather quickly… I was coughing a bit last Saturday, but I shrugged it off.  Then came a few sneezes… I figured “oh well.”  Things started really slip-sliding downhill at about 1 PM on Sunday.  After our morning rounds with the gang we both went for our normal afternoon nap, usually about an hour or so.  Well my nap lasted 6 hours.  I got up, had some orange juice, hit the bathroom, and back to bed.  This was no ordinary bug… kicked my hiney from hither to yon well into Wednesday morning.  I ended up missing two days of work; then dragged myself around for the rest of the week hoping the day would pass quickly so I could go back to bed.  And I’m still not 100%. All the while I was at work I warned all my friends who were looking for their normal hug or handshake that I’ve had the flu.  All but one ran for their lives.

Much better now though…

We’ve been getting our flu shots every year for some time now; but of course, there will probably be a few strains that will fly around under the radar.  Then people will bring them to work or other public places and spread them around for all of us to enjoy.  Coughs and sneezes spread diseases ya know.  Are you suffering from a cold?  Do you hab a stubby doze?  Or maybe you feel achy all over and are trying to cough your head off?  Well, if you must come to work, please don’t sneeze on my phone or anything.  While the flu is attacking, please fight back so the rest of us don’t get sick.

In other words, IF YOU ARE SICK, STAY HOME AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!

All the while I was at work I warned all my friends who were looking for their normal hug or handshake that I’ve had the flu.  All but one ran for their lives.   After looking up how contagious this crap really is, I felt it was my duty to let them know.  I really don’t want to make anyone sick.  Not even people I don’t like.

Now, if you are achy and have coughing and stubby doze, you probably  are getting attacked by a virus.  So that means that if you go to the doctor and ask them for an antibiotic, you will get better, right?  Wrong… antibiotics are for bacterial infection.  They just don’t work on the flu.  The onliest thing that will kill the flu is YOU… in other words, your immune system.

So, I resurrected the next part of this here Happy Friday so I could pass gas.  NO!!  That’s not it!!  I wanted to pass along some tactics that have really helped our family fight the “cold wars” over the years.  We’ve learned from grandmothers, friends, and yes, even those “weird alternative medicine magazines.”   One of my favorite weapons against flu bugs is garlic.  Lots of it.  Sure… people say, “ya, kill the cold and those around you!”  Well, I’m married, and my wife has promised not to divorce me over garlic breath.  This is a very good thing, because we both eat lots of garlic even when we don’t have a cold.  One thing many people aren’t aware of, though, is that if garlic is boiled, it loses a lot of its cold killing power.  Also, fresh garlic works best.  “Ok,” you may ask… or not… “how can I use garlic and not boil it??  Anyhow?  You expect me to eat it raw or something you crazy person you??”

Yes.  Eat garlic raw.  Cut a fresh clove in half and swallow both halves.  It actually knocks the snot out of a cold.  Too weird??  Ok, then cook it gently without boiling.  In fact, one of the best cold killing methods we’ve ever found is:

A) Mince 3 or 4 cloves of fresh garlic,

5) Heat one can (or about 20 oz.) of your favorite soup until it just begins to boil

L) Reduce heat and add one teaspoon of ground sage, and also one teaspoon of thyme leaves

9) Simmer while stirring for a couple minutes, and finally

!!) Remove the soup from the heat, add the garlic, stir well, and cover.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Eat the soup all gone just before you go to bed and you will kick the germ bugs in the booty.

Then, after you wake up, make with the vitamin C, the zinc lozenges, and lots and lots of water and stuff.  We’ve also had good luck with the generic equivalent of “Airborne.” which has all kinds of good immune system kaboomenheimers.  Oh, and not to forget the echinacea tea!!  Blecch you say?  Well it isn’t that bad ya know…

On the other hand, you have an ounce of prevention.  You know, eat yogurt several times a week.  Have generous portions of green vegetables and fruit.  And then there’s that nasty “E” word (exercise).

Of course, if you’re sick, you’re sick… but the things I just described often help shorten the duration and severity of the attacking germ booger animals.

Back to this garlic monkey business: call me crazy if you want.  I like garlic.  I eat it even when I’m not sick, because as my Grandma used to say, “it’s good for what ails ya.  If nothing ails ya, it’s good for that too.”   I like yogurt.  I like green vegetables and fruit.  I like… well, ok, sometimes I even…  once in awhile, um…. exercise is good.  I need to do more of that “E” word.  Yes, I am a very sick man.

Come on over some time and we can have a garlic milkshake and some avocado flavored yogurt with a nice salad of lima beans and bananas.  Then we can take turns on our combination treadmill / electric generator and we’ll not only get fit, but you can help us keep the electric bill down.

We try to be hospitable, you know.

And now for something completely different but also the same… this same video was tagged at the bottom of when this Soup Recipe Happy Friday Thing (SRHFT) was first published.  I’ve watched it a few times… still amuses me.  And the message “This Too Shall Pass” gives a sick person hope that maybe someday they won’t need a box of tissues with them 24/7…

Ready, Set… PIZZA!!!

Ahhh Friday… my favorite workday of the week. That is, of course, when I have both Saturday and Sunday off; which is most of the time. This Friday is a little different though, because my Beautiful Girlfriend went off with her Beautiful Friends to a (Beautiful) Women’s Retreat over in Newaygo Town.

“I’m a bachelor this weekend,” I my friends at work. Russ and Breck’s eyes both lit up and they quizzed me: “Really?? What’re you gonna do??” “I’m gonna eat massive amounts of cholesterol!!” I exclaimed with a big grin. Then I described the pizza I was lusting to make for dinner.

I didn’t bore everyone with the details, but I thought I’d put them here for your enjoyment.

Delicious Easy Pizza Method

1 – Boboli pizza crust… before I put it on a pizza pan I sprinkle a little corn meal to coat the pan sparingly but evenly. Keeps the pizza crust from sticking to the pan you see… Then put the crust on the pan and add, in order, the following:

a few sprinkles of coarse garlic powder

a few sprinkles of oregano

1 – 4 oz. jar of Classico pizza sauce (one jar is more than enough… had a little left over)

4 oz. of fresh sliced mushrooms, broken into small hunks

Fresh mild Italian sausage, cooked ahead of time over the wood fire (we have a fireplace)

½ green pepper, diced

1 small yellow onion, diced

4 oz. (or so) of black olives, crumbled (I take whole, pitted olives and smoosh them up with my fingers)

Premium pepperoni yummy slices, diced; sprinkled over the entire pie.

Sprinkle a smidge over 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese

Sprinkle about 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions on the Boboli crust package say to preheat the oven to 450 but I’m a rebel.  I preheated the oven to 350, then goosed it to 425 when I put the pie in there.  Cooked for about 10 minutes and turned the heat off. After the cheese melted and started to tan; I let it set for a couple more minutes then took it out and sliced it up; at which point I grabbed a hunk and proceeded to stuff my face. Total time from beginning to end was almost an hour, but oh my it was certainly worth it.

Then back in the warm oven it goes with the heat off so the flavors can mingle a little longer. I may accidentally have some more later.

Oh yes my friends, I’m in party mode tonight. Oh and I accidentally snarfed a bag of Cheetos while waiting for the pizza to cook. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Cherry Coke I discovered at the gas station they let me buy with the Cheetos and the Reese’s crunchy chocolate bar thing and Peanut M&Ms (those are for a friend at work, I promise) (unless I eat them) (I’m not sure).

I’ve been having a grand old time burping loudly and not even saying “excuse me!” Later on, I might even treat myself to a Marx Brothers movie!! And why not, my Beautiful Girlfriend and her Beautiful Friends are about 28 miles away and they can’t stop me!! Nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!

This kind of partying is far superior to the kind I once… um.. enjoyed? I say, “enjoyed?” with a question mark because there were all too many times I was ingesting intoxicants under the premise of having fun, when in fact I was really harming myself. So all that youthful partying began with fun, then fun became mixed with poor choices; which of course produced problems.  The last portion of my journey into mind altered oblivion transformed into even worse choices; so that part of the ride was anything but fun. I truthfully do NOT miss those times. Life is very good these days, so my cholesterol party is more than enough enjoyment for me.

Looks like I have a couple days worth of pizza; and I’m not complaining! Holy Cholesterol, Batman!!

Several rock stars have had a similar partying journey, many are dead. Most of the ones who survived, however, have changed their ways; and one guy by the name of Richard Starkey is a favorite of mine. His stage name is Ringo Starr, and he had some fun with part of his story in a catchy little tune known as “The No No Song.”

Maus In Da Haus… Again!!

Hope all of you had your fill of turkey (or whatever you fill your tummy with on Thanksgiving) this past weekend. For the last several years we’ve enjoyed our Dear Friend Ruthie’s cooking, complete with F.N. Brussels sprouts. Didn’t get those last year, so this time around my Beautiful Girlfriend made it a point to put her dibs in for F.N. Brussels sprouts. Tradition is important you know!

Before Lew, Ruthie’s hubby, passed away, Thanksgiving would migrate depending on whose turn it was. I’d cook one year, then Ruthie the next, and so on. The last year Lew was alive, he noticed I had a pot with Brussels sprouts on the stove. “Ken,” he said, “I see you’re making Brussels sprouts.” “Yes, “ I replied, “you like Brussels sprouts, Lew??” “F*@# NO!!” he exclaimed, at which point all of us laughed very bigly. So ever since that day, we celebrate Thanksgiving at our Dear Friend Ruthie’s house, and every year (except last year) she made some sort of dish with Brussels sprouts. Because her grandkids would often come to dinner, they became known as F.N. Brussels sprouts. We don’t want to pollute the little ones any sooner than life will!!

So because we really love turkey, I cook up a “Thanksgiving” dinner a few days later. Our son, our daughter, son in law, and their two boys help us devour a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This has become a tradition that includes putting up the Christmas tree. I love to cook, and I also love to grow good things to eat. So this year, instead of regular mashed potatoes, I’m making Maus (pronounced “mouse”). And since I like to be different, this year’s Maus will be blue. It can’t be helped, you see… I grew Adirondack Blue potatoes; and they are blue inside and out! Not sure, but I have a feeling Mrs. Spoelma might get a kick out of blue Maus.

God bless Mrs. Spoelma, the “Hollander” (Michigan term for Dutch) lady who lived next door to us when we first moved to Muskegon. She and her husband were often outside in the yard, and we’d have many a conversation across the fence. That was 39 years ago (wow!!), and one couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors.

When our daughter came into the world, she started bringing us food. Most often, she brought an odd mashed potato dish we’d never had before. “This is Maus,” she said when she brought over the first batch. “It’s an old family recipe: mashed potatoes, kale, and barley. Oh and a little bit of onion, too.” It was simply wonderful. Perfect food for a couple of tree huggers with a brand new baby. Free food is always pretty doggoned perfect if you ask me; especially when it’s delicious. “Maus” is not merely wonderful as a side dish for meat and another vegetable, maybe even some gravy. It is especially yummy the following day, reheated with an over easy egg or two on top. MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

When I first wrote about Maus a few years ago I scoured the web for a recipe that resembled this remarkable dish. No such luck. After many variations of the words potato, mashed, kale, barley, and Dutch, I found several interesting cooking ideas but nothing that resembled what our dear Mrs. Spoelma made. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve been able to replicate the flavor pretty closely.

Because it’s so doggoned yummy, I feel it’s my duty to share the basics with you. I love to cook but I rarely follow any recipe exactly. Mouse is no exception; but without further ado here is a rudimentary description. Try this and alter the quantities of barley, kale, and onions to your liking next time.

Maus: Delicious Mashed Potatoes, Kale, Barley and Onion

Ingredients:

Potatoes : enough to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than halfway when diced

Barley: ½ cup hulled barley (pearled barley is OK but not as nutritious as hulled)

Kale: 3 – 4 tightly packed cups, chopped

Onions: one large onion or 4 or 5 small onions, diced

½ stick of salted butter

½ cup of milk

salt to taste

Potatoes, barley, and kale will be cooked in separate pots.

Add more than enough water to the barley to cover, at least 2 inches higher than the barley. Boil the barley until tender, then drain, cover and set aside.

Add 1 cup water to the kale, and cover. Bring to boil, remove from heat after 2 or 3 minutes boiling. Toss the onions in with the kale and cover again, let that sit for about 5 minutes. The heat will cook the onions just enough. Drain, then set aside.

Wash and dice enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than half way (we leave the skins on). Fill with water till the potatoes are barely covered, and boil until tender, drain. Add butter and mash, adding milk and a dash or so of salt along the way. When the potatoes are creamy, add barley, kale and onions to the potatoes and mash together until mixed thoroughly. OK, you’re done! Now, don’t just stand there, it’s time to eat!!

By the way, this has nothing to do with Mouseketeers…

Maus In Da Haus (Mouse In Da House)

I come from a long line of cat lovers; so it seemed quite natural to marry one when I fell in love with my beautiful girlfriend.  Both of us believe with our hearts that cats deserve to go outside, so we have dealt with all the interesting antics of the small predators.  For awhile, we even went as far as to install a cat door that gave them the freedom to go in and out as they pleased.  Seemed easier than opening the door to let them in or out every 12 minutes.  OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that often, but at times it sure seemed like it.

We love our cats and all, and we do allow them outside.  We also got just a wee bit tired of uninvited “guests” showing up in various corners of the house though.  “Ken!!  There’s a mouse in the compost again!!”  My wife would always dispatch me when “the one that got away” was busy trying to score a free meal after escaping the jaws of one of our feline hunters.  Then of course there were some birds… Oh, and you really haven’t lived until you’ve stepped in a pile of guts on the kitchen floor in the middle of the night.

It took several years but finally, thank God, we came to our senses and boarded up the cat door.  They still go outside and hunt, but they’re not allowed to bring in any take-out items they may have scored in Mother Nature’s garden.  So now we still get the occasional mouse in the house, but it’s the kind we humans love to eat.  This delicacy was first introduced to us by Mrs. Spoelma.

God bless Mrs. Spoelma, the “Hollander” (Michigan term for Dutch) lady who lived next door to us when we first moved to Muskegon.  She and her husband were often outside cleaning up the yard, and we’d have many a conversation across the fence.  That was 35 years ago (wow!!), and one couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors.

When our daughter came into the world, she started bringing us food.  Most often, she brought an odd mashed potato dish we’d never had before.  “This is maus (pronounced ‘mouse’),” she said.  “It’s an old family recipe:  mashed potatoes, kale, and barley.  Oh and a little bit of onion, too.”  It was simply wonderful.  Perfect food for a couple of tree huggers with a brand new baby.  Free food is pretty doggoned perfect if you ask me; especially when it’s delicious.  “Maus” is not merely wonderful as a side dish for meat and another vegetable, maybe even some gravy.  It is especially yummy the following day, reheated with an over easy egg or two on top.  MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

When I sat down to write this evening, I thought I’d go on the web and try to find a recipe that resembled this remarkable dish.  No such luck.  After many variations of the words potato, mashed, kale, barley, and Dutch, I found several interesting cooking ideas but nothing that resembled what our dear Mrs. Spoelma made.  After a little trial and error, I think I’ve been able to replicate the flavor pretty closely.

However, I feel it’s my duty to share the basics with you.  I love to cook but I rarely follow any recipe exactly.  Mouse is no exception; but without further ado here is a rudimentary description.  Try this and alter the quantities of barley, kale, and onions to your liking next time.

  Maus:  Delicious Mashed Potatoes, Kale, Barley and Onion

Ingredients:

Potatoes :  enough to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than halfway when diced

Barley:  ½ cup hulled barley (pearled barley is OK but not as nutritious as hulled)

Kale:  3 tightly packed cups, chopped

Onions:  one large onion or 4 or 5 small onions, diced

½ stick of salted butter

1 cup of milk

salt to taste

Potatoes, barley, and kale will be cooked in separate pots.

Add more than enough water to the barley to cover, at least 2 inches higher than the barley.  Boil the barley until tender, then drain, cover and set aside.

Add 1 cup water to the kale, and cover.  Bring to boil, remove from heat after 2 or 3 minutes boiling.  Toss the onions in with the kale and cover again, let that sit for about 5 minutes.  The heat will cook the onions just enough.  Drain, then set aside.

Wash and dice enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than half way.  (We leave the skins on.) Fill with water till the potatoes are barely covered, and boil until tender, drain.   Add butter and mash, adding milk and a dash or so of salt along the way.   When the potatoes are creamy, add barley, kale and onions to the potatoes and mash together until mixed thoroughly.

OK, you’re done!  Now, don’t just stand there, it’s time to eat!!

Well, for this week’s cartoon, let’s go back to the rodent type mice…