Thursday, February 16, 2012

a cup of comfort

The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on February 15, 2012.
Lately, it’s been all stuffy noses, glassy eyes, coughs, earaches, and sore throats around this joint. The hot water bottle is in use night and day, and appetites come and go on a whim. My husband bought another dozen cloth hankies to add to our already rather large stash and we still manage to run out with alarming frequency. Somehow, though, despite all the germs swirling through the air, I’ve remained cold-free.

Last week, with a trip to New York City in my immediate future and a panicky fear of getting hit with the sniffles mid-flight, I decided preventative measures were in order. I certainly didn’t want to spend my few precious days in big-time civilization with my nose swelled to the size of an apple. So I fixed myself a quart of ginger lemon tea. I drank the first batch right up and promptly made another, this time doubling the recipe. I made it to NYC and back with nary a sniffle or sneeze, thank the tea, or my lucky stars, or both.

Though not particularly well-versed in the health merits of foods (I eat for flavor), I did know that fresh ginger, honey, and lemon boast a goodly amount of Vitamin C, as well as antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agents. Furthermore, the convenience of a large jar of tea, always at the ready in the middle of the cold season, couldn’t be underestimated—all I needed to do was zap a cupful in the microwave and the restoring comfort was mine for the savoring.

The other night after the kids were tucked in bed, I poured two large mugfuls—I was on my third batch by now—and my husband and I sat down in front of the fire to toast our piggy-toes. I slurped my tea down straightaway, but my husband let his cool a bit first. He’s kind of a wimp that way.

“This is good,” he said, which was high praise coming from him, a non tea drinker. “It warms me up.”

He was right. The tea is warm, and not just from the temperature. The ginger gives it a zip that starts your beleaguered cells to tingling and sets you a-glow from the inside out. The lemon puckers the mouth a tad, and the honey mellows the tea just enough. The tea manages to both relax and energize.

Which is, I might point out, most pleasing in the dead of winter, cold or no cold.

Ginger Lemon Tea
Adapted from Recipes for a Postmodern Planet

Feel free to swap lime juice in place of some of the lemon, and agave syrup for the honey. If you’re suffering from a cough, a splash of whiskey is a profitable addition, or so I hear.

Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of any grocery store.

a 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1-2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
4 cups water

Pour the water into a saucepan. Add the ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the lemon juice, honey, and salt, and simmer for five minutes. Strain and serve.

Variation: Fizzy Ginger Tea
Make a concentrate by using only 1-2 cups of water. Mix the chilled concentrate with 2-3 cups of club soda. Serve over ice.

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