This post marks Day 21 of Miss Ginsu's 2007 Advent Calendar. To click into other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
The common cold. It really is the gift that keeps giving.
I've got one now (sneezing, coughing and reaching for tissues as I type... but don't worry: it's not a virus), and it brings to mind all the other colds I've had in all the other winters of my life.
When I was little, my grandmother used to make me a cough syrup with honey, brandy and simmered rose hips (chock-full of vitamin C).
When I was sick at one of my restaurant jobs, an older Indian lady simmered up something similar that her mother had always made with some jaggery (a flavorful raw sugar used in India), fresh lime juice and simmered fresh ginger.
One of my coworkers told me about a time when he was sick with a cold in France and a kind soul administered hot Calvados with lemon and honey until my coworker fell into a deep sleep. He awoke the next day much repaired. He claims it's a panacea.
Just recently, I realized that all these beverages are simply variations on a Hot Toddy.
I don't know if it's the warmth on the throat, the soothing sweetness or the direct application of affection that makes homemade cough remedies feel so good, but I guess I don't care. Whatever works, works. Make one for yourself or someone you love.
Obviously, I'm not suggesting anyone fall off the wagon or liquor up the kids (that was the practice of another era), but I have the requisite number of years behind me, and I think the brandy sounds like a good move.
Below, my amalgam of the remedy tonics administered throughout my life. Good for a cold, and good even when you don't have a cold.
1" fresh ginger, sliced
2 cups hot water
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1. Simmer water and sliced ginger (with the spices, if desired) in a small saucepan for 20-30 minutes.
2. Stir in honey and lemon juice and taste. Adjust with a little more honey and/or lemon, to taste.
3. Add in a shot of brandy (if using), and serve immediately.