Before walk-in clinics, health cards, 24 hour pharmacies, and NeoCitran, people got sick. Usually it was up to the women of the house to deal with the illness and help the patient, and using common sense she did just that; good simple food and lots of rest. In praise of slow and the whole person and what makes a great deal of sense in terms of how we feed sick people, I’m turning to the Ogilvies Book for a Cook, published in 1905; as I’m sick and getting in to see my doctor is almost impossible, if not a cure, I’m hoping to at least feel better.
“The greatest weight is to be attached to the preparation of food for the sick. Oftentimes the diet is of more importance than the drug. Entire wholesomeness of food, the best preparation possible, and prompt dainty service are necessary requisites.”
Broiled Beef Juice
2 lbs. lean steak from the top of the round.
Remove any visible fat from the steak, broil over a brisk fire for four minutes, turning it frequently. Cut in pieces about one inch square, and gash each piece two or three times. Place in a meat press and squeeze the juice into a hot cup. Season to taste and serve hot. ( I have no idea what a meat press is, but I do like the word “gash”)
2 tablespoons pearl barley
4 cups water
Put the barley over the fire in cold water, let come to a boil and cook five minutes, then drain off the water. return it to the fire, add one quart of cold water. bring it to a boil and simmer until reduced one-half. It may be sweetened and flavored if desired.
1/2 cup oatmeal
6 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
Add salt to the boiling water, stir in the oatmeal and cook for two and one half hours in a double boiler. Remove pan from the fire and strain. When preparing it for a patient, use half a cup of the gruel mixed with half a cup of thin cream, two tablespoons boiling water and sugar to taste.
A pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon is also sometimes added. Other gruels are also prepared in the same manner. (Basically, this is a recipe for oatmeal, the name is medieval. I personally believe that oatmeal is a super food and a cure-all and I try to eat it everyday. You should too.)
Flaxseed Lemonade (The original hot lemon drink?)
2 tablespoons flaxseed
4 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar
Grated rind and juice of three lemons
Blanch the flaxseed, add boiling water and let it simmer for three quarters of an hour, then add sugar and lemon rind. Let it stand for fifteen minutes. Strain and add lemon juice. Serve either hot or cold. For a bad cough, take a teaspoon every half hour.
And my favorite, Eggnog
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons wine or brandy
1 cup cream or milk
Beat the eggs until light and creamy, add the sugar and beat again, then the wine or brandy, lastly, the cream or milk, put in the freezer until half frozen. (a curative eggnog slushy, yum!)