Our week started off not with a bang, nor with a whimper, but with a splat. Yarr, they warr pukin’. Only a few kids started throwing up, but we figured it was only a matter of time before the upchuck duet became a whole-family vomit chorale.
The way this goes, though, is that only a few people are sick at a time; so I tried to plan the menu with meals that would be okay for people recovering from a stomach bug, food that people who were perfectly healthy wouldn’t hate, and food that, well, wasn’t red. Because. You know.
So here’s what we had:
Hamburgers and chips.
This was, of course, before the plague descended and we still lived like upright men and women.
Grilled chicken with salad
No tasty toasted nuts, no stinky cheeses, no dried fruit, no buttery, herbed croutons. Just grilled chicken on greens with cukes.
Cream of wheat, homemade applesauce
I do love filling the house with the nostalgic smell of applesauce as it slowly burbles away on the stove, but I was going to be in and out all day. So I speeded things up by using the Instant Pot . Or so I thought.
I quartered about 12 pounds of apples and cut out the stems and cores, but left the skins on, for flavor and color. Then I put the apples in the pot, filling probably 3/4 of my 8 quart IP (affiliate link!) with about a cup-and-a-half of water. I set it for eight or nine minutes, then did a quick release. There was tons of water left, so I strained that out and kept in a sipping jar, where it was lovely and dusky rose, almost like a light syrup or cider.
Then I remembered I had thrown out my trusty food mill (affiliate link!), because I never make applesauce anymore. So I dumped the apples in a colander and tried to press the applesauce through the holes while straining the peels. That didn’t work. It just made more apple juice. So I thought maybe I could put everything in a blender (affiliate link!) and just maybe blend the peels right it. Then I remembered our blender base is lost. So I put it in the standing mixer with the whisk attachment . . .
At this point, I had used six bowls, eleven pots, two jars, a colander, a blender, a spoon, a spatula, two saucepans, a defibrillator, a whisk, a miniature postage scale, one mug, four duck eggs, and a centrifuge we got at a rummage sale (affiliate link!).
. . . I put it in the standing mixer bowl, I say, with the whisk attachment, and let it go. Believe it or not, this worked, sort of. The whisk gathered in most of the peels and trapped them inside itself, leaving beautiful pink fragrant applesauce for my poor sick children. I stirred in a bit of butter and some cinnamon. I took the whisk and retreated to my bed, where I ate all the hot peels because I was feeling sad.
We also had cream of wheat.
French toast casserole.
I had purposely bought lots of extra bread. I didn’t follow a recipe, but just tore up a few loaves, then beat up a bunch of eggs and milk, added sugar and vanilla, stirred the egg stuff into the bread, put it in a buttered pan, sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top, and baked it at 350 for 25 minutes or so. They ate a bit of it, the little bastards.
Beef barley soup, hot pretzels
Beef barley soup would not be a lot of fun to clean up if someone threw it up, but at least it’s not a cream soup. I was in a hurry, so I chunked everything in at once: Cubed beef, diced carrots and onions, salt, pepper, minced garlic, olive oil. A little browning, then I added a whole lot of beef broth, somewhat less red wine, a few cans of diced tomatoes and juice, and a bunch of sliced mushrooms. Then I let it simmer on the “slow cook” setting of the Instant Pot.
When it was almost supper, I opened it, added in a pouch of mixed grains (I think it was barley, spelt, farro, and bunk, and fwap) and set the IP to “high” for eleven minutes. Just totally winging it. I don’t know how to use that thing. It cooked the soup.
At this point, I noticed that nobody had really gotten sick. Just a couple of jerks throwing up early on for no reason at all. We had chicken burgers and mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables. They made snowmen with the mashed potatoes. What did I care?
I suppose mac and cheese. I have to return that defibrillator I borrowed, though.
Image: By myself (Picture of a wallpainting in a Laotian monastery) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons