Thursday, March 19, 2009


The Spicy Barracuda is currently sick with Jules and I fending it off. Today was a day of snuggling on the couch, watching movies, and taking it very very easy. Barracuda is allergic to most all over the counter kid's medicine due to a filler that is commonly used. Rather than hives and vomiting on top of being sick, we resort to using herbal remedies. (Jules would like me to rephrase that - nasty herbal remedies.) I'm a big fan of not using the chemical products, but since most herbal remedies need to be used when you first feel the onset of sick coming, they are hard to use with a child. If the Barracuda had told me a week ago he was starting to feel like he might be getting sick, we wouldn't really be here right now playing catch up with battling viruses. I must say, however, at four and a half he does remarkably well with the whole feeling icky and taking medicine thing.

Our household uses horehound when we are sick with colds. Horehound is an herb that has been prescribed from as far back as the Greek physician Dioscorides in 40-90 AD. He advocated a concoction of horehound for tuberculosis, asthma and coughs. The herb is an effective immune booster. It is quite nutritious, containing vitamins A, B, C and E, essential fatty acids, iron, potassium and marrubin (an expectorant). Mainly, Horehound has proven to be effective in loosening phlegm and mucus in the bronchial tubes and in the lungs, however it will also relieve coughs and sore throats. The German government's committee of herbal experts, known as Commission E, has sanctioned horehound for use against bronchial problems, including laryngitis.

Footnote: Information and recipe acquired from A-Z Health and Beauty

Horehound works really well for us, but I will warn you it tastes terrible. There is no getting around it. Jules and I create a fowl tasting (and smelling) tea by using 1/4 cup of Horehound and letting it boil on the stove till it is the color of hardwood stain. By condensing it this much you only have two swallows to get down, and only have to ingest it about 4 times. Though it will not make you feel amazing, it will prevent you from becoming full blown sick. Having the Barracuda try this, however, would be completely useless. So, he uses a cough syrup.

Horehound Cough Syrup
1/4 cup dried horehound
2 cups of water
3 cups of honey

Put horehound and water in a pot and heat until boiling. Let steep 10 minutes and then strain. When cooled add honey and mix well. Bottle up for use later.

Originally I wanted to grow it in our garden, that is until I got a look at the plant. As much as horehound is a wonderful medicinal herb, it isn't going to win any beauty contests. Also, it is related to mint and will take over. Hard to kill and a glutton for punishment, the plant will grow most anywhere and is very difficult to get rid of. Well, that killed the garden idea. Now, we pick horehound up our at a local herb shop and it is very reasonable in price when purchased in loose leaf bulk. It can be purchased at some natural stores in cough syrup already, but when I purchased it this way for the Barracuda at Whole Foods it was almost 10 dollars a fluid ounce! So, we kept the jars and now I make it.

In our house sick also means it is time to start defrosting the chicken stock from the freezer. Whenever chicken is on sale, I usually buy at package or two for the sole purpose of making chicken stock. Usually it is chicken quarters or thighs, but it doesn't matter. Whole fryers work as well, they are usually just more expensive than a package of pieces.
Chicken Stock

2 chicken quarters
5 celery stalks, tops too
3 carrots
1 onion
1/2 stick of butter
4 garlic cloves
3 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Cut the veggies into large pieces and then dump everything into a giant stock pot and heat on high until boiling. Boil about 5 minutes and turn down to low/medium heat. You want it to simmer all day, just below a boil. Stir frequently and check the water level so that the ingredients stay below the water level. After 6-8 hours, use a strainer to drain the liquid into another bowl. At this point the chicken should have fallen apart off of the bones. I separate the chicken (as best I can) and dump it in with the liquid and freeze it into tupperware containers. The murshy veggies then go to our compost pile. These become the bases for soups, sauces, and casserole all month. It stretches one package of chicken a long long way. I'm sure the same thing would work with veggie stock if your household didn't do meat.

To turn the chicken stock into soup all you need to do is re-add some onion, carrot, a clove of garlic (due to being sick), and some noodles. This means our family can have home-made chicken soup in about 10 minutes on the stove.

It works out really well for us to readily have the chicken stock all made up. I can either defrost it the night before or pull it out and microwave defrost it if I forget. By using a day off to make up three or more Tupperware containers, I don't have to bother with the extensive cooking during the times when life is so crazy I can't think about it or when I feel just as yucky as those I'm cooking for.

When we make stock, we turn off the heat and let the warm smell of the soup fill the house. The Spicy Barracuda and I snuggle up on the couch and he read a book to me while I knit. We have great conversations, watch a movie together, and just enjoy each others' company. In this way, soup and stock are great ways to not only nurture your body but each other as well.

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