I hope you are well. I hope you are warm. My wish for all of you this week is to feel like a million bucks while digging your toes into sand on a beach somewhere. Sadly, that is not the case for many of my friends, who share snapshots of ice-encrusted lawn ornaments and report everything from the sniffles to the flu.
I can’t cure what ails you but I can offer comfort in the form of a steaming mug of broth infused with ginger and tangerine. This is a chicken soup you can make in minutes, even if you’re too ill to make chicken soup. It’s a snap.
Have someone bring you some fresh ginger, a tangerine or orange, and a carton of bone broth. If you’re feeling chipper you could make your own chicken bone broth in a slow cooker with these instructions: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/275943/slow-cooker-chicken-bone-broth/. If not, do not despair. In the last year or two just about every broth manufacturer has rushed to market with its own brand of bone broth — at a premium price, but still.
Heat the broth. Cut an inch of fresh ginger root into thin slices. Add it to the simmering broth with strips of the tangerine peel. Simmer for 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice from that tangerine and add it to the broth. Steep it for 10 more minutes. Discard the peel and slices of ginger. Ladle it into a mug. Ahhhh.
Begin heating broth in a small saucepan. Peel ginger and cut into thin slices. Add to the broth. Cut zest from half of the tangerine or orange in strips with a sharp vegetable peeler. Be careful to leave behind the bitter white pith. Add zest to broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, juice the tangerine or orange, straining out pulp and seeds. You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. After 10 minutes, remove broth from heat, stir in juice and let it steep, covered, for 10 minutes longer.
With a slotted spoon or long-handled strainer, remove zest strips and slices of ginger. Ladle broth into mugs. Makes 4 cups.
My friend, Linda Amstutz, has written a charming book I hope you’ll read. We bonded more than a dozen years ago over shared interests in food and writing. We formed a writers’ group together to work on our books. I abandoned mine. She just published hers, “The Bicycle Messenger,” available on Amazon.
The novel is a page-turner about children of the French resistance during World War II. It is set in the south of France, where Linda now lives. The tale switches between 1941 and 1995. There is danger, intrigue involving a valuable work of art, and a romance between the narrator — an annual visitor to France, like Linda used to be — and one of the boys, now grown.
What may interest my newsletter readers, besides the well-told tale, is Linda’s irresistible descriptions of French meals, snacks and cocktail tidbits. This woman loves the food of France, and it shows.
Here’s a tiny taste: “Each of us took a plate, Jean put a slice of cheese, half a fig and a few nuts on them and poured some of the dark tawny-colored fortified wine in each glass. Without further conversation we sipped and tasted and almost as one we sighed — such an elegant combination of flavors and textures.”
Linda is the friend Tony and I visited in September 2018 in southwestern France. The meals at her home were unforgettable. For me, reading her book was like talking to a friend. Don’t try it on an empty stomach, though.
The hot sauce I mentioned in last week’s recipe is Cholula, not Chalula, my friend, Martha, points out. And the seafood restaurant in Hobe Sound, Fla., I’ve been frequenting is the Catfish House, not Crawfish House. Sorry for the errors.
What I cooked last week:
Charcoal-grilled fresh mackerel with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano; conch salad (Tony’s creation) and tortilla chips; charcoal-grilled skirt steak with Mongolian barbecue sauce, steamed rice and fried plantains.
What I ate in/from restaurants, etc.:
Indochina Noodles (spicy dish of wide noodles, ground beef, tomato, vegetables) at Krua Thai in Stuart, Fla.; chicken salad sandwiches, chips and cookies aboard a pontoon boat on an Indian River wildlife tour; a hotdog with mustard, onion and relish from Mr. Grumpy’s hotdog cart in Okeechobee; shrimp ceviche from Green Apple Produce in Hobe Sound; picadillo, red beans and rice, fried plantains and cafe con leche at Wow Cuban Cafe; edamame, deep-fried tofu with a soy-based sauce and chicken yakitori at Fugu Tei Japanese Restaurant in Hobe Sound (not great); coleslaw and a medium-rare hamburger with mustard, onion and tomato at Taste Casual Dining in Hobe Sound; a chorizo taco with grilled onions, cilantro and lime from Taqueria Solavino taco truck in Hobe Sound.
From Jenny K.:
Perhaps you or one of readers can help me solve this problem.
Once in a while I use a cake mix as a base for a recipe, usually changing it up in some way. Sometimes on the internet recipes the size of the cake mix is not mentioned. Is there a way to tell from the amounts of the other other ingredients listed whether the size is the “old” 18.25 oz. or the reduced 15.25 oz.? I know how to change the smaller size to fit older recipes, but if no size is listed or if there’s no date on the recipe I’m not sure if I need to add the extra 3 oz. of ingredients. I know that the size was decreased in 2016; but with no recipe dates, I’m just not sure what to do. Any ideas?
Not to sound like a snob, but I haven’t used cake mixes in so long that I didn’t even know the size had changed. Those cheapskates! Can anyone help Jenny?