Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
I think it was sometime late Sunday afternoon when I regained the will to live. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so flip, but after suffering most of the week with the flu-which produced a lovely secondary bacterial infection-just being able to sit upright for an hour or so was quite the accomplishment.


Earlier, both of my kids had been sick with this flu bug and both had ended up on antibiotics because of sinus and ear infections.


Alex even got a bonus day off from school when he developed conjunctivitis or “pink eye” as a result of the infection living in his body. With pink eye, as with strep throat, a student-much to my son’s delight-must be on antibiotic for 24 hours before returning to class.


I was really hoping the flu would just pass me by this year. I did everything short of getting a flu shot to avoid infection-washing hands, eating healthfully, not touching anyone who looked “gooey,” getting enough rest….


Oh, wait a minute. That rest thing. That might have been my downfall.


Anyway, I woke up Tuesday morning feeling tired and heavy-you know, kinda normal. But by that afternoon I knew something was coming on. By the next day I had an uncontrollable cough and a lethargy that couldn’t be eased by lying on the couch or sleeping most of the afternoon.


When four days had passed, and I wasn’t getting any better, I decided medical attention was called for.


To make a long story short, something is growing in my lungs but with antibiotic now on board, I should be showing improvement by the day. At least, that’s the plan.


From what they told me at the clinic, it seems that Hillsboro and the surrounding area is under siege. Nasty little viruses are creeping into homes, schools and businesses and creating havoc.


Not only are people falling ill with the initial viral infection, but also secondary infections are quite common and for some reason are holding on longer than usual. Some patients, like my own son, have had to go through two courses of antibiotics before they are restored to health.


And then only to fall ill with something else. I know that at this very moment I’m keeping a cautious eye on my son. Just last night he was complaining of a sore throat.


I’ve often thought it would be a good idea if all children were born with a pop-up timer. You know, like the ones found in some brands of turkey. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent over the last 111/2 years wondering if I should take this child or that one to the doctor for medical attention.


Is it a virus or is it bacterial? If you go too soon, and it’s still just a virus, nothing can be done. But if you wait too long, your child goes through needless suffering.


It would be so great if some little handy indicator would just pop up at the first signs of bacterial infection. It would take all the guessing out of when the kid has ripened to infection perfection.


So, this past week came and went in a blur. My family muddled through with trips to every fast-food restaurant in town and with Dad and Cousin Dionne-thanks, D.-chauffeuring kids back and forth to games, lessons and basketball while I stayed for the most part in bed.


And for the week, I was pretty much left alone. Keith had business in Kingman.


The guys from Kunkel Construction, who had been putting up the walls on our new addition, were called away to another site. At least that’s what Bruce Kunkel said. I think they just wanted to avoid being contaminated.


So, the house was quiet. But every day, when my kids returned home from school, my daughter would climb up on my bed, pat my shoulder and tenderly ask after my health.


My son, on the other hand, would enter my room forming his fingers in the shape of the cross and ask, “Have you coughed up a lung yet?”


I’d like to say he gets it from his father.


But now that I’m up and wearing makeup and “real” clothes again, I’m wondering if I would be better off back in bed and away from the “real” world. On Saturday evening, I walked into the kitchen in search of drugs only to find my family watching the new XFL football league on television.


“We just wanted to see what it’s all about,” they said.


Loser players, bimbo cheerleaders, drunken fans and bad photography pretty well sums that up. They had switched to “Animal Planet” by the time I left the room, but the thought that this kind of “entertainment” is what the American public is being fed kind of made me feel even sicker.


“Temptation Island.” “Survivor.” “The XFL.” Oh, brother.


I think I’ll just go back to bed with a good book.


* * *


I suppose I can manage putting this easy soup together for tonight’s supper. I like to use the lower-fat versions of canned soups and cheese for this dish.




Zesty Chicken Cream Soup


1/4 stick margarine


1/2 onion, finely chopped


1 carrot, grated


1 can cream of celery soup


1 can cream of mushroom soup


1 can cream of chicken soup


1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth


2 soup cans of milk


1 tbs. parsley flakes


1/4 tsp. garlic powder


1 lb. Mexican Velveeta cheese, cubed


4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced




In a large pan, saute onion and carrot in margarine until soft but not browned. Add remaining ingredients and heat through stirring until cheese is melted. Serve hot, but do not boil.

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