Saturday, October 29, 2011

Like a Dying Panda

My voice is shot. Not sure if I have bronchitis, laryngitis, a cold, or whether I just talked and screamed too much at my college reunion this weekend. What sounds I do produce are weak, deep and raspy, like Lauren Bacall if she'd inhaled a pack of mentholated cigarettes, had a belt of cheap whiskey, and started speaking through a wool coat.  I like to think of it as sexy and alluring. I am, apparently, in the minority.

The scene is our favorite neighborhood Italian place. The whole family is together, after the return of my son from a school trip, and a long afternoon of soccer practice for my daughter.  I am in a great mood.  The pizza is delicious. My husband makes an offhand remark that starts me giggling, and then I'm laughing out loud, practically shaking with mirth. Everyone drops their food.

My son:  Mom! Stop! Jeez! 
My husband:  Don't, honey. Please. You'll hurt yourself.

We all turn to stare at her.

My husband: How on earth do you know what a dying panda sounds like?

She stares defiantly back at us.  Then she shrugs.

Her:  YouTube*.

I can't help it.  I'm howling again**.  

Elena's Cure for Coughs
Without my mom here to make a fuss when I'm sick, our housekeeper, Elena, has stepped right into her shoes. She looks at me, bundled up in my sweatshirt and fuzzy socks, shakes her head, clucks a little, then writes down a shopping list and issues instructions in Spanish. Unlike most of the advice I got from my mother, I immediately do exactly as she says. But just like my mother, she knows what she's talking about.  This stuff works! It's both soothing and spicy, and seems to magically calm your throat and reduce coughing almost immediately.  

1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
about 1/2 c. honey
juice of one lemon
about 1/2 c. of very hot water
1 teabag, preferably something citrus-y and spicy, like the Good Earth blend

Place the onion pieces in a medium-sized glass jar. Pour in the honey, enough to cover the onions, then add the lemon juice and enough hot water to fill the jar up to within an inch or so of the top. Put the lid on the jar, and close tightly.

Shake the jar gently for a couple of minutes to allow the honey, juice and water to combine. Open the jar and drop in the teabag, making sure it's submerged, then close it up again, but loosely this time.

Place the jar into a large saucepan.  Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the jar.  Heat over medium high heat until the water is boiling rapidly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.  Open the jar (careful, it's hot!) and then strain the mixture into another jar or container, and discard the onions.

This keeps well in the fridge for several days. Rewarm in the microwave before using.

Take several spoonfuls, warm, a few times per day, especially before you go to bed and when you first wake up.

Click to Print this Recipe!

* We may have mis-heard her.  I did sound a little like this climbing panda:

** OK, wheezing and crying again.  To make things worse, on the drive home, the kids' annoying top 40 station starts playing an infectious Maroon 5 song. Turning left, I join in on the chorus, bleating (pathetically) at the top of my lungs, "I've got the moo-oo-oo-OO-OO-oo-OO-oo-ves like Jagger!"

The reaction is instantaneous.



  1. the idea of the essence of raw onion makes my stomach revolt a little, but i can see how it'd be powerful enough to battle a cough. wow--great share!

  2. Taken a warm spoonful at a time, it goes down surprisingly easy...