Welcome to Chez Under The Weather

Marty and I faced a Perfect Storm for Illness during our recent trip to Alberta. Seriously– every single factor that normally contributes to Pestilence, Sickness, and/or Pain and Suffering was right there with us from the moment we left our ghetto apartment in Victoria.

Marty's Cowboy Snowman: Before

Marty's Cowboy Snowman: After. (This is a snowman's impression of Marty and I in Calgary.)

First, there was stress. Marty’s body usually shuts down as soon as it knows we are heading out east to the land of our youth. He experiences dread like no other human, and in the days leading up to our departure, he had a hard time eating, digesting, and concentrating. My stress, on the other hand, normally manifests itself as exaggerated mental clutter. I worry more than usual, I imagine the most awkward of possible encounters ahead of time, and then I strategize multiple ways to escape said awkward encounters while saving the maximum amount of face. What if somebody cooks dairy for us? What if somebody wears hella perfume around our delicate nostrils? How do I react if the blanket in the guest room reeks of Bounce sheets? I am like the Nostradamus of Calgary, Alberta, only I’m less bearded and way more obscure.

A glimpse of my mom at her place in Vancouver. Visiting her before and after our stop in Calgary gave us some much needed respite (and organic, wholesome food)!

This time around, Marty started eating less before we left (like clockwork), but I started preparing obscene amounts of food. Obscene. Amounts. This was all a pre-emptive strike against the potential awkwardness of eating at somebody else’s house, and just so you know, cooking all that food ahead of time was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, I had to lug 40lbs of food around with me on my back, BUT I got to avoid yogurt for breakfast, Kraft salad dressings for lunch, and breaded cauliflower with soy cheese for dinner! I WIN ALLERGY COOKING! Anyway, back to the point– there was a lot of stress before our trip. Packing stress, transit stress, Greyhound stress– all sorts of stress.

A peek inside my dad's place in Calgary, which is a virtual treasure trove of mismatched pop culture references. He went to art college, natch.

Then there was the brutally uncomfortable travel, coupled with a decided lack of sleep. Nothing says “Hey there, viruses– my immunity is suppressed!” quite like 15 1/2 hours on a bus with dozens of coughing and wheezing people. And Russians keeping you awake all night. We were an accident waiting to happen, I tell you.

Oh, sorry Greyhound officer-- I didn't know I wasn't allowed back here. I didn't see any signs or anything...

Once we arrived in Calgary, the ultra-dry Alberta air made everything even worse. It always amazes me how severely the arid climate hits me when I go back to Alberta. I was born there and come from a modestly long line of Albertans, so shouldn’t my body be equipped with special Dri-B-Gone genetics? Shouldn’t I come back to Calgary thanking sweet Jesus that I’m finally back in the dry air of my childhood and adolescence? Well, I don’t. I swear, as soon as I see the “Welcome to Alberta” sign on the highway, my lips chap, my throat closes up, my eyes and nose dry out, and my hair is suddenly electrified with static cling. I suffer from nose bleeds, incredibly scaly hands and skin, my face starts peeling off, and my body begs for hydration. I wake up in the mornings nearly suffocating from dryness, and my first instinct is to rub the insides of my nostrils, my mouth, my tongue, my eyeballs, and my entire throat with coconut oil. It’s so dry in Calgary!

The Three Sisters, captured fuzzily on film together for the first time since 2008! From left to right: The Pretty One, The Nerdy One, and The Creative One. (My face is flushed with allergic reactions to everything.)

Lily and Auntie Dana! Note flushing on face and forehead peeling off with a vengeance. (Mine, not hers.)

There we were in Calgary, Alberta– stressed, anxious, tired, square-assed, and choking on dryness. We were totally down, so to speak, so do you think our bodies were primed to be kicked whilst we were there? Completely. We received a pretty brutal ass-kicking from bronchitis.

Me 'n' my dad. He's nearly a foot taller than I am and tries to compensate for this by crouching down uncomfortably. I am also wearing modest heeled boots in this shot.

Marty has been much harder hit with congestion, inflamed lungs, and coughing than I have. I’m still under the weather, though– enough to have missed my beloved Zumba and Turbo Kick classes at the Y. (The sadness of it all is crippling, I know.) We have been drinking copious amounts of tea and eating mostly soups and stews since we got back to Victoria. So in the spirit of Getting Well, I’m offering you all my recipe for Greens ‘n’ Garlic Soup. It’s the perfect blended soup for when you’re sick (crank up the garlic and cayenne pepper- yum!), or you can mute the flavours when you’re healthy. Either way, it’s nutritious and delicious. Enjoy!

The only photo I have of this soup in progress.

Green Garlic Soup

You Will Need:

– 1 Tbsp coconut oil or other cooking oil

– 1 medium to large onion, coarsely chopped (the size of the pieces does not matter, as this soup will be blended before serving)

– 4-5 small yellow potatoes, unpeeled, washed and sliced into coins approximately 1/3″ thick (for speed of cooking)

– 2-5 cloves of garlic, or to taste, peeled and chopped coarsely

– 2 Tbsp tomato paste

– 3-4 stalks of celery, washed and chopped

– 1 head curly green kale, washed and chopped coarsely. Discard thick stems.

– 1 head collard greens (or other greens like mustard, swiss chard, etc.), washed and chopped coarsely. Discard thick stems.

– 6-8 cups of broth or water

– sea salt and black pepper to taste (I like a lot of both)

– cayenne pepper to taste

How To Make It:

– In a large stock pot, melt coconut oil over low heat and saute onions (covered) for 5-10 minutes, or until just translucent.

– Add potato medallions to the pot along with 1 cup of broth or liquid. Cover the pot and increase heat to medium.

– Stir potatoes and onions occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pot.

– Add garlic, tomato paste, and more broth/liquid if needed. Continue cooking, covered, over medium heat until potatoes are just tender. (Test with a fork.)

– Add celery and 1 more cup of broth as needed. Cover and cook for 5 minutes (or until celery begins to get tender.)

– Add chopped kale and collard greens. Add seasonings to taste and increase heat to high. Leave pot uncovered.

– Add remaining broth to stock pot. Liquid should come close (within 1 or 2″) to the top of the pot– add extra water if needed. Keep in mind that the soup will be blended before serving, and the final consistency should not be too thick (like mashed potatoes) or too runny (like water!). If in doubt, err on the side of Too Thick so you can add water later. Making a soup too thin is more difficult to recover from.

– When liquid has been brought to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cover pot and leave soup on low heat for 30 minutes.

– After 30 minutes have elapsed, take cover off of pot and blend soup before serving. (I use my trusty Braun Hand Blender, which is the greatest invention known to man. It blends my soup up right in the pot, so I don’t need to pour it out into a regular blender like a chump. A Hand Mixer is one of my most recommended kitchen appliances– I use mine ALL THE TIME.)

– Blend soup until smooth and silky. Adjust seasonings to taste if needed before serving– if you are sick, pump up the garlic and cayenne pepper. If not, do whatever you like with the spices! 🙂

Makes a giant pot of soup. Marty and I have been eating our soup for days now. As with most soups, this one keeps tasting better as the days go on. Enjoy!

13 responses

  1. Awe. Makes me never want to visit Calgary! 😉 I have been once on a bus tour when I was in high school. Bus tour. Bad. Chinese bus tour. Even worse.

    I love your stories, however, you must tell me where you Mom got that art piece of the old Woodward’s building/logo/thingy! That is MY childhood! 😀

    • I’m not a big fan of buses in general, and bus tours are even worse! Whizzing past everything without even getting a chance to stop or step outside. Blech!! Blurry photos taken through dirty bus windows: Double blech!!

      That old Woodward’s art piece was custom made for my mom by a designer from Calgary, actually. Her initials are “V.V.”, so the designer split up the old W into two V’s. SHE LOVES IT! Maybe he has other prints of it, though– I can ask her for more details and report back once I know.

    • Thanks for sweeping the blame all across my fine country, Tori! Really appreciated! 😉

      I’m actually going to blame Russia for everything: the lack of sleep, the square asses, the stress, and especially the bronchitis. Seems more appropriate for some reason. *Oh, those Russians!* (say in Boney M. voice)

      (And now I will have that “Ra-ra-Rasputin!” song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Perfect. Just perfect.)

  2. I’m with Tori–sounds like a Canadian issue to me! Ha, ha!

    You know what’s really sad, Dana? I have been lots of exotic place in the world–India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. But I have never been to Canada! Isn’t that sad!

    Seriously, I think I would love Canada!

    Not in Haiti anymore 😦

    • That IS sad! Canada is a great country, and I’m especially partial to British Columbia (where I live… I’m a bit biased!) I should do a photo post about Victoria one day, because it’s such a picturesque city. The ocean, historical buildings, cherry blossom trees, flowers and green grass all year round… Sigh. I love living in Victoria! All of Canada is amazing, though– even Calgary is AOK on its better days. Haha.

      When you do visit Canada, make sure you don’t come by Greyhound. And try not to come during the winter unless you like cold weather. 🙂

  3. I simply cannot let your ‘nerdy’ self-descriptor in the sisters foto go unchallenged.
    The far more appropriate term for you would be ‘geeky’.
    It had to be said.

    • This is true, Dean. I’m aware that I use the term ‘geeky’ far too often in reference to myself, so being the true geek that I am, I pulled out ye olde thesaurus today and chose the synonym ‘nerdy’ this time around. 😉

  4. Did I tell you my Dad’s from Alberta and we’re having a throw down- I mean family reunion- in Edmonton over the summer? I love Canada- it’s where I developed my very first addiction- to salt and vinegar chips….Hope you’re better!

    • YAY, Canada!!! And a half-assed hurrah for Edmonton in particular! 🙂 Did you love ketchup chips, too? Those were my favourite when I was little. Mm-mmm!!

  5. I totally notice the cold air when I go home to the prairies for visits. But the thing that gets me the MOST is the hard water. It irritates my skin and make me hair dry out like crazy!
    That SUCKS that you guys are sick. We have to make that one last date for Spinnakers for a beer before you get down to the harbour!

    • I know! The Spinnakers date will motivate us both to get better ASAP. That, and the fact that we need to be well to actually start working at the Harbour again. 😉

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