By Bonnie Fishman / San Francisco Bay Area
The classic 1973 Bob Dylan song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” has been playing in my head for a few days now. Why? For the whole pandemic, I’ve been anxiously waiting for the dreaded diagnosis. Well folks, Covid knocked knocked knocked on MY door Tuesday, September 20. Hello there, you have arrived! Several months ago, if that red line had appeared on the at-home test,” I would have freaked out. Yesterday, not so much. Ho-hum, who hasn’t had Covid?
I was doomed even though we barely leave the house, I’m always masked when I go out, and I’ve had all but one booster shot. This is a case of relatives bringing the lovely virus to me during their visit on September 15 for the weekend. They feel terrible about it, I’m taking it in stride.
The lyrics of Dylan’s song are really referring to someone dying, about to enter heaven. I think they’re appropriate when you actually have a bad case of the virus. You kind of want to die. My head is splitting, I ache, I have a hacking cough, my ears hurt. I happen to have a suppressed immune system. My doctor said if I got Covid, it wouldn’t be pretty. No kidding!
Culinarily, I wouldn’t call this quarantine my finest hour for eating. The past two nights have been cereal and bananas, rotating between Cheerios and Raisin Bran, for dinner. Daytime: coffee and Mandelbrot. This is about all I can manage, caffeine and carbs, my comfort foods. I have strayed from my normal good eating habits and have sunk to the bottom of the acceptable barrel.
Last night wasn’t too bad. I actually slept! Today, four days later, I have a little spring in my step again. Geez, Paxlovid, that antiviral, really did the trick. So maybe getting the virus hasn’t been so bad, except for having to cancel everything I had planned for two weeks: my Friday afternoons of meditation with the Thai monks, great seats at the theater in San Francisco to see To Kill a Mockingbird, Rosh Hashanah dinner with my family, dentist and doctor appointments. No swimming or shopping. Isolation once again.
However, something quite astounding just happened! My husband, Bob, has been isolating in another bedroom. He stumbles out of bed complaining of a terrible sore throat. Oh no! Does HE have Covid again?? I hover over his shoulder watching and waiting as he does his at-home test. Negative, he happily proclaims.
Yikes! The light bulb goes on. I misread my Covid results from my test taken two days ago!! I’m negative too! I erroneously thought the red line under the C meant you have it. Au contraire. READ THE DIRECTIONS! Duh!
Yes, I just had a bad cold, which is what my sister-in-law and brother-in-law found out that they had too. Alas, not reading directions is a family trait on my mother’s side. My sister Nancy and my two kids are the same way. If we read them, something goes awry anyway. This time it really went off the rails!
The downside of my error? One, I canceled out my next week of appointments unnecessarily. Two, I’m taking an antiviral which tastes like the contents of a coin purse. Three, I feel like a fool. My kids got a good chuckle. That’s okay, I’ll recover from this mistake. My husband happens to read every word of every instruction sheet or booklet. He even reads the entire car manual upon purchasing a new vehicle. Bob can’t believe he married me!
For all of you who are ailing from a bad cold, or allergies, the flu, or even a real case of Covid, consider having someone make soup for you. I really like this one today as it is brothy, vegetarian, and has carbs. It whips up fast with very little effort. (The only catch is that I found it necessary to go to an Asian grocery store to buy the ingredients. You may find yourself in the same bind unless your local supermarket carries more unusual selections.) Put in any fresh vegetables that you want for variety. If you want to make this as easy as possible, skip putting the egg in or poach the egg separately. Cooking it in the broth at the last minute is a bit of a shuffle. Just sayin’.
Let us know here at The Insider if you really read instructions. If not, we’d love to hear about any mishaps you may have had. I certainly had mine!
Author’s Note: I know that millions of people have had the virus and over a million Americans have died from it. I am not making light of all those who have suffered, are suffering, or have lost a loved one. I’m simply coming from a personal perspective of my own experience and how I manage life’s many bumps in the road. I also mistakenly thought I had Covid when there are good booster shots and vaccines to keep the illness at bay. I feel fortunate for science and my ability to obtain these medicines, which have helped me to avoid an actual positive result.
Japanese Dashi Udon Noodles with Shiitake
Yield: 4 servings
2 oz. dried shiitake mushroom caps
2 oz. dried dashi (sea kelp)
2 c. bonito flakes
3 qt. water
6 oz. udon noodles (or lo mein)
2 baby bok choy, sliced thin
1 medium poblano pepper, cored and seeded, sliced very thin
1 jalapeño pepper, cored and seeded, sliced very thin
4 scallions, sliced thin diagonally
1 large handful mung bean sprouts
8 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/2” x 1” squares
1 tsp. salt
1 scallion, sliced thin diagonally
mung bean sprouts
1 lg. egg per person (optional)
In a 5-6 qt. pot, put the mushrooms and the water. Bring to a boil; cover. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add the kelp and bonito flakes. Continue to cook for 15 minutes more.
While the mushrooms are cooking, bring a 3-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook only 5 minutes. Drain in a colander; rinse with cold water. Drain well. Reserve.
Strain the contents of the stock pot into another pot. Press the contents with the back of a spoon to extract all of the liquid. Discard the kelp. Slice up at least half of the mushrooms or to taste and return to the stock. Add the bok choy and peppers to the stock. After 2 minutes, add the scallions, sprouts, tofu, salt, and noodles. Bring to a boil.
Have ready 4 poached eggs, if using. Use tongs to distribute the noodles among four large soup bowls. Ladle on the broth and vegetables. Top with poached eggs. Garnish with remaining scallion, sprouts, and bonito flakes. Another option; distribute the noodles, top each bowl with a raw egg, ladle boiling broth over the egg, then the garnishes.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.