Saturday, January 20, 2007

Life's an itch and then you scratch

I went through a Nancy Drew phase when I was about six, but since then, I've never been one for mysteries. Especially those involving my body. So you can imagine my rapture when the skin just below my throat erupted in an angry red rash last month. It disappeared after a week, and I went back to living crankily ever after.

Until it returned last Sunday, madder than a hornet, itching like chiggers (which it is NOT) and in the exact same place and pattern.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what's causing it. Nothing's changed; it's nowhere else on my body, and I didn't take up any weird culinary habits in either period. I'm just dotty. And I'm not liking it.
I have finally distributed the last of our holiday gifts, and I'm glad. Now to finish up my thank you notes. This is my annual January closure bender. I cleaned out my closet today. Turned out I had a Real Simple magazine from 2005 cluttering things up. Not exactly taking its advice, was I? Tomorrow I tackle Mount Laundry, and if I don't wilt before it's over, I'll either make French lentil soup or pasta bolognese. Hmmm.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mmm, mmm, migraine

There is a dirty little secret in my culinary closet: when I am feeling vulnerable or lazy, I will sometimes revert to my childhood table for comfort. Growing up, we were four hungry kids in the sticks, with a massive vegetable garden and a mother who didn't like driving, especially on the ice, with the four of us squalling in the backseat.

So there were several meals that relied on Campbells Soup: as a flavoring, a binder, a stretcher, whatever. Though all four of us now prefer much loftier stuff in public, we'll all swoon for tater tot casserole in a heartbeat. (I'm the family deviant because I make mine with cream of celery and ground chicken.)

Now that I'm grownup with fancy schmancy All-Clad pans and a penchant for anything produced by Ina Garten, I only unfurl the red and white cans a few times a year. A recent craving for Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole called for a can of cream of chicken soup; and the last time I made Alpo (sorry, mom, it's not beef-and-rice to us), I woke up with a pounding ax in my head at 4 am. Imagine your worst migraine, and then triple it.

The agony couldn't be softened with drugs or sleep, so I sat there wondering just what I'd done to deserve it. My migraines all but disappeared when I whacked paprika out of my diet, but there I was, flashing lights, aura, and agony, and it hit me: Campbells Soup.

Sure enough, when I checked the labels: MSG. Even in the healthy versions. What the hell is wrong with these people? Whose idea was it to lace perfectly mediocre canned soup with chemical flavor enhancers? Why salt the salt?

I guess it's roasted veggies and healthy bits for me from now on.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

P is for ____________, that's good enough for me

I don't feel much like writing, but I feel I should. How's that for self-inflicted nonchalant guilt?

It feels like half the planet is either puking and pooping or hacking its brains out. I'm doing neither, but for a while yesterday I felt like I'd landed in the swamp. My doctor's office was filled with people who were either coughing up small animals or looking vastly uncomfortable and begging for the bathroom every 12 minutes.

It made my little issue feel downright silly.

In other P bits, I made pea soup today. It was thick and filling. Needed salt. Don't care.

If I could harness today's emotions, I'd have something. But tonight, I just want to shut the hell up.