I have something I need to literally get off my chest! People need to be aware that is is cold and flu season.
Recently, I have contracted bronchitis and it is not fun. Doctors say it is not contagious, but I don’t believe that. How did I get it then?
Lately, I have been very busy and have been to a lot of places. I am noticing that most people do not cover their mouths when coughing. Why people? You are spending germs we don’t want.
If you know that you are sick, please stay away from public places. This is how the domino effect happens.
I don’t normally get sick. But when I get busy and stay really busy for a while, I guess my immune system goes down. It shouldn’t with all the vitamins I take. But it happens. I am trying to stay in my corner and away from people, just in case.
I remember growing up we weren’t sick much. I may have missed five days of school in my life from being sick.
But think about this, As kids, we played in the dirt and got dirty. We didn’t have TV or video games to play.
Most kids don’t know what it means to get dirty and have fun outside. I remember my mom sending us outside and locking the screen door and telling us not to come in unless we need to go to the bathroom or it was time to eat. We made our own fun.
It is time to introduce our kids, and maybe some of you, to the outside. Get out and get some fresh air and as my grandfather would say, “Blow some stink off ya.”
It is time to put your phones down and shut off the TV. There is no excuse because the weather is great. The heat, for the most part, is gone. At the least, it is way down.
I can’t wait until my grandson gets to the age of playing outside. I will teach him a thing or two on what to do to have fun outside.
There is another thing we keep around while this season is happening, Airborne. We should own stock in that company. All kidding aside, Airborne does help to keep your immune system up when others are sick and they don’t think to cover their mouths.
One other thing. Please, please wash your hands. I know there are several that never do. Think about this, no one wants to be around or shake your hand after you went to the bathroom or picked your nose. You know most do both. Yup, it is gross, so stop! Now you will think twice before you shake someone’s hand from now on. Fist bumps and sanitize it is.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
one bunch of fresh broccoli (enough for a few cups of chopped tops)
2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese plus extra for topping
1 cup freshly grated gouda cheese (not smoked)
1 cup shredded carrots or extra, to taste
1 small white onion (about 2/3 cup or 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup half and half (or heavy cream) room temperature
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
3 TBSP butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt (will vary based on salt content of your stock/broth)
a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper to taste
First ze veggies: Chop em! Dice the onions super small, mince the garlic, shred the carrots if you didn’t buy pre-shredded. This can all be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge for later. For the broccoli, chop 2/3 of it into tiny florets [just cut off as much stem as you can and it’ll fall apart in the pot] and then take the remaining 1/3 and give it a rough chop so you have a few large pieces to add to the soup. Totally optional!
Add your veggie broth to a pot on medium-high heat, add your 2/3 of your broccoli [about 2 cups of florets] as well as your onion, garlic, carrots, and bay leaf. Simmer on medium, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender.
Once the broth is done, start your roux: In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, whisking constantly. Once melted, slowly add 3 tablespoons of flour as you continue to whisk.
For a thicker soup, use an extra tablespoon of each. I skipped it. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the broth from your veggie mixture [its okay if some of the veggies jump in along side it!] and stir to incorporate.
Next pour in the veggies and slowly stir in 1 cup of room temperature half and half.
Return to the burner on very low heat, uncovered.
Spoon out the bay leaf and season with the above herbs and spices, adding a little extra of whichever you like to taste. I personally adore the pinch of nutmeg in this soup but feel free to leave it out if it’s just not your cup of tea! The soup is great both ways! Depending on the saltiness of your broth, you might skip the salt entirely or prefer to add a bit more. Taste and tweak as needed after adding your cheese.
Oh yes: the cheese! Once the soup has warmed back up, stir in grated cheeses [slowly and in small batches] and remove from heat immediately. I won’t tell if you sneak extra cheese in your soup =)
That extra broccoli you left on the side? Blanch in boiling water, steam in your microwave, or basically cook it however you’d like, then stir that green goodness into your completed soup for great texture and an extra burst of broccoli.
Garnish with a little extra grated cheddar and a sprinkle of parsley and even a pinch of spicy red pepper flakes if you’d like! Anything goes!
Tina Specht is co-publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. She shares her thoughts and recipes each Thursday.