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Friendboy was feeling sick today, and spent most of the afternoon reading or napping and making sad, sick noises. I am a huge compassionate soft-hearted girl, so I offered to make him soup for dinner. I ran through a list of possibilities–tomato, carrot, bean and barley, pumpkin–but he didn’t have any preference, so I went with one of my favorite combinations, kale and great northern beans. I don’t usually make it with barley, but I wanted to get as much good healthy stuff into him as possible, so I tossed some in.

Kale and White Bean Soup (with Barley)
2 1/2 cups water (or broth)
2 cups shredded kale
1 cup canned great northern beans, rinsed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/4 sleeve of Gimme Lean vegan sausage, or about 3.5 oz of your preferred vegan sausage
1 vegan stock cube (I use Telva Kosher Vegetable broth cubes; omit if using broth instead of water)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Grease your hands with a little bit of oil or margarine, and form the Gimme Lean into small balls (about 1/4 inch or so each). If using another kind of vegan sausage, dice/cube/roll as you see fit. Heat 1T olive oil in a pot, and brown the “sausage.” When the sausage is browned, add the garlic and onions and let cook until onions are translucent. Stir in the kale–two cups will look like a lot, but it will shrink down–and the carrots, and add one cup of water. Cover and let sit over medium heat for a few minutes while the kale cooks down. Crush and add the stock cube. Add the seasonings and the beans and stir. Cover and let it cook down for another five minutes or so, then add the remaining cup and a half of water and the barley. Cover and let sit over low heat until the barley is cooked, about fifteen or twenty minutes. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Serves 2 as a main course, would serve 4 as an appetizer.

On the side were saltine crackers, plus ice water for Friendboy and orange juice for me.

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I had swine flu. No, really. It was very similar to the regular flu, except that I have asthma, and developed a lot of difficulty breathing because of it. I ended up on several different steroids, antibiotics, and expectorants to keep me from developing a secondary infection in my lungs. With all of these things together, I ended up not eating very much last week.

The night before I got sick, I had some friends over and I whipped together some Southern cooking for our dinner. Clockwise from the top left:  fried green tomatoes; fruit salad with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and red grapes; butterbeans with peppers and onions; and spicy cheddar grits (made with stoneground Anson Mills grits, which I LOVE–I will never go back to quick grits). The butterbeans were actually the hit component of dinner, everybody liked them.

And the next day, I had a 101-degree fever and a persistant cough, and cooking got put on the back burner for the week. All day every day from Monday to Saturday, I had herbal tea, vegetable broth, electrolyte drinks, and applesauce. My dinner every night was Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup with friendly little cheddar whales swimming about on top.

My first non-soup meal was on Saturday, just a straightforward bowl of couscous with peas and smoked tomato dressing. Very boring, no pictures. On Sunday I fixed myself a simple but tasty breakfast:  scrambled eggs with garlic, blueberries and raspberries, and Mayan Dark Chocolate “coffee.”

For my Sunday dinner, I braised a red cabbage that had been sitting in my fridge all week. I wanted to use it before it turned on me, and I had been planning to make a vinegary slaw for sandwiches, but I didn’t have anything else for sandwiches, so I threw together a carrot, a couple of cloves of garlic, and about 1.5 lbs of cabbage in a pan with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, onion broth, and some seasonings. It went into the oven at 325 degrees for two hours. On the side, I made smashed red potatoes with light Smart Balance and mushroom gravy and some steamed peas with garlic and salt. To round it out, I had a cup of unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon on the side.

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