Tuesday, 27 December 2016

December 2015: fever





December is unquestionably the most feverish month of the year. Which one of us does not feel their temperature rise when thinking of Christmas? 
Even those who take a relaxed view of the festivities in general, find something to get het up about. The crowds and the inescapable carols. The relentless cheer, dutifully punctuated by thoughts for those less favoured than ourselves.
Even if all this hoo-ha leaves you cold, you could do worse than prepare yourself by reading up on fever. Just in case some unfortunate might need your attention in the coming weeks!

Fever is always a symptom of an underlying health problem. When you are sick, your body employs defense mechanisms to rid itself of the virus, bacteria, toxin, or inflammation. Raising the temperature is one such mechanism. The warmer you are, the faster your immune system works to heal you. And virus and bacteria don’t like heat.  
We are used to seeing fever as an enemy: in fact it is a friend, and we fight it at our peril. [1] 

So what should we do instead of grabbing a tylenol? 
- drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- rest. Rest! Don’t force yourself into work out of a misplaced sense of duty. Rest will heal you faster, and everyone benefits.
- there are herbs you can take to promote sweating and get rid of toxins. Chamomile, thyme, sage and mint for instance. [2] 
- for children, a sponge bath may help bring the fever down a bit. “The biggest challenge is to keep children hydrated. Children that will drink fluids are usually safe using natural methods. ‘Dry’ fevers are dangerous as the child will not drink and this may necessitate going to the doctor.” [3]
- avoid anything with sugar, refined foods, caffeine and alcohol.

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To counteract all the festive cheer, you might like to read 'The dark side of clinical trials', see column on the right.


EAT:
Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.


PLANT:
Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken or newspaper) for protection, and so as to get them out easily.

DRINK:
As it is December, you might want to look at our tips for preventing and curing hangovers in last year's December issue. See archive on the right hand side. 

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RECIPES

For simple xmas recipes and websites for people on special diets, see December 2014 in the archive on the right hand side. 

CREAMY KOHLRABI SOUP
2 tblsp butter, ab 600g kohlrabi, 1 chopped onion, 1100ml water/stock, 100ml milk, 1 bay leaf, salt, black pepper.
Saute onions and cook gently until soft, 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook 2 mins. Add stock, milk, bay, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 mins or until kohlrabi is tender. Remove bay, blend, season. 

SEA BASS with APPLES (or other firm white fish grey mullet, pollack, snapper, grouper, coley)
This recipe originally adds honey, but I think it’s better without that. The result depends a lot on the quality of the apples, and tangy is best. 
4 apples - cored and cut into thin wedges, 14 tblsp butter, (2 tblsp honey), 60ml cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, ab. 480ml dried bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg, 4 fish fillets of ab.150g each.
Melt half the butter, fry apples until tender. (Stir in honey). Keep warm. Mix flour, salt, and pepper. Place crumbs in another shallow bowl, egg in another. Melt rest of butter. Dip fish in flour, egg, and crumbs. Place in hot pan, cook for 3-4 mins per side. The fillets should be brown and flake easily. Serve with the apples on top.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS + HAZELNUT BUTTER, serves 2. 
20g chopped hazelnuts, 20g butter, softened, 300g brussels sprouts, salt + black pepper.
Dry roast nuts until golden. Mix into butter. Boil sprouts in salted water for about 10 mins. Drain, mix with hazelnut butter, season.

CREAMY SHREDDED CAVOLO NERO with MUSTARD
300g shredded cavolo nero (or kale), 1 tbsp oil, 1 sliced onion, 140ml double cream, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard.
Cook cavolo for 6-8 mins till tender, drain. Meanwhile fry onion for 4-5 mins. Add cream and mustard. Stir in cavolo nero and heat through, season. 

LEEKS with CREME FRAICHE (or sour cream) 
Sautee leeks until softened, added some stock and cook it all down for about 20 mins. Season. Add a tiny pinch of sage, and stir in some crème fraîche. Adding more stock and crème fraîche would make this recipe more of a sauce  – a good topping for pastas.

CURRIED SQUASH and WINTERGREENS
ab. 300g clean squash meat, 4 tblsp butter, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp garam masala or curry powder, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cinnamon or cardamom, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tblsp oolive oil, (cayenne), ab. 250g cleaned greens: kale, chard, etc.; 2 tblsp water.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease large baking sheet. Mix spices and salt, set aside. Peel squash, discard seeds. Chop into 1-2cm cubes. Melt 2 tbsp butter, add spices and sauté for 2-3 mins until the flavours release. Don’t let it smoke!
Turn off the heat, add squash, mix well. Spread this evenly onto a greased baking sheet - keep the spicy pan for reuse. Bake squash for ab. 10 mins at 200°C. Take out, stir, and put back for 10-15 mins until soft and starting to brown.
Meanwhile, wash and chop greens. Melt 2 tblsp butter in spicy pan, add 2 tblsp of water. and sauté until done. If they start to stick, add a a bit more. When the greens are done, add squash, stir in lightly. Serve.

SWEDE and COCONUT DAAL serves 4-6
Good with for instance whole roast pheasant, but we had this with just boring cooked potatoes and green veg and loved it. If you haven’t got some of the ingredients just use your fantasy, but the coconut milk is essential.
240ml lentils (pref. brown or green), 200g finely diced swede, carrot or squash, 1 diced onion or 6 chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, 2 bay leaves, 1 chilli, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 mug of coconut milk, 3 mugs of water, 1 lime or lemon, zest and juice, handful of toasted dessicated coconut and/or almonds, large handful of fresh coriander, sea salt, pepper.
Saute diced veg, season and sizzle till just softened and starting to colour up a bit. Add bay, chilli and cinnamon. Stir in the lentils, onion/garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander seed. Pour in coconut milk and water, cover. Simmer for 45 mins or till the liquid is absorbed into the lentils. Stir every so often. Add a little more water when needed. Taste, add more spices if you like. Season. Finish with a hit of lime/lemon zest, the juice, toasted coconut and/or almonds and fresh coriander. 

VERY NICE AFTER-XMAS PUD
leftover xmas pudding, (leftover) custard, clementines/oranges, double/whipping cream, flaked and toasted almonds, finely grated orange zest, cinnamon, (brandy).
Share out the pudding over the right number of glasses, or put in a large glass bowl. Peel citrus and slice into rings. Arrange these on top, sprinkle over some cinnamon. Put the custard on top of that. Whip the cream and add brandy or sugar if you wish. Just before serving, scatter almonds and zest on top.





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[1] There are exceptions. When a fever is caused by an overdose of, for instance, insulin, i.e. artificially, it can be dangerous. See http://www.karenhurd.com/pages/healthtopics/specifichealthconcerns/ht-shc-fevers.html

Next month: PLAY!!!