Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: 'I'm Sick, Make Me My Dinner!'

I'm sick. I can't breathe. I can't smell. I can't see straight. I can't think straight. I sure as heck ain't cooking dinner for myself tonight.

Normally, I'm not the kind of guy who enjoys giving orders to his lovely wife, mostly because she's not the sort of girl who enjoys taking them, and I'm the kind of guy who learned long ago that harmony is more important than pecking order in a healthy, or at least not-seriously-ill marriage.

Being sick changes all that. I believe that at least a couple times a year, everybody has the right to say to their friend, parent, loved one, caretaker, or perhaps pet, "I'm sick, make me my dinner!"

Dear wife, here are my humble requests.

To Clear The Head: Chicken Soup

[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Yeah yeah, it's cliché, but honestly, what's better than great chicken soup aside from fishing and dog hugs? Not much I can think of. Sometimes I'm alright with the classic, Roasted Chicken Soup, which I make with leftover roast chicken (you can use picked meat from a supermarket rotisserie chicken just as easily). But more often than not, and especially when I'm sick, I'll opt for the curative effects of ginger and herbs in this Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup With Lime and Ginger.

To Fill The Belly: Marinated Kale and Chickpea Salad

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Vitamins, minerals, protein, and minimal work are all strong points for curative fare. I've heard that some people have, shall we say, digestive issues with raw brassica like kale, but I've never suffered from that affliction. I'll take my iron and thorium-packed kale marinated, please. There are plenty of great recipes out there, but I usually opt for this Marinated Kale and Chickpea Salad.

To Soothe The Mind: A Hot Toddy

[Photograph: Alice Gao]

Sore throats can be rough. I feel like my throat has developed an allergy to itself and is compensating by trying to run away in all directions simultaneously. I'd love to put a stop to that, but I've got a strange aversion to over-the-counter medicine. I don't like the way anti-cold meds make my head feel, and I hate the way throat-numbing sprays and drops make my throat and stomach feel. Instead, I prefer to self-medicate with lemon, honey, cloves, and oh, alright, a little nip of whiskey to soothe the nerves and calm the mind. Learn the basics of a Hot Toddy here, or check out three easy Hot Toddy variations.

To Numb The Throat: Clementine Sorbet

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Honey, I don't know if you realize that you already possess in your cast repertoire of skills the ability to make delicious ice cream (everyone has this skill!). I don't know if you even realize we have an ice cream maker with the bowl stored in the freezer at all times, ready to churn out a batch at moment's notice for times like this. These are two facts that, hopefully to your great joy and pleasure, you will soon discover. I humbly suggest that you celebrate this newfound knowledge by whipping up a batch of delicious Clementine Sorbet.

And, dear wife, if you refuse to do all of this, no worries. We can always order in some wonton soup.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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