Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 11-12-12 |

Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 11-12-12

By the time you read this, the election will be over. Some folks will scream, cry and pull their hair out. Some will cheer, smile, brag and gloat. Many will heave sighs of relief (that the whole circus is over) so strong that trees will bend from the force of their exhalations.

To the rescue of either the winners or losers alike comes Tea and Porridges For The Sick or Distraught. These gems are medicinal tonics that will calm the hysterically disappointed, ease the over-excited and benefit the bowels. Culled from a late 1800s cookbook, the remedies are genuine, completely organic, politically impartial and guaranteed to work. Comments in italics are mine.


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One pound of lean beef cut into small pieces. Put into a glass canning jar. Do NOT add water. Cover tightly and set in a pot of cold water. Heat gradually to a boil and continue boiling steadily for three or four hours until the meat is like white rags and the beef juice is all drawn out. Season with salt to taste and when cold, skim. (Pour an ounce or two of Beef Tea into a glass containing three jiggers of brandy and drink anytime your gorge rises as you read reports, listen to pundits babble or watch TV commentators posturing’s).


Pour four tablespoons of the best grits (oatmeal coarsely ground) into a pint of boiling water. Let it boil gently and stir often till it becomes as thick as you wish. (The consistency of wet clay not advised). Then strain and add to it — while warm — butter, wine, nutmeg or any preferred flavoring. Salt to taste. (Top with two jiggers of Jack Daniels and two crème de cocoa. Like a Dickens character, you’ll ask for more!)


Beat the yolk of an egg with one tablespoon of sugar. Pour one teacupful of boiling water on it. Beat the white of an egg to a froth. Add to sugar mixture, then add any seasoning or spice desired (The Splendid Table chef suggests tequila with a twist of lime). Drink it warm.


1 large cupful of fresh milk. (New if you can get it). (Which means if you don’t own a milk cow, you must go to a dairy at milking time or else rope a wild bovine that’s come fresh).

1 cupful of boiling water.

1 teaspoon of arrowroot.

Wet to a paste with cold water.

2 tsps of white sugar.

Pinch of salt.

Put the sugar into the milk, the salt into the boiling water which should be poured into a farina kettle. Add the wet arrowroot and boil, stirring constantly until it is clear. Put in the milk and cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Take while warm, adding hot milk should it be thicker than gruel. (I have no idea how thick gruel should be, but I suggest the Julia Childs answer: “Everything goes better with gin.”)

Whether these therapeutic concoctions help soothe the soul depends on when, where and with whom you’re hanging out while quaffing. ❖

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