Two months after we moved in, I have an oven. I found it on Craigslist, paid the seller to drop it off for us and we installed it ourselves. It was new-the-the box, purchased six months ago by a family that was gathering bits and pieces for an updated kitchen before the husband lost his job. In a rare moment of prudence, I kept my mouth shut about the indignancies of my having missed the highlights of rhubarb season.
So why am I not burning through Washington’s butter reserves in a baking equivalent of a shark attack? Well, let me tell you. I got a flu. Or maybe a cold. Or maybe both at once. Suffice to say: I am pretty sure it is the Andromeda strain.
Even if I had a passing interest in food, I can’t taste. I can’t smell. I tried to eat a banana yesterday and it was like eating a stick of paste. I missed a lot of work last week, and slept even less than I worked. I will have bitchin’ abs by this time next week, because the incessant, full-body coughing certainly feels like I’ve been doing sit-ups for a hundred hours straight. Last night I resorted to internet urban legend because that is where I am at for ideas at this point (I thought it worked! But then I woke at 5am this morning with even more unsoothable, even rougher coughing than yesterday). This hasn’t been an oh-I-was-sick-and-am-still-recovering-a-week-later. This is I HAVE BEEN REALLY SICK FOR A WEEK. Every day I get up and think, today is going to be the day I walk it off. And then I get a short ways into some task like showering or drinking a cup of coffee, and I start to shake with exhaustion and cough violently and resort to a little lie-down that soon becomes a moaning plea to the universe to just let me die.
I made the Six Lonesome Muffins recipe the first morning we had the oven. I had to bake something, and had few ingredients in the house. The recipe calls for butter, but I don’t have a microwave to soften it and in desperation and exhaustion used 1/2 cup of canola oil instead. I also realized that I didn’t have any baking powder, having intended to buy a fresh one when I moved. I used an old-fashioned substitution trick of mixing two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda instead of the powder, and while it seems to have worked, I still recommend using actual baking powder. Instead of chocolate chips, I diced up some ancient, shrivelled strawberries from my fridge. It’s not the triumphant pie I thought I was going to bake when we finally got an oven, but it’s still pretty triumphant considering that when my mom advised me to use 12-hour Afrin¹, I asked her “How often should I use it?”
¹My mom worked in otolaryngology for almost 20 years – treatment of conditions of the ears, nose and throat – and left with me a lingering terror of using Afrin. More than 3 days of Afrin use causes rebound congestion, wherein after the original cause for the swelling is gone the tissue will swell up as bad if not worse once the Afrin is stopped. Continued Afrin use can lead to permanent swelling of the sinuses and permanent loss of the sense of smell. That being said, Afrin is the #1 most effective aid in stopping bloody noses and is handy to have in the emergency kit for that reason alone. Also, if you haven’t been able to sleep in a week because of congestion, it’s amazing what one night of clear breathing and deep sleep can do for the psyche. Unless you’re also coughing, in which case you’re fucked.June 3rd, 2012 | Drama!