Stomach Ache in the Time of Covid

It’s been widely noted that, since this time last year, people have turned to the comforts of cooking. Bread making seems to have become a favorite. For me, it’s been all kinds of desserts for which I blame this blog.

Desserts are my batten whenever life proves unnerving. Any kind will do, I don’t care, just so long as it’s buttery, sweet, richly flavored. There’s something delightful even in the most imperfect messes.

My doctor took note of my bloated stomach during a yearly visit a few months ago. The fact that my waistline appeared to have crept up to somewhere under my heart seemed to me to be a normal, yet still disheartening, descent into that bizarre period of life when your pants become hitched up right below your arm pits. He found that excuse hilariously not the case and ordered a bunch of tests. He texted me when the results came back. The insides looked normal but he still had a question.

“Exactly what have you been eaten?”

I told him the usual things from the five food groups in appropriate portions. He didn’t believe it and ordered me to keep a diary then come back to him in two weeks. His exact response when I showed it to him was, “CHEESE CAKE! CREAM PUFFS! PIE!.” It was an occupational hazard, I cried. It’s the friggin’ blog! He thought that was equally hilariously not the case and handed me a printout for something called the low FODMAP diet. But I did a post audit when I came home. From March 2020 to last month, more than half the recipes given were for desserts–33 to be precise. Unsurprisingly, November through January top the charts at 9.

I’ve tried following the FODMAP guide and have found a lot of good recipes to help. Intellectually, I know I should keep doing it but, emotionally, I feel that life isn’t worth living without butter, gluten-packed breads, muffins, and pasta and everything that’s lactose rich. What’s been helping out a lot is a bunch of old-fashioned treatments such as the glass of water mixed with pulverized fresh ginger.

I suspect there’s a bunch of people out there who are suffering as much as I am and may well benefit from these sensible and simple recipes to console an out-of-sorts stomach. It’s very tempting to not eat when you are in pain but you must to keep your spirits and strength intact. Therefore, the guiding principal of these recipes is to be enticing, light, and nutritious. As expected of me, the three below may double as desserts, a trick I’m playing on myself to be less depressed about not being able to eat everything I want.

Berry Gelatin

Yes, this is fancy Jell-O. That’s the point.

1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup fresh strawberries or raspberries

Dissolve the gelatin in the water. Press the berries through a fine sieve to remove as many seeds as possible. Add pulp to the gelatin water. Serve hot or slightly warm, or chill it for a fancy Jell-O effect.
Makes 1 serving.

Oatmeal Gruel

Don’t be put off by the title. This provides a very welcoming warmth.

1 cup water or almond milk (or half of each combined)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons good, non-sugar oatmeal

In the top of a double boiler and place directly on the burner. Bring the liquid and salt to a boil and stir in the oats. Cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Place the pan over the bottom of the boiler is which water is gently simmering and cook for an additional one hour. Check every now and then to be sure the oats are sticking and burning on the bottom.

You may strain the gruel through cheesecloth for a more smooth consistency or leave as is. Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or a tiny amount of ginger or another flavor jelly to flavor.
Makes 1 serving.

Tapioca Jelly

Hardly anyone I know seems to like tapioca because they’ve never tasted the real thing. This recipe, however, has changed minds. It will help indigestion and has been known to ease the restless into a good night’s sleep.

1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup tapioca
1/3 cup sugar
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sherry or 1 tablespoon of brandy

In the heavy bottom pot, bring the water to the boiling point and add the tapioca. Stir to mix well. Let cook until slightly thicken then remove from heat. You can strain it through a fine sieve if you want a smooth jelly or leave it as is.

Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir well. Let cool then add the wine or brandy. Pour into serving cups and refrigerate to set.
Makes 2 servings.

Extra Bonus Section!

My favorite dessert recipes from the past year!

Recipe Monday! Jonesing for Lemon Meringue Pie

Recipe Monday’s Pudding Recipes for a Tough Week

Angle Food Turkey Platter Cake

A Fig Story

What Does It Mean to Be As American As Apple Pie?

The Cream Puff Offense

Banner credit: The Faint, Pietro Longhi, c.1744