So, none of us have been well.
The Professor succumbed first, last week. He felt perfectly fine, the night before, but by morning he couldn’t hardly crawl out of bed, canceling classes as a result. In the fifteen years we’ve been married, he’s canceled classes only a handful of times, testament partly to his hardy constitution, but mainly to his ability to stave off illness until grades are turned in or the holiday begins. By now, Exam Week, he is upright enough to grade madly, crippled only by long, deep coughing fits.
Princess stumbles downstairs, eats a little breakfast, and retreats back to bed, complaining of a sore throat. She revives midmorning and moves onto the couch, where she lapses into what I call a reading coma, rousing herself once to exclaim, “Old Timothy is his father…? I didn’t see that coming!” By midafternoon I can’t tell if she is actually sick or simply engrossed in the latest escapades of the Incorrigibles.
Duchess has what we call a cold in her eyes, which the pediatrician says is perfectly normal – or at least not an indicator of a serious problem. But her hair is sticky and tangled with what is either pancake syrup from dinner last night, or crusts of mucous from overnight. Or both. Definitely, this child needs to sleep in a nightcap. And pull her hair back at the table.
Jester’s anxiety levels ratchet upward to untenable, unbearable levels. He is either convinced we are all dying – which, to be honest, it feels like we might be – or coming down with something himself. Given the rate at which he sucks snot back up into his nose, the latter is quite possible. However, his sensory integration issues leave him unaware of his body’s signals to slow down, rest, recover, and so he continues to race, frenetically around the house, bouncing from one foot to the other, and speaking in a high, infantile voice. It would never occur to him to relax on the couch with a book. Here, blow your nose. With a Kleenex.
Dr. the King seems like the last man standing – except his mouthy attitude and his total inability to resist distraction. I know he will be sick, blowing his nose constantly, motoring through Kleenex box after Kleenex box, within twenty-four hours. He complains, frequently, loudly, about Jester’s excessive sniffling – which, yes, okay is gross. But, you know, you don’t have to blow your nose constantly. Give it a couple of minutes to collect. In the afternoon I catch him reading, almost reading, parked on Page 11 of a Magic Tree House book for fifteen minutes at a time, meditatively moving a Hot Wheels car back and forth. Hot… Wheels…
Yes, the cold is coming for this one. The cold is coming. Just you wait.
And me, yes, me also. I have the first stages of a serious head cold, weepy eyes and runny nose. I’ll have a headache, vertigo, and sneezing fits soon.
Definitely, it’s an afternoon for a brownie.
I feel I must tell the Professor first, even though he is really more of an enabler than an accountability partner. He eats Brie and crackers before bed, borrows Famous Amos cookies and Starbucks Frappuchinos (the ones in a bottle) from his mother, who has cheerfully continued to buy him treats during the entire course of our marriage. And given the fact that it’s Exam Week, I’m almost positive he has a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips in his office.
When I tell him I’m going to eat a brownie, he jumps in his chair as if someone poked him with a freshly sharpened pencil. “We have brownies?” he exclaims. “I didn’t know we had brownies! Can I have one?”
We eye each other for a moment. I decide to respond to the first half of his statement. “They’re the foil-wrapped packets in the freezer,” I explain.
He nods, conceding potential defeat. “I was wondering what those were.” To be fair, there are many mysteries in our refrigerator, some known to nobody.
On the way to the kitchen I press my hand on Dr. the King’s shoulder. He is deeply immersed in a computer game, practicing his math facts. If I’m going to extricate him, I have to give him some warning. “I’m going to defrost a brownie,” I tell him. “When that’s done, we’re going to have a Grammar lesson.”
“A brownie!” he practically shouts. I have his immediate attention, unusual when he is playing. “Can I have one?”
“They’re the zucchini brownies,” I remind him. The reason we have so many left over is because the children helped me make them, and thus discovered they had zucchini in them. Then I had an entire pan to myself, and, in an unusual burst of self-control, I decided to freeze most of them.
“Oh,” he replies, deflating a little and turning back to his game. I can tell he thought about taking a no-thank-you bite and then reconsidered.
I rummage through the freezer. Somehow it seems there’s been a lot of churn through there lately, and nothing has a particular place and most things aren’t in the same place twice. I pass over a two-pound bag of corn I can’t remember why I bought, three boxes of chopped spinach that’s been there since before my sister died, a Tupperware full of a mystery red substance – possibly marinara sauce – and several loaves of bread with just the heels remaining. It seems wasteful to throw away the heels even though nobody eats them, and I’m always just about to come up with a great recipe for bread heels, but never get around to it.
Finally I find the zucchini brownies – or actually the zucchini muffins. I made some of each, because there’s always more zucchini than one needs. The muffins are round, not square, and I put all of the muffins in one gallon Ziploc bag, and all the brownies in another.
Then I find the zucchini brownies.
Or – brownie, as the case may be.
“There’s only one brownie left!” I call over the bar into the dining room. Dr. the King doesn’t look up from his game. The Professor shrugs, picking up another paper. “You can have it, dear,” he replies. He knows what kind of day I’m having, and how badly I want the brownie.
He knows I’m not in the mood for sharing, although I confess I do break off some of the white chocolate chip crust coating for Dr. the King, once we are tucked into our Grammar lesson.
And, here, I don’t mind sharing the recipe with you.
They’re good for days when everybody’s sick.
recipe from Simply In Season
(yields: one 13×9-inch pan of brownies)
1 c. flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 c. zucchini, shredded
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I used milk)
1/2 c nuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine dry ingredients (flour, wheat flour, baking cocoa, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl.
Stir in the shredded zucchini.
In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients (egg, sugars, yogurt, oil and vanilla). Once combined, add
the wet ingredients to the zucchini/flour bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour batter into a GREASED 13×9-inch pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips (and nuts if using) on top of the
Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.