“I sound like Darth Vader,” I moan to my husband. “What?” he says as he puts the newspaper down. “I sound like Darth Vader. I can hear myself breathing.” As I sit there listening to my loud, rattling breathing and contemplate whether to say, “Luke, I am your father,” my husband looks at me and just shakes his head. My nose is chapped and red and I have flat, lopsided, bed-hair. I remind him, “You said for better or worse, remember?”
Supposedly there are over 200 viruses that cause the common cold and, according to Wikipedia, adults average two to four infections a year and children average up to six to twelve infections a year. I’m in the throes of the first cold I’ve had in over two years, so I guess I’m not average. But whether it’s due to the cold itself or the groggy side effects of the cold medications or maybe a combination of both, I’m feeling a little nostalgic and crave two comfort items from my childhood:
1. A tall glass of 7-Up or ginger ale placed on my night stand is a must to quench my parched mouth during the night. But the most important part of this ritual is the use of a straw. When I was a kid, my mom always put a straw in my drink to make it easier to sip it during the night. Because I deem my mom as all-knowing, a straw is an essential element to my recovery. Basically, the only time straws are pulled out of the drawers in my house, is when someone is sick.
2. When my siblings and I were kids and were sick, my mom would make baked egg custard from scratch. It was the only good thing about being sick and is among my best comfort food memories. I looked forward to getting those little Pyrex custard cups filled with golden egg custard, lightly browned on the edges and sprinkled with nutmeg in the center. It was a smooth and nourishing treat that slid deliciously down my throat.
Since I’m battling a nasty rhinovirus right now, I’m sending my husband out to buy milk. Nothing will make me feel better than a bowl of my mom’s baked custard. And because the cold and flu season is approaching, I’m sharing her recipe with you.
Mom’s Egg Custard
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
Beat all ingredients, except nutmeg, together well. Pour into 4 custard cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Place cups into a baking pan. Pour hot water into the pan halfway up around the custard cups. The water level should be at the same level as the top of the custard. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serves 4-6, depending on the size of the ramekins or custard cups.