Tag Archives: home

Nimble Chef…my latest project

For the past year I’ve been working secretly on a really cool project with Iron Chef Cat Cora and the team that created her iPad app Cat’s Kitchen.  And since the project was officially announced yesterday, now I can share it with all of you!!!  It’s a revolutionary app called Nimble Chef, and it takes some of the best dishes from the country’s finest restaurants and chefs, and breaks them down for the home cook, so WE can all execute the kind of recipes used in Michelin-starred restaurants and from James Beard Award-winning chefs.  And we’re not the only ones who think it’s genius…Entrepreneur Magazine recognized us in their “100 Brilliant Companies” list in 2012!

This isn’t just an electronic cookbook.  It’s completely different.  You can assemble your own dinner party from a library of these world-class recipes.  The app will give you a shopping list.  And it can scale the recipes for however many people you are serving, whether it’s 2 or 20, so there’s no waste.  Then you tell it when you’re serving the dinner, and it schedules your cooking for you, even a few days out.  Say you’re going to serve at 8pm on Saturday.  On Friday evening the app will prompt you to make a couple of the sauces and some of the components for dessert.  It will effortlessly move you between tasks for ALL the recipes, it times everything for you, and if you get delayed, it will recalculate your estimated serving time so you can let guests know.

The role *I* played in the development of the app was in recipe adaptation, testing, and editing.  We get recipes from the best chefs in the country, but often they are just notes, and often they are in restaurant-sized quantities.  My job is to extract a recipe scaled for the home, test it in my kitchen using normal home-kitchen equipment, so that I know the potential pitfalls and risky spots in the recipe, and then edit the recipe so that complex techniques are very clearly explained…so ANYONE can execute the dish, even if they are new in the kitchen.

It may sound like an easy job, but even the entry of the information into the system is challenging.  It’s not like writing a cookbook at all.  Because the app is “smart,” I have to built relationships between tasks, so that the app knows which tasks have to be completed before other tasks can be started…and which tasks are not dependent upon others and can be done at any time.  I have to tell the app how long you can wait after performing a task before you absolutely have to start the next task for the recipe.  (Sometimes that’s a day or two…sometimes it’s less than a minute.)  This is how it can switch you between recipes and coordinate your cooking schedule to use your time most efficiently and still have everything ready at the instant you plan on serving!

After almost a year of development on my end, and 3 years of development by the whole team, the app has been released in the iTunes app store!  You can download it for FREE, and the app includes several free recipes from each of our featured chefs.  (And we’re not done…we have MANY more recipes and chefs we’ll be adding in future editions.)

So, if you’ve got an iPad, check out Nimble Chef.  Please rate it, and let us know what you think!  We want Nimble Chef to be THE resource for helping you and me to perfect our cooking skills and be able to execute fine-restaurant-quality cuisine right in our own home kitchens.  For updates, Like us on Facebook, or Follow us on Twitter @NimbleChef.  Please note that the iPad version is our beta, and once we get some feedback from those of you who use the iPad version, we’ll be releasing it for on the Android platform.  (I’m an Android nut, myself.)

How to Convert a Refrigerator for Curing Meat or Aging Cheese

WARNING: Working with electricity is dangerous. This article will teach you several ways to convert a refrigerator into a chamber for curing meat or for aging cheese.  (The same principles can be used to convert a refrigerator into a lagering chamber for making homebrew lager beer, or converting a chest freezer into a kegerator.)  If you choose the route that requires wiring, I cannot be held responsible for any damage to life or property should your wiring fail.  If in doubt, consult an electrician, and always obey local, state, and federal electrical codes when modifying the electrical connection for appliances.

Folks with a basement or cellar anywhere in the US (or most temperate climates) generally have the proper temperature and humidity range to cure meat simply by hanging properly salted meat in that basement or cellar.  (Though insects, mice, and wild molds can be a problem.)  The finest meats in the world are cured in centuries-old basements in Europe.  But for those of us without basements or cellars, curing our own meat requires a curing chamber that provides the ideal temperature and humidity range.

It’s fairly simple to convert an old refrigerator into such a chamber.  I got an old fridge on Craigslist for $50, but you can often find them in the free section if you’ll be patient and quick to respond once they are listed.  (If you transport a fridge on its side, rather than upright, you need to leave the fridge sitting upright, unplugged, for a couple of days, to let the coolant settle properly.)

The first object is to rig a rack system near the top of the fridge chamber, on which the meat will hang.  If you ever plan on curing whole hams, this rack may need to support fairly heavy weights (25-30 pounds per ham for a large one.)  If you’re just curing sausages, it may not need to be as strong.  If the fridge has wire racks, you may be able to just move the racks to the top of the fridge and hang the meat directly from the racks.  My fridge came with glass shelves, so I removed all the shelves.  I made my rack system out of aluminum from Home Depot.  I bought square tubes which anchor the racks on each end, and used an angle grinder to cut slots in the square tube so I can customize the distance between the racks:

I used a fast-setting epoxy to glue the square tubes to the walls of the fridge.  (Make sure they are level and even with each other!)  Then I just slid the bars into the slots, and placed some S-hooks over the bars to hang the meat.  This type of rack is sturdy enough to cure full-sized hams.

Wood may be easier to work with, but the conditions inside the curing chamber will be damp (around 65% humidity) which provides a perfect place for mold to grow, so I encourage you to avoid wood, if possible.  Get creative!

Once you have your fridge and rack system set up, you need 5 electronic components to convert the fridge into a curing chamber:

  • An external temperature controller/thermostat
  • An external humidity controller
  • A cool-mist/ultrasonic humidifier
  • A thermo-hygrometer (weather station)
  • A fan

The first two items are available on the internet in a wide range of prices, depending on how convenient you want the conversion to be.  The simplest units are plug-and-play.  You plug the controllers into any outlet.  You plug the fridge into the temperature controller and you plug the humidifier into the humidity controller.  You set the proper temperature and humidity ranges, you place the sensor probes into the fridge chamber, and you’re good to go.  Unfortunately, these units are the most expensive.  The plug-and-play temperature controllers range between $50 and $80, like this one on Amazon.  The humidity controllers range between  $50 and $100, like this one or this one.  If you’re not accustomed to electrical work, I strongly encourage you to spend the extra money and get one of these.

For those of you who are handy, there are some cheaper units now available that were designed for controlling temp and humidity in computer server racks, but they are bare-bones units and you’ll have to provide power (via a cord, or wiring them to an outlet), and make your own connections to the fridge and humidifier (either by direct wiring or hard-wire, or by wiring the controllers to outlets.)  The STC-1000 unit for controlling temperature costs about $25.  (Be cautious if you find it cheaper.  Cheaper units may ship from China and take weeks, and be certain you order the proper voltage for your country…in the US this is 110 volts.)  The WH8040 unit for controlling humidity costs around $35.  (Similar warnings for this unit, too.)

I’m going to explain how to hard-wire your fridge and humidifier directly to these units, because there are other articles out there on how to wire outlets to the units, and then plug in your fridge and humidifier.  That’s extra cost, to me, and requires that I construct a housing to hold the units and the outlets.  And I’m looking for the quickest route to efficiency.  Please note that local electrical codes may not like you to have exposed wiring connections.

Let’s start with the STC-1000 to control the temperature of the fridge:

The unit comes with wiring instructions translated from Chinese, and they’re completely useless.  So I’ve made a wiring diagram:

Hard wire the STC-1000 to a fridge

You will need to buy or re-purpose a power cord to power the unit.  The cord needs to be able to handle enough current to power the fridge, so don’t use a lamp cord!  If you use a grounded power cord, you can connect the fridge’s green grounding wire to the green wire of the power cord.  (If you use a 2-wire power cord, you will need to connect the green wire inside the fridge’s cord to the grounding screw on an outlet, or follow the alternate grounding procedure later in this post.)  Using a grounded power cord is preferable.  You will need to cut the plug off the refrigerator’s power cord and strip off the insulation from the hot, neutral, and ground wires.

Some basic electrical knowledge here for those of you who are unfamiliar.  A typical power cord contains a hot wire that carries the current to the device…a neutral wire that returns the current to the outlet, thus completing the circuit…and a ground wire that carries away dangerous electricity if there is a wiring failure inside the device, so that you don’t get shocked when you touch it.

The hot wire is always black.  The neutral wire is usually white…but if there’s no white wire, the neutral wire will be indicated by writing, markings, or ribbing along the cord’s insulation, so look or feel closely to determine which wire is the neutral wire.  The ground wire is either bare copper or green.

So the hot wire from your power cord needs to be spliced to two other short bits of black wire (called “pigtails”) that run to slots 1 and 7 on the STC-1000 unit.  Tape these wires together with electrical tape, and connect them securely with a properly-sized wire nut.  The neutral wire from your power cord needs to be spliced to a pigtail that runs to slot 2, and to the neutral wire on the fridge’s power cord.  The hot wire on the fridge power cord needs to run to slot 8 on the unit.  (The neutral wire on the fridge power cord has already been connected to the neutral wire from the main power cord, along with a pigtail to slot 2.)

When you get done, it’ll look kinda like this:

(You shouldn’t need a heater unit unless your curing fridge sits outside in a very cold climate, but if you do, a heating pad will generally work nicely.  To add a heater to the system, run a pigtail from the black power cord bundle to slot 5.  Run the heater’s hot wire to slot 6.  Connect the heater’s neutral wire to the neutral bundle.) 

The fridge MUST be grounded, or you risk electrocuting yourself when you touch the fridge if the wiring inside the fridge fails.  The grounding wire from the fridge can connect directly to the green or bare copper wire inside the power cord, if it’s a 3-prong cord.  If you’ve used a 2 prong power cord, like I did, you need to connect the fridge’s ground wire to the grounding screw inside a nearby electrical outlet, or you can take a regular 3-prong plug, remove the hot and neutral prongs, leaving just the grounding prong, and connect the ground wire to that prong:

Here I've removed the first prong from the plug.

After removing the other prong, I attach the ground wire from the fridge to the grounding screw.

I replaced the back of the plug and now I have a ground wire that plugs into an outlet, but draws no power, it simply grounds the fridge.

Now you need to plug in the power cord to an outlet.  (I bought a special extension cord that has 4 outlets on the end that will sit next to the fridge.  4 items will need to be plugged into the outlet.  You can also use a regular extension cord and a power strip.)  The STC-1000 unit will power up, and now you need to set it.

The following paragraph details instructions for setting the STC-1000, you can skip this unless you are actively setting the device right now:  Press and hold the S key for 3 seconds to enter the setting mode.  The first item that displays is F1, which is the temperature setting.  The unit is in Celsius, so you’ll have to do a quick conversion.  I keep my curing chamber in the low 60s Fahrenheit, so 18C is the corresponding setting.  To set the temp, press and hold the S key while pressing the up or down arrow until you reach the temperature that you want your curing chamber to remain.  Then press the power button once quickly to save the setting.  (The setting will remain even if your power goes out…it only resets to the default setting if you manually reset the device.)  The other settings don’t need to be modified unless you have problems later.  (F2 is the “Difference value” which tells the fridge when to turn on after the temperature rises a specific number of degrees above your setting.  The default setting is half a degree Celsius, which is fine as it is.  F3 is the “Compressor delay time” which gives the fridge’s compressor a result, because you don’t want it cycling on and off every 30 seconds.  The default setting is 3 minutes, which is fine.  F4 is the “Temperature calibration value” which is used if you discover your device isn’t accurate and you need to adjust it.  To switch between these values in the setting mode, press the S key multiple times until you arrive at the feature you need to change.  If, at any time during the setting process, you don’t press a key for 10 seconds, the device forgets what you’ve done and returns to its operation mode.  Don’t forget to press the power button once quickly to save your settings.)

Make sure to attach the temperature probe to slots 3 and 4 on the unit.  Then run the sensor probe into your fridge and make sure it’s not touching the walls, the racks, or the meat.  Now the STC-1000 unit will keep your fridge in the low 60s…the perfect temp for curing meat.

Now we need to address humidity.  Normal refrigerators run very dry, so you’ll need to add moisture to the chamber to keep it in the low 60% range.  We do this with a cool-mist humidifier, also called an ultrasonic humidifier.  (DON’T use a conventional vaporizer, which uses warm heat to evaporate the water.  This will raise the temp inside the chamber each time the unit comes on.)  Get yourself the largest-capacity humidifier you can afford, so you don’t have to refill the unit every few days.  The unit I’m using holds about 1 gallon of water.  It cost me $30 on Amazon and was fairly well reviewed.  (There is also a pig-shaped humidifier on Amazon, which is supremely appropriate, but the reviews aren’t as good.)

Place the humidifier in the bottom of the fridge and run the wire out the side of the door.  Cut the plug off the end of your humidifier and strip the insulation off the cords.  (Humidifiers don’t usually have a ground wire, just a hot and a neutral.)

Now we get out our WH8040 humidity controller:

We wire the humidifier to the unit using the following diagram:

The hot wire from the power cord connects to two pigtails, which are connected to slots 2 and 3 on the WH8040.  The neutral wire from the power cord connects to a pigtail to slot 4, as well as the neutral wire from the humidifier’s power cord.  And the hot wire from the humidifier connects to slot 1.  The WH8040 has 2 probes that it uses to calculate humidity…a temp probe which connects to slots 8 and 9, and a vapor probe that connects to slots 5, 6, and 7.  Run the probes into the refrigerator’s chamber, and like the temp probe, they should hang freely in the area where the meat does.

When you get done wiring it, the unit will look sorta like this:

The following paragraph details instructions for setting the WH8040, you can skip this unless you are actively setting the device right now:  Press and hold the SET key for 3 seconds to enter the setting mode.  The first value is HC, which tells the unit whether to dehumidify, or humidify.  Press the SET key again, and use the up or down arrows to set this value to H (humidify).  Then press the SET key again to save the value and return to SET mode.  Press the UP key to move to the next value, D, which is “Hysteresis.”  Leave this at its default setting.  Press the UP key again to move to the next value, LS, which is the lowest humidity range you want to keep.  Press the SET button and adjust this setting to 55%, or whatever the lowest humidity is acceptable for you.  Then press the SET button again.  Use the UP arrow to move to the next value, HS, which is the maximum humidity.  Click SET and use the arrows to set this limit to 65%. The remaining settings can be left at their defaults unless you need to modify them later.  CA is humidity calibration…if your unit isn’t measuring the humidity correctly, you can override the settings by plus or minus 5%.  PT is the delay time between turning your humidifier on and off, and the default is set at 1 minute.  Press the RST key to leave the set mode.

Now you can mount your WH8040 to the side of your fridge with double sided tape or velcro.

Again, if all that wiring sounds too complex for you, you can simply buy a plug-and-play temp controller and humidity controller, you’re just gonna spend an extra $75-$100.  Do that, and your system will be set up in 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to place the fan in the bottom of the fridge next to your humidifier.  I got a small metal desk fan on Amazon for $13 that was well reviewed.  The air inside the curing chamber needs to circulate constantly to help dry the meat, so just run this cord out the back of the door and plug it into your power supply.

The final step is to install your thermo-hygrometer, which keeps track of the temp and humidity inside the chamber, so you know if your controllers are working properly.  I got mine on Amazon for $18.  It has a wireless remote unit that I velcroed to the inside of the fridge.  It is battery powered, and sends the information to the main unit, which I velcroed to the fridge door.

Now the curing chamber is complete!  Give it a few hours to operate before you start tweaking.  Remember that your fridge will probably have its own settings for temperature, which can affect the whole system.  (I have mine set for the warmest temp.)  Here’s what the final setup looks like on the inside (completely with wild boar already curing):

Note the sensors all hanging on the center and upper left side of the pic.

The freezer above is now empty space.  And in MY converted fridge, the freezer maintains a temp of about 50 degrees, when the main chamber is 65.  50F is the PERFECT temp for aging cheese!  So I can age cheese AND cure meat in the same unit.  Don’t ever try to age cheese in the SAME chamber as curing your meat.  The bacteria that you inoculate cheese with (especially bleu cheeses) isn’t what you want growing on your meat.  So they need to be separated.

All-in-all, this setup cost me about $200.  Not cheap by any means.  But if you’re serious about making your own charcuterie and salumi at home, this is money well invested.  (A single Iberico ham or Prosciutto di Parma can set you back up to $1000!)  Some people have luck using a small college dormitory fridge, moved to the warmest setting, with a dish of water in the bottom to boost humidity.  This is way cheaper and easier to set up…but you lose control over your environment, which will yield unexpected results.  And if you’re going to great lengths to source quality meat, you don’t want it rotting away in your garage.

Now you’re ready to make prosciutto, coppa, spalla, guanciale, salami, and age your own hams.  Of course, that’s an entirely separate blog entry.  Check this out for starters!

A video will be posted soon, which may help those who are more auditory and visual.

Please feel free to comment below, especially if you already cure your own meat at home, if you have a different setup, or if you make this setup and try it.  And subscribe to my blog in the upper right corner of this page below the header image so you don’t miss out on other great posts!

2012/2013 Flu Diary H3N2

I’m usually a pretty healthy person and I haven’t had the flu since I was a kid.  Still, I almost always get the flu vaccine each year because my allergist insists on it.  This year, because of a crazy travel schedule and a constant stream of visitors since Thanksgiving, I hadn’t had time to get vaccinated yet.  But flu season came more than a month early this year, and my name was in the cards.  I was the last to get it in my house, thankfully, so I was able to nurse everyone else through the worst of it.  But then it was my turn.

I am documenting my bout with the flu here, in case anyone wants a description of what this year’s flu is like.  Of course, the infection varies dramatically from person to person, so if you have the flu, you shouldn’t expect your experience to run exactly like mine.  I have the luxury of working from home, so I was able to take extremely good care of myself.  Your experience will vary based on your immune condition, how much rest you get, your age, your own health conditions (asthma, etc.), what drugs you take on a regular basis, etc.

Saturday night I left my flu-recovering partner at home to sleep while I went to enjoy the Chinese Lantern Festival in Dallas with friends.  Halfway through the event, my throat started to feel a bit strange, and I got an uneasy feeling in my joints.  Since I was a kid, that joint feeling always preceded sickness, and I knew it was my turn.  I went home and immediately began doctoring myself.  (It should be noted here that, while everyone in my household got sick, no one went to the doctor and there was no concrete diagnosis of the flu.  I am assuming we all had the flu because no sickness has ever been so virulent that EVERYONE got it.  That, and I’m currently taking cipro for an unrelated non-systemic infection, which means it’s highly likely a virus is responsible for my sickness.)

First the throat.  I made a strong toddy by boiling lots of grated ginger and some black pepper in water, covered, for 15 minutes.  Then I strained it off.  This is the base for the toddy.  To it I added 2 big spoons of local honey, the juice of 2 lemons, and a splash of brandy.  I drank a big bowl of that slowly.  Then I sprayed my throat with propolis (the dark stuff that bees use to seal the cracks in their hives against insect and bacterial invaders…it has potent anti-microbial and anti-viral properties) and took the hottest bath I could stand.  Then I took lots of Vitamin C and zinc, and Nutribiotic GSE, which is a wonder remedy my childhood doctor introduced me to.  It’s made from the extract of grapefruit seeds, and is so potent that it’s being used to sanitize water supplies in South America and treat HIV in Africa.  You can get it at most natural food stores (except the chains like GNC) and it comes in both liquid and tablet form.  I used to swear by the liquid, but it’s incredibly bitter and most people don’t like it, so I only buy the tablets now.  I took 2 tablets along with some Benadryl to help me sleep, and I slept for 12 hours.

I woke up on Sunday with 99.5F…not much fever, but my partner’s fever started out like that, too, so I figured I hadn’t effectively staved it off.  I spent the entire day on the couch, napping, reading, and watching CNN.  My breakfast was a “green drink” of kale, pineapple (for the throat), ginger, and banana with some fresh pomegranate juice I had squeezed a few days before.  I kept very well hydrated.  My vitamin regiment was 1 gram of C morning and night, 250mg of zinc once a day, and 2 tabs of Nutribiotic 3 times a day.  I frequently drank my throat toddy and sprayed it often with propolis.  I had body aches all day and a dry cough.  Luckily, I had made a huge batch of organic chicken noodle soup for everyone else in my house who had the flu the week before, so I always had a really healthy meal waiting for me.  (My soup consists of an organic chicken simmered whole in a covered pot for 2 hours with celery, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Then I remove the veggies and the chicken.  Back into the pot goes skin-on potatoes, rutabaga, and carrot, simmered until crisp-tender.  Then I toss in lots of onion, garlic, celery, and a variety of mushrooms, which are good for the immune system, along with rosemary, thyme, sage, and lemon juice and the deboned chicken, and some noodles, plus a healthy glug of apple cider vinegar.)

Monday my fever was up to 102F, so I took ibuprofen for the first time.  I normally like to let a fever run its course as long as it doesn’t get out of control, but high fevers are dangerous.  And the body aches had become really bad.  Monday I learned that 2 friends were in the hospital for pneumonia related to the flu, and another diagnosed with pneumonia was turned away from the hospital because they were full, so I started taking Mucinex DM, which is an expectorant that helps prevent mucus from accumulating in the lungs, and also contains a cough suppressant.  The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, the extract of secretions from the guaiac tree, a native tree to North America, and the native Americans have used it for centuries.  I don’t like guaifenesin because it makes me feel very “fuzzy” and somewhat dizzy.  But there’s no denying its effectiveness.  And this is not the time to take chances with pneumonia, especially when the hospitals are full!

Tuesday my fever was back down to 99F without having taken ibuprofen in 18 hours, so I took that as a good sign.  (My partner’s fever took the same course…99 one day, 102 the next, 99 after, then he ran no fever, so I was looking forward to being fever free in a day.)  My coughs were loosening chest congestion, which was a good sign.  The body aches continued, and so did the hot baths.  My fever was gone by the evening, but I didn’t feel any better.  My skin was incredibly sensitive, particularly on my sides.  Just wearing a shirt felt uncomfortable.

Wednesday my temperature was 98.1, which is about normal for me.  But I still “felt” like I had fever…I had the drawing aches in my joints.  Also, I started sneezing a lot.  I kept eating smart and taking vitamins, Nutribiotic, and Mucinex.  Lots of liquids, primarily water and a mix of fresh pomegranate and cranberry juices.  Wednesday night I felt worse than I had the entire time, even though my fever was gone.  I also had to run a few unavoidable errands.  Wednesday night my head was packed with congestion and my nose was running like crazy, so I used a neti pot to help clear my sinuses.  I continued sneezing and coughing up stuff.

Thursday was the 5th day of the flu.  I felt worse today than I’ve felt so far, which was bizarre to me because my temperature had been normal for 24 hours without taking any fever reducers.  But I still had the body aches I normally associate with fever and my head was very congested.  My body, particularly my sides, were still incredibly sensitive.  Around 2pm my temperature was 99F and it gradually rose to 101F by 8pm, so my fever had relapsed, unfortunately.  I took ibuprophen, Mucinex, cough medicine, and slept for 12 hours.

Friday I woke up with 99.5 of fever while still laying in bed, which rose to 101F after being up for 15 minutes.  I called my doctor and he said there was no need to come in unless I couldn’t get the fever to break.  I asked if I should be taking Tamiflu, and he said that the anti-flu medications are most effective when started within 2 days of the onset of symptoms.  (This is why it’s important to go to your doctor as soon as symptoms begin if you are a high-risk patient.)  The weather has warmed up in Dallas (72F!) so I was able to sit outside in the warm sun, which felt really good.  I’m pretty upset that the fever relapsed, but I hear from many people that this is common with this flu strain. I took ibuprofen in the evening and the fever went away.  I slept 12 hours that night.

Saturday I woke with no fever, but it’s cold and rainy again in Dallas.  I feel tired, but it may be due to the 12-hours of sleep.  I’m staying on the couch, drinking lots of water, and editing a year’s worth of video backlog that I’ve been neglecting.  Saturday marks the 1-week anniversary of my first symptoms, and is the first day I felt close-to-normal since then.

Sunday is the 9th day of the flu, and other than a cough, I have no other symptoms.  My on-the-couch flu symptoms lasted 8 days.  The cough and chest congestion lingered for an additional week, which I hear from friends and fans, is very typical.

If you are reading this post because you think you may have the flu, please be very cautious.  I read on the CNN website that the CDC says up to 49,000 people could die in a bad flu season.  And this year’s strain, H3N2, has a history of being particularly virulent and severe.  A healthy 17 year old boy in the town next to me died last week from the flu…AFTER his fever broke and he was feeling better.  (He actually died of a massive internet staph infection which bloomed when his immune system was suppressed from fighting the flu.  Almost all of us have antibiotic-resistant staph living in our noses and on our skin, so similar scenarios are possible.)  Hundreds of others have died already and we’re only 5 weeks into this flu season.

I say these things not to fearmonger.  Not everyone with a sniffle needs to flee to the emergency room.  But many of us normally-healthy folk turn up our noses at the mention of the flu, thinking we won’t get it, and if we do, we’ll get over it quickly and it will be nothing more than an inconvenience.  Please don’t take anything for granted this flu season, especially if you’re like me and you haven’t had the flu since you were a kid.  Stay home from work.  Rest.  Stay hydrated.  Eat healthy.  And if your fever gets extremely high, or if you have vulnerabilities that could exacerbate the flu, like asthma or a compromised immune system, see your doctor or an urgent care clinic.  Try to avoid going to the emergency room unless you are experiencing shortness of breath or an extremely high fever that will not respond to anti-inflammatories or analgesics, or unless you are excessively vulnerable to infections.  A trip to the emergency room if you DON’T have the flu may ensure that you contract it!  (Please remember that you should wait 20 minutes after drinking a hot or cold liquid, or smoking, to take an accurate oral temperature!)

If you are still healthy, please get a flu shot, not just to protect yourself, but to protect your family and friends.  If you get the flu, you WILL give it to them.  Sanitize your hands regularly at work and home, and avoid close contact with coworkers who are sick.

Stay healthy!

If you are sick with the flu, you are more than welcome to detail your experience in the comments below, so others can get a better idea of how each infection experience is different:  (And for those who previously commented, I apologize.  My fever addled-brain caused a few improper key strokes and this post got deleted along with the comments.)