The Long Road Back

February 23rd, 2012

Food beautiful food.  What is not to love about this colorful plate of Chicken Paillards with Orange Salsa as shown above.  For me, that love would not have been possible last week.  I was sure that I was doomed to live on saltine crackers and gatorade for the rest of my life.

The background:  We traveled to Cary, NC to spend time with our Son, DIL and two Grandkids before driving to Emerald Isle for Grandson Camerons’s 1st birthday party with the extended family.  All four of them had had the flu before we arrived, but were over it.  We arrived on Wednesday.  Thursday we dropped GD Rachel off at her art class and killed time at a local brewery just down the street from her studio.  Son Michael ordered onion rings and “fried pickles” to go with a glass of the local brew.  I said ” I don’t think I can eat all of that greasy food”.  “Not to worry Mom”, he said.   “OK” I said.  I ate it.

Later that night:  Heartburn, or so I thought.  Wrong!  Full blown flu gripped me and stayed with me all night.  David and I decided that we could not leave with them to go to the beach.  I was too weak and did not want to expose the rest of the family to the bug.  Michael, Kristen and the kids headed for the beach on Friday.  That night David got the flu too.

As I lay in bed feeling the worst misery I had felt in a long time, these were the thoughts running through my mind:

I will never, ever, eat fried pickles again.  Don’t even think about them!

How can I continue to blog about food?  I hate food.  Maybe I could blog about bread, but only if it’s toasted.

We are going to Paris in June.  I can’t even think about fromage, charcuterie, or wine.  No picnics for me.  What a waste.  Too late to cancel.

My life of loving food is over.  Just give my some thin gruel and I will survive.  Maybe.

As David and I nursed our stomachs with crackers and gatorade at the kids house, word started filtering back from the beach. The cousins were starting to get sick.  Then Kristen’s Mom got sick.  Then her brother-in-law was laid low.  Before the weekend was over, everyone at the beach was stricken with the flu.  It turned out that we were all exposed to the Norovirus ( Cruise ship virus ).  This flu is virulent and highly contagious.  There is no vaccine for it and those exposed are contagious long after the symptoms subside.

It has been a week and we are back in Florida, still weak but on the mend.  This was the first real meal I have made in a long time.

The love for food is coming back.  I was drawn to the produce aisle of the supermarket for some reason.  They had a box of little cutie mandarin oranges that looked health giving in their vitamin C rich orange skins.  I made a salsa with them to go with pounded chicken breasts.  With cherry tomatoes, celery, red onion and jalapeno peppers it made a vibrant topping.  With the dish I served healthy quinoa and fresh sauteed kale.

I think I will survive to cook again and make the trip to Paris.  But I will never have another fried pickle again, even if it had nothing to do with what happened.


4 chicken breast halves
4 clementines, mandarin oranges or oranges, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut into thin rings
1/2 to 2/3 cup juice from clementines or oranges (about 6 clementines)

2 tablespoons oil for sauteing chicken

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and pound to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Mix oranges and next 8 ingredients in medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until slightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to platter.  Add clementine juice to skillet, boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, stirring often, about 2 minutes.  Drizzle sauce over chicken.  Spoon salsa over and serve.

Printable recipe

12 responses to “The Long Road Back”

  1. Susan says:

    So glad all that is in the past. I guess that Noro flu is the worst. And, not being in your own bed and feeling so ill is not good either. Nice dish…you are refilling with your vitamins.

  2. Oh my gosh Penny. That sounds awful. I’m so sorry that has happened to you both. We don’t get sick often, but when we do we usually get a doozy.

    Glad you both are on the mend. Just thinking about food and cooking must still be a little miserable. Glad you’ve chosen something cheery and healthy. Hope you feel better every day.

  3. Oh! How awful….I hate being sick to my stomach. Glad you both are feeling better now.

    So no fried pickles when you come for dinner again…promise!

    This recipe looks wonderful.

  4. Kat says:

    Glad you are on the mend. It’s interesting how we relate the last thing we ate responsible for being so ill. Happens all the time.
    The chicken recipe looks delicious.

  5. Balisha says:

    The Noro flu just went through our family too. I felt the same about food…especially meat. That first sip of gatorade tasted so good…and jello.
    Glad to hear that you are feeling better.It took me a week to feel back to normal.
    Take care,

  6. Kate says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you have been “down for the count”. There is nothing worse than stomach flu unless it is stomach flu at someone else’s house! Glad you are friends with food once again. The chicken looks great.

  7. Rita says:

    So happy your love of food is back! My husband and I spent part of the weekend and week with this horrible flu. Did you feel like you had been hit by a truck: every bones and muscles aching?
    I discovered something for nausea; crystallized ginger does wonders for this.

  8. Oh, you poor things! Stomach flu is the worst. It keeps me down for days and this sounds like an awful strain. But I am happy you are home and up doing what you love best. What a great meal this sounds like! I have to copy it!

    Stay well, my friend!


  9. Pondside says:

    Oh Penny – how awful! I’m so sorry to read this. Too bad about the food association, but I don’t think that fried pickles will be missed much!

  10. Cathy says:

    Oh dear, Penny, what a terrible experience. It was awful to be so sick and even worse to be sick when you were away from your own home. I’m happy you are starting to perk up a bit. You probably won’t eat fried pickles again for a long time.

  11. UGH! I’m going straight home and sanitizing my boyfriend. You take care of yourself. I am sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Be sure to post when you’re back to your strong self! – GG

  12. nanadarla says:

    We are all finally feeling normal again. Took almost 3 weeks. This is the sickest I’ve been in a long time. Glad you are feeling better! There is hope! Looking forward to spending several days with the grandkids next week. Hope to see you in May-wish it were sooner!

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.