Pioneer Potluck: About the cure for the cough and cold

This week’s recipes include Grannie Annie’s chili, Hot German potato salad and Chinese chicken salad

  • Tuesday, February 26, 2019 10:11pm
  • Life
Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg

Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg

Bob and I have suffered from head colds, sinus congestion and coughing. Bob especially has had trouble with the cough. Boiling water and Fisherman’s cough drops have helped. Lots and lots of Powerade, Gatorade, grape juice and orange juice— vitamin C, hot tea with honey helped. Plus aspirin — or such medications.

This morning as I was trying to come up with a theme for this article, Susan suggested all the old remedies that kept the cold and flu at bay! She also suggested I get an expectorant syrup for Bob’s cough. Good idea.

Bob’s mom smeared his chest and throat with Vic’s. She pinned his dad’s wool sock around his neck. (Our Mom did this too!) Tea with honey and lemon. And at times a bowl full of boiling water with Vic’s floating in it, seated at the table with his head over the bowl with a towel draped over his head and around the bowl. We also did that out our house.

Grandpa Cogswell went back another generation for cures. Honey in hot water or tea, lemon juice and a few drops of kerosene. YUP. It was so nasty that you swore up and down you were NOT sick! Sometimes he would find his old bottle of whiskey hidden in the coat closet and we would get that in some hot water, with honey stirred in.

Grandma would rub our chest and back with Vic’s: wrap Grandpa’s old scratchy woolen sock around our neck, pin it with a large safety pin. And if you were really sick, she would warm an old towel and put it under your shirt after she plastered your back with Vic’s. Lemon and honey in tea was good to drink from her.

Oh by the way — if you had a splinter, a cut or a large bruise — they both rubbed kerosene on it. YUP, we smelled so good! Kerosene, Vic’s and whiskey!!

Mom fixed us up with the Vic’s, and we got the more modern remedies — horrible tasting cough syrup (that terrible tasting cherry flavor) and baby aspirin that was orange-flavored. We got tea and honey — orange juice also. And we got Jell-O of every flavor to eat. Maybe that is why I do not care for Jell-O!

Her homemade chicken noodle soup was always good! But if you were real sick you got the scratchy wool sock of Dad’s pinned around your neck and you had to spend all day in bed. If you were well enough to get up and play, you were well enough to go to school. Very simple remedy! I stayed in bed a lot!

Nowadays we have the doctor’s cure for everything and prescriptions for some pretty expensive medications. I am not sure of the cure but it sure rattles the pocketbook. Have you checked the over-the-counter medications this year? OH MY Goodness! When the kids were little, my doctor told me once — Vic’s don’t work — just smells bad! Well, it does work, I am living proof, I use it almost every day!

Upon my research for remedies I came across this one. One large-mouth pint jar of lemon juice, extract of honey and olive oil. THEN you add one washed egg. Drop it unbroken in the jar. Then 24 hours later the egg shell was dissolved and then you remove the tough inside skin and the whole egg. (MY question is — why not just drop the broken shell in the jar??) The remedy goes on — stir and warm well enough. Bottle it. Keep in cool place. Dose: A teaspoonful frequently! Are you confused — I had to re read this!

The cure for pneumonia is worse: “Six to 10 onions, chopped fine. Put in skillet over hot fire. Add equal amounts of rye meal and vinegar to make a thick paste. Stir into onions and let simmer 5-10 minutes. Put in cotton bag large enough to cover the lungs and apply to the chest as hot as the patient can bear. When this gets cool, heat and reapply and continue reheating the poultices, and in a few hours the patient will be out of danger. This remedy has never failed in this too-often fatal malady. Unusually four application will do, but be sure and continue until perspiration starts freely.”

I think I would prefer the Vic’s smell or even the kerosene smell and yes, the Whiskey smell, over the reheated fried onion smell heated over and over. YOU just HAD to get well!

I am grateful for modern medicines. I am grateful for the over-the-counter medications, and also grateful for the remedies of my ancestors. I still boil water, or use a steamer. I use Vic’s and rely on cough drops, tea, lemon and honey. And orange juice and fortified vitamin C.

We are feeling better; I am a day or two ahead of Bob. We have eaten our share of soup out of a can. I also have made a LOT of soup. I am about ready for a good piece or fried chicken or a taco!!

The disclaimer of home remedies says: “Cure what ails ya — people did the best they could. However, we make no claims as to their effectiveness and suggest you seek a doctor’s advice. Please do not try this at home!”

I have lots of home remedy books, and most of them say hydration — especially in young children — is the very best remedy like tea, hot broth, soups and lots of water. Of course that applies today!

Enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk. I am going to do just that today!


This is the closest I have ever come to the way my Mom’s chili tasted. She used Brick Chili con-carne that she bought from Steels Grocery store. I do not see it on the market these days, but it may as well be around.


1 1/2 pounds of lean hamburger

1 onion chopped

1 jalapeno diced, optional

Stir in:

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon each of garlic salt and pepper

When hamburger is done (drain if too much fat)


1 can diced tomatoes

1 can Nally’s Hot Chili with beans

1 can Bush’s Chili Beans with pinto beans

Simmer an hour.

So good and so fast. Of course it gets better with age.

You can put this in your slow cooker, but it is done so fast why dirty another pot!

I plan on doubling this and freezing it in portions for later use.


This is a 1930s version.*

3 slices bacon, diced and fried slowly until crisp and brown

Beat in bowl:

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon each: salt and sugar

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Pour slowly into bacon fat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick.

Pour hot dressing over 2 cups hot potatoes, Mix quickly.


2 hard-cooked, diced boiled eggs

1 small onion chopped fine

Stir in and serve immediately warm.

It is not as good cold but still tasty.

*Have everything ready — the boiled potatoes and eggs. Mix the dressing in bowl.


2 cups cooked shredded chicken or turkey

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce or cabbage, thinly shredded

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced OR green onion sliced

1/2 package of fried chow mien noodles — about 2 cups

1/4 cup shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until soft. Drain and slice thin.

OR regular mushrooms, sliced thin

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


1/4 cup natural rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable or corn oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Toss salad ingredients with dressing just before serving.


THIS IS FOR Pam Martinez — she likes peanut butter anything.

Makes 2 dozen.

Set oven at 350 degrees

Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Stir in a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Beat in mixer bowl:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup room temp butter

1/4 cup peanut butter

Mix until smooth and creamy


2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in flour until well blended


1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (you can use salted — just omit the salt in the recipe)

Pour batter in pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in pan and frost.

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon peanut butter

Melt in microwave just one minute. Stir and drizzle over cooled bars.

Enjoy Pam!!

• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, Pioneer Potluck

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