I promise not to make this blog all about diabetes, but you have to allow me a few posts to get it out of my system.
As I said before, I never EVER thought I would become diabetic. There is no diabetes in my family. Plenty of weight problems and other assorted issues. And we're all a little bit crazy, but there's not one diabetic in the bunch.
Hence, I barely noticed the research about coffee helping to prevent diabetes. Sadly, all the coffee I drink didn't help me. It's good news - hopefully others who love the java like I do will be heartened by it. But I'm on the other side of the percentages, the side that gets it anyway.
You now how it is when you have something on your mind and suddenly you see similar things everywhere? You're thinking of buying a new Honda and suddenly there are new Hondas all around you. Not really, but perception is funny that way.
Well all of a sudden information on diabetes seems to be everywhere. In my face.
I'll sure keep drinking lots of coffee, in hopes that it might help. But I'm also heartened by the research that shows tea is beneficial for diabetes. Yay! A good reason to keep drinking one of my favorite beverages!
Apparently tea, in addition to helping reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and maintaining healthy blood pressure, can improve insulin sensitivity.
"Teas such as black tea, green tea and oolong tea contain polyphenols which researchers believe may increase insulin activity."Tea & Diabetes
It's a well-known fact that blueberry muffins increase your metabolism as well as endorphin levels, thereby counteracting any possible ill effect due to fat or sugar. When eaten with coffee on a pretty plate, the effect is increased by 3. Just so you know. :)
My nod to Chocolate Friday - low-fat sugar-free chocolate milk in my morning cuppa, and chocolate sprinkles on top! I couldn't find the precise sugar content of a chocolate sprinkle, but sugar is the first ingredient on the bottle, so.... Well, says I to myself, go ahead, throw caution to the wind! What harm can a few chocolate sprinkles do, fer cryin' out loud??
the prescribed or established form of a religious or other ceremony
stereotyped activity or behaviour
any formal act, institution, or procedure that is followed consistently: the ritual of the law
I guess my morning ritual can't be precisely defined as a ritual. It's not religious... quite. It's not formal, especially since it's usually done half-asleep. I need a better word. What's the word that means ... something you do every day that gives you a huge amount of comfort.
My morning habit-custom-almost-ritual includes this:
Now, I don't put a LOT of sugar in my morning coffee, but I do enjoy my steamed milk sweetened. Correction -- used to. Never did I think, not in my wildest dreams, that I would be diagnosed with diabetes and have to stop putting sugar in my coffee.
Now that that little bit of sugar has become forbidden fruit, it begins to loom large like an obolisk, the shadow of which falls across my coffee cup darkly.
Typical. You always want most what you can't have. What you're not supposed to have.
I've had to start shopping for all things "sugar free". I guess I'm going to have to learn to cook with splenda and Sweet'nLow. I'm sure there are some good recipes I can try that don't taste like crap. My dentist will be happy, I guess. But man, how that forbidden fruit makes my mouth water now.
Man, I sure wish I had an iPhone, so I could test this cutey little app. It looks nifty.
It's a personalized coffee library, which I guess would be especially useful if you're a gal-about-town and need to remember where you found that really great espresso you had last week. You can add icons and photos, keywords, and it even includes a rating system, which means you can find your favorite coffee spots sooper easy.
If anybody with an IPhone gets this app please come back and add your comments here!
It took me a long while to get these pies made. The recipe came from my good friend Linda, Texas Cooking Queen, but I'm afraid I didn't do her justice. I'm sure her fried pies come out gorgeous and crispy. Mine ... not so much.
But, ugly as they were, they were SOOO tasty.
I'd never heard of fried pies. And I've never made pie crust at all, so I was a little nervous. My grandmother tried to pass on her famous recipe to me. We spent a wonderful afternoon with her making pies and me taking notes. That was our first mistake, I guess. A person needs to DO pie crust dough, you can't just learn the technique from watching or reading. But to be honest, all the destructions my grandmother gave me were so full of cautions and warnings that I was intimidated. Scared, even.
My friend Linda encouraged me to try, and she made it sound a lot easier. The recipe below is her mother's, I think. For a first attempt, I did ok, but the main thing I learned is that good pie crust must be earned over time and repetition and there's no substitute for experience.
I think the next time I make these, I'll try baking them to see if the crust comes out as crispy. Fried was wonderful - I loved the texture - but I'm sensitive to fried foods in general, so there was a bit of a bite-back.
FRIED CHERRY PIE
Pie Crust ingredients 2 cups flour 3/4 cup shortening 1 tsp salt 1/4 cup water
Fruit Filling 2 cups chopped cherries 1/2 cup dried cherry-flavored cranberries 1/2 cup corn starch 1 tsp almond extract 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond paste/pie fillling
You can use any fruit you like for the filling. Linda swears by dried apricots. I included both dried and fresh fruit.
Put the fruit, corn starch, almond extract and sugar into a pan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until the dried fruits become fat, and the juice becomes thicker.
Prepare pie crust dough. Mix together flour and salt in a bowl. Mash the shortening ino the flour - use a fork or a pastry cutter - until it looks like peas. Add water to moisten until it can be formed into a ball.
Break off half the mixture and roll out on a flat surface to about 1/8 " thickness. Use a bowl or any shape you like to cut out pie crust pieces. Depending on the size of your cutter, you should get between 5-10 pies.
Onto each pie, spread about a teaspoon of the almond paste and a couple of spoonfuls of the fruit mixture. Fold the dough over and press the edges together with a fork. If you used a bowl, your pies will now be half circles. I used a square tupperware so my pies were triangles.
Place the pies into a frying pan with 3-4 tablespoons heated vegetable oil. Fry until golden brown on each side. Place on paper towels and press lightly with another paper towel on the tops to absorb the excess oil.
I sure wish I had some vanilla ice cream to go with these pies. All I had was whipped topping, and it was good, but vanilla ice cream would have been SO much better. Next time. :)
Howards End, adapted from E. M. Forster's 1910 novel Howards End, is one of the few movies I can watch over and over again and never tire of. I am endlessly fascinated by one facet or another. Sometimes I can only think of the story and the characters. Sometimes I turn the sound off entirely and just enjoy the fashion, architecture and customs of an era gone by.
Today I focus only on the tea moments.
Howards End deals with the struggles of 3 families in different classes. Forster's epigraph in the novel aptly condenses the story into two words -- "Only connect". The characters in the story are all dealing with the class differences and attitudes that prevent true connectedness, each in their own way.
My first tea moment illustrates those differences rather nicely.
The Schlegel family having tea in a truly scrumptuous setting. I just love the muted colors throughout the movie, but this tea table just sings with comfortable gentility. Lovely, but not regal; fine but not off-putting.
Except to poor Leoard Bast, who arrives, desperate to retrieve his mistakenly pilfered umbrella, and is swooped in upon by the sisters Schlegel and offered tea, scones, a plate, a cup, etc.
Their offers of hospitality are apparently overwhelming to a man unaccustomed to fine things. He feels awkward and uncomfortable to the point where he cannot speak and cannot accept their offers. His sense of his own inferiority prevents him from being able to make a connection in spite of their obvious efforts to bridge the gap.
Eventually he makes an awkward escape and goes back to his own realm where the tea has been laid and his Jacky is waiting.
The contrast between the settings, the company, the food, is all too blaring and seems to only reinforce the class division he feels.
There are so many wonderful tea moments in this movie, it's difficult to pick and choose which to share here. The next few photos are offered mostly because I'm enamored of the china.
This lovely tea set appears at the Shlegel's aunt Juley's breakfast table at the very beginning of the movie.
The pattern looks like a delicate ivy leaf in a pale sage green. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know the make or what this style is called. But I seriously covet it.
Another colorful china pattern is shown here in a scene that takes place at Howards End, where the Wilcox family discusses the future of the property over tea.
Do we assume that since the Wilcoxes are in a class above, this china reflects their status? I don't like it as well as Aunt Juley's china, but it's interesting.
My last tea moment offering is a repeat of the Schlegel's tea table, later in the film when Leonard comes to tea, invited by the sisters who are intent on doing him some good. I love the contrast between this scene and the earlier one. He has so obviously prepared carefully for the event, arriving dressed and combed and armed with his very best manners.
As a side note - for those who are interested I found this blog post: DerekMDesign: Peppard Cottage revisited which is definitely worth a peek-in. There are some wonderful photos and anecdotes about Peppard Cottage where Howards End was filmed. A lovely place.
This was by far and away the BEST french toast I've ever had. I can't think of anything that would have made it better. Except maybe a mimosa and a slice of bacon on the plate, but ... one can't have everything. I had a big cuppa home roasted coffee and that was enough.
The original recipe can be found HERE. My version is below.
Fat and Fruity French Toast
* 1 loaf Chompie's Kosher Challah * Strawberry jam * 4 oz. Cream cheese * 1 cup whipped topping * 1 tbsp sugar * 1 tsp orange extract * 1 tbsp butter * 6 large eggs * 1/4 cup milk * 1 cup sliced strawberries
NOTE: If you can't find the Chompie's Challah, you could substitute King's Hawaiian Bread. An unsliced loaf of french bread will do in a pinch, but Chompie's and King's breads are both slightly sweet, and IMO, the best choice.
Slice the bread into 2 to 3-inch thick pieces. Then slice horizontally down the center of each piece, almost to the bottom. Don't slice clean through, but leave bread attached at the base. This is pretty easy to do with the Challah.
Mix together the cream cheese, whipped topping, sugar and orange extract in a bowl until creamy. Separate out about 1/4 of the mixture for topping later.
Open the bread section and spread a thick layer of strawberry jam on one side, cream cheese mixture on the other. Press sides together, making a cream cheese / jam sandwich.
In a frying pan, melt butter. In a large bowl, beat eggs together with the milk. If you're using french bread, you might want to add a little amaretto extract to flavor the egg mixtures. Dip the sections of bread into the egg, thoroughly coating each side. Place into the frying pan and brown on each side.
I also tipped the sections up on end to brown the sides a bit.
Serve with a dollop of cream cheese topping and strawberries. Trust me, syrup is not necessary. :)