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So, tomorrow is my glucose tolerance test.

The way my office does it is I took a little bottle home and I’m supposed to drink it about a half-hour before my appointment. I don’t have to fast before hand, but she did tell me to have a low-sugar/carb breakfast. We went over a couple examples in the office, but I wasn’t fully prepared with possible breakfast menus at the time, so of course I feel completely lost now.

What I remember:

  • Eggs and sausage are great. Of course. But I really don’t like eating that heavy of a breakfast unless it’s actually brunch. Ooof.
  • White bread & OJ are no good. Seems reasonable, I don’t really like white bread that much anyway, and while I sometimes drink OJ, it’s hardly a requirement.
  • Raisin bran would be ok except for the raisins. I’ve no objection to this, but I would need to go buy a new box of cereal. What exactly am I looking for on that box? I’ve noticed a lot of the high fiber ‘healthy’ cereals we’ve tried are actually quite sweet when you taste them, (presumably to trick people into eating them when they’re really rather be munching on count chocula). I’m guessing that’s to be avoided. I’m not terribly looking forward to reading the labels of the entire cereal aisle to find out which ones have stowaway sugar. Also, I sometimes like to eat my cereal with yogurt rather than milk. Is that ok? Better? Worse? Anyway, cereal isn’t my favorite breakfast in the winter, so let’s keep going.
  • Wheat toast & peanut butter are fine. Ooook. That’s getting close. Unfortunately, I don’t *like* peanut butter on toast. Ironically, I think it’s too sweet. I much prefer cream cheese. That should be an OK substitution, right? But who eats cream cheese on toast? I’m guessing a whole wheat bagel isn’t the same thing as wheat toast. Speaking of which, what exactly do they mean by ‘whole wheat’? That label gets smacked on anything nowadays. How whole is whole enough?

So my current brilliant plan is that we have some super-dense dark brown european-style rye bread stuff* in the freezer that I think would taste OK with cream cheese, and I’m pretty sure it’s as whole-grain as you can get.  So that should be safe. And a glass of milk? Because they said milk was ok on cereal. But maybe that’s because they’re assuming you’re using a half cup or so to get your cereal damp, not a giant tumbler because you are a milk-addict eating dry european bread and want to be hydrated for your blood draws.

So I start googling about glycemic indexes, because that’s the goal of this, right? And let me tell you *that’s* a bad idea. Apart from crazy diet sites and lists with stuff like ‘fried eggs’, ‘whole puffed amaranth’, ‘spelt flour’ and ‘mcDiety brand health-o-nutrient bars’, the most reputable science-y sounding stuff I found was a uk site essentially saying the whole thing is bunk, white bread is barely different from wheat bread, there are 3 different scales and nobody ever tells you which one they’re using, and none of them take into account that a grain of sugar and a cup of sugar are not the same thing.

But that doesn’t help me decide what to have for breakfast.

The crazy(est) thing about this is that I probably have nothing to get worked up over. Diabetes doesn’t run in my family at all (we’re more heart attacks at 40 type people). It’s more out of some twisted desire to follow the rules. Gyarrrh.

*Sort of like ruis maybe? But it’s a square loaf with slices. It’s from aldi, and I think it’s one of their odd imported German items rather than their super-budget items. Actually, I really like the stuff. It’s in the freezer because we stocked up on it, not because we hate it. My immigrant grandmother & I are alike in our passion for bread you can use to construct buildings with in a pinch.

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I love how recipes for white meat so often translate to different options. Piccata is traditionally veal, I think, but this works great with chicken or pork, or even whitefish. Heck, it might work with tuna. Just make sure whatever you have is very thin slices. Chicken or pork you may want to pound if it’s on the thick side.

Anyway, this is a recipe that I like a lot more than M does (especially with the capers), but I’m constantly amazed at how swanky it is for how little work.

Required ingredients:

  • two thin pieces of the white meat of your choice
  • flour enough to coat meat
  • 2 tsp, or a large hunk of butter (don’t skimp and use cooking oil instead, this goes into the sauce)
  • white wine

Some pointers for the wine. You will want a generous serving’s worth. Those single-serve bottles are a great size if you don’t want to try to finish the rest of a full bottle between the two of you. Otherwise, use what you’ll have with dinner. Ideally, you want something that isn’t too tart or too sweet. I had savingon blanc on hand, which is on the tart side, and it worked ok, but really needed cream to not be overpowering. Chardonnay should be fine, as would dry Riesling, and that all the kinds of white wine I know other than moscato, which would be way too sweet.

Directions:

Coat the meat in flour

Melt the butter in a pan until sizzling, (medium, medium high-ish heat)

Add the meat and cook until browned on both sides. Add more butter if the level gets low by the second side. (If your heat is too high, it will start to burn before the meat cooks through, but it needs to be high enough to get a good sizzle or you won’t get the browning right. Err on too high, as you’ll see on the next step)

Put a paper towel (or regular towel you eco-friendly person you) on a plate and the meat on the towel and the towel in an oven on as low as it goes. If you oven only has high settings, turn it on for a bit then kill the heat without opening the door. If you are worried the meat might not have gotten done, turn it up to 250 or so to cook it a little more (no, you won’t set a towel on fire at that temperature for as long as it will be in there).

Deglaze the pan with the wine. If you don’t know what that means, check the entry on kale for a deeper explanation.

Turn the heat to medium/low and simmer until there is about half the wine there used to be… 10 minutes or so since you don’t have that much liquid. Somewhere in that simmering, consider adding some or all of the following ingredients.

Optional ingredients:

  • Thin slices of lemon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • heaping spoonful of capers (drained)
  • chicken broth
  • cream or milk

Lemon slices should be added right at the beginning (possibly before you even deglaze) so they soften up. Juice or capers can be added at any point. Broth or cream should be added near the end. You’ll want to taste the reduced sauce, and if it’s overpoweringly strong or tart, add additional liquid until it’s tasty. Something like a half a cup give or take a few sloshes usually does the trick. Personally, I like the cream better than broth. You can also add some of the pasta water if you need to make it less strong and don’t have other things on hand.

I like to serve this over angel hair pasta. Angel hair cooks ridiculously quickly, so if you start the water boiling first, and put the pasta in right after you deglaze the pan, it’ll be done in plenty of time.

This post would be a lot better with a photo, but odds of that are low…maybe someday

This is a recipe I made up about a year ago, becoming relevant now as other than a slight sweet tooth* the one thing I’ve been craving this pregnancy is greens. So, this has been getting a lot of play.

Anyway, many greens recipes use bacon, but I find the smoked flavor awkward with vegetables, so this goes a bit of a different route with sausage instead. The name comes because superficially it resembles chinese food with a pile of grain covered in veggies and a little meat. The cooking technique is pretty similar to stir-fry as well, but the flavors are distinctly different. It isn’t authentic or anything like that, I just used polish since I’m using polish sausage.

It is really, really fast to make, with most of your time spent cleaning the kale and slicing the sausages. Once the pan starts going you do need to be there and watching it the whole time, but it cooks in well under 15 minutes.

Serves two as a (smallish) complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch greens (preferably Kale, see variations)
  • 1/2 bottle of light colored beer. (like a pilsner)**
  • 2 kielbasa or similar sausages (the small, bratwurst sized ones, not the big rings)
  • grain of your choice. (barley or faro recommended)
  • One large, flat pan. Do not use a non-stick pan. The pan will need to fit all the kale. If your frying pan isn’t big enough you can use a dutch oven or other large pot instead, but a large bottom helps the liquid cook off quickly. If you’re really tight on pans, you can add the kale in batches, as it does cook down some. A lid is helpful, but not 100% necessary.

Directions:

  • Depending on the cook time of your chosen grain, start that first. Follow the package directions. If doing barley or something else where the liquid absorbs use broth or add a teaspoon of bullion to the cooking liquid. (Also, toast the barley in the pan before adding liquid. That always makes it better. You just have to be careful to stir a lot so it doesn’t burn)
  • Cut the thick midribs off the kale and tear the leaves into large-ish pieces. Wash and set aside.
  • Chop the sausages into thin slices
  • Heat a large flat pan to high / medium high. Unless you’re using some strange fat-free sausages, you won’t need extra oil, everything you need will be released from the sausage as it cooks.
  • When water flicked on the pan sizzles, add the sausage and fry until browned – about five minutes. You want to stir them enough that they don’t burn, but if you stir them constantly they won’t develop the tasty crust. Don’t worry if you  get a dark brown crust on the bottom of the pan. That will be taken care of in the next step.
  • Turn the heat in the pan down to medium, and deglaze*** with some of the beer. You don’t want to add the entire half bottle at this point, just enough to get the stuff off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the washed kale to the pan. Stir around a bit to get the flavors from the sausage and the beer on the kale, then cover for a few minutes, or until you see the kale starting to turn bright green. If you don’t have a cover for your pan, you can compensate by stiring more and adding extra beer to keep things from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
  • Take the lid off and stir some more, again trying to get the bottom stuff up top. Add more beer to taste and to increase the amount of steam cooking the kale on the top. When the kale is tender (another two or three minutes or so), turn off the heat
  • If you have a lot of extra liquid in the bottom of the pan at this point, leave the heat on until it dissipates – don’t worry, kale is relatively hard to overcook. Also, keep in mind everything is still steaming hot, so a little extra liquid will cook off on its own while you’re serving, you just don’t want it swimming
  • Serve in a bowl over the grain

Variations:

Almost all the ingredients can be substituted depending on your mood, adventurousness, grocery availability, and how many times you want to trick your husband into eating this in a week. Some guidelines:

Kale is the most suitable green, as it doesn’t cook down too much, but isn’t bitter tasting. We’ve used turnip greens too, and while they don’t disappear quite as much as spinach, you still don’t end up with a heck of a lot of greens once they cook. If you use those, go for a whole bunch for person (I know, you will see the gigantic bunches your supermarket has and think I’m crazy, and that they must sell it in tiny single leaf packs where I live, but trust me) Cabbage has a different flavor so wouldn’t work well. Spinach and beet greens are just too wimpy for this dish, save then for something else. I haven’t tried chard or collards, but they might work too. Honestly, Broccoli Rabe might have potential too.

If your local store stocks fancy sausages, you can substitute those too. I would recommend you *start* with kielbasa or polish sausage or something similar to get the idea, but depending on your preferences, anything with a relatively assertive flavor should work. Also, I list one sausage per person because my husband is a meat fan, but you could really use one for both people instead. I find myself picking around the sausages a bit with this much meat. Don’t omit them entirely, or you’ll really mess up the flavors, though I see no reason why vegetarian sausage substitutes wouldn’t work.

Finally, grain. We normally make this with barley. Spelt or Faro would probably be even better, but the pack we bought came with little rocks in it and I never want to bother with picking them out first. You can also use noodles, though I would recommend whole wheat or something else a bit heartier than your basic spaghetti or egg noodles. If you don’t flavor the cooking broth (i.e. with noodles), add the cooked pasta to the pan with the finished kale and sausage and stir in a bit more beer to give it some more flavor.

*It’s not so much that I’m eating ice cream for dinner now as I really didn’t eat barely any sweet things before. I used to much prefer hummus, or cheese and crackers or plain yogurt or other savory snacks to vanilla yogurt or cookies or jam on apples with peanut butter, but I’m finding myself swinging more towards what I assume is normal for this country. I still think sweet potatoes and beets are disgustingly sugary, and jam is a terrible thing to do to toast.

**You’re going for the bite and acidity, so much as I like dark beers, they aren’t as suitable. Pilsner is our favorite, and we’ve used a particularly strong hefeweisen with good success. It would probably work well with a pale ale, but I’ll never know as I like to drink the second half of the bottle while I’m cooking, and neither I nor husband likes to drink IPAs. American beers are nasty, but if that’s all you have in the house, you must not mind drinking it, so maybe you won’t mind it here. If you are a beer snob like us, and bought a fancy beer in a large bottle that didn’t get finished the night before and is now flat, that will work too, though you miss out on the drinking while cooking. If you’re anti-alcohol, you can use some lemon juice or mild vinegar (rice vinegar?) as well, though be aware the extra acidity will turn the kale an olive green ‘overcooked’ color. If doing this, use plain water or stock or something to deglaze the pan, as the lemon juice is much stronger and you will want to use much less.

***If you don’t know what deglaze means, you can probably find videos and better descriptions online. The basic idea is you add a little liquid to the places in the pan that have stuff stuck to them, and rub with your spatula. The liquid will sizzle and boil rapidly, loosening the tasty stuff stuck to the pan, which dissolves into the liquid when you rub it. It’s great because it cleans your pan and makes a flavorful sauce at the same time. The pan has to be hot when you do this. If the liquid doesn’t sizzle when you pour it in, turn up the heat and try again. For the same reason, only add a few tablespoons worth (a small to medium slosh) at a time or you will cool down the pan too much.

****I make a lot of references to drinking the beer here, but I promise I’m not actually doing that while I’m pregnant. (trial though it is). I don’t think the quarter bottle of cooked beer than ends up in a serving is harmful.