Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Feelin' Kinda Crabby

I was in the mood for fish.

Soooooo, here's my little diatribe about eating fish this far inland. Better to purchase the fish flash frozen in your grocer's freezer than to buy whatever has been THAWED and stuck in a window for who knows how long. Most fish sold in these parts has been frozen to be shipped here anyway. If you're buying it from the fish case at your grocery, you're only buying thawed frozen fish. I won't argue with those of you who live on the coast. I've been there, and it's true there's nothing like eating fresh fish caught that morning. But unless it's Walleye during Great Lakes Walleye season, we're not likely to see anything in Ohio that was caught same day.

Usually when I'm in the mood for fish I end up with some salmon or some shrimp or even some whiting fillets out of my freezer section. But while I was looking for my usual suspects, I noticed some small plastic jars of lump crab meat.

Light Bulb!  CRAB CAKES--the delicate, rich, crabby morsels of scrumptiousness, topped with a little Cajun or Asian heat and served with some dressed greens or sweet slaw or something similar.

Everybody has their own crab cake recipe. Mine is adapted from my buddies on Block Island who have owned countless restaurants over the years and who served a delicious crab cake eggs bennie at their most recent venture.

Going low-carb doesn't meant giving up our favorite foods. It just means modifying recipes so they are carb-friendly. This recipe doesn't use any bread crumbs in the cake. But the crab cakes at the restaurant were rolled in Panko. Panko being white bread is not exactly what I would call a low-carb, high-fiber option. 

So I had to make my own Panko using the high-fiber bread I buy at the grocery store. It was simple really. I just toasted one of the end pieces, let it cool for a bit, then pulsed it in the food processor until it was coarse like Panko bread crumbs. It doesn't matter that they aren't completely toasted and are still soft. They're only going on the outside of the crab cake and then getting fried in oil, so they will create a deliciously delicate crunchy coating nonetheless. Promise.


CRAB CAKES
8 oz jar lump crab meat, drained
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 Tablespoons diced onion or shallots
1 egg
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
High-fiber Panko breadcrumbs (as instructed above) tossed into a shallow dish
1/4 cup canola oil

Spice Blend:
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked chipotle pepper powder (or more if you like the heat)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves ground up in  your hand
1 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


MIX all the spices into a small bowl. Set aside one to two teaspoonfuls of the spice blend for your dressing.

MIX the crab meat with the celery and onion. Toss with the remaining spice blend. Then add the egg and mayonnaise. The egg and mayonnaise will hold this all together without adding additional breadcrumbs. 

SCOOP out a small amount that can be squeezed between the palms of your hands. Because there are no breadcrumbs, these crab cakes are a bit delicate, so as you squeeze gently, form the ball into a hockey puck shape then roll the hockey puck in the Panko, gently pressing the breadcrumbs into all sides of the crab cake.

To make a simple dressing, MIX 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with the remaining spice blend and add the hot sauce of your choosing.

Fry these in properly heated oil in a non-stick pan. It won't take long, roughly 2-3 minutes per side. You can transfer them to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil when they're golden brown on each side.

Since there are no fillers in these, the 8 oz jar made 5 small crab cakes. My boyfriend and I ate them all. It was a main course so that's 1/4 lb. serving per person. I served mine with a simple salad of greens dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. They were delish!!!

I'm sharing some low-carb love with following:
Flour Me With Love Mix it Up Monday


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Comforting My Blood Sugar

Food is not a replacement. It's not a replacement for love; it's not a replacement for exercise; it's not a replacement for self-esteem; it's not a replacement for anything. Food cannot fill the hole in my soul. 

Nonetheless, 
Food is sustenance.
Food gives us life
Food should be ENJOYED!

For more than 50 years, I have eaten whatever the heck I wanted. I have had more than my share of cakes, candy, corn chips, popcorn, pretzels, Reese's cups, Heath Bars, mashed potatoes, crusty french baguettes, and a host of other things I can no longer eat now that I've been diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetic.

And the conclusion I have come to in the year since I was diagnosed is this:
If I can't have another Krispy Kreme donut ever in my life, 
it is not the end of the world.

While my friends and family tried every diet imaginable over the years, everything from 70s grapefruit diets and Mayo Clinic diet to Weight Watchers and South Beach, I paid little or no attention to them. I would always say I eat what I want, that our culture is much too weight conscious and I refused to buy into it. I used to tell people I don't know how much I weigh and I don't own a scale because I think it's unhealthy for women to have that number rattling around in their brains all the time. I have fluctuated between a size 14 and 18 most of my adult life. And to tell you the truth, I just didn't worry about it.

As you might imagine, being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes was like a big slap in the face. When my doctor's office called me, I literally was standing in the buffet line at a casino looking at all the desserts and thinking to myself, which of those delectable items will end up in my tummy today, while somewhere in the back of my mind I was planning to go home and bake something because, after all, I didn't have any baked goods in the house. 

Well it's been almost a year since that fateful day. There was a steep learning curve for me and my boyfriend because we both love to cook and I, particularly, love to bake. But we cook and eat fabulous food with fresh ingredients that do not screw with my blood sugar. 

For instance, with high fiber options at my local grocery store, I am still eating pasta and bread, I just don't eat them as often and I watch my portion size when I do.

So what do I cook on a cold winter's night when there's hardly anything in the pantry but some good cheese, bacon and eggs? The ultimate comfort food, of course, a low-glycemic mac-n-cheese you are going to absolutely love!

Bacon & Eggs Mac-n-Cheese!
adapted from a recipe from The Mac & Cheese Cookbook, by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade
  • 1/2 lb of uncooked high fiber pasta (I use Barilla whole grain rotini)
  • 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup water (you can use 2 cups of whole milk or half-n-half to replace both the milk and water)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (oat flour has little or no affect on blood glucose levels and I have found it's a fabulous thickening agent instead of flour or cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup butter (don't use margarine; you're making a rue so you need it to be real butter)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-3 cups of shredded cheeses, I used a really good Parmesan, white cheddar and some Monterrey jack
  • 1/2 lb of bacon, cooked then crumbled
  • 4 eggs

Cook up the pasta in salted water according to the directions, but take the pasta out of the water 1 or 2 minutes before the prescribed cooking time for al dente pasta because this goes in the oven and will cook the rest of the way there. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray and toss the pasta into it.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the oat flour, whisking and cooking over medium heat until it starts to thicken. The oat flour will bubble up the butter when it hits the pan, but it's fine, keep whisking while it thickens for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup in your microwave until it is warm.

Gradually add the milk to the butter flour mix, whisking all the time. Add the salt and whisk. As it begins to thicken, start adding the shredded cheese a little at a time, whisking to blend as it melts until all the cheese is blended in with the mixture and melted. Then add the crumbled bacon.

Pour the cheesy bacon mixture over the pasta and bake in the oven. You can bake it fast, like I do, for about 12-15 minutes on 400 degrees F, or you can go the low and slow route at 350 for 30 minutes. Whatever you prefer.

If you want to add bread crumbs to the top of this, like many people do, make sure you make your own high-fiber bread crumbs to make this dish retain its low glycemic load. I prefer my mac-n-cheese to be gooey and creamy throughout.

Dish out small portions and top each portion with a poached egg. 

When the gooey egg yolk flows out over the cheesy pasta you will find it very hard to believe that this is a diabetic-friendly dish. The portion pictured here is the portion I ate. Yummy, yummy, yummy! And my blood sugar was back down to under 115 within 3 hours. 

With dishes like this, I can truly say I have fully embraced my low-carb lifestyle and am keeping my promise to myself that I will endeavor to avoid taking medication for as long as I can by eating right. So far so good.

Oh yes, and that part where I said that food cannot fill the hole in my soul . . . uh . . . you didn't really believe that, did you?


Monday, December 30, 2013

Celebrating Change with Chocolate Bread Pudding!

Okay so it's been awhile. To my 142 followers, thank you so much for not "unfollowing" me despite the fact that I haven't posted since March.

All I can say is, it's been a heck of a year! So many changes I have barely had time to think, let alone write.

The biggest changes are as follows, and these are in no particular order . . .

I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
I took a part time job as the principal cookie baker for a gluten-free bakery.
My new love and I bought a house together and combined households after knowing each other about 10 months!

How crazy is that?! 

I have so much to share about my journey over the last few months but since getting diagnosed with diabetes is one of the biggest changes I've been coping with, I thought my first post should be my latest recipe adaptation.

So, if you are type 2 diabetes, and you've been looking for a holiday--or any day really--dessert to serve, try my . . .

Chocolate Bread Pudding
adapted from Alton Brown's Chocolate Bread Pudding Recipe 

2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup Splenda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Stevia Blend
1 1/2 cups half-n-half
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 ounce strong coffee or espresso
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces stale high fiber bread, or about 8 or 9 slices
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 72-85% cacao, broken into 1/2 inch pieces

Alton Brown makes all this in a blender and I thought that worked really well. First the eggs, then the sweeteners and cocoa, then the milk, coffee and vanilla. Blend each ingredient for a short time as you go. It only takes a few seconds for each ingredient so it's really a low-fuss dish. I used leftover coffee and I thought it turned out really good. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar in it, so stick with a 72% to 85% cacao and you should be able to keep the overall sugar content low in this dish.

My recipe is for a medium size bread pudding in a deep glass 9 inch casserole. I buttered the dish, threw the bread in it, tossed the chocolate pieces on the top and then poured the egg mixture over the whole thing. Then I refrigerated it for 8 hours. The bread really was stale so refrigerating allows the bread to soak up the egg mixture.

Then it goes in the oven for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees F.

Alton Brown instructs that you spritz the thing with melted butter and then stick it under the broiler for a couple seconds. I found this step totally unnecessary and burdensome. I ain't got all day to stand around watching things in the broiler. I served this with a brunch and I had a frittata to worry about. So at the last minute, we whipped up some fresh whipped cream with a little bit of Stevia Blend to serve with the bread pudding.

And let me just say . . . OMG this was so stinkin' good! I've been experimenting with a variety of desserts that are low in glycemic load, but this one turned out FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!!

So here are my DIABETES DISCLAIMERS:

1. I am not a doctor, nurse, or nutritionist. I manage my type 2 diabetes (which, btw, was really bad because I had an A1C test that put me at 12.2!!) completely by diet.

2. The high fiber bread in this bread pudding recipe is no sugar added 100% whole wheat high-fiber store-bought bread that anyone can find in the grocery store. These are breads I've been eating for awhile so I know they do not make my glucose spike significantly.

3. There is lots of info about artificial sweeteners, but from what I have read, Splenda and Stevia do not increase glucose levels. The Stevia Blend, however, has sugar in it, so I use it sparingly as a flavor enhancer, not as the primary sweetener. Since it has sugar in it, it could affect glucose levels if you used a lot of it.

4. I check my glucose level 2 and 3 hours after eating one of my recipe adaptations, just as I did with this one. Two hours after I ate the bread pudding, my glucose level was at 127, which means there wasn't a significant spike and I was back down within a reasonable amount of time after eating.

I hope to write more about my journey over the last year, sharing low glycemic load recipes I've either found or created, maybe sharing some pics of our new home and getting back to some crafting and jewelry-making. 

I'm celebrating change with the following leading ladies:

Our Delightful Home Show Me What You Got Linky
Skip to My Lou Made by You Monday
Boogieboard Cottage Masterpiece Monday


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring Equinox!

The sun is struggling to peak through the clouds here in central Ohio, and it's only 31 degrees outside.

But I'm not letting that get me down! I'm celebrating Spring with some great finds at my local thrift store.

First off, you should know that part of my jovial mood is a direct result of a new man in my life. Yes, this crazy thrifty crafter is falling hard. This is how bad it is . . . I often picture this scene from Elf in my mind . . .

.

I love Will Ferrell.
So anyway, with that in mind, what better way to celebrate Spring than with a new outfit, or two, or three!

Banana Republic wrap-around dress
Forever 21 lightweight cotton print skirt

These leather wedges go perfect with the dress!

black and tan leather wedges just for fun


A cream-colored poncho will be perfect with almost everything.

Lime green and sporting some shorts underneath, this skirt looks fabulous with black tights and boots!

BIG FIND OF THE DAY, BORN LEATHER SANDALS FOR FRIGGIN' $8!!!! The soles look like they've barely been worn. The most comfortable sandal I've ever owned by far. Woohoo!!! As my friend Kay says, I do like me some fugly shoes. I'll be wearing these babies all summer long!





























I'm hitchin' my wagon to these bright shining stars!

Friday, February 8, 2013

New Work and New and Old Friends

I had a couple of bad days this week. Not that anything bad happened. It's just that I was down in the dumps, feelin' the weight of the world, all of that. I think my mother would characterize it as feeling sorry for myself.

A cheerful 70s brooch complemented with
ceramic and glass beads and vintage faux pearls.
A day like that messes with my motivation. It derails all my plans to get things accomplished. Suddenly I feel like all I can do is the bare minimum, go through the motions.

So I taught my students, I went to my metal fabrication class, and I practiced guitar once or twice. At night I read a little and watched Downton Abbey on Netflix (I've just started watching the first season). I didn't make any jewelry at all, so the pieces I'm posting today were made in the last few weeks because I just didn't have it in me this week.

And Tuesday and Wednesday were kinda just dragging along. I just felt lonely and useless and stuck in this house, and . . . well . . . you know the feeling, right?

But in the course of those two days, here's what else happened.

Tuesday, my buddy from Rhode Island calls. He and I have been friends for 30 years and we spend way too much time on the phone talking about politics, relationships, music, you name it. He can converse on almost any subject fairly well and we, usually, enjoy one another's company immensely.

Rustic and romantic with rose quarts and glass beads on a leather cord.
Wednesday, one of my dearest and oldest friends calls from further north of here. She's another one I talk with regularly. I confess to her about how the last couple days is going for me. She doesn't berate me, she doesn't try to motivate me, she just listens to me and then tells me that some days are like that and she understands how I feel.

Wednesday night rolls around and the phone rings again, and it's my new friend who lives in southern Ohio. Since he's kind of a new friend, I don't burden him with my troubles, but we're talking about this and that and he suddenly says the sweetest thing in the world and I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. After a couple seconds of silence, he sensed something and commented that I must be in deep thought. I managed to laugh and told him that I was just struck by how sweet he is.

An amber earring anchors this charm necklace
filled with vintage baubles.
So Thursday rolls around and I wake up to the sun shining in central Ohio. If you live anywhere near here, you know how long it's been since the sun shone for any length of time. And I'm still kinda feelin' sorry for myself, but I manage to get up and get moving, get some work done and head out the door to buy new glazes for my ceramic pendants.

And as I'm getting through the checkout line with six new pots of glaze--all cheery Spring colors, I promise--my phone rings again. This time, it's a new friend I met on Block Island last summer. And his voice is joyful and soothing, encouraging, affirming, and grateful. He makes me smile and I am forced to realize that I have such wonderful friends who care about me and want me to succeed and be well and be happy and I have no good friggin' reason to be feeling sorry for myself.

So enough of that! Let's make some more jewelry!

An old key, tigers' eye and czech glass hanging randomly on a ribbon.
I'm calling these my buttony-button wrist wraps. 

These will be my summer staple.



I'm off to glaze ceramic pendants with cheery Spring colors!

A vintage brooch combined with contemporary glass beads.

I'm springing over to these fine ladies' parties:

The Dedicated House Make It Pretty Monday

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Winter Bounty

There are those who feel that being deprived of sunlight during the winter months makes them depressed and generally unable to get motivated.

As you might have guessed, I am not one of those people. Instead . . .

I find the cold winter months to be exhilarating!

I get to use my 4-wheel drive in the Jeep, I am forced to bundle up in order to walk the dog or shovel snow, and I get to relish indoor work like making soups and hearty one-pot dishes that warm the body and comfort the soul.

Another reason I am energized by winter is the fact that I love snow. Yes you heard me right . . .
 
I LOVE SNOW! 

There is something incredibly energizing about waking up to a blanket of snow on the ground. The light it reflects, even when the sun is not out, renews my spirit and motivates me in a different way than the sunny summer days do.

Today in central Ohio, I awoke to another new dusting of snow on top of a couple inches we got yesterday,

so I'm a happy girl!

This past month I've kept myself busy indoors cooking, baking, and creating new jewelry pieces for my upcoming show. But I remind myself to take time to go outside and enjoy the snow. Having a dog that loves snow and doesn't mind cold is a gift and it helps me remember how much I have always loved this time of year.

Whether you are one of those people who enjoys winter or not, I highly recommend taking time to enjoy the quiet wonder of the winter season.


Daisy's little paws get packed with snow after a winter walk.


Daisy and I on a winter hike at our favorite Metro Park.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Avant Garde Art and Craft Show

I've hooked up with this fabulous new series of art and craft shows happening all over Ohio. This will be my first show with them but I attended their last one and this is a creative bunch of contemporary crafters. You'll get lots of inspiration and gift ideas at this show. This is where Pinterest, Etsy, and the crafting blogosphere all come together under one roof!
 
 
 
Saturday, February 16, 2013
11:00am-5:00pm
St. Agatha Church (Parish Hall)
1860 Northam Road
Columbus, OH 43221


Come see all my latest buttony-button jewelry, ceramic pendants and upcycled vintage costume refinery!
 
You can check out my info on their blog here.

Hope to see some friends there!