Monday, February 28, 2011

Adventures in Japanese Street Food

On one of my first few dates with Jerry, I ate penis.  Hi Mom!  I believe when Jerry asked me whether I would try it, my response was "I'm always down to eat some dick!" I'm pretty sure it's the moment he fell in love with me.

You could say that we're adventurous eaters. Jerry more so then myself. If there is something bizarre and unusual on a menu, Jerry will find it, order it, and then try to make it at home. I can't even tell you what his "home version" of penis was. Don't worry, Mom. I didn't fall for it. :)

Kenka is a Japanese restaurant on St. Mark's Place in the Village. It specializes in Japanese street food and is delicious. It's kind of a dive-y place, but worth the salmonella risk! There are times, usually when intoxicated, that I will crave the okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake). I was excited about taking Jerry there because dive-y places is kind of his thing and the menu is filled with oddities. Plus, they give you free cotton candy (perfect for a diabetic!).
For starters, we ordered the raw salted squid, which taste like...well, salt, but squishier. We also ordered giant oysters that were the size of your fist! Initially, these babies were difficult to get down. They needed several bites. At the time, I thought they were mildly disgusting, like trying to ingest giant boogers (hey, we've all tried one, no?). Now when I think about it, they were better then boogers.

Oysters the size of your head!
We also ordered frog. No, not frog legs, but an entire frog. I felt badly eating the little guy, but he was delicious. I tried to justify that he's part of the fish family. Kermit made Jerry want to go out and make frog legs. It does mildly resemble the taste of chicken.

And, then finally, the feast de'resistance...the penis! Bull penis, that is. Be not afraid my friends.

It was.....creamy (eewwww). Actually, Jerry and I have differing views on the texture. I thought it had the texture of over-cooked calamari. Jerry describes it more as spongy. Notice I haven't mentioned taste yet. Mostly because it had none. It just tasted like whatever the sauce it was in.

So there you go! There's my first installment of our food adventures! Hope you enjoyed the penis!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rules of the House

My roomie, Heather, is pretty easy going. She's flexible about most things. But, there is one rule of the house (besides running water on your dishes in the sink) that she is very firm on. No dying allowed.

Yes, Heather had laid down the specific rule that I am not allowed to die. The same rule applies to her.

This specific rule was brought to my attention when I had a sudden moment of dementia! I take Lantus, long-lasting insulin, in the evenings before bed. For the most part, I am very good about taking my insulin when I'm suppose to. Occasionally, I may take it a little bit later then usual, but only by an hour or so. One night a few weeks ago, I swore I took my Lantus! I can remember sitting on my bed, looking at the clock, and thinking "Oh, time to take my Lantus." I would bet anything that I did actually take it!

Except, when I got up the next morning, the Lantus was still in my purse from crashing at Jerry's the night before. Is it possible I took it and got out of bed to put it back in my purse? Absolutely not. I'm one lazy motherfucker! There's few things that would actually pull me out of bed and putting away my insulin is definitely not one of them. On the other hand, my numbers were fine all day.

When I told Heather about this lapse in memory, she reprimanded me and stated "There's one rule in this house! No dying allowed!"

I'm pretty sure that if she wasn't already running late for work, she would have put me in Time Out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brown Paper Lunch Bags

Ever wonder what else you can do with brown paper lunch bags besides puppets and, well, lunch bags? How about using them to make popcorn? Yes, popcorn!

I love popcorn. My least favorite part of (microwave) popcorn is reaching my hand into that gross, chemical-filled bag. You know what I mean. When you reach into the bag, your hand scraps against the top of it and you end up with weird, neon-colored "butter" all over it. Ick.

About a year ago, I started making my own microwave popcorn. Initially, I started making popcorn this way so I could control what goes in it. I could control the salt and eliminate whatever other crap additives are usually in microwave popcorn. Plus, I can flavor it up how ever I want to (like with hot smoked paprika or Italian seasonings). 

But now, on top of feeling superior about my healthier, natural popcorn, I have also realized that it has a positive impact on my blood sugar! 2 1/2 cups of my popcorn equals 15gs of carbs whereas 1 cup of regular "all-natural" microwave popcorn equals 18g of carbs!

Brown Paper Bag Popcorn

1/4 cup of popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon oil (olive oil, canola oil, all those flavored olive oils that you don't know what to do with, add it to your popcorn!)
Seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, oregano, basil, hot smoked paprika, Parmesan cheese, etc.)
1 brown paper lunch bag
staples or tape

1. Mix popcorn kernels and oil in cup.
2. Put popcorn-oil mix in brown paper bag.
3. Fold the paper bag with two 1/2 inch folds and then staple or tape bag shut. Yes, you can use the staples in the microwave without it exploding, but if you don't believe, you can use tape instead. 
4. Place in your microwave on predetermined popcorn setting. If you're microwave doesn't have one, then put it in for 2 1/2 minutes and wait until the popping slows to about 1 pop every few seconds. Don't wait too long or it will burn. 
5. Remove from bag to bowl and season with spices of choice.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be There with Bells On....

Unwrapping the present, I heard the faint jingling of bells from inside the box. Curious as to its contents, I looked up to see Jerry with a huge, toothy grin spread across his face. His excited anticipation immediately made me nervous. Knowing Jerry, anything could have been in that box! I had to stop myself from violently shoving the gift in his face at the last possible second as I assumed something would be flying out at me and latching onto my face! 

Finally making it through the tissue paper, preparing for the impending blow, I revealed a pair of feetie pajamas with skulls and crossbones and….bells. Yes, bells. Immediately, Jerry insisted that I put them on. Laughing hysterically, I put the pajamas on while Jerry videotaped me dancing around in them while Jingle Bells played in the background.

Anyone who knows Jerry knows what a sick sense of humor he has. When I was first diagnosed, Jerry worried about overnight hypoglycemia. He worried that Heather (the roomie) would not hear me if I happened to go into hypoglycemic convulsions. His solution: pajamas with bells! So in the event of a diabetic seizure, the ringing of bells would awaken others in the apartment (hence the skulls and crossbones). It sounds morbid. And it is! In that special twisted, Jerry kind of way.

That night, I surprised my family with Jerry’s pajamas. The dogs’ ears stood on alert as I jingled my way into the living room. We all laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks and we were gasping for air. It was the first opportunity since I was diagnosed for the family to really laugh about diabetes. Jerry gave that to us….in addition to a pair of ridiculous pajamas and a broken pasta maker.

There are many words one can use to describe Jerry. And I use the explicit ones fairly often. But there are some pretty wonderful ones too. Jerry has an uncanny ability to turn a situation around. This ability has definitely come in handy, especially lately. Dating me has not been easy. He has provided me with many bright moments during dark times. I only hope that I can eventually do the same for him.
And if feetie pajamas with bells somehow works into the equation, that’s even better!

Happy Valentine’s Day to one of my best friends and the reason I want to be a better person.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kitchen Sink Cooking

My father cooks something that my sister lovingly refers to as a "vomit omelet." Basically, whatever leftovers are in the fridge will end up in his morning omelet. Shrimp, chicken, sweet potatoes, mahi mahi....and it wouldn't be just one of those, it would be all of those!

I would say that was my first exposure to "kitchen sink cooking." Cooking where you just throw a bunch of crap in a pan and hope for the best! As I make an effort to stay on a budget and eat healthier, I find that I'm doing more kitchen sink cooking. This isn't my usual style. My usual style is to look up a bunch of different recipes and then take bits and pieces from each.

But, not lately! I've been flying by the seat of my pants, moment to moment. Yeah, that's me.

My recent kitchen sink concoction are these lovely veggie/grain burgers, which I made from leftover black beans and quinoa. They're actually pretty good. Really though, this recipe shows that you can be creative with leftovers. Just throw a bunch of crap in the food processor, bind it all together with an egg and form into patties. Voila! Dinner!

Kitchen Sink Veggie Burgers
makes 4 burgers

1/2 medium sized onion
2 carrots, peeled
1 -2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein -- what the hell is this?***
1/4 cup oats
1/3 cup cooked quinoa
2 - 3 tablespoons flax seeds
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 - 2 tsp smoked hot paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

1. Prepare textured vegetable protein as stated on label.
2. Place onion, carrots, and garlic into a food processor. Process until veggies are tiny chunks. Use your judgement. Add black beans and process a little more.
3. Place black bean mixture into a bowl and add TVP through salt and paper. Stir until mixture comes together and you can form burgers. If the mixture is a little too wet, add more breadcrumbs or oats.
4. Form mixture into patties and brown over medium heat in non-stick skillet. Be careful because they are still a little fragile. Flip after 5 - 6 minutes and cook on the other side.

***Textured vegetable protein is a meat substitute made from defatted soy flour. Mmmm....sounds delicious, no? In fact, they use it as a meat extender in institutions in hospitals and prisons! Anything they serve in prison has got to be good! Actually, it's not that bad and usually takes on the flavor of whatever its cooked with.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

That's Just Crazy Talking....

Call me paranoid, but every once in a while, I think my blood glucose monitor is lying to me. And I don't mean just once. I mean over and over again, like any good liar does!

You're assuming I think this way when there's been a period of high numbers. Like I'm in such deep denial that I can't understand how that double-chocolate cheesecake could have possibly given me a 310. Well, you'd be wrong, my friend!!! I usually think that way during a period of good numbers. Actually, a period of good numbers AND some ketoacidosis symptom.

Just for those of you that don't know, ketoacidosis is when your body is not able to use glucose (sugar) as a source of fuel, primarily because your pancreas is a lazy fuck and won't do its god damn job to produce insulin (what? It's not like I'm bitter!). Your body begins to use body fat instead. Which actually sounds awesome, right? Until you're thirsty to all hell, exhausted from not having anything to fuel your body, and your vital organs become toxic and you fall into a coma. Then....not so awesome. I've been there, stopping short of the whole toxic organ thing.

There are times when I'll be really, really thirsty and I'll assume it's because I have high blood sugar. I'll check my blood sugar, just to confirm my theory and be greeted with a 125. Or I'll feel particularly thin one day and assume it's because my body is starting to eat itself again, only to have a 103.

So, of course, rather then assume that I am crazy....I am going to assume that my blood glucose monitor is a liar.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Morbid Thoughts about Broccoli!

I like to prepare my food for the week on Sundays and Mondays. I usually make a few different things that I can take for lunch or grab for a quick dinner. You may think it's a dorky thing to do, but that's just because you're jealous! At least that's what my mom tells me (thanks mom!).

The other day I was preparing the following recipe, whose main ingredient is broccoli. Prior to its cooking, I had been up at my parents, talking with my dad...well, really, I was listening to my dad talk about nutrition. He said that the stem of the broccoli has more cancer fighting properties then the florets. Usually, I throw away the broccoli stems, but this time I thought "Well, it would suck to have cancer AND diabetes, might as well throw in the stems!"

Totally morbid. A little depressing. But the stems were delicious! I can feel their cancer-fighting power coursing through my little veins even as we speak (b/c you and I are in a conversation now, much like how you would be with my dad).

Also, a note about my pictures. They're terrible. I know. They definitely don't make you want to eat what I'm eating. But just remember, I'm using my phone's camera to take all these pictures. So, it's actually not too terrible, right?

Roasted Broccoli with Tahini Sauce and Bulgur

Roasted Broccoli
1 1/2 pounds broccoli
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Break broccoli into florets. Toss with olive oil and place on baking sheet.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip. Bake for another 5 minutes until florets are browned. Serve with tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup water
1 quarter lemon

1. Heat chopped garlic cloves in olive oil until fragrant.
2. Add 2 tbsps of tahini with 1/3 cup of water. Stir until think again.
3. Add squeeze of lemon. Done!

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup bulgur
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water

1. Heat olive oil in pot. Add chopped onion and garlic to pot. Saute.
2. Add bulgur to pot. Toast lightly.
3. Add veggie broth and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until bulgur is tender.
4. Serve broccoli over bulgur