Things have been crazy around our place these past few weeks. My head is still spinning from all that’s been going on around here. In addition to my husband’s travels overseas and the kids and their long list of extracurricular activities, I decided it was time for me to embark on a new journey: I got an insulin pump.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this fun little gadget, let me fill you in. An insuling pump is a beeper-sized computer that attaches to my body via a skinny tube that is inserted in my waist (or belly or thigh). It’s programmed by my Endocrinologist and Certified Diabetes Educator to dose my insulin with the push of a few buttons. It delivers a steady stream of insulin to manage my bloodsugar when I am not eating, this is called a basal rate. Then, when I am ready to eat, I tell it how many carbohydrates I’m going to have and what my bloodsugar is and it calculates my needed insulin and delivers it. The whole process has been mind-numbing what with all the doctor appointments, insurance issues, finger sticks, high & low bloodsugars, etc. I’ve had it on live, with insulin, for 3 days now and I’m finally adjusting. It’ll take some time to get used to something attached to me 24/7 but in the end I hope it will improve my disease management and help me lead a more normal and healthy life. As Martha says, “It’s a good thing”. I hate Martha though.
To celebrate getting the pump, a friend and I went out to breakfast to a fancy, shmancy French restaurant here in town. We had perused their menu online and simply had to try their foie gras, truffle and Boursin cheese omelette with pear compote. Doesn’t that sound like the most amazing thing ever? I am an admitted egg and foie gras whore and the thought of these two glorious food things combined in one dish nearly sent me over the edge. I told anyone and everyone about my upcoming breakfast. They listened but didn’t understand the level of my obsession. I think I built it up too much in my mind though. Sadly, the omelette was a major disappointment. I know, I could’ve cried too. The omelette itself was cooked well, but there was too little foie gras and too much truffle. The cheese was good but what they described as “pear compote” was more like three slices of cooked pears. C’est la vie.
While all this fun stuff was going on, my better half was in Switzerland for a week on business. How jealous was I when he sent me photographs, taken with his cell phone camera, of the Matterhorn and phoned to tell me of the delicious cheeses and breads he was eating? Very jealous. He was in Lausanne, a French-speaking city that overlooks Lake Geneva and The Alps. But enough about that, let’s get to the food. He promised to bring us back lots of Swiss chocolates. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate blanche(white) and truffles. While he was there I got to thinking about Gruyere cheese. It’s a slightly sweet and salty hard, cow’s milk cheese, commonly used in Quiche Lorraine, French onion soup and fondue. Well, I did some research and I found that you can bring hard cheeses through U.S. Customs – Yay! I put in an order with my husband for a nice hunk of aged Gruyere. Guess what? More bad news. The Swiss police confiscated it when he passed through security! A $35 hunk of cheese gone as quick as it was acquired. They probably had it for lunch, the dirty bastards. Why in the name of all that is tasty, would the Swiss care if you left with cheese? I can understand them not wanting you to bring IN cheese or other food products, but carry out is bad? Why? I truly don’t understand and wish someone cold enlighten me. Man, what I wouldn’t give for that cheese. Having been denied it makes me want it all the more. So sad.
Okay, let’s move on to the pork and the yummy photographs. I have this recipe for Slow-Braised Pork with Black Grapes and Shallots that I found in Bon Appetit a couple of years ago. Every since we first tried it, it has become a winter staple for our family. I’m a huge fan of the slow braise and the tough meats that are transformed into tender pull apart, silky goodness. The rich, dark sauces that spoon so nicely over mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, polenta or egg noodles. For me, it’s the perfect comfort food. Here’s a brief slide show of the cooking process, which is quite easy. All you need is patience for the slow, two-hour braise.
Bon Appétit | October 2005
1 3 1/4-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed, cut into 3 equal pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 large shallots, halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
3 cups seedless black grapes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large fresh sage sprigs
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 13 minutes total. Transfer pork to plate; discard fat in pot.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium heat. Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add sugar; sauté 30 seconds. Add vinegar; bring mixture to boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add broth, all herb sprigs, and pork with juices from plate. Bring to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise pork 1 hour. Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.
Remove herb sprigs from pot and skim fat from surface of cooking liquid. Boil cooking liquid over high heat until thickened, about 7 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour over pork and serve.