Heart disease redux, and vermouth pasta
I have spent the last year eagerly anticipating my annual cholesterol test. Some Eat veterans might remember my shocking news from last summer, when I learned that my bad cholesterol was above normal, and that I was at risk for heart disease later in life. I got some good comments on that post, and endless advice from friends and colleagues since then. Most people agreed that it was a bad reading, since I wasn’t warned not to eat breakfast before the test and I ate a whole bagel with cream cheese (and salami!) just before going in. Nevertheless, I made changes to my diet over the last year: I cut out most charcuterie. I stopped having a bowl of ice cream every night. I stopped keeping crème fraîche on hand. I cut my breakfast down to a half bagel from a whole bagel, and I started using peanut butter instead of cream cheese some of the time. I also exercised a bit last summer, running and swimming every week.
All of this resulted in a five-pound weight loss. But it did not lower my cholesterol. Instead, my LDL jumped from 128 to 147, and that was after fourteen hours of fasting. Mom says it might be genetic, but does that mean I should work harder to lower it, or just not bother? My triglycerides are practically negative, and my body-mass index tells me I’m below my ideal weight. I suppose I’ll keep trying to lower the LDL, and to get the HDL solidly above 60 (it’s at 58).
In the meantime, eating has become difficult. Tonight, I wanted to make something that required hard work and few ingredients. A coworker told me this afternoon that she had just seen a chef make a wonderful pasta with nothing but two cups of flour and three quarters of a cup of white wine. That sounded like just the challenge I needed.
But this was no challenge. Pasta gets easier every time you make it, and this dough posed no problems at all. I used the food processor, which turned the flour and wine (vermouth, in my case, as I had no regular wine on hand) into a ball in about three seconds. After 30 minutes in the refrigerator, it was ready to be rolled and cut. The dough smelled strongly of the wine, which made the work more pleasant than usual, and it needed nothing but a sauce of caramelized onions and thyme (confession: and a couple tablespoons of heavy cream) to turn into a light and wonderful summer dinner.