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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING: French toast? French cake?

I know from experience December and January birthdays can get lost in the holiday shuffle. But there’s always plenty of food. I attended my friend’s daughter’s 23rd birthday family meal, which was on the heels of their pre-Christmas Christmas gumbo the day before. That’s why the dessert buffet included chocolate cake, cookie cake, nut bread, lemon cake, pie, another kind of pie, brownies, bread pudding, ice cream, chocolate candies and some other temptations I may have missed.

That’s why they begged me to take a mystery cake home. It was a little dry by the fourth day, but no matter. I figured if an egg wash and grilling in butter makes French toast, I could make French cake out of “lost bread.” Don’t worry. I’ve attempted this before with stellar results. That’s what became of French mystery cake, with a dusting of pumpkin pie spice on top. So glad to have helped another family with a dessert rescue.

Diabetic comfort food

Master basics from seared chicken breast and pan-grilled pork chops to sautéed shrimp and (don’t be alarmed) tofu, and you’re on your way to mixing and matching a lifestyle from “The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection.” Robyn Webb gives readers “9 Essential Recipes You Need to Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals.”

Doubters? Try Thai Beef Salad, Blackened Beef Tacos and Apple Cider Chicken and pretend you’re in a restaurant. But you’re at home, controlling the ingredients you don’t want and boosting the flavor of your nutritious options. Wait until you get to the lasagna chapters. You can try something new for nine days in a row, but hey, you’d want those leftovers, too.

This book has the American Diabetes Association stamp and the author offers reminders for seasoned cooks. Reminder: Pick a theme, such as Italian or Asian, for your salad and it will come out better than if you simply dump and toss ingredients. On that note, here’s one of the dressing choices that go with a spinach and mushroom salad:

Hot Bacon Dressing

4 slices lean bacon, chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped,

2 cloves garlic, mince

one half cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoons tomato paste

Cook the bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste. Stir to blend. Toss salad with dressing and serve.

Thank you, pig

A plastic child is excited by a fish market’s case full of crab and lobster in the Fine Dining section of “Animals of the World,” a Richard Unglik Playmobil book. Again, those little toys go around the world for adventures and share how they live. The counter man on the meat market page wields a tiny cleaver! Readers are asked to celebrate all the animals, large and small, who provide us with the nutrition that is essential for our growth. “Thanks to you, little pig, who gives us ham, bacon and sausages,” the book reads. “Don’t forget the fish, crabs, mussels and shrimp that smell so delicious on our plates!”

darraghcastillo@icloud.com