Thursday, January 21, 2010

life interrupts, and some food porn

So yesterday was one of those days in which the more mundane parts of my life stand up and demand attention. It was oil delivery day, and the furnace ran out of fuel during the night. So I woke up to a cold house, more snow coming down, and I needed to go shovel. Wah. I trudged off grumbling, shoveled just the bare minimum required and came back to sit shiva while I waited for the oil guy. More grumbling ensued, and even some whining. I was COLD, and I wanted to be warm. The furnace also runs the hot water heater, so there was not even the possibility of a hot shower to ease my cold-inspired funk.

Eventually, I got up and started moving around. I cleaned out my closet and bagged up a bunch of stuff to donate to Goodwill. I sorted out dress shirts that have no chance of fitting me again this decade and set them aside for a couple of guys I know who might be able to use them. I turned on the oven to get a little heat in the house, then decided that making corn bread might be nice. Turns out it was nice, and I had a nice little slab of that with some reheated beef stew for my lunch.


Shortly after my delightful repast, the oil man came, delivered my 100 gallons and helped me to restart the furnace. My hands smelled of Number 2 fuel oil for the afternoon, but the heat was on, so I didn't care. I headed back out into the cold to shovel, secure in the knowledge that my humble abode would be warm(er) when I returned.

I got two places done and then it started to snow again in earnest. I gave up and came home. There is no sense trying to shovel when it's coming down like that, so now I am up at 0-dark-30 in the morning to get out there and get the church cleaned up in time for the kids to get to nursery school. But at least this morning, I am warm as I sit here.

So anyway, I got home last night chilled to the bone. I mean cold. Really cold. The kind of cold that can only be treated with a hot bath and/or some soup or chowder. Well, the hot water was still not entirely hot, and I lacked fish to make chowder, but I did manage to find some interesting things to make a supper. First, I found a pound of sweet Italian sausage meat in the freezer. I thawed it and crumbled it up to cook thusly:


When that was nearly done cooking, I cut up the last eight or nine baby bella mushrooms I had in the fridge and added them:


When they were softened and the sausage was thoroughly cooked, I drained everything, removed the meat and mushrooms and returned the rendered fat to the pan like so:


There was not a lot of fat, so I added a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and then added two cups of Arborio rice like this:


One of the tricks to making risotto is to cook the rice in oil with no other liquid for the first few minutes, until each grain is all shiny and beautiful and you begin to hear the grains go "crack! crack!" in the pan.


I added some chopped sweet onion to give it some depth of flavor:


And when that was cooked down just the tiniest bit, I added some chicken broth:


Yes, that is a name brand, and no, I don't usually use such fancy stuff. But this was on sale for like three bucks a case at Marden's, so I've got a ton of it in the house. The rice drank up that first can pretty quickly, and looked like this:


So I added another can and it looked like this:

When that cooked down some, I added the sausage and mushrooms back in:

I mixed it in and then added a can's worth of water to cook the rice some more:


Then I cooked it down some more, tasted it and found the rice still a little bit firm, so I added another can of water and cooked it until it looked like this:

At which point I took it off the heat, covered it and let it sit for ten minutes. All excess liquid was absorbed by the rice, and it was a thick, creamy, tasty bowl of wonderful at my table.

Oh, and here's the kind of rice I used. I got it at my regular grocery store.

And yes, getting the fancy kind of rice DOES make a difference. Regular rice just cooks down into a starchy paste. Arborio rice releases starch and sugars and becomes very creamy and smooth, and it makes a huge difference.

That's what I have for today. Perhaps more exploration in the spiritual realm tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

msladydeborah said...

There's nothing like a good hot home cooked meal during winter. Your dish looks really tasty.