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Archive for November, 2009

A mistake has been made.  Risotto is not difficult.  When I ask people about risotto the first thing they all most always say is “I love risotto!”.  When I ask them if they’ve made it I’ve gotten an almost angry “What? Are you kidding?” to a furtive side-eyed, foot shuffling “Well, no.”  The consensus is that it’s too difficult to make at home, they don’t have the cooking skills for that dish, it should be enjoyed in a restaurant on special occasions.  Bah!  Not true.  If you can stir a pot and pay attention for a few minutes at a time you can make risotto.  You should be making risotto.  All kinds of it.  It is such a comfort food, right up there with mashed potatoes and chocolate milk.  (Seriously, every couple of years don’t you just have to buy one of the little containers with the brown cows on it, shake it up, and chug it?) There is no secret handshake, no closely guarded ancient recipe.  Buy the right rice, keep your heat at a slow simmer, and stir often.  And yes, before you ask, this is another sq _ _ h recipe.  It will be refered to only as butternut (code name: The Big B) so as not to incite a “Not another sq _ _h recipe!  Let’s get her!” riot.  We won’t say the “S” word, and Big B is in the house.

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Things are complicated these days.  Life has gotten busier, faster, bigger.  We are all so intent on flying around and through our lives as quickly as possible that we have books, television programs, and magazines devoted to telling us how to slow and simplify, classes to teach us to breathe, and therapists to force us to relax.  While they have a point, they seem to forget how much we and everyone else expects us to do in a single day.  I totally understand.  I know, I get it.  There are times that I worry over worrying.  Craziness abounds.  But I’ve got your back.  At least for this one small recipe.  This is minimum effort, maximum results.  It tastes like you spent a long time stirring and seasoning, channeling an italian nonna from long ago.  Ha! E’ la magia!  You might even have a bit of time to breathe.

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This is going to be a quick post, and really up until a few hours ago I didn’t think it would be a post at all.  I could show you some pictures, but in all honesty they’re not that pretty.  I could just give you the recipe, it’s not difficult.  But there wasn’t anything to really tie it together and make it feel like it had some substance, a story.  Now it has a little one.  My friend Lauren works out with me a couple days of the week, and inevitably we end up talking about food, what to eat tonight, or “you’re kidding me, you’re so not eating that tonight!”, what we’re cooking and how to cook it.  And what’s coming up on the blog.  As we know here from previous posts that I went on hard-shelled squash rampage, gathering as many as I could shove into the car.  I know….what was I thinking? Who can tell, but the upshot of all this, is that I’m working my way through all those squash things and I’ve talked about it so much that my friends now are thinking ‘What’s for dinner”  “Why squash is for dinner!”  I’m sorry guys, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.  I’ve been telling Lauren about this carnival squash that I’m going to fill with a savory bread pudding filling and bake.  I thought it would be yummy and creamy, maybe a bit cheesy, definitely savory.  She’s been giving me the wrinkled nose faces and then the mulling it over faces, and now the seriously thinking about faces combined with suggestions and questions!  Yeah….finally.  I’m on my way back from an art opening and I get texted from Lauren,(LT) “So if I try this squash thing, and cook it with buffalo and sausage like we talked about (I remember talking about adding sausage, thought it was a good idea.  I’m a little fuzzy on the buffalo thing.) does it matter what kind of squash I use?”  MT (my text) Try using an acorn style squash.  Spaghetti and butternut wouldn’t really work for this.  Also squash will be done if it’s soft when you poke it gently but it doesn’t collapse on itself.  LT “Hmmmmmm..ok.  Here we go 🙂  Cook at 450? ” MT “NO! 350 TO 375.”  LT (so cute!) “Oh…Golly…450 is way to hot”   MT “Ya Think?”  LT “I guess”   MT “You’ll do fine, will take at least an hour to cook”.  LT “Good to know, Thanks!”

So hours go by, no more texts.  She’s got under control.  Finally, I couldn’t stand it.  I had to know what happened with the darn squash!   MT “How did you do”    LT “Still cooking, damn.  Almost done”   I leave her to finish her meal and relax, figuring it’s just fine.  I get the next text, with a picture from her phone, of a stuffed squash on a plate by itself in weird lighting..lol.  Text is this:   “Looks gross, but tastes good!” If it tastes good, she did great!  That would be the hard part, getting everything seasoned and melded together to make something that tastes good.  But here’s the thing we all have to remember:

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It’s fall.  Not just the beginning, leaves are turning, crispy apple, time to get another blanket fall.  Fall as in warm scarfs, the first snow has already fallen, Thanksgiving is almost here fall.  Some of us are already mourning the summer’s bountiful gifts and getting used to turning on the oven every other day to cook.  The fruit and produce sections of the grocery are decidedly muted with the autumn colors of deep red, and green and orange.  Apples and pears, hard-shelled squash and potatoes abound, calling out for roasting.  And you know how I feel about roasting.  Happy faces all around!  All these lovely things to chop and season and stuff into hot ovens, making your whole house smell delicious and filling your belly with soft  warmth.  Late fall has always been a particularly lovely time, a celebratory time.  The harvest is in, the cupboards are filled, and we start to gather and settle ourselves.  I seem to be home more now, and thoughts of the coming holidays and gathering of friends and family are occupying my thoughts.  While I’m curled on the sofa, planning and dreaming, a bowl of this pear crisp, warm and fragrant is a fabulous thing to be holding.  Pears are at their best right now, and this crisp shows their creamy, melting side off.  If you make this once, I’m sure you’ll make it again.  I have pears on the counter again, waiting their turn.

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