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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I didn't make it to town yesterday for provisions, so I made a very simple risotto for supper (and Mr. Chalmers brought a chicken home from the store). I made something like this for lunch nearly every day while I was in Italy a couple years ago; at the last minute I'd fold in a handful of gorgeous Treviso radicchio. This time I just used red onion and red wine, and it was still great, an excellent meal to make with things from the cupboard.

Red risotto: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over high heat and add 1/2 sliced red onion and about 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, then pour in a glass or so of red wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine is almost evaporated, then pour in 1 cup chicken stock. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently and adding more stock as it evaporates and is absorbed by the rice, for about 30 minutes, until the rice is soft but still holds its shape and the risotto is creamy-looking; stir in a touch more wine, then let the risotto thicken a bit at the end of the cooking. Here's where you'd fold in the radicchio and a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, right before you serve it. Season with salt and pepper.

Quick stock: Lest you think I used real chicken stock, here's a trick: put a boullion cube, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns in a Pyrex measuring cup with some water and heat it in the microwave oven for a couple minutes. (It's better, though, if you do this in a pan on the stove and let it simmer for 10 or 20 minutes.)
What the bug has been eating: winter squash; summer squash with basil, garlic (just a bit), and a tiny bit of olive oil (her favorite so far); stewed prunes with rice cereal; green beans; zucchini. She's had tastes of just about everything we've eaten, too, including, god help her, raw ginger (which she didn't hate, though it made her drool even more than usual) and braunschweiger. This is a bad picture, but representative of what happens: she grabs the spoon and tries to shove it in her mouth herself, then gets frustrated that there's no longer anything on it, and I have to yank it out of her hand in order to fill it up again.

Further on the subject, I laid out the outline of a dining room table on the floor, then walked into "town" to ask the man who owns the junk store slash "old wood warehouse" if he'd make one for us. He said he would, and is going to use thick old pine wall boards for the top and refinished porch columns for the legs (he usually does beautiful, delicate tapered legs, but I thought those would look too fancy for us). His price was good, and he said he could finish in six weeks. It'll be seven feet long. We're going to try to lower the light fixture that's in the ceiling so it hangs right over the table.

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