Monday, January 12, 2009

Random Monday

Quickie Baby Sweater
The little pink "5-hour" (ha!) baby sweater (that I knit a while back) was a big hit at a baby shower over the weekend. I included one of Franklin's darling "Knit for You" cards with washing instructions, as well as a copy of Sandra Boynton's Belly Button Book! My friend actually had tears in her eyes when she realized I had knit the sweater, which really surprised me. I had hoped to finish hand-quilting a little stroller quilt, too, but life got in the way.
While not something I usually read, Mother-Jones featured an interesting critical article on self-deprivation as a mode of self-discovery.
Check out this great Fleet Foxes concert available at NPR -- you can either stream it or download it. Even if you're not too into recent music, the Fleet Foxes are worth a listen. I'd describe the sound as a mixture of the Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel.
My MIL gave me this lovely cookbook as a Christmas gift, and just paging through it is a joy. The photography is beautiful, and it's incredibly charming. My only complaint is that the typeface can be hard to read -- the font is a bit odd and thin, and the ink is grey rather than black.

Kiros' Tomato Risotto recipe was a hit on New Year's Eve. I made a few minor modifications, and I served it with a green salad and pomegranate champagne cocktails. Perhaps not the most authentically Italian combo, but very yummy! It was the first time I actually made the broth for risotto; this was a bit more labor-intensive. On the flip side, Kiros calls for much less work during the actual risotto prep than I'm used to -- none of the constant figure-8 stirring.

Tomato Risotto
Adapted from Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook, by Tessa Kiros

Serves 3 as a main dish

1/2 red onion, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled
1/2 leafy celery stalk
3 parsley stalks (or 1/2 tsp. dried parsley)
1/2 small tomato
5 C. water

2 T. olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
pinch of dried chile flakes
1 C. arborio rice (risotto rice AKA short-grain rice)
1 C. canned whole tomatoes, pureed (use just the tomatoes from a 14.5 oz. can, not the juice)
2 large basil leaves, torn
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
2/3 C. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I like BelGioioso)
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
freshly ground black pepper, to serve

For the broth, put the onion, carrot, celery, parsley, and tomato in a pan with 5 cups of water. Add salt (or even a little veggie broth concentrate, like Better Than Bouillon, especially if you don't have celery, parsley, or carrots on hand) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 min., then turn the heat down as low as it will go and leave the pan over the heat. You can discard the solids.

Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven works). Saute the onion and garlic over low-medium heat for about 5 min., or until lightly golden. Stir in the chile flakes and rice, and cook for another minute. Add half the tomato puree, half the basil, and 1.5 C. of the hot broth.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the tomato puree and the remaining broth, and simmer for 10 min. more or until the risotto is cooked. If it needs another few minutes or a little more liquid, just use hot water. Remove the garlic cloves and throw them away. Stir in the 2 cheese and the remaining basil. Serve as soon as the mozzarella starts to melt, with extra Parmesan and black pepper if desired.
While we're on the subject of recipes, I could use a little help. Paul's doctor prescribed a bland diet for him for a month. The list of prohibited foods includes red meat, anything greasy/fried, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol...

The worst part? Nothing spicy! No spices or extra seasoning. Anybody have any links to good recipes? I'm not big on cooking meat, so veg is best, but I can handle seafood and boneless skinless chicken breasts. This is proving a true challenge for me.

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