Be Not Afraid

Dear readers.  I come to you with a humble offering.  In my former life at Furman (my metaphorical womb) our dining hall was my version of an umbilical cord, feeding me nutritious meals for the delicious price of $0. Thanks, Mom and Dad. However, we all have to be born sometime. Since my delivery from Furman, I have sought to re-create the healthfulness of dinner--and maybe up the delicious factor a notch.  Sometimes I have succeeded, sometimes failed miserably. Tackling the kitchen by myself can be a daunting task.

For all of you who are also faced with the frightening notion of COOKING, fear not. I have a recipe that sounds wildly complicated but is really quite simple. Risotto. Light, delicious, easy. A true triple threat.
And yes, you read me correctly. For although traditional risotto (one of the staples of Milanese cuisine) may strike fear into the hearts of novice cooks and health nuts--what with its creamy texture and use of multiple pots--this recipe is easy and much lighter than typical risotto. Behold.
asparagus-and-ham-risotto.jpg picture by abonney
Springtime Risotto
Dishes Needed
One sauce pan (for heating the stock)
One large non-stick pan for making the rest of the dish
Food Ingredients
One large box of vegetable or chicken stock (contains about four cups).
One cup arborio rice. Don't try to use a different rice, it won't work. The way that type of rice is meant to be prepared is perfect for a risotto dish.
One half cup dry wine. Cooking wine is fine, but I prefer to make my dishes with the same wine that I will serve. Makes the flavors blend better. But don't go with a sweet wine.  A dry pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc works much, much better.
One half cup freshly grated parmesean cheese.
Two tablespoons (or as I say, a glug) of olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
For seasoning, a few strands of saffron are delicious.
spanishsaffrontreads.jpg image by abonney
However, if saffron is a. too expensive or b. unavailable, a pinch of turmeric works, too.
0013729c050d0931f7f201.jpg image by abonney
Not as light a flavor, but gives the dish a little kick.
Now to the vegetables. That is where you can have some fun.
The original recipe calls for leeks and green garlic. And while I agree that leeks give a light "oniony" flavor without being to strong, and green garlic gives that much-needed garlic punch without being to heavy--I don't believe either are necessary. Go for leeks and green garlic if you want to go for broke, but otherwise I say don't worry about it. Onion and garlic work just fine. Just don't get too much of either. And whatever you do, cut them thin thin thin. These are meant to be compliments, not overpowering agents.
I say half a small-medium onion and one garlic clove is plenty.
And there are the basics. As for vegetables, you can go wild. I think peas, artichokes, sauteed mushrooms, or asparagus would be really delicious in this dish. I tried it with  frozen peas, and it was great. So feel free to try anything. Half the fun of cooking is the experimenting.
Directions
In your saucepan, bring your chicken/vegetable stock to a simmer. It needs to be heated up when you add it to the rice.
In your large non-stick skillet, add your olive oil, onion and garlic, and put to a medium heat. You want to cook these down to release their flavor, but do not brown them. Three minutes is probably good. They still have alotta cookin' to do.
Once those are in good shape, add your rice, and maybe a little more olive oil. It's your call. The coolest thing about arborio rice is that you toast it first. Stir it all around to make sure it is all coated with a little olive oil, about three minutes.
Then turn up the heat a little and add your spices--turmeric or saffron, a pinch of salt, and the wine. Cook until it is absorbed.
Then start adding your stock, about one cup to start.  The broth should bubble. Continue adding a little more as your rice absorbs all the liquid. A half cup every few minutes does it. And keep stirring. You will be adding new liquid for 20-25 minutes.
Once all the liquid is mostly cooked down and your rice is taking on a creamy texture, add in your cheese and other vegetables. I put in my peas in their frozen state and the heat from the rice cooked them right away. Canned artichokes are already cooked so they can go right in. And if you want mushrooms or asparagus, I recommend cooking them seperately in a little olive oil and maybe a little wine before you put them in. But that does use a third pan. I know. I know. Lotta pans for one dish.
Once all that is stirred in, your rice is soft and creamy, and everything is fragrant and delicious, serve it right up with a little pepper on top! I promise you, it sounds complicated, but it is easy. Really. A perfect spring or summer dish to be served with white wine. If you want to make a full meal for it, I suggest a crisp salad with a little olive oil and lemon juice as dressing.
Happy cooking!

Greetings from the Green Planet

I am delighted to be a part of the bright and dizzyingly happy festivities here at A Bonney Blog. I am not only Anna Beth's biggest fan, but if you're also a fan of Anna Beth, then I'm your biggest fan, too. Cheers all around.

[Unless you claim to be Anna Beth's biggest fan. In that case, I challenge you to a thumb war. I've never lost.]

A few notes on the following poem are in order. In keeping with the general tone of this place, I decided to try my hand at a poem about what you might call "universal" love. That is, the love we are capable of holding towards all people at any time—the Greeks would say Agape (since I know so much about Greek and stuff). I am satisfied with how I treated my theme, but now that it's finished it reads a bit darker than what you're probably accustomed to finding around here. But it ends well.

Another thing. This poem is heavily influenced by the rolling style of Bob Dylan's epic Americana poem, "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie." Dylan's poem is very, very long. Mine is only pretty long (I'm twelve words shy of a thousand). His, of course, is much better.

This poem is meant to be heard rather than read. So, here is a recording, followed by the text. That way, if you want, you can feel free to read along with this thing, here.

I Guess

There's a funny feelin' in yer fingerbones
And a tightness in yer head
And you can't remember how yer chest
Got filled up with all them heavy chunks of lead
And yer knees are wobblin' and yer eyes are saggin'
And yer skin is rubberin' like it does when you're dead
And you suspect it's been a long time, but you don't really know
Since the last night you spent sleepin' in yer own room and bed
"It's time to get movin'," you keep sayin' to yerself
Time to start actin' on all them feelin's you've felt
You were gonna meet strangers with stories to tell
And read all them books still settin' up on that shelf
You were gonna write movies, you were gonna save lives
You were gonna take this old world and cut it down to size
At least you were gonna try
You say with a sigh
And you put yer head back down to work until five
Thinkin', "Jesus Christ, I know I used to be alive
I used to wear clothes that made me feel smart
I used to have controversial thoughts about art
I used to drink milkshakes and sing songs and play pranks
Clamoring around in my small, noisy car
What happened to me? Am I failed this soon?
Am I trapped in this white, uncarpeted room
Sweepin' with no straw on my broom?
Spinnin' with no yarn in my loom?
Singin' with no words for my tune?
Lookin' at my hands, wonderin' what they've done
to deserve this early, special kind a' doom?"
It's like yer whole body's been hangin' from a concrete chain
Wanderin' around on the streets that way
Then your head starts noddin'
And your mouth starts yawnin'
'Cause you feel like sleepin' even though you're out walkin'
But, what if, you then think, that's what you're already doin'?
It's a nightmare, alright,
This lonely newspaper world
And you're mad at yerself for givin' it a whirl
And yer mother writes you letters
That you've learned to ignore
And yer father's upset that you don't call anymore
So you eat noddles for dinner and you think it's the end
But you wake up again
Like you always do, my friend
You don't know what you're missin' and you don't know how to get it
And you're sad 'cause you didn't even know it back when you had it
So I want you to hear this
I want you to listen
Because I'd be cruel to keep it
It'd be rotten to hide it
And besides, it'd take root in my head and start growin'
Twistin' and turnin' until it was bigger than me
And I don't want to feel my skull all of a sudden
Flowering out like a mushroom explodin'
So I just gotta say it, and get you to hear it
Get some a' these plants into some other garden
Get some a' these cards into some other deck
Get some a' this whiskey into some other glass
Get some a' these zeros off of my bill
Put one a' these pies on some other folk's windowsill
Where it'll get a fairer chance at bein' served up on a plate
On a proper table, with a fork and cold milk
And that's really what I want, I guess
I want you to smell it, I want you to eat it
I want you chew it up with your teeth
And feel all them grainy bits up in your gums
In the back of your cheeks, and under your tongue
And I want you to savor all them funny strings and lumps
'Cause I know the problem that's got you and me
I've seen the dog holdin' on with its teeth
I've seen that gun drawn out of its sheath
I've felt them sweats at a quarter to three
When I'd wake up at night, and it was always just me
And that's it right there, to sum it up in a line
It ain't that you're scared
And it ain't that you're tired
It ain't that you're poor
And it ain't that you realized someday soon you won't be around anymore
No, what's hurtin' yer heart is that there's nobody with you
To make it hurt more
Which is easy to say and you've probably even thought it before
But you didn't wanna admit you can't make it alone
Through this shattered glass world
Of asphalt and bone
And maybe talk is cheap but I'm tellin' ya you can't
There ain't any water where you're tryin' to swim
There ain't any words where you're tryin' to read
The car that you're drivin' ain't got any gas
And you're hopin' that next hill's momentum'll last
To take you up the one after that
And I'm tellin' you, friend, that's gonna end bad
'Cause there's only one bottle you can pull from
There's only one tunnel you can go through
And it ain't on a highway
And it ain't in film
And it ain't in a coffeehouse
And it sure as hell ain't never found comin' out of no politician's mouth
It's simpler than that, and it's probably nearby
And yes I mean someone
But I don't mean your friends
You need a whole lot more than just them
You need someone who won't thank you for carin'
Someone who, when it's found out you been helpin'
Will raise the eyebrows of both of your parents
Someone who hates you
Someone who'd kill you
Someone who'd treat you like you were a child
And noone would notice when you just replied with a smile

And maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'm dead
But if that ain't love
If that ain't what it is
Then what else could I, or you, or anybody at all
If that ain't love
What else could I a' said?

Ode to Walker

Since my dear friend Walker has been missing my posts these nine days, (see comments on my April 5th post for reference) I thought I would throw him a proverbial bone. So, without further ado, my Ode to Walker.

Walker, Walker, walky Pfost,
Out of all my guy friends, you are the most
clever with words, I do believe!
Your poetry blog is the bees knees.
You live in Korea, oh so far away,
A place with some snow (who knew?!) where you play
with kids! And teach them English, to boot,
Oh, WPf, you are such a hoot.
I visited your old home last weekend, it's true,
The Vista House is bursting with vibrant hues,
The colors of spring! Pink, periwinkle, and green,
So deeply peaceful. You know what I mean.
I was reminded of the time when you fixed my car,
I had left the top down and it rained so hard
My seats were soaked! You found a fan in a blink,
If not for you they'd still be damp, I do think.
Oh, WPf, what a pal! What a guy!
Watching Kite Runner, I thought I was sly,
As I slept through it all! But you knew, yes you did.
A friend like you really flips my lid.