Peonies and Beet Risotto

You can tell I’m my mother‘s daughter because of my ability to mishear words.

I was about five years old at the time and spring had finally arrived in Michigan. Along with the warm weather, we loved seeing the flowers erupting in our yard. (It was always a very proud day when I got to bring my teachers snowballs and lilacs I picked myself.)

However, I didn’t always know what things were called.

That day, I found flowers on our side steps. Naturally, I yelled for my mom that someone had left us a present.

And, in the loud voice that only a five year old has, I bellowed…

“Mom, someone left panties on our doorstep! They’re such pretty panties!!! Panties, mom, panties!!!”

I kept yelling that so the entire neighborhood could hear, or at least until my mother could rush down the stairs to see what was actually on the step.

Peonies. Not panties.

Peonies have been known as “panties” ever since.

Spring’s Arrival Beet and Asparagus Risotto

Beet and Asparagus Risottoone can also not mess up this name

Ingredients

  • 1 beet, roasted, cooled, and diced (you can find plenty of beet recipes online- much of the cooking temp will depend on what kind of beet you have and how big it is! feel free to make more than one for salads and sides!)
  • 1lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, and roasted (throw this into the oven with the beet, topped with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper- you can normally do both at 400 degrees, but the asparagus needs far less time than the beet!)
  • 4 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c white wine
  • 2 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Roast any vegetables, if necessary (it’s easy to do this part ahead- just make more of them to use in other dishes!)
  2. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Add in the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the white wine. Stir every minute or so until the wine is absorbed. (You want the rice to be at a simmer.)
  6. Start adding in the chicken broth, 1 c at a time, and let the rice absorb the chicken broth, while stirring fairly often.
  7. Continue adding the broth one cup at a time until you have used up all the broth (again, keeping the rice at a simmer the entire time), making sure that you let the rice absorb nearly all the broth before adding the next cup.
  8. Once all the broth has been added, cook for an additional few minutes at a very low heat until the rice reaches your desired consistency (you’re looking for a creamy al dente).
  9. Turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan and goat cheeses until melted.
  10. Stir in the beets and asparagus until the whole dish is a pretty pink color.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Movies and Risotto

The tv version of a movie can be quite different from the original.

As kids, we loved Rodney Dangerfield movies. Friday and Saturday nights during the winters in Michigan were spent eating homemade popcorn under blankets with “Dinner and a Movie” on the television. One of our favorite movies (which somehow was normally on at least one per month) was Caddy Shack, the comedy where the caddy comes from behind and wins it all (and the girl) on the golf course.

So, when the DVD of Caddy Shack was on sale shortly before my youngest brother’s 8th birthday, my parents thought it was a perfect gift.

I should take this moment to state that no one in my family had ever seen anything other than the tv-sanitized version of Caddy Shack.

Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when we started watching the tv version. To start, the made-for-tv version with all of the commercials is about the same length as the full-length DVD version. That’s because Caddy Shack has about that much nudity and other things that must be cut from the tv version.

For some reason, we made it through the entire movie as a family. I think my mother nearly had a heart attack when she realized what she had bought her 8 year old son.

My 8 and 12 year old brothers, though, were absolutely delighted.

Adult Flavors Asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto

for anyone with grown-up tastes

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c white wine (I use a pinot grigio in the $8 range)
  • 1 lb asparagus, diced into small pieces
  • 4 oz goat cheese, softened (just leave it out on the counter while you make the risotto)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 3-5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1 c wine and stir until absorbed.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the broth, two ladles at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently (but not constantly) until absorbed. Add more broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 20-30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added half the broth, stir in the asparagus pieces (this will help them stay green)
  7. Continue adding the broth at 2 ladles at a time until all the broth has been added. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the risotto reaches your desired consistency.
  8. Turn the heat to as low as possible, then stir in the goat cheese. Remove from heat.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Revenge, Glitter, and Asparagus with Eggs

Revenge doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to.

Back in high school, once of my longtime guy friends (we’re talking friends since kindergarten sort of thing) decided that we were meant to be together and asked me to be his girlfriend (yup, we jumped straight to that without even a first date).

I turned him down because I didn’t want to ruin the friendship (and I wasn’t interested in him in that way). Therefore, he decided to “get revenge” by asking one of my “friends” to an upcoming high school dance.

To start, I actually wasn’t friends with this girl. We hung out in the same group of friends, but personally I found her rather annoying. Victory #1 for me, with more to follow.

They both bragged the entire month about how they were going to the dance together. And then, the fateful day arrived.

The girl had chosen a glittery silver floor-length dress (which would have blended into her skin- she had one of those practically transparent complexions- in pictures if the glitter hadn’t caught the flash). Then they chose to grind it out (and sloppily make out- it was the first of such incidents for both of them) on the dance floor before getting their official dance pictures taken.

A week later, I walked up to this girl wailing over her dance pictures with her new boyfriend. Without a word, she passed the pictures to me.

It’s really recommended that, if do you choose to wear a dress with glitter, that you get your pictures first. Otherwise, you’ll end up with their situation. Remember how I said the glitter caught the camera flash?  Well, the guy had a large area of glitter on his suit. It was unfortunately all centered around his crotch, since they had made the unwise decision to dance before taking their pictures.

Yup, his revenge plan TOTALLY worked.

Stay Classy Asparagus and Eggs

the easiest, fanciest-looking dinner you’ll make

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb asparagus per person
  • 2-3 eggs per person
  • Olive oil spray (I use a spray bottle with olive oil in it)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with olive oil.
  3. Break off woody ends of the asparagus and line up on the pan. Spray with some additional olive oil (you don’t need too much) and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Roast for 6-8 minutes until bright green (I use 6 minutes for thin spears and 8 minutes for thicker spears).
  5. Remove tray from oven. Crack one egg in a separate bowl and carefully pour onto a section of asparagus spears. Repeat with additional eggs. Sprinkle with some additional pepper and salt.
  6. Return to oven and roast for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the whites have set (the eggs will end up having the consistency of a poached egg).  If you like your egg yolks harder, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  7. Use a spatula to remove from the pan. If desired, top with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Traumatic Births and Spring Risotto

With the coming of spring, we tend to think of babies and youth: little bunnies and ducklings, newborns dressed up in Anne Geddes outfits, the first flowers peeking out from the ground.

Unfortunately, all birth isn’t that pretty.

For those of you that prefer to live under a rock, there’s something you should know: childbirth is NOTHING like it is portrayed in movies and television shows. Instead of mommy lying there peacefully until a pristine and spotless infant is gently settled in her awaiting arms, well…the actual scene is quite a bit different.

Considering I only had 2-3 weeks on labor and delivery while in medical school, I ended up with quite a few stories.

This particular momma had been attempting to have as natural of a childbirth as possible, but after having been in labor for 18 hours, she gave in and said “Hallelujah” to the epidural. She was tired. She wanted a shower. Her soon-to-be-born son had finally descended far enough that she knew the end was near.

She also had a very eager husband wielding a video camera.

Now, before I get too far along in the story, there is a time and place for a video camera in the delivery room, for those who so choose. It tends to be immediately after the baby has been born, when mommy and daddy are holding him or her for the first time, or while cutting the cord.

It is not (and I highly agree with the mother in the story) when mom is swearing and the baby is crowning.

Hubby and soon-to-be-daddy had gotten himself a brand new, high definition video camera to witness his first miracle of life. He had already filmed the entrance to the hospital, the view from the delivery room, and the smiling faces of the delivery room.  May I mention that the entire video this far was complete with an excited, hyper running commentary?

However, when he attempted to leave his wife’s shoulders and  film the moment when his son’s head first popped into the world, mom snapped.

She immediately threw out her arm, which had previously been clenching the sheets as though her grip strength would translate into contraction strength, and flung it right in front of his stomach, blocking his way.

Husband: But honey, I want to film his head emerging and his first cry!

Wife (panting between contractions occurring every 15 seconds): If you see my vagina stretched over your son’s head, you are never going to want to fuck me again. And that is something I am NOT OKAY WITH.

It took her husband approximately two seconds to think of the full implications of his wife’s statement, turn around so that he was still by his wife’s shoulders but was now facing the wall, and begin calmly encouraging his wife that it would be over soon.

He then stayed in that position until after his son was born and mom said it was okay to turn around.

Spring Miracles Asparagus and Smoked Gouda Risotto

Make this and you won’t be tempted to hit anyone

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc in the $8 range)
  • 1 lb asparagus, diced into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 c smoked gouda cheese, shredded (do this yourself!!!) and lightly piled into a 1 cup container (it took me about 3-4 oz solid cheese originally)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1/2 c wine and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the wine and repeat.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the broth, one ladle at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently until absorbed. Add more broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added half the broth, stir in the asparagus pieces (this will help them stay green)
  7. When you’ve added about 3 c of the broth, taste the rice. You’re looking for a pasta-like al dente (just chewy) consistency. It might not be done yet. Continue adding broth until rice reaches this consistency and is creamy.
  8. Stir in smoked gouda and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley on top.