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.

Snowcows and Steakhouse Leftovers

Sometimes nicknames get lost in translation.

I went to a teeny-tiny engineering school in the middle of Lake Superior for college. While the area is known for its magnificent fall colors, hiking, boating, and winter sports, it’s also known for the sheer lack of females.

In particular, my college class had a ratio of 8 guys to 1 girl.  The overall college was 3 guys: 1 girl at the time (it’s since improved). And still, the odds were not always in your favor. “The odds are good, but the good are odd” is a phrase that could definitely be applied to some of my male counterparts.

The ratio was also misleading…

  • If you subtracted the guys still dating their high school girlfriends, the ratio was 4 guys:1 girl
  • If you subtracted the computer engineers/science majors who thought that girls only existed in anime and had never spoken to a female in real life, except through a video game, the ratio was 2 guys: 1 girl
  • If you subtracted the man whores that you were sure were sources of an STD epidemic, the ratio was 1 guy: 2 girls
  • However, if you subtracted the female counterparts of the first and third lines, the ratio was still maybe 1:1.

There also was an unfortunate nickname for the girls that were less than desirable but would sleep with anyone…

Snowcows.

Anyway, it was the fall of my freshman year of college, and the grandparents and mother of the boy I was dating came to visit. During the exploration around the Upper Peninsula, we had the misfortune of stopping into a gift shop.

Now, somehow, his grandmother had heard the phrase “snowcow” (but, of course, just thought it was a cute term for any girl that went to Tech) so when she came across a cow puppet, there was logically one thing she thought of…

“Oh, here, let’s have you take a picture with this puppet! It’s two snowcows in the picture!”

I then was forced to endure a picture with said puppet, while my boyfriend at the time stood there absolutely mortified, since his grandmother had unknowingly just called me a whore.

Leftover Steakhouse Risotto

this is the only cow I’m okay being in a picture with

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 sauvignon blanc in the $8 range)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 c leftover roasted vegetables, brought to room temperature and diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 c leftover steak, cooked rare, brought to room temperature and diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 c grated smoked gouda (this gives it a mac-and-cheese type feel)
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning (or more if you so desire)

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. Continue adding the broth at 2 ladles at a time until all the broth has been added. Add the butter.
  7. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the risotto reaches your desired consistency (maybe another 5 minutes, tops!). Add in the leftover vegetables and steak.
  8. Turn the heat to as low as possible, then stir in the smoked gouda and steak seasoning. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes to let the leftovers heat up, then 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.

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.

Inappropriate Date Proposals, Part 2, and Red Wine Risotto

In addition to tattoo artists in the midst of etching permanent ink, there are other times when it might not be the best to ask out a girl.

I was on my family medicine rotation during my third year of medical school. Now, as a medical student, you’re normally sent in first to take a “history and physical”- which is a fancy way of saying you get the patient’s story and then performed a focused exam (you just look at what’s wrong, plus listen to the heart and lungs for good measure). Yes, it might take longer to see a med student first, but I’d highly recommend it because a) it’s probably the best medical history anyone will ever take of you and b) if you’re being seen at a teaching institution, you’ll get seen faster by both a medical professional period and then the physician.

Anyway, I was sent in to see a patient having “nose pain.” That translated into a 20-something year old male whose nose was swollen on one side.

His story was pretty limited (started a few days ago, never happened before, hurts to touch), so I then moved on to the exam. I was in the midst of looking inside his nose when the following conversation occurred.

Me: So it looks like you have an infected ingrown hair inside your nose.

Him: Cool. That’s why it hurts. Hey, you’re really hot. Want to go on a date?

Me: Sorry, that’s against hospital policy (quick thinker here!)

Him: You can totally break that rule. Besides, my mom works for Michigan. That makes it okay.

I then felt that was the best time to go grab the attending physician to present the patient (in order words, recapping my findings) so we could get him out of there as soon as possible.

He asked me upon leaving IN FRONT OF THE PHYSICIAN if I would reconsider.

I said no.

Say Yes Red Wine Risotto

can risotto get any better! it can- just add wine!

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 red wine (I used a pinot noir, but any red wine blend in the $8-10 range will do- just make sure you like the taste!)
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I normally buy a 4 oz portion and grate it myself)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring chicken 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 red wine and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the wine and repeat.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the chicken broth, one ladle at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently until absorbed. Add more chicken 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 about 3 c of the chicken broth, taste the rice. You’re looking for a pasta-like al dente (just chewy) consistency. It might not be done yet. Continue adding chicken broth until rice reaches this consistency and is creamy.
  7. Finish with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.