You haven't heard of the Ditty Bops? Where have you been? Happy, hummable music with a little bit of hauntingness. You can give a listen here.
It was gorgeous in Brooklyn yesterday - sunny, bright, 70s, a slight breeze. I had our backdoor screen open all day and gave the apartment a good airing out. Sushi seemed like the perfect idea for lunch so I picked some up on Smith street and reassembled it on a pretty dish. I hate eating out of plastic and am willing to do the extra dishes. As always, my cats' fish radar was immediately activated when I walked through the door - how they can detect fish through plastic containers and paper bags is beyond me.
One of my regular blog reads is Happy Mundane, a celebration of the beauty and design of everyday objects. This wine bottle perfectly embodies that ideal. At $18, it's about $5 more than I like to pay for wine, but the bottle was too beautiful to resist. Neither my husband nor I even liked the wine (too oakey), but we're happy to have the bottle anyway. I'll probably remove the labels and use it for a few flower stems. Or just gaze at it as is.
Randi at I Have to Say is inviting bloggers to expose themselves and show some of the less shiny parts of their lives - a twist on the Corners of my House idea. The current theme is Spring cleaning. As I looked around my apartment I was surprised to find less dirt and grime than I expected - most likely because we've had two houseguests in the last week which always strikes fear in my heart and sends me sprinting for the vacuum. So I decided to show my recycling corner which needs not only Spring cleaning, but a weekly (bi-weekly?) commitment from me. I feel like I'm taking out the recycling a lot, but clearly, as the picture shows, not often enough. I think I'm in denial that a household of two can really generate so much recycling in just a few days. And then there's the debate I have with every large paper bag I acquire. My instinct is always to save them because they do come in handy. But really, do I need 15 different ones? This area also becomes a bit of a dumping ground. That cat scratching pad has been there for at least a month because I can't decide if it can go in the paper recycling or not. Same with the oatmeal tub. I just need to make an executive deciscion. Okay, folks, today - yes, today - I will take care of this mess and vow ( well, try is maybe a better word) not to let it accumulate like this again.
I meant to post these sooner, but they were hanging up in my closet, unused, and I forgot about them. I think I intended them as Christmas presents - whoops, next year I suppose. I saw them in Jayne Emerson's book, The Impatient Patchworker, and plan to make a bunch more when I have the energy. Because they are hand-sewn (twice if you count the inner batting) they take a lot more time than you'd think. Well, than I thought anyway. But sometimes you have a special garment that deserves a soft, pretty landing spot.
Unlike my husband who takes advantage of our vast takeout menu folder on nights that I'm out, I never order in when it's just me. I'm not even sure why. I think in part because I hate dealing with money and tipping (we have a long-standing agreement that I will call in the orders and he'll accept them) and in part because I hate to send the delivery boy out, often into the rain or cold, with one little meal. Not to mention the terrible guilt I feel seeing the ludicrous amount of styrofoam and plastic that seems to accompany every meal. And even though there's a perfectly good market a block away, I would usually rather find something - anything - in the fridge or on the shelves than put my shoes on and go to the store. So this pasta is perfect for nights when laziness beats out hunger. Spaghetti, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, a pinch of salt and grated Parmesan. So simple, so good, so easy, so lazy.
I frequently order risotto in restaurants, but in the past few months I've started making it at home and it has become my new favorite dish. Yes, it does involve a lot of stirring, but it's so worth it. Once you've mastered the basic recipe you can add anything else that floats your boat.
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
1/2 cup wine (usually white)
3/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
3-4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Reggiano
zest from one lemon (optional, but recommended)
salt and pepper
1. Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan and keep it simmering for the whole process
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a separate saucepan
3. Add the onions or shallots to the butter and saute for 3-4 minutes
4. Add the rice to the butter and stir it to coat
5. Add the wine to the rice, stir and cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about 4 minutes
6. Add a ladle of broth to your rice mixture and stir until the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes
7. Continue adding ladles of broth in this fashion, stirring as you go. Wait for the liquid to be absorbed each time before adding more. Stir a lot, but feel free to walk away a few times - make a salad, pour yourself a glass of wine, change the music, write your Congressman, whatever.
8. When you've used up all your broth (this should take about 30 minutes), taste the risotto. It should be firm, but not crunchy. If it's not done, add additional heated broth (if you have it) or hot water from the sink, ladle by ladle until the rice is done
9. When it's cooked to your liking, stir in another tablespoon or two of butter, lemon zest (optional), salt and pepper to taste and grated parmesan.
10. Serve topped with a little more parmesan.
I often serve this basic risotto as a side dish with scallops, pork or whatever protein you like.
What I love about risotto is its versatility. Add anything you like. Vegetables like mushroom and asparagas should be cooked separately and tossed in during the final minutes. Frozen peas can thaw in warm water while you cook and then tossed in about 5 minutes before the risotto is done. Prosciutto can be julienned and thrown in during the last minute or two. And on and on...
I've even tried red wine risotto with peas, chorizo and manchego cheese instead of Parmesan. It was quite tasty, but the vibrant purple color does fade to a kind of unappetizing brown.