In Front Range country, where we live, late August is truly both sweet and savory. Days are finally cool enough to bake if you’ve a mind to and nights, if you’re blessed, are still warm enough to spend time outdoors. Of course, we might also get snow on the geraniums one day soon. If I look up at Pike’s Peak, which I do daily, I know it is only a matter of time before there’s “snow on the Peak.” Harbinger of snow HERE.
I wonder how many people actually run their lives according to the seasons; cooks and gardeners are gently tied always to the rhythms of the earth and what can be done when. Christians, among others, are tied to a calendar of sorts that serves to let us know (or remind us) that we are in God’s time, not our own. The year begins in late November or early December with Advent, just as the secular world is gearing down for the end of the year. I keep my feet firmly planted in both time zones, waking early at this time of year to watch the sun come up and drench the mesa and also waking early in December marking the days until Christ is born (again and again and again) in my heart.
While I was gone for two months to University of St. Thomas, my neighbors kept my potted herb garden alive (great thanks, dear friends) and, with a south window, I cheat the seasons (and the grocery store that charges $3.50 a tiny pack) and have sage, thyme and rosemary all year long. I try basil indoors to little avail. Parsley can work here, too, but is better outdoors or cheap at the store. The risotto recipe for today can be changed with the addition of a little fresh sage. You could try other fresh herbs, but most are somewhat delicate for this hearty risotto.
I love risotto because————————————————-
- it tastes good
- it is easy
- you can put nearly anything in it
- it’s a main course or a side
- it reheats well (make lots)
- it spans the seasons
- the name caresses itself (rihsohhhhtoh)
I have a couple of ways of making it that shorten, or make simpler, the process. But the thing about it is that you HAVE to stand there and stir, adding broth; you are tied to the food in such a way that you see it change and be created right before your eyes. Fix it and forget it? Not risotto. You must make the time.
I’m sorry, honey, I can’t answer the phone. I’m stirring risotto.
I’m sorry, I can’t take the dog out, I’m stirring risotto.
Here’s one I made for Dave and me Monday night. (see below)
…………… Mums in their late summer glory out front………….
Brown Butter Risotto (with Leeks and Asparagus)
1T olive oil
2 lrg. leeks (white part only) sliced thinly
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/3 c white wine
1 qt chicken stock, kept warm on stove (perhaps a tad more)
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1# asparagus, trimmed and cooked for 2-3 min
1/4 c shaved parmesan (use potato peeler on big hunk of cheese)
1/4 c cooked bacon, chopped or shredded sage, optional
In a heavy duty 4qt pot, heat butter until brown and bubbling; add oil. Stir in sliced leeks and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until leeks are tender, 5-8 min. Add white wine and a cup of chicken stock. Stir until thickened; add another cup of stock. Repeat adding stock and stirring frequently until rice is a bit more done than al dente and stock is gone. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into large bowl or platter and top with asparagus and parmesan. Sprinkle with bacon or sage if desired.
……………………..One of many kinds of raspberry sauces———————–
Raspberry Sauced Ice Cream
Rinse and pick through about a pint and a half of fresh raspberries. Put them in a 3qt heavy saucepan and add 1/4 c sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer about 15 minutes, stirring often and adding water if the sauce is too thick. Turn off heat and let cool. Puree in food processor and eat within a day; otherwise, freeze for a winter dessert treat. (Sauce is also good on waffles.)
Ladle sauce over ice cream and add a large dash of Chambord to the dish, if desired.
Wine: Try an older Sauvignon Blanc or even a White Burgundy–just barely chilled; please don’t drink it terribly cold with this risotto.
I’m heading to Napa tomorrow and will surely come back with a few new ideas, if not needing a new cellar. The “real world” begins next week as I begin teaching lessons again and continue the job hunt, which is starting to bear fruit. Enjoy your weekend. Love somebody and, oh, yeah… If you make the risotto….. eat quickly before someone grabs yours.
—In memoriam, Edward M. Kennedy-who loved to sing—
Sing a new song, or at least listen!
(Today’s playing includes “Sicut Cervus” (Palestrina), “Be Thou my Vision” (Rutter version) and lesson plan music. Listening: French Chansons (The Scholars of London), OG- MHADAINN SHAMHRAIDH (Summer Dawn) by Kathleen MacInnes-the Scottish Gaelic version)