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October 15, 2008

Wednesday in the Valley of Fur

Lovely reader and friend Lucia alerted me to a picture she saw of our fires out here:

This image is by Mel Melcon of the Los Angeles Times and apparently it was reprinted in the Baltimore Sun. That's some view. Wow.

Faith's parents were told to evacuate late yesterday but now they're fine, their house is fine. My neighborhood is ashy but safe and well, too, and we all hope the winds will die down later today and this will all become past news, so yesterday like all that crazy Dow Jones stuff that happened way back in ... now, 2008. Yup.

In stressful times I find it's good to experiment with new smoothie combinations:


That's my banana-cherry-peach super yummy smoothie. The layers are from the bottom up:

3/4 cup kefir (or yogurt)
1 tbs or so flax oil
1 scoop of protein powder
1 tbs psyllium husks (much less if you don't eat a lot of fiber!!)
1 large banana or 2 small ones
a few frozen cherries
some frozen peaches

Blend and enjoy. OMG SO GOOD. Really though -- start small on the psyllium husks because there's fiber in them thar hills and you don't want to be caught up a creek without a port-o-potty if you aren't used to having fiber in your diet. TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THIS FOR SURE.

In news unrelated to fiber, I had to buy a new blender a few months ago -- not because I over-smoothied but because I got lazy one day and tried to chop an onion in the blender. A big chunk of it got stuck under the blades and it wouldn't turn and some dumbass at the controls kept hitting the pulse button. In other news, I am a really great chef!! Who blends onions!! So I totally broke the blender, it was a sad day. Then it was a happy day because I got to go shopping, as a blender is VERY necessary in my house, and I found this Oster retro-looking machine on sale for a good price. It's so loud, though, every time I use it I wonder if my kitchen is about to take flight.

This week I have been using my loud blender very early in the morning hoping to punish my neighbors for playing loudass Ranchero music ALL DAY Saturday until late-late on Saturday night. Eight hours of Ranchero music at full volume will make your brain runny. I think that instead of invading other countries we should just play very loud Ranchero music into their dens of terrorism until they surrender, finally beaten and bedraggled by the polka undertones and begging for chips and guacamole. I don't know why our guv'ment hasn't thought of it already. We could probably quell terrorism with creative speaker placement.

Clearly I am not only an awesome chef but also totally ready to run the guv'ment.

I had Monday off work for Columbus Day (in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 1495 Columbus did a jumpin' jive...) and I was glued to the TV watching Fire Coverage! Breaking Fire news!! all day so I decided midday to remove my butt from the groove on the sofa and do something productive, anything, and the only comforting thing to do was eat. So I made this yummy Swiss Chard Gratin recipe from the New York Times.


I can't tell if the picture looks gross or not since I already tasted the gratin and it is really tasty. The only changes I made to the recipe were that I did not use breadcrumbs and I skipped the whole blanching/boiling/put-in-cold-water step and just added the chopped up Swiss chard to the onions/red peppers/stalks mixture cooking in the pan and let it cook that way before baking it. Because in addition to trying to chop onions in the blender (!!) I am lazy in all ways, like pre-cooking Swiss chard.

OH! And I also added more than the 1/2 cup Arborio rice called for and I have a very good reason why. See, I have never purchased Arborio rice before or cooked it. And in fact the longer I thought about it I became certain I have never even tasted risotto, which is made from Arborio rice, since every time I see it on the menu somewhere I think, "Meh, it's rice... I'd rather have fettuccine." You see, I only cook and eat brown rice at home so while it is nutritious and filling and fine, it's not exactly fettuccine alfredo you know. It's .. rice.

But I was wrong, I was mistaken, I was DELUSIONAL.

Arborio rice is a whole 'nother story. The package I bought for this recipe only had cooking instructions for risotto on the bag so I didn't even know how to cook it plain -- I just cooked it in a 2:1 ratio like you do with my staple brown rice, 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. I figured if I screwed it up the world would still spin in its axis and I'd have plenty left in the bag to experiment with. It's just rice, right?

After cooking a cup of rice in plain boring water for about 15-16 minutes, I grabbed a fork and tasted it to see if it was done yet. Can I just confess to ya'll that I could have scrapped the entire Swiss Chard casserole effort and stood there in the kitchen with a fork and eaten that entire pot of Arborio rice? (And I probably would have ... except I'd just spent 45 minutes chopping onions and bell pepper and Swiss Chard into tiny pieces.) That rice tasted like the carbiest, yummiest, gooiest pot of goodness EVER. Now I understand risotto. It's not just rice, it's like the smooshy insides of a loaf of white bread. It's delicious.

I can't imagine how good some butter and olive oil and all the other risotto fixins would be on the already fluffy gooey dreamy awesomeness that is Arborio rice. I ended up adding the whole cooked amount of rice to the gratin recipe or else I really would have eaten it all in one setting and rolled back to the sofa nevermore fitting into any jeans at all ever again, the end.

So I cooked my little Swiss Chard gratin and it was good, but I will admit to having dreams of creamy risottos of my future, a plan which I will make into reality as soon as I get another day off work. Because who needs to wear jeans anyway? I can probably rock the muumuu. MuMu? Moomoo? How about caftan -- I know I can rock that too. There is nothing sexier than a woman with a herd of felines wearing a caftan and brandishing a pot of risotto!!!!

I am serious about the risotto, people. I never kid about carbs.

This is how Frankie sleeps sometimes. IT KILLS ME. She's posing even in her sleep. The cuteness is unbearable.

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Thanks for the emails but the website isn't broken -- all comments are currently closed. Have a great day!

Posted by laurie at October 15, 2008 8:43 AM