“I want to feel, I want to fall like rain with no shelter so I can feel which way the wind is blowing today.
I want to love, I want to see the world, going to tell the truth and feel the sun a come a shining down on my face.”
Fall Like Rain, Martin Sexton
I set out to make a risotto last week. As I tasted the hot broth to check the seasonings I was catapulted. It felt like a sci-fi out of body type experience. In that one taste I vividly recalled a cold, yet brilliantly sunny, fall day years ago. I had been outside helping my Dad with a difficult chore. It was November in New Hampshire which means deer hunting season. My Dad was dragging the large buck deer from the woods and needed help lifting it into the back of the truck to be registered at a local tagging station. By the time we were done (my Mom was helping as well) we had red noses and frozen fingers. I knew comfort was needed fast so I invited them in for an apple brandy hot toddy. That season was one of the last hunting seasons for my Dad before he died. We sat around sipping the warm hot toddies and listened to the tale of the great hunt. My Dad was an avid outdoorsman – hunting, fishing and, way back in the day, trapping. Some people hunt for sport and recreation but my Dad had a more serious relationship with nature. He was a firm believer in using every part of the animals which he respected so much. He gave us mink fur head bands at Christmas (before the New York Times deemed it fashionable), he and my Mom canned mincemeat each fall, and he cured salmon using his old cold smoker on the front porch.
I am not sure why that little taste of hot stock took me there, but it did. There is an unexplainable connection between food and memory. One taste of something can instantly bring forth a multitude of memories. Marcel Proust said there were two kinds of memory – voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary memories are the deepest and the strongest.
I felt a little broken this past week. Mr. Joe, my beagle brother, left us and is now running rabbits with his best friend, my Dad.
I needed a straight up comfort food with little fuss to reach that feeling of put togetherness again. I set about to make a risotto. Two tablespoons of butter were melted in a pot. The hot stock was simmering away on another burner.
Some onions were added to the melted butter. After they softened I added in some white wine and let it cook down. The rice was tossed in. I had to substitute sushi rice for arborio. I had brown, basmati, jasmine and sushi rice in the cupboards. But no arborio! I was silently hoping, as I stirred the rice in the butter and wine that this would work.
Hot stock was ladled in, one spoonful at a time, and the rice mixture started to cook. This dance was done a few times – hot stock, stirring, watching, and waiting as the rice continued to cook. I carefully added some edamame beans and parmesan cheese. The result was a very creamy risotto.
Left off of this list was the 1 1/2 Cups of rice, in my case sushi rice. The butter is melted, onions are cooked until translucent. White wine is added in as well as the rice. This cooks for a minute or so. Next up the broth gets added in batches. The rice mixture should gently be boiling at this point. Stir slowly and until most of the broth is absorbed before adding more broth. I didn’t measure the broth – I let my instincts and intuition guide me until it felt right. There was a slight chew to the rice – perfect! Edamame and parmesan were stirred in at the end. Yes, edamame isn’t ‘traditional’ yet I didn’t have any peas on hand. Sometimes you need to break the rules of tradition. A lot of doors would open up for us all if we took a few more chances I think.
This dinner on this particular night had me comforted from the inside out. Perhaps it was the side trip down memory lane? Perhaps I was on sensory overload and simply needed to slow down? I am not sure. Whatever the reason may be I was calm, filled with gratitude and a deep love for life. Good things are ahead I am sure. There may be a few roads to cross – risk, chance, and maybe hopping on the biway vs. the highway…but I will remain optimistic as I carry forth watching the world through my wide angle lens. Thanks for reading and have a great week!