Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brought to you by the letter C

My actual, complete grocery list for this week:

corn meal
collard greens
chocolate chips

Today's blog challenge is to compose each sentence so that it contains at least one word beginning with the letter "C."  And the content of today's post: Cooking, of course!

I discovered that one can make risotto in the rice cooker, even a simple rice cooker, with no "risotto" option. Simply heat half the broth near boiling before pouring it in the rice, and turn on the cooker. As the cooking cycle nears completion, pour in the other half of the broth--again, heated near boiling--into the cooker, and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

I made a more customary mushroom risotto. I stirred in chopped mushrooms and chopped sautéed onions to the pot at the beginning, along with the uncooked rice. After the rice was finished cooking, I added the parmesan.

Comprises about 4 servings
1 cup Arborio rice
3.5 cups broth
2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, then chopped
1/4 onion, chopped then sautéed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

For the broth, I used about 2 cups chicken broth, and the other 1.5 cups I used the water that I had used to soak the shiitake mushrooms. I used about 4 cups of water to soak the 2 oz of mushroom.

I was quite content with the results. There was no charring, no sticking, no watching and stirring. Clean-up was a breeze.

I also tried my hand at composing a Southern meal: Pork n' beans, cornbread, collard greens.

This was my first time cooking collard greens. I had no idea how to cook them, but assumed that, as with kale or mustard greens, a short braising with a little onion and garlic would do. I was therefore surprised that the 'correct' way of cooking collards involves having them sit in a pot for an hour with a little water and chopped ham hocks. I was also surprised to learn that when cooking collards in such a lengthy manner, they emit a potentially off-putting boiled cabbage-like smell.

I therefore ignored the cooking advice, and just braised them. There were no cloying odors.  (Though the next day, my garbage, where I had chucked the stems, did smell.) The leaves were crunchy, and little tough, but not in a stringy way. The texture was more like that of a soft meat, which contrasted nicely with the mushy beans and the coarse cornbread.

It was also my first time cooking cornbread from scratch, rather than from a mix. I came across, and recommend, this recipe. The recipe includes sugar and eggs, and I was worried it might come out too cake-like. I had no cause for worry.  The cornbread was still quite dense, the sweetness was only mild, and it was fine to eat alone, without butter.

The only other thing worth commenting on is that I threw out my dying violet, and took the new violet out of quarantine. I was saddened by the casualty. My shelf just looks changed...

I conclude with a photo. My previous posts captured some of the beauty of fall. In contrast, this one captures some ugliness.

Here is the story: I was walking back from class. My path crossed under a large maple. As I approach it to walk under its canopy, I hear rustling and see a hawk fly from the branches. At the same time, a small creature falls from the tree. It is the corpse of a headless pigeon, one wing plucked of feathers.

Moral of the story: Bird carcasses should not fall out of trees at my feet. Otherwise, I'm liable to document it, to the detriment of civilization.

(If this had come about a week earlier, it would have been perfect for Halloween.)

Challenge: Complete.  Though I admit that many sentences sound a bit contrived.