Now that I am a homeowner I am discovering that I have a whole new relationship with Spring. Every morning Jo and I tour our yard and celebrate the little buds that indicate another favorite plant survived the cold winter. I find myself more in tune with the needs of the plants too. What first seemed like a completely foreign and overwhelming garden that came with the house is starting to make sense to me. I see where the plants need cutting back, with guidance from Jo and my mom! I can tell which plants are weeds and have cuts all over hands and Home Depot refuse bags lined up to prove it. As a renter, I always thought spring was nice enough, but the yard was someone else’s problem. It was flip-flop weather that excited me. This gardening thing is a whole new bug!
To top if off, we have just built 100 square feet of raised beds that are just waiting for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and a whole lot of herbs that we got this weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. Furthermore, raised beds are springing up all over our sweet little corner of the world and we are conspiring with our neighbors what to plant when and leaning heavy on Jalene and Aaron down the street for guidance. They have done this before and they are good! I woke up this morning and grabbed the seed catalogue to learn more about what these plants need and have played with the layout a million times on our kitchen table, where our starts sit, while we wait for the nights to get warm enough to plant them. I can hardly wait to eat the first tomato grown in our very own garden and I am sure I will tell you and anyone who will listen about it!
Now, for the food… I have chicken stock on right now and anytime I make stock, I make risotto. There is something very satisfying about putting some of that good stock to immediate use! So, in celebration of the last of the winter greens, I am adding kale to the dish today. There are few foods that I love more than a well made risotto. It can be an intimidating dish, but all it takes is time and a little patience, and it its well worth it. It is important to use the arborio rice. It is a short grain from Italy and the key to making creamy risotto. Enjoy!
1 T butter
onion, chopped fine
wine (white is typically used, but we had red on hand, so that is what I went with and it was a good move!)
chicken stock, warm
kale, chopped fine
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
thinly sliced Velhuizen Bosque Blue Cheese
Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until they are translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the rice and stir constantly until the grains take on a pearly look (about 7 minutes). Add white wine and cook stirring constantly until it is mostly absorbed. I keep my chicken stock in a pot on warm and add to the rice with a ladle. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding chicken stock a ladle full at a time. And stir, stir, stir. The stirring causes the rice to release some of its starch, which is what makes risotto so creamy and delicious. Keep adding the heated stock and stir every few minutes. Once the risotto has reached the desired doneness, add chopped kale and it will wilt right into the dish. Stir in parmesan cheese. Serve in bowls and garnish with shaved blue cheese.
Update on the Challenge
We are still truckin’ along 6 months into the challenge. One happy thing that we have noticed is that the jeans we have been wearing since the beginning of the the challenge, are now baggy on us and that is pretty fun. I can’t believe that it has been half of a year since we stepped foot into an Austin restaurant. I am starting to feel pretty out of it as far as the new restaurants go. I can’t wait to try Haddingtons, Barley Swine, Foreign and Domestic and a handful of others. Readers, tell me what I am missing and what needs to be added to my list! This next 6 months will fly by and we will be back on the scene in before we know it. Jo’s first stop will be Tamale House.
The last couple of weeks, cooking wise, have been devoted to perfecting my pork recipe for The Pork Experiment, put on by The Food Experiments and Brooklyn Brewry. The cook-off is this Sunday, March 13 and starts at 12. The stakes are high as there are a whole boat load of prizes and a trip to Brooklyn on the line. I am in it to win it and would love to see you all out there. There will be 20+ participants and the cost is $20 to attend. If you think about it, that is just a dollar for every taste of porky goodness. Sounds like a deal to me!
The raised beds are a new dimension of sustainability for us. The beds were really simple to build. Just untreated lumber with braces screwed in on the corners. The Natural Gardner delivered the dirt and we got a ton of plants last weekend at the Sunshine Community Garden plant sale. I will keep you posted on the progress of growing our own food.
As always thanks for reading!
Not that Martha