Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Recipe: "Tell me all your goddamned hopes and dreams" Risotto

1 and 1/2 c. arborio rice.
1 carton chicken or other stock
1 cup juicy red wine
1 box frozen petite peas, or 2 cups fresh spring peas (cooked and set aside).
1 container sliced baby bella or crimini mushrooms
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated
Olive Oil

Pour the chicken stock into a small saucepan on low. Do not allow it to boil. Move on.

On the bottom of a heavy saucepan, set over medium heat, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil. Dump in the mushrooms. Do not salt. Do you notice how there's no salt in the recipe? The salt is in the stock. No where else. Don't fucking salt anything. Anyway, stir the mushrooms around for about three minutes, until they get resilient in texture and give up their juices to the pan.

Remove mushrooms from the pan, reserving as much of the mushroom liquid as possible. Add about another teaspoon of olive oil to the bottom of the pan, and dump in the rice. Stir the rice around for about two minutes.

Pour in the red wine and stir until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Settle in. Maybe get someone to put on some music, maybe romantic-y type music. Al Green. Put on some Al Green. Love and Happiness...

Now you're going to want to keep pouring stock slowly into the rice. Add a half cup, stir for about...oh, three minutes, maybe five, until each stir reveals the bottom of the pan. Then add another half cup. You've got four cups of stock, so you'll want the stirring to take about a half an hour, total. After there's no more stock, combine risotto, peas, mushrooms, and cheese, and put in a casserole in a 200 degree oven to rest for ten minutes. Have a glass of wine. LOVE AND HAPP-Y-NESS...then serve. Delicious.

Here's a picture. The rice is actually, in person, a really pretty lilac-purple color, not brown. The lighting was not the best.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I am a crackpot.

My letter to the editor of a well-respected, left-leaning, newspaper:

Dear (Newspaper) Magazine;
I am disgusted.
Your weekly feature, "Feature," is possibly one of the most obscene manifestations of elitist housing pornography that I've ever seen. Eastern Massachusetts has been experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and yet you run features on million dollar condominiums, half-million dollar fixer-uppers, and other offensive manifestations of the ludicrously inflated market that shuts so many out.
So many Massachusetts residents are quasi-homeless or paying 60% of their income for housing, dreaming of the day that prices fall so that they can have a permanent address, a cat, a single school district to in which to raise their children; this feature mocks them. It's as if, in a region experiencing famine, food shortages and inflation; you're running a weekly feature on the chic-est ways to throw food away.With the handy links provided to the listing agents, the indulgent descriptions of amenities, you're adding a coat of protective lacquer to the bubble that deserves to burst.
This feature is distasteful and irresponsible. I wonder about the Magazine's motivation in running it. To prop up the market? To inspire envy? To help the poor real estate agents? To pretend that $400,000 starter homes in Dorchester are within anyone's reach? To make the good old (Newspaper)Magazine as lofty and aspirational as the New York Times Magazine? What this feature accomplishes is to firmly establish the Globe as the paper of the "haves", "have-nots" be damned.
Sincerely, respectfully,
(Wrong Side of The Tracks), Ma.


Dear (Hobo)

I got your email about your displeasure with our real estate feature in the
magazine. Respectfully, I think you are picking on one week of the feature.
The truth is that in recent weeks we have focused on inexpensive Cape
homes, $350,000 condos, and other prices. Each week it varies, sometimes
pricey, sometimes not, sometimes city, sometimes suburban. The feature is
addressing the wild fascination with real estate these days. Whether
$400,000 starter homes in Dorchester are within reach is unfortunately the
reality of today's market. If you want to live here, it's costly. I feel
like you are more angry at the real estate market's realities than at this
feature perhaps, which is something all of us can relate to. This feature
is merely stating the facts as they are.

I appreciate you writing us, though.
(Some Guy), editor, (Newspaper) magazine

Monday, March 12, 2007

My trip to Wholefoods.

I went to Wholefoods on Sunday night. I generally don't; my brand of socially conscious grocery is usually Trader Joe's, but Whole Foods is just a little bit closer to my apartment. It wasn't so bad; I was expecting to be charged 26.50 at the door, and checked for toxins on my way into the produce section. Really, the admission was reasonable and no one looked like they were even thinking about telling me about optimal colonic maintenance.

All I needed was one tomato, a bag of greens, and something premade-y for dinner. Frozen raspberries were on sale at a shockingly reasonable price, so I picked up some of them, too. I got a nice quesadilla, because it was the only item I could find with nutrition facts on it, and navigated my way through aisles of cruelty-free cheeses and fair-trade dish detergent to the registers. I admit, I gaped a little, drooled, let my jaw drop and stared at some wonders (goat milk ice cream!) like the suburbilly I am, but all in all, it was just a market.

Then I got in line.

The lines were long. I don't know if Whole Foods doesn't believe in express lanes; but this store certainly didn't. The registers were placed so close to the aisles that the lines bent around displays and doubled back on themselves like crazy vines. Organic, hand-picked, sun-dried, single-origin vines.

The guy behind me, dressed in the hempy, non-weather resistant livery of a vegan bike messenger, had only one item. I had four.

The woman at the front of the line was arguing with the patient, unfortunate, unenvied cashier over the ethics of pricing some vegetables per each, while others were priced per pound. The price difference between one avocado and one pound of avocado could not have been more than thirty five cents; the woman carried a two thousand dollar purse. She was enjoying herself. The cashier, less so.

Eventually, as Ms. Hermes-Guacamole was completing her transaction, I asked the guy behind me if he'd like to go in front of me.

We chatted. It was pleasant. I am charming.

Then, after a moment, he said "I hope that whoever bought you that ring knows that the diamond trade fuel civil war in Africa.*"

"Not this diamond, guy."

"Well, even with antiques..."

"No, guy- this ring is plastic."

I stood awkwardly for a moment, paid, and left. I was crossing the train tracks when I realized: That was flirting. That was how flirting goes in a world of organic salt and deodorant stones. Just as the proud peacock spreads his ludicrous tail, and the mighty gorilla scratches his tiny balls, so does the vegan bike messenger display his heightened sensitivity to the horrors of globalization to the unsuspecting law student.

*P.S. To all those hoping to impress girls holding organic produce, please be advised: Once Leonardo DiCaprio has starred in a movie about your pet cause, it becomes less impressive. Once one of Dick Wolf's ubiquitous teledramas does 42 minutes on it, it becomes a liability.