Thursday, September 18, 2008

*courses of distraction.

I rarely entertain on the Woodside. Well, that's not precisely true. I rarely have greater than two people on the Woodside. It's a lovely ch√Ęteau, generously (and beautifully, if I do say so myself) furnished by T and the Man. But it's not exactly spacious. Just enough square footage for a girl and her pup, whose bum you can see skittering out of frame in this shot. Probably sprinting away from evil, dangerous pillows and/or galumphing toward evil, dangerous squirrels.

It suddenly occurs to me that that room has a rather masculine feel about it. Does that look like a boy's house? Do I need a pink chandelier or a feather boa or a painting of a uterus? I'm worried. Although I did, in a fit of pique at what may have been my most anal-retentive, do this:

That's pretty girly, right?

So the other day, L Sis asked if I wanted to cook. I consider that a rhetorical question, but I was doubly grateful because it caused me to miss the anxiety train that was pulling into the station. She lets me make dinner for her AND she refuses to allow me to get mired in my neurosis.

My sister is better than your sister.

Menu: Monterey Jack, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto and Chicken with Lime Sauce

JLB and M were joining us, so I picked up these two

and hurried home to begin a feverish cleaning process that attempted to remove six months of dog hair, K hair, and dust from various surfaces by terrifying the dogs with my smelly and nonfunctional yet loud vacuum cleaner.

I did not, however, notice the who-knows-how-many-months of mildew growth behind my guest room clerestories, but L Sis did!

My sister is more observant than your sister.

This post demonstrates keenly my missing attention span. Here are the ingredients:

Well, except for the roasted red bell peppers, which are IN THE TITLE OF THE RECIPE. They're in the refrigerator door, hell-bent on causing panic late in the process when I realize I've forgotten them. That'd be cumin, coriander, hot sauce, olive oil, vegetable stock, arborio rice, Monterey Jack, green onions, minced garlic (pinch bowls ROCK), and corn. A little less than 2 cups of water went on the stove to warm with the vegetable stock, but it didn't make an appearance in that photo becau ...

Oooh! Shiny things!

Sorry, I'm back.

The rice, garlic, cumin, and coriander went in to toast in a little olive oil. The recipe says the coriander is optional—I suppose because some wacky folks out there don't like the taste of cilantro—but it's crucial. It gives the dish a depth it wouldn't have otherwise. So if you're in the market to stand over a hot stove and stir for 25 minutes, don't leave it out!

Then there was stirring, followed by some more stirring. Carefully followed up with further stirring. I won't bore you with the ordeal, because I've already documented it here and here. That's right, ordeal. JLB and M and L Sis, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?

Oh, that. Carry on.

In went the corn, onions, cheese, and fugitive bell peppers, then into a 200˚ oven to stay warm.

The best part? The recipe called for no additional salt, and it didn't need any. Which, for a Cooking Light recipe, is something of crap shoot. M needed more salt, I thought it was perfect as-was. C'est la vie—as I reminded L Sis this morning, one man's corn tortilla is another man's damp sandpaper.

I'm just saying.

All that concentrated stirring was pretty exhausting. I didn't lose focus for a moment. Seasoned cooks know that even a minute's distraction will only lead to rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, and that amateurs who take time off to Hassle the Hoff on America Has No Appreciable Talent will find that rice both glued-on and burned. Not I.

Hey, eyes over here.

Next up:

Chicken stock, salt, Dijon mustard, lime juice, water, brown sugar, butter, cooking spray, and olive oil. Also cornstarch, but who needs to be prepared? The wine was for the chef. It's good for my blood pressure.

Now wait ... there's something missing. What is it?

OH YEAH. The chicken.

I Tom Sawyered JLB into berating the breasts (hee!), because I'm timid. Shut up, or I'll kick your ass.

A mixture of cooking spray and olive oil went into the pan, followed by salted and peppered chicken pancakes.

When they were browned, lime juice, cornstarch, water, Dijon, butter, brown sugar, and chicken broth went in to deglaze the pan and thicken into a passable sauce.

The thickening didn't so much happen, for one of two reasons. Either a) the cornstarch is old and has lost some of its prowess (is that possible?) or b) I decided it wasn't a good idea to scrape too enthusiastically at the carcinogenic bottom of my 20-year-old nonstick skillet with a wire whisk.*

But pretty, no?

And tasty, I think. It's possible everyone waxed lustily about it. I probably wasn't paying attention.

*As this post went to press, all of the meat-eaters attending this dinner party remain alive. Still, if you eat on the Woodside, regular check-ups are advisable.


Juarez Family says:
at: 12:56 PM said...

My sister is smarter than me. Oh wait, I mean, my sister is smarter than your sister.

K. says:
at: 1:13 PM said...

YOUR sister? that girl is just whackadoodle.

John-Bryan Hopkins says:
at: 7:12 PM said...


I propose a Golden Girls night. We all put on our mauve or teal colored chiffon shoulder padded shirts and......

Wait a second! Did you ever see them actually eat on that show. They drank coffee at the kitchen table but....thats about it......

I Call Blanche !!!!!!

BTW the food looked good!!


at: 11:12 AM said...

Well is JB is Blanche are you going to make me be Estelle??? Humph. But the food didn't just LOOK good, it was delish!!! And L made salad. I loove saaaalad ......

K. says:
at: 6:27 PM said...

the life and times ... : have you COMPLETELY lost your mind? there was so much eating on that show! most notably CHEESECAKE, a choice which i can't support, but dude, that dessert was practically the fifth girl. where you been? p.s. i call sofia.

jeannieb205: ESTELLE was not a CHARACTER, jlb. she was a PERSON. and a damn funny one. but i call her. you have to be rose. =)

at: 10:02 PM said...

oh yeah ... ok, I'll be Rose



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.