Sunday, June 27, 2010


I've been thinking about risotto for several days, and tried making it today. I can't remember ever having it...but in my imagination, it was good. It's more of a process than a recipe, with lots of stirring! But it may be the best thing I've ever cooked (except for Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon), so it's worth it.

To make risotto, you must have:
6 cups chicken broth, reduced sodium preferably
2 cups arborio rice (it must be arborio rice...otherwise no go)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, (not too much! The broth still has plenty of salt.)
  1. Heat the chicken broth to nearly boiling and keep it hot, but not boiling, throughout the process.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil for a couple minutes.
  3. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and rice. Stir for several minutes.
  4. With the heat at medium-low, add two ladle-fulls of broth and stir until absorbed.
  5. Repeat, allowing the broth to be absorbed before the next addition.
  6. Keep stirring and adding broth until all the broth is added and the rice is creamy and just al-dente. It should take 20-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and add Parmesan and any other additions.
Optional additions:
10 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sauteed
1/2 package of frozen peas, thawed
1 package cherry tomatoes, roasted for 15 minutes
2 cups turkey ham, sauteed
It's amazingly creamy and rich and comforting. It will become a part of my permanent repertoire, for sure.

In other news, my last class of grad school is a total nightmare. Specifically, the professor. She is the Highlander of French literature."THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE interpretation of Balzac!" Except she's a dumpy little French-Syrian woman. Mercurial and occasionally tyrannical, she's already made two students cry (me being one of them) and gotten into a heated and completely unnecessary argument with another. She promises not to interrupt presentations, but interrupts and criticizes constantly. It's insane. We're grad students...we're the best students she will ever have, care the most, work the hardest...and she treats us like ignorant children.

For example, she told the students that would be doing study-abroad next month that they must absolutely only associate with French people while they are there, so they can learn things like "toothbrush" and "toothpaste."

But since none of us are actually French, we won't go on strike or start a riot, despite serious provocation. But I plan to write a strongly worded anonymous end-of-course evaluation, by golly!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Triathalon #2

This morning, Casey and I both competed in the Denison Dash, way north of Dallas. It's the birthplace of President Eisenhower. It's a Sprint tri, a 300m swim, 13.8 mile bike and a 3.5 mile run.By far the hardest was the swim. It was the shortest (thank goodness) and the scariest. Swimming through a crowded, churning pool, with people swimming right in front of you and behind you...passing you too! I didn't know if I could do it. After that, it was mostly fun. Biking up and down hills around and outside of the town was nice, and then the run around a little lake and through the woods! My legs were pretty sore by the last stretch, but I couldn't help smile as I finished because it was so fun!

They had a time trial start, (each person's start was individually spaced out by 10 seconds) so I didn't really get the feel of who I was competing against and didn't pass as many people as passed me, since I started near the front and most of the girls were in the middle or back. So I was pretty surprised that:
I got first place in my age group! Casey got 10th overall, which was pretty amazing, and 3rd in his age group (which the announcer called the 'Stud Category')! I don't think I've ever won first place at anything, especially not anything athletic, so I was pretty overwhelmed. It was a great end to this week of taking and finishing my comprehensive exams for grad school.

(BTW, it's an Eisenhower dollar on the awards, with the 5 star design, since he was a 5 star general. Pretty cool, huh?)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Almost done...

I'm experiencing massive brain drain. I've taken 4 of 5 comprehensive tests. Two of them were a breeze because they covered what I expected and had studied. The other two had parts that just came out of no an essay question over something that wasn't covered in class, in the book or on the study guide. ?!? I pulled out something that I remember from a comic book eight years ago. Hopefully that will suffice.

Studying has become an endurance sport at this point. Especially because immediately after this I start an intensive two-week literature class. Rumors are flying that we're supposed to have already read the three books. That ain't gonna happen. Que sera, sera at this point in time.

Soon, this too shall pass, thank goodness.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pesto Paradise

Pesto is a very simple thing. Basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. Give it a spin in a food processor, or even a blender, and you have this lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta, pizza, etc. It makes a sandwich. Pizza goes from bleh to gourmet. Amazing stuff.

Problem grocery store doesn't sell it. And they do sell the ingredients, but I could buy a couple steaks for what it would set me back for the basil and pine nuts. So, I've had to abstain.

Until now. On the food network, someone made pesto with parsley and walnuts. Parsley! 56 cents a bunch! I went hog wild and bought two. I had already had some almonds, so...ready, steady, pasta salad!

Parsley Pesto

1 bunch parsley, stems cut off
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ -1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped nuts
A pinch of salt
¼ -1/2 cup olive oil

1. In the food processor, process parsley, garlic, cheese, salt, and nuts until finely minced.
2. Add oil until it forms a paste.

Pesto Pasta Salad, recipe by me!

1 box bow tie pasta, whole wheat
1 crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 container cherry tomatoes (red and yellow are nice!)
½ jar kalamata olives, pitted and sliced, drained
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 can asparagus stems and tips, drained
1 box frozen peas, thawed

1. Boil pasta. 1 minute before pasta is done, add broccoli to blanch it.
2. Drain and rinse to cool.
3. Toss with pesto and then vegetables.

In other news, my comprehensive exams start tomorrow. I've already gotten past the being super-stressed, crying phase, and for the most part, I feel prepared. I'll know more when I get in there tomorrow! The worst ones are Monday, then two more Wednesday and one last one Friday. I've been dreading these tests since I first heard that they were coming, four years ago...and soon it will be over, thank goodness.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

House Plans

So, the house planning process is moving along well. Here's a more finalized version of what we're going to build.
Is it just me, or is the roof really pointy?

FYI, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger...just click back when you're done!
Very open layout. I'm most excited about the master bathroom. I can't wait for that tub! The kitchen is going to be great too. We still are debating on the counter material, though. But that island is going to be so handy.

I especially like the jack and jill bathroom between bedroom 2 and 4. It was formerly bedroom 3, but I think that's a nice addition. And a storage closet near what will be the kid's rooms is going to be handy.

That open space on the front left upstairs is just going to be attic, for now, and some day in the future, a media room. But right now we're doing everything to keep this house from being too over-budget. That's the next step in the process...what can we live without so we can afford to live in this house!

In other news, the school year is over...but I'm not on vacation yet. Next week is crunch week and the week after, my comprehensive exams. I hope that I will be prepared enough. These tests are pass/fail, and most people pass them the first time...but I don't want to run any risks. I know one woman who took a whole semester off to study for them. (Ahh!!)

Once that's done, one more two-week class...and then it's summer, just in time for the 4th of July! I can't wait! :)