Thursday, May 31, 2007


I don't want to work. I just want to... um... cook... and clean... all day. And knit, and drink coffee, and go for a walk maybe.

Actually, my work is pretty cool. I'm working for my Legal Research and Writing professor this summer, producing some new materials for next year's 1Ls. I get to create a new federal statutory memo assignment! Which probably excites exactly one person. You guessed it.

Anyway, I do actually want to work, but I don't want to end up with the same headache today that I had yesterday, which I'm guessing was the product of too many hours staring at a computer screen. Paper doesn't make my head hurt. I may have to go into school and read some things on paper. Or else I could stay here and intersperse my screen-staring with cooking, cleaning, etc.

I made risotto the other night of which I am perhaps inordinately proud, but cooking things I dream up without recipes just makes me so happy. I call it Stuffed Grape Leaf Risotto, although it involves no grape leaves, because I based it on grape leaf filling, which is one of the only rice-based things I actually like. I started by melting some butter together with some olive oil (though you could use just olive oil to make it taste more mediterranean or to make it vegan) and throwing in a finely chopped scallion and a whole clove of garlic. I stirred those around over medium high heat for about two minutes. Then I stirred in a cup of arborio rice and cooked that for about a minute before starting to add, in roughly half-cup increments, about three cups of vegetable broth (I used Penzeys vegetable soup base) mixed with half a cup of lemon juice. You have to wait till each batch of liquid is absorbed before adding the next batch, and never stop stirring. (This is basic risotto-craft, but I'd never made risotto before, so it was new to me.) I also threw in a little kosher salt and a good bit of cracked black pepper. Altogether, it took about twenty minutes to add all of the liquid. Finally, I fished out the garlic clove and added about a quarter cup of golden raisins that I'd soaked in boiling water while making the risotto. The contrast between the savory, lemony rice and the sweet raisins really makes the dish. I'll be making this again for sure, perhaps with more raisins and maybe some pine nuts, if I feel like springing for them.

Today's dish, I think, is loubieh bi zayt, green beans stewed with tomatoes, olive oil, onions and garlic. My parents and I used to get this from the Lebanese Taverna when I was little, and although none of the recipes I've seen for it mentions this, the version I remember includes ground cloves, and the Lebanese Taverna menu confirms it. So I add cloves. There's something very powerful about the memories of the things we eat when we're young.

Learning to cook, and especially learning to cook without recipes, is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. Kind of like law school, actually. It involves a considerable investment of time and money, preoccupies me at weird times like when I'm in the shower or when I'm trying to sleep, occasionally impresses people, and makes other people think I'm crazy or wasting my time. And... it's fun.


Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Interesting. I might have to try to cook risotta sometime, sounds like it tastes good.

6/1/07, 1:51 PM  

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