Afternoon of domesticity (crockpot rice pudding risotto)
This is my busiest work week of the year. It’s insane. Way too much to do, and way more organization than my brain can deal with. (I’m just not a linear thinker, I tend to jump around–and this week I not only have to be linear and cover a lot of big-picture and small-detail bases, but I have to do it in several linear streams at once. Oy.)
Yesterday afternoon I had a little respite, though, and in my usual vein, rather than doing something intelligent like, oh, taking a nap, I went into this burst of homey activity. None of it was difficult, but it was all the kind of thing that I hope will yield long-lasting (through the week, at least) rewards.
Risotto Rice Pudding in the Crockpot–This is one of my favorite comfort foods, right after baked egg custard (which I now know how to make in the microwave). I previously posted a recipe for making this rice pudding in the oven, which was absolutely delicious, but tonight I tried it in the crock instead. Lower maintenance, and easier to make more of. It was yummy, and much easier than any of my previous incarnations–I put 8 cups of milk, 1 cup arborio rice, and 8 tbs. sugar into the crockpot, added a few generous shakes of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves (very generous with the cinnamon; not as generous with the cloves), maybe a tsp. of vanilla extract, and cooked it all on low for about 3-4 hours. I was lifting the lid and stirring a lot during the last hour, too. In the meantime, I soaked 2/3 of a cup or so of currants in maybe half a cup of frangelico liqueur–you could use brandy or any other liqueur if you wanted, or cream sherry would be nice too–or you could use juice if you don’t want any alcohol–for the duration. At the end of the 3-4 hours when the rice was all soft and the whole thing had a sort of creamy texture (it thickens up a good bit when it cools), I dumped the currants and liqueur into the pudding. (Most recipes say to drain the currants; I say the hell with that.) Stir it up good–since the pudding is still steaming hot, I figure most of the alcohol cooks off, right? I added a lot more spices at this point too, to sort of freshen them. This is a lovely, yummy, comforting pudding with no fat in it beyond whatever was in your milk to begin with, and not an excessive amount of sugar either. (Verdict from later that night…okay, this is beyond lovely and yummy, this is flipping AMBROSIA.)
Black Beans–now that my husband is allowed to reintroduce some of his potentially allergic foods one at a time, we’re starting with the black beans. I did the quick-soak method (bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, turn off the heat, let sit covered for at least an hour), then drained and rinsed them and simmered them slowly for a couple of hours with a little salt and thyme in the water. (I would have used a bay leaf, but I discovered too late that I’m out.) These will go into chili, burritos, quesadillas, soups, heck, all over the place! And I will freeze a bunch of them by putting half a cup into each muffin tin and freezing them, so when I need to thaw smaller quantities they’ll be there and ready to go. They’re also really easy in the crockpot, but my crockpot was busy and my counter too messy to allow for two going at once. Sigh.
Brown Rice–again, cooked in quantity, it’s something I can pull out all week for breakfasts, snacks, dinners, to throw under chili, whatever. Two parts water to one cup rice, simmer half an hour or so till done. I make 6-8 cups at a time and they last the week.
Chili–okay, I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s what the rice and beans were in preparation for…and The Man has been Craving Meat. So I bought a measly pound of organic ground beef (which I know is still not sustainable for all its organic-ness–but if doing this once every 4 months or so can keep the “why don’t we eat more meat” pleas at bay, it’s worth it), and into the crock this morning I threw the beef, a bag of frozen bell peppers, a chopped up onion, and a few cups of beans. Threw a few tablespoons of chili powder on top of that and added some extra ground chilis and garlic, a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a good shake of cinnamon, and threw a can or two of diced tomatoes on top of that. When I come home from work I’ll futz with it and check out the seasonings, make sure they’re what I want them to be, and doubtless add a bunch more chili powder and other seasonings. This chili is not particularly sexy, no one’s famous secret family recipe, nothing to go “ohmigodwow” over–but it’s a good solid filling healthy (except for that beef) dinner that is easy to freeze portions of for later, or save for other nights this week when I know I won’t have energy or time to cook. (Now my crockpot green chicken chili recipe is something to wow over a bit, but I’m not making that this week.) Served over brown rice, it’s a Real Dinner.
And then the Man and I watched 24 (if the world recycled its goods the way that show recycles plots, we’d be in good shape!) while munching on homemade multigrain fresh artisan-baked bread with olive oil and grated parmesan. I guess as fattening vices go this is as good a one as any, and better than ice cream or chips. It’s our weekly (whenever I’m home and have time to make bread–which is to say maybe monthly if we’re lucky) ritual, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend the only evening I’ll have at home this week…
[UPDATE: I made the rice pudding again yesterday with 2/3 cups arborio rice and 8 cups of milk; it’s an even nicer texture, IMO…depends whether you want more of the rice or more of the creamy part…]