Wednesday, January 29, 2014

100 Years Fashion Cycle, part 1

A series of most amusing realisations led me to these posts. 'Twould seem that, once a century for the past three centuries, the same general shape keeps popping into clothing, often in the same decades. I am giving general dates in decades; the idea is to see how silhouettes have changed (or not), not to get precise historical information. For that, you need Pinterest. All photos were selected from Google; I have no idea who took them; thus I give credit by warning that I'm not going to give credit.
Without further ado,
The 1750s 

The 1850s
1860's Beautiful Red Dress

The 1950s
A coral pink halterneck dress with a lace overlay
If I have time, I might investigate the poofy hair trend next time. Also, watch out for bustles!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Catie's Yummy Rice Stuff

...or, I I prefer to pronounce it, risotto. I first made this with America's test kitchen recipe (the variation with chicken, of course). I made it twice with that recipe, come to think of it, both times successfully, and then I abandoned the book (I am too much like my mother to follow a recipe for long).
I think it looks nice, don't you?
Anyway, enough with my aspiring (expiring?) photography skills. I made this at Christmas for the lot of us (a most delightful occasion), and had the pleasure of hearing it called all manner of names, which will not be repeated here (ricotta! chicken and rice soup, indeed!). Since I made more than usual, and apparently was in too great a hurry (Anthony Andrews was saving the Dauphin, people! How could I concentrate? That's what comes of having TSP playing during food prep) to measure my liquid or my cooking times adequately, the rice turned out a bit crunchy in the center. *I* didn't mind--I was happy in my knowledge that Percy and Margot were reunited--but it led to some conversation with a very wise person after lunch.

Wise one: That was good, but nothing beats a good old [American] chicken and rice soup.
Me (in a huff): Well. Italians have been eating risotto probably longer than America has been in existence.
Wise one: It should have stayed in Italy, then
Me: Italian immigrants brought it to America--
Wise one: You know why they came over here?
Me: Sure.
Wise one: I'll tell you. They were tired of eating risotto!
Ha. hahaha.  Joking aside, here's the 'recipe.' If you want something more useful, go to this link
5 cups of chicken broth, diluted with water as needed (sometimes we use homemade broth, which is way stronger than store-bought)
2 cups of rice--they recommend Arborio; I find it a bit pricey, so we buy huge bags of sushi rice. Great stuff to have on hand.
1 onion, chopped. This is what gets the family interested.
1 garlic clove, squashed and maneuvered into acceptable texture. I have omitted this before, without disastrous results. If the onion didn't get everyone interested, this will.
1 cup white wine. Gasps and horror. I usually just use extra broth; my attempt with a bit of wine vinegar and broth went awry because Mom stores regular vinegar in the bottle, and I didn't both asking. That was interesting.
A nice bit of butter--to cook the onion in, and add towards the end.
A nice bit of chicken. I always skip the browning stage recommended in the book because those horrible frozen chicken tenders we buy don't brown well. at all. Often, if we have any leftover shredded organic chicken, I use that. You know how much you like.
Some rather nice herbs--chives, parsley--whatever. Basil is particularly lovely. I've used mint too; it was not quite so popular, but I liked it.
Lemon juice, if you like
Quite a bit of Parmesan. I cheat and use 'green cheese,' that is, the stuff in the canister. I have also cheated and used a bit of mozerella, monterey, cheddar, pepper jack, etc., on those occasions when I discovered that my shaking the container would not result in any more parm coming out of the container. I never measure cheese or herbs, as I'm sure you've noticed--eyeballing is a useful skill here, even if it sounds gruesome. The more dairy the better, folks. Generally speaking.

1. If you are using brownable chicken, get out your rather large pot/pan/bathtub and brown your chicken. This is where you will cook the whole darn thing, so be careful in thy selection.

2. While you are burning the chicken, get out a smaller saucepan and unceremoniously dump your brothy ingredients into said vessel. Season it with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, whatever. Bring it to a boil, fast.

3. Remove chicken and place into brothy substance. Cook until it is no longer objectionable. If you used stupid frozen tenderloins you probably already boiled your chicken in trying to brown it. Remove when it's done, but while you're waiting,

4. Haphazardly throw your onion into the browning--making that blackening--pot, and stir it. Or call stir-happy relative. Thanks, Lu.

5. Wildly 'measure' your rice out, if you haven't already (shame on you!) and remember that you forgot the garlic. Furiously mince garlic and add to pot with now-browned onion. This is where everyone says, "wow! that's smelling great! whatcha cooking?" and you growl.

6. after 30 seconds of garlic bliss, dump in rice and hand spoon over to stir-happy relative. Thanks, Lu. 

7. After peering suspiciously at the cooking rice grains, to see if they're translucent, add your 'wine' (*wink wink*). Once the rice is done absorbing that, pour in your most of your brothy stuff. You did take the chicken out already, didn't you?! Set a nice loud timer for 16 minutes, pop on the lid, and don't forget to turn the stove to low. Trust me. Go watch Percy being wonderful, perhaps sending in stir-happy relative twice during the cooking time. 

8.  Get up and tell family to clear and set table. If you don't do this now, with adequate urgency of tone, your food will be cold before you eat it. ugh.

9. Add about a cup of broth and stir. The recipe says to stir gently; I don't see how that's possible with this thick stuff.  Get a cement mixer on the job, and add your cheese. Cover and let it stand--or sit-- off the heat for 5 minutes or so. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO CHECK ON THE TABLE-SETTING PROCEEDINGS. 

10. Stir in your herbs, lemon juice, and butter. If it seems too thick, add some more broth. Announce that dinner is ready, and you don't intend to eat cold food. 
Bravo. You have made risotto (and I made a rhyme--aha!). 
This stuff reheats very well indeed, with a bit of butter, in the microwave.
We've had it without the chicken, with some nice steaks. Yum.
I've been told that it can be frozen and used as a base for *cough* soups.