I have always loved reading historical novels, be they mysteries, romances or actual acclaimed literary works. I like reading both fiction and biographies. I’ve even delved into actual history books.
In all that reading, over all these years I have never fully understood what these people had to go through to stay warm.
I understood it on an intellectual level.
I knew they had to chop wood or dig peat or haul coal.
I knew that they had to do this every day.
I knew they had to tend the fire whether it was in a stove, an open hearth or a boiler.
I knew they had to do this every night.
I understood it…. I thought.
I was wrong.
Well, maybe not totally. I understood it; I did not appreciate it.
Now I do, at least a little bit.
I appreciate the fact that, when you heat with fire, in a stove or fireplace, and there’s no one there to tend it, it goes out.
If there’s no one home to keep the fires burning, it gets cold.
If you leave for work in the morning, when you get home in the evening the inside is the same temp as the outside: cold.
If you stoke the fire at night before bed, when you get up it’s cold.
If you are cold inside you stay cold when you go outside.
A large part of our daily routine is devoted to getting and staying warm.
Wood has to be chopped and hauled and moved. The fire has to be tended, the ash box emptied.
It’s a lot of work. And, other then the feeding the fire bit, it’s cold work.
I have a whole new respect for our forbears.
And, last night I saw I saw my first wild boar… in the wild.
Gadzooks, he was huge! The size of a small, gray car!
My respect for those hunters of yore has increased tenfold!
But I don’t think they had risotto….
Hmmm, Wild Boar Risotto. That has possibilities.
For now I’ll settle for this one:
Risotto with Shrimp, Scallops and Mushrooms
Sometimes risotto uses up leftovers. Sometimes it’s for special occasions, like this one. The occasion? It’s the end of the week. I like to use half scallops and half shrimp, but all of either would be equally good.
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto – Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/3 cup dry, white wine
2 1/4 cups fish, seafood or chicken stock
1 tbs butter
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat. Finely chop onion. In medium sauce pan heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until transparent then add rice and sauté stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes until rice has white center. Add white wine and stir. Start condimenti. When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/2 cup of stock, stir. (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.) When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/2 cup and continue adding 1/2 cup at a time and stirring. Before the last 1/2 cup taste a few kernels of rice. They should be just ‘al dente’ – slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked. If more stock is needed add it 1/4 cup at a time and waiting until almost completely absorbed. At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff – there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold it’s shape on a plate. Add the Parmesan and the condimenti, stir well, pour into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately. It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be quite stiff. The risottos that we have eaten in northern Italy have all been served in soup plates (flattish bowls) and eaten with a spoon – not a fork.
5oz (150gr) cleaned shrimp
5oz (150gr) scallops
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, cream, or creme fraiche
1 tbs parsley
Chop the onion, mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms. Clean shrimp if necessary. While risotto is cooking, heat oil in medium skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms, sauté until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp and scallops and sauté until cooked, another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in yogurt and parsley, cover and keep warm until needed for risotto.