The weather turned cool last week, unseasonably early for us. We even had a frost!
The days were still sunny and warm, which sent us outside to finish getting ready for winter.
In another words, other than getting the boiler (furnace) functioning and the radiators hooked up there was no progress inside this week.
And we’re still waiting for the stairs. They’ll be installed in September.
As you may or may not be aware, this is NOT September.
The stairs have been made.
Phone calls attempting to light a fire under installers have been made.
But, It’s not September.
Our neighbors are/were having their roof re-tiled in July. The workers started 2 weeks ago and finished this morning.
Therefore, this is July.
I’m hoping tomorrow will be August and our stairs will come shortly after – in September.
In the meantime, we trimmed the figs and found a side of the house we didn’t realize we had.
We thought we had about 6 fig trees.
Turns out we only have 2 – that hadn’t been trimmed or cleaned out in a few hundred years.
Mon mari was so pleased he even hung an old wood ladder to decorate the house.
Unfortunately, fig wood isn’t any good for burning.
The pine from the tree we took down last week is.
The little pile on the left is from that tree. The big pile on the right is what we got last summer. It’s all split but is a meter (39″) long so mon mari has to cut it all in thirds with a chain saw.
Saturday, we had the pile in front, that looks like scrap lumber, delivered – again, a shared purchase with our neighbor. (That way there is only 1 delivery charge). It’s ‘end-cuts’ from a lumber yard and was really cheap. Most of it will by used for kindling.
We should be set for this winter…. hopefully.
One of my favorite things about winter is risotto.
Since we have a very clear line about summer cooking (on the barbecue) and winter cooking (in the kitchen) we don’t get risotto in the summer.
As always, this is for two. To make vegetarian, use vegetable stock and skip the chicken.
Regardless of what many people say, one does not need to stir constantly, but do stir vigorously and often.
Mushroom and Butternut Squash Risotto
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto – Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup dry, white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat. Finely chop onion. In medium saucepan heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until transparent. 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 1/3 cup of stock, stir. When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring. Before the last 1/3 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 2 tbs 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 its 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.
6oz (175gr) butternut squash
4oz (120gr) mushrooms, wild if possible
1 chicken breast
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs chicken stock
Cut the chicken into small pieces. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Roughly chop the butternut squash and onion. Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet. Add the chicken and fry until cooked through. Remove and set aside. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Remove and add to chicken. Add onions and squash, sauté until lightly browned and cooked through. Add stock, cover and keep hot until needed for risotto.