Sunday, August 03, 2008

Coyote Story

Coyote Steals the Sun's Tobacco

Over at Group News Blog.


Blogger Sherry said...

it's a great one.

8:10 AM  
Blogger seventh sister said...

good story and thanks for the heads up on this blog. This one seems to have an energy of its own.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

As aside: I do hope you'll continue to grace us with your private musings and kitchen derring-do here. This site is a breath of fresh air.

Plus, I need more help and encouragement that I can "throw a meal together" from what I have available. You are my kitchen guru.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

Plus, I need more help and encouragement that I can "throw a meal together" from what I have available.

The trick to that is stocking a "pantry" with staples you really think are delicious, and that can be used in small quantities, and that last a long time. Once you do that, when you go to the grocery store you only need to buy perishables (plus the occasional restock). Then any time you want to cook you have stuff to work with, and all you need are a few really good recipes that are actually techniques of how to assemble a nice dish.

Most nights I cook for myself I cook a starch, and saute vegetables, plus maybe a small amount of a meat or fish. It's always delicious (except when I add too much of something, but that comes with the territory and I learn that way) and it's easy to do. Last night I cooked a risotto to which I added tilapia. It was easy to do, but I added too much fennel seed. It didn't overwhelm the dish, but it came too close for comfort. I also didn't add enough salt to the risotto, but that was a little bit compensated by my having added a tad too much salt to the tilapia. (I'm rusty, and it shows.)

Live and learn. It still tasted decent. It just wasn't my best outing.

Oh, and if you can cook decent oatmeal for yourself you can almost certainly cook risotto.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, oddjob. I can do oats, but risotto seems a bit more venturesome.

I think the key is getting that core of five or so dishes. I am bored with what I do, but am daunted by the cookbooks.

Care to share a couple of your core meals? I'm fairly good at improvising, so long as I'm given the Big Idea!

2:23 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

Risotto is not a big deal. At its heart it's just a pilaf.

Heat up the oil in the bottom of the saucepan you're using for the rice. When it's hot enough to saute with add the rice and stir it until the ends of the grains are clear/transparent, then add one third of the liquid. (This rice cooks just like any other. For every unit volume of rice you'll need about three units of a water-based liquid. One cup rice? Add three cups liquid.) Stir the liquid into the rice and bring the liquid to a steady simmer. As it simmers stir it all periodically.

Once the liquid is mostly incorporated (takes maybe five minutes or so) add the next third of the liquid and stir. Now at this point you'll need to stir more often, but you still stir periodically. The liquid should come back to a steady simmer.

When it's mostly incorporated and the rice is getting to seem "dry" add the final third, but in smaller increments, stirring all the time as you go. Each time the rice seems to have incorporated most/nearly all of the liquid add a little more, stirring constantly as you go.

At this stage you'll need to sample a few of the rice grains every so often. You're looking for them to feel fully cooked through (nothing hard or crunchy in the center of the grain as you chew it), but that also doesn't feel "mushy", as if there is no "there" there anymore. You don't want to cook it so long that instead of "rice" you have "ricemeal". When it's ready it will be both soft/creamy and chewy simultaneously.

It's really not all that tricky. You just have to pay attention when you get to the end of the process.

That's the basic technique. There are endless ways to incorporate other flavors. I usually end up using water as my liquid, but using chicken stock makes a deliciously savory risotto. Replacing some of the water with an acid, such as lemon juice or lime juice or wine vinegar, gives the risotto a nice zing of tartness. Sweating down a shallot and a clove of garlic before you add the rice is something an awful lot of people do (I usually add some sort of onion in the beginning). Oh, and if you're into using cream you can add that, too. I don't cook with cream so I'm not certain how that gets incorporated. I suspect it goes in at the end, but I'm not certain of that.

For the last one I made I also cooked up some tilapia. I sauteed the filets seperately and when the four filets were mostly cooked through I took them off the heat and stacked them on a plate seperately. As the risotto cooked I added some summer vegetables and spices to it. Once the risotto was mostly done I cut the filets into chunks (I was expecting to finish their cooking in the end of the risotto, but they'd steamed themselves done already), then when the risotto was finished cooking I gently folded the tilapia chunks into the rice. (Oh, and the brown bits left in the saute pan from the cooking of the fish? I scraped all of that up and added it to the risotto early on, when the rice was cooking in its oil. I wasn't going to waste that!)

It turned out quite nicely.

You can cook down mushrooms before you add the rice. You can reconstitute dried mushrooms in hot water, strain the water & use the water as part of the coooking liquid, then add in the dried mushrooms at the end when the rice is cooked (mushroom risotto). Grate some parmegiano cheese, add that, and you have literally made the classic mushroom risotto.

You could shell & devein fresh shrimp, put the shells in a piece of cheesecloth, tie the ends of the cheesecloth into a pouch and add the pouch to the risotto water. Cook the shrimp seperately and fold them in once the risotto was finished. Throw away the cheesecloth bag and you have made a shrimp risotto.

It's not really that difficult. It just requires some experimenting. Once you've figured out the technique you can thinking about scaling up the quantities so you can serve it to guests.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you for taking the time, oddjob. It would seem being brave and vigilant is a large part of the process.

I can see you love cooking nearly as much as MB!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

Well, you have to be vigilant when cooking oatmeal or it burns. Same thing, this is just slightly (only slightly) more intense.

Do you watch your pasta so it doesn't come out mushy and overcooked?

Same thing.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

He's WAY better at cooking than I am.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous oddjob said...

The one thing you do have to get right about risotto is buying a short grain rice at the store. Usually arborio is used. The long grain rices (Carolina rice, or any of the ones popular in Asian cooking) don't work for this dish.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

i liked the coyote story.....

5:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...


Yes re. the pasta. So vigilance is the key. I tend to be a little scattered; if I were a kid today I'm sure I'd be labeled "ADD". Not hyperactive, mind you, just easily distracted.

12:12 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

I clicked through here again today on my way to GNB, and was reminded yet again that, as a native Louisianian, I once again mis-read the title of that GNB post as "Coyote Steals the Sun's Tabasco".

- Badtux the Hot Sauce Lovin' Penguin

5:29 PM  

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