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Weirdbag Weather

August 12, 2009

Well, kiddles, I went to the doctor about my knee, got an X-ray, was told that there was nothing wrong with my bones or the joint itself, but that I’ll have to see an orthopedic doctor and get an MRI to see if I tore an cartilage or ligaments or anything. Luckily, with a nice Ace bandage and a doctor-certified 3 ibproufen every 6 hours, I’ve been able to do a lot more walking around and the swelling has gone down considerably.

Just as a side note, because my health insurance is from out of state, I had a heck of a time explaining it to doctors out here. Also, we still haven’t reached our giant deductible and since this is clearly not preventative care, we’ve got to pay for it out of pocket. Luckily my parents have a health savings account through our insurance provider, so they’ll be footing the bills I rack up. If I didn’t have my parents, I would have to pay for all of this out of pocket, which would probably leave me for sure with no money to pay for school (especially after an MRI) and possibly in debt, depending on what’s wrong with me. *sigh* And neo-cons and insurance providers wonder why people are crying out for healthcare reform!

Anywho, end rant. Just wanted to update a little. As for the weather? Global climate change is finally hitting home. Apparently it’s been really hot and dry in the normally cool and wet Northwest. And it’s been cold and wet and tornado-y in the Midwest (usually hot and humid and tornado-y). And here in the Northeast? It just can’t seem to stop raining!

The boy and I went up to his parents this past weekend and on Sunday & Monday it was cool and rainy. Tuesday dawned cold, but then turned clear and hot, but not humid. A lovely day, actually. Then we drove back last night through hot and humid weather and came home to the hottest, stuffiest apartment ever. Ugh. Not fun. Today? Supposedly more thunderstorms. The boy thinks this bodes ill for a mild winter, and I agree.

Despite the heat, I made arborio rice pudding today with some of the heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized!) I bought a while ago and needed to use up. Stovetop only and it took maybe an hour to make, cooking mostly unattended. Creamy as all get out and just sweet enough. Here’s the recipe, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: from my home to yours:

Creamy Stovetop Arborio Rice Pudding:

1/4 cup arborio (a.k.a. risotto rice)*
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (can sub 3 cups whole milk, instead of 2% and cream)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Put rice and water in a 2 quart or larger heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse rice. Return rice to pot. Add milk, cream, and sugar and bring to a boil (this will take a while but once it starts, it overflows quickly! So keep an eye on it). Reduce heat to low and let mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. The cream will be thick, but still a little runny. By this point, the rice should be floating/suspended in/on top of the cream, not at the bottom. (Really, when the rice floats, it is cooked through and it’s just a matter of reducing the creamy bits to the desired thickness.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and, if desired, cinnamon.

Serve warm or cold. Makes 4 generous portions or 6 small dessert portions.

Creative additions: dried fruit (reconstitute in water and add at end or straight up dried after the cream has boiled), other sweet spices like cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, etc., chocolate bits, chopped nuts (almonds are particularly good), substitute almond, coconut, or rum extract for the vanilla, substitute coconut milk for some of the milk/cream, etc., etc.

Creative toppings: fruit jams, fresh fruit, fruit sauces, maple syrup, wine poached dried fruit, etc. This would be a particularly good vehicle for gently cooked or fresh seasonal fruit.

*Note: 1/4 cup does NOT seem like a lot of rice for how much liquid dairy you are using, but trust me (and Dorie) that it will all turn out okay. I was highly skeptical and almost doubled the recipe. I’m glad I didn’t. You will be too.

A similar pudding is made by the Swedish Cultural Heritage Society of the Red River Valley every year back home for the annual Scandinavian Hjemkosmt Festival. The above recipe is not quite the same, but it is close. The Swedes, though they put raisins and cinnamon in their stovetop rice pudding, also put raspberries on top (usually the frozen in syrup/juice kind) that I would always load up on and mix in until the rice pudding turned purple. The tart, acid raspberries were a very nice compliment to the cold, creamy, sweet rice pudding.

In Scandinavian nations, this stuff is served warm at holiday time and a whole almond is slipped into the bowl. Whoever finds the almond in their portion wins a marzipan pig. Yum!

If I can manage to do the dishes, I might use up some of my local yellow plums to make a sauce. They are sweet and juicy inside, but have a very tart skin, which would be a nice compliment. Otherwise I still have black raspberry/black plum sauce leftover. That’s still good, right? Well, I’ll have to check, I guess. Oops.

Playing with the band tonight at Zona Rosa. Have been craving authentic Mexican food, especially their chicken quesadillas, which come rolled up like they should, not all flat and triangle-y. Not sure how the fiddle playing will go as I am rusty and the knee is, too. But we’ll see.

Off to do dishes. Wish me luck! : D

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