Full Refrigerator in 2009

Roasted Squash Risotto and Green Beans

I start the year with a bursting refrigerator and freezer and pantry. I am very lucky. I am lucky to have money for lots of good food. However, this excess is silly. This week I'll be pulling stashes of frozen soup out of the freezer, rethinking the things in the pantry, and in general looking at what we have and wondering "what am I saving this for? A visit from the queen?"

We inherited some food stuffs from relatives taking a long winter holiday and suddenly had a bounty of celery in the produce bin. In sorting through my recipes I made the wondrous and sudden realization that I now had everything I needed for a good batch of butternut squash risotto. We had received a little butternut squash in the box and its time to shine had arrived. I peeled, seeded, and cubed the little squash and ended up with the required amount for a full recipe even though I only had enough arborio rice for about 2/3 of a recipe. More vegetables=healthier for us, so the squash cubes were lightly coated in olive oil and then roasted. The recipe wanted you to add them with the rice and steam them that way, but I prefer roasted vegetables. In a pan on the stove top, in went celery and onions and wine and the rice in the usual order and the slow process of stirring and adding broth commenced. I do very much like risotto but it is a process to make. It is a process that is not aided by cooking at altitude. When I had exceeded the expected cooking time by at least ten minutes and was only starting to approach doneness, I had to rethink. I did what is probably considered heretical in true Italian cooking--I put the lid on the pan and let it steam for a few minutes. It worked. Forgive me Marcella Hazan. We could finally have dinner.

While that was a task to make dinner, oven fried potatoes were an easy dream. After a busy weekend day, I resorted to good ol'American hamburgers for dinner and accompanied them with a big pile of oven fries produced from the wonderful Colorado yellow finn potatoes from the farm box. Get the oven going, put your baking sheet in to warm up, cut the potatoes into wedges, coat with olive oil and for flair, some garden rosemary. Put them the potatoes on the hot pan and appreciate the sizzle. Put them back in the oven, stir after a while, wait with mouth watering and be rewarded with golden, crispy potatoes. Dinner is served.

To take advantage of the fresh produce in the farm box and eat down the freezer, there will probably be many vegetable side dishes this week. Also, I have finally pureed the persimmons that have been sitting there looking pretty and getting shriveled. Now that they have moved from decor to available ingredient in the refrigerator, I have plans...big plans. This week will also hold the unveiling of the Pomegranate Ratafia. Hopefully by this time next week, I will be able to see the back of the freezer.

For your cooking pleasure:

Risotto with Celery and Butternut Squash