Thursday, July 19, 2007

rain! and cooking

As a rule, I like weather. I like seasons and I like rain. Living in California for the eleven or so of the last fourteen years, I've missed things like seasons and rain. When I moved to Washington I was thrilled to know that there are actual seasons up here...and as soon as I arrived the area plunged into a record-setting heat wave. Fires broke in the wilderness regions of the northwest. Listening to the news, it appears as if all of eastern Washington and western Idaho is on fire, plus a little bit of Montana for good measure [it's not].

But! Last night it rained! Actual accumulated precipitation combined with cooler temperatures. Outstanding! Spectacular! The cats are sitting at the screen door wondering what all the dripping is about. They're intrigued. But then they wander off to the Book Room (aka the Cat Food and Litter Room) and play with their new catnip toys and couldn't care less about the rain. But I still do. Rain! Rain! Lovely rain!

Cooler temperatures also brings about a new enjoyment for cooking. Since I arrived here, I've cooked a bunch of things as part of my new save money/don't eat takeout/eat healthier/lose a ton of weight in the next four years life plan. But it's been hot hot hot and cooking has not been enjoyable. But this morning I made oatmeal instead of cold cereal and it was good good good.

Other things I've made since I've been here include my old standby of boiled cabbage, potatoes, and sausage. I love that stuff. It's from my childhood, although no one in our family is Irish so I'm not sure how that happened. I am also a fan of cube steak. It's cheap and quick. That's also from my childhood. And yes, for the record, I also like liver and onions. Sheesh, looking at that list you'd think we were poor, but we weren't. Just frugal.

I also had the opportunity to make some of my favorite risotto dishes, such as Risotto with Sage, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella. I also made a new (to me) recipe: Spring Risotto with Peas and Asparagus. Good stuff! Very minty and lemony without being overbearing. The next risotto recipe I'm going to make is Beet and Beet Greens Risotto with Red Wine.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get good stuff up here, since the area lacks a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. But the IGA and Safeway have proven just fine for everything I need, and their "organics" aisles are the same size as the stores in San Jose. There's also a food co-op in Moscow for more organic and local stuff, and the Moscow farmer's market is small but has good stuff.

Funny anecdote about the farmer's market...I had my eyes on a big, luscious cabbage and when I pointed at it and said "I'd like that one, please," the farmer who grew it apologized for it's size. She said, "it's really dense, lots of leaves, so it's heavy." I said, "awesome!" and she said, "but it's $2 per pound and it's three pounds" and I said, "that's why I picked it! and please don't apologize for your produce!" and she laughed. Maybe you had to be there, but I haven't ever encountered someone who apologized for their produce when it was big and healthy and wonderful. When I moved to the next table and picked up a bag of red potatoes "right from the ground" (so said the label), I knew this farmer's market might be small but it had all the things I like: lots of herbs and lots of root vegetables. Those potatoes were the best red potatoes I ever had, too.

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