Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comfort Food

Sometimes I am jealous of my one-year old niece.

She gets to cry whenever she wants, regardless of the situation or the level of appropriatness. Social norms mean nothing to her. This is much of the reason I believe she is such a sweet, happy, darling baby.

Sometimes, at the end of a long day, one where you are so tired and so achy it's unreal that you are out of bed, tears in the middle of the grocery store just seem so appropriate. Because after all, not only are you tired and horrendously achy at the grocery store at the end of a long day, you still have to run another errand, get gas, unload the groceries, put away the groceries, AND make dinner.

I don't know how I held the tantrum off, but I did. Then, suddenly, in the European food section of Giant, nostalgia hit me. And with nostalgia almost always comes inspiration.

After a quick call to Cindy and a few laps around the store for a few more things, I had a wonderful dinner at hand.

The cool thing about food is the way it brings people together. I truly believe this is the biggest reason people hate dietary restrictions so much, whether they know it or not, because not being able to eat certain food makes you feel singled out or separated. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and enjoyed with others. Everyone has to eat, regardless of age, race, culture or beliefs. This is how comfort food is born. Like my mama always said had written on our kitchen table, "The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

I love family-style eating. Big plates or pots of steaming foods stuck in the middle of a table of smiling, sharing faces...just like a pizza commercial. I also love one-pan cooking, mainly because I am lazy and abhore doing dishes. So, what could be better at the end of a tantrum day than a simple, comforting, memory-inducing, big-bowl-in-the-middle-of-the-table creamy risotto?

This meal was first made for me just like this; a gigantic bowl in the middle of a table to feed a bunch of college kids studying abroad in Italy. My roommate and I went to Italy during spring break of our sophomore year to visit a couple of our closest friends studying abroad. Let me tell you, these girls can cook. I got to live with them senior year, and they can COOK. Such lucky families they will feed one day. In a teeny little kitchen in Rome we chopped peppers, took turns grating cheese until our arms fell off, ate cereal out of a box labled CHOCO CRACK and laughed until we cried. Then we ate until our stomaches hurt, but still had room to go eat gelatto by the Pantheon.

And so, a tough afternoon was made sweeter with thoughts of going home to a simple, delicious and inspired dinner, the ultimate in comfort food.

Cheesy Risotto, a la Jess and Cindy, tweeked for ultimate laziness

Risotto, two cups

One large red bell pepper, chopped

Grated parmesan cheese (REAL, not Kraft) ;)

Grated romano cheese

Chicken broth, four cups (or water)

One onion, chopped

Garlic, to taste

Prosciutto, to budget

Olive Oil, to taste

(For cheesy risotto a la Taylor, you can really toss in whatever you like. I added peas to mine and am too poor for prosciutto, so I used bacon instead. I also used a little mozerella instead of the romano.)

Saute the onion and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add two cups of uncooked risotto and stir to coat with oil and heat for about 2 minutes. Add four cups of chicken broth. Cook covered for about 45 minutes, or until soft and the liquid is nearly soaked. You can walk away go take a bath. Just have your husband take a peek every now and then.

At the RICE, silly!

Cook and chop your bacon (microwaves are great!) or slice your ham or whatever else you want to use. Chop the peppers and toss them in the microwave for a couple of minutes until soft (I did it like that because I wanted the peppers a little crunchy). Toss everything together into the risotto and add as much cheese as you'd like. I did about a cup; keep in mind that parmesan has lots of flavor. You may need to add a little more stock for creaminess.

Dump into a big serving bowl and eat a ton while thinking of and missing your froomies. (Roommate+Friend=Froomie.) Close your eyes, dream of the pantheon, and be glad you are not your baby niece, because she hasn't been there yet, even if she CAN cry whenever she wants.


  1. That sounds DELICIOUS. I think I will make it this weekend :)

  2. Oh I am missing Rome just reading this. Someday, when I own a house there, you can bring Charlie and we will teach her what sei giusti means.
    I am glad everything was delicious!

  3. Taylor I love reading your blogs! They are so down-to-earth and real-life and make me smile! This recipe sounds amazing, I will have to try it out! Thanks for sharing :-)


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