Friday, January 2, 2009

Looking forward to a new year

I realized on new year's eve that this is about the time my health took a downhill tumble one year ago - the impetus for seeking medical care for my symptoms. It turned out to be a wild ride of a year, but when I think about the past year, I feel grateful and I truly believe it was one of the best years of my life.

Some highlights:

Ben and I enjoyed a full calender year together.
I began to play the flute again after five years without it.
I started to feel healthy for the first time in years.
I made significant progress on my doctoral dissertation.
Ben had his first art show in Portland.
I started this blog.
Ben and I moved in together and share a home with our three cats.
I finished my last term as a full time student.
I enjoyed another year of rowing.
I developed my skill as a painter.
I met a number of wonderful new people and enjoyed time with old friends.

I took joy in small, daily things... running, finding and cooking new foods, riding the streetcar, the Sunday paper, and just being.

I'm not big on resolutions, but I look forward to a healthy, happy 2009.

I look forward to returning to my regular workout schedule, gaining more confidence in social food situations, and feeling even fewer symptoms. I hope to complete my dissertation and graduate with my PhD. Ben and I plan on setting up container gardens on our balcony this spring, growing some of our own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. We are also hoping to join a CSA... so look for some great recipes to come this year, incorporating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables!

Ben and I relaxed yesterday after the previous couple days of unpacking, grocery shopping, and celebrating the coming of the new year. I even got out my paints after a long hiatus...

Thank you, readers, for engaging with me, leaving comments and sending emails. And thank you to my fellow bloggers, gluten free or otherwise, for the inspiration and ideas and invaluable information. I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2009.

Delectia squash risotto:

Delectia squash is a small, sweet squash that is easy to peel and chop. It is delicious on it's own, as a side dish, or baked in salads, casseroles, or risotto.
Use a good, deep stock pot or dutch oven for this - it helps prevent some of the broth from evaporating away. You will also want to use a good, comfortable wooden spoon, since you will be doing a lot of stirring. This recipe calls for cheese, which adds a lot of flavor to the dish, but it is just as delicious without it. The lovely thing about risotto is it's creamy texture, with or without any dairy product.

2 small delectia squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (use a potato peeler)

1 small onion, diced
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped coarsely
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4-5 cups good broth (depending on how much evaporation you end up experiencing)
1 cup Aborio or Carnaroli rice (these are both Italian rices that are particularly starchy, giving risottos a creamy finish)
black pepper to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Roasted pine nuts, pecan pieces, or sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Bring your broth to a simmer in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Keep it simmering at this heat until you have used it all.

In your large stockpot, heat a good dose of olive oil over medium heat (it should well-cover the bottom of your pot) and saute your squash and onions for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes, until the edges of the rice become translucent. Add your spices. Stir to mix well.

Add a ladle-full of broth and stir until all of the broth is absorbed. Add another ladle-full and stir until absorbed. If too much broth is evaporating, i.e., your mixture is rapidly boiling and/or you have lots of steam coming from the rice mixture, turn your heat down a touch. Continue adding ladle-fulls of broth and stirring until all of the broth is used, or until the rice is tender, with just a tiniest bit of bite left.

Stir in the spinach. Mix well and heat through. Add one last bit of broth, if needed.

Add the feta cheese (optional) and stir.

Take the pot off of the burner and set aside, covered, to rest for about 4-5 minutes.

Garnish with roasted pine nuts, pecans, or almonds (optional).



Steph said...

Wow this recipe looks good! I hope 2009 is an even better year for you than 2008 was! I bet there are a lot of CSA options in the great northwest :) I remember visiting the farms and farmer's markets as a kid w/ my family. So much good produce!
You reminded me that I wanted to join a CSA this year. Thanks!

Lauren Denneson said...

Steph - Thanks! I hope your 2009 is also great! We do have a lot of CSA options here...I'm on a waitlist for my favorite farm - sungold farms :) Hope you get into one this year!

Steph said...

So do I! By the way, I tried your recipe for sugar cookies! Wow! They were amazing! Even my husband was impressed! He said they're company-worthy (meaning totally share-able w/ gluten eaters). Thanks so much!!!

glutenfreeforgood said...

First off, join that CSA! You will never regret it. Mine is the highlight of my culinary adventures. Second, I couldn't agree more. Skip the resolutions and go with "intentions." Third, way to go! Sounds like you've had a good year. And last, but not least, thanks for the recipe! It looks wonderful.
Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!

Lauren Denneson said...

Steph - I'm so glad you liked them! Thanks for letting me know how they turned out.

Melissa - Thanks! And, I think it was your raving about your CSA that ended up being the final push to look into joining one :) Happy new year!