Something Healthy to Eat

Since returning from our respective trips abroad, Tawn and I have been taking a lot of our meals at home, making them ourselves.  I’m not sure if this is just in response to being away for so long, or whether it is in response to a pair of books I’ve recently finished reading: Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.

In Defense of Food Plenty

Both of these books talk about our relationship with food and both discuss the virtues of eating whole foods that are produced locally and in sustainable ways.  Interestingly, neither book is preachy.  Rather, they simply explore the issues and let readers draw their own conclusions.

This is something I’ll probably write more about in the future as it is something I’ve thought a lot about and continue to think a lot about, especially here in Thailand where concepts such as “organic”, “local” and “sustainable” are very different and often less well-developed.  Also, the novelty of processed foods is high as this is a newer phenomenon in Thailand than in, say, the United States or Canada.  That’s why I’m seeing more and more young Thais – secondary school students, for example – who are big, really big.

Anyhow, I’m not going to get into that now.  Let me instead share with you the dinner we made Wednesday night.  Hot on the heels of his two weeks in Italy, Tawn has been craving Italian food.  (This seems to be the case with his parents, too.  Speaking with Khun Nui – Tawn’s mother – last night, she told me that Khun Sudha has been preparing spaghetti nearly every night since they returned!)

To address this craving, I cracked open the risotto cookbook to see what sounded appetising.  The zucchini and ricotta risotto sounded lovely, fresh and seasonal with hints of mint to brighten the dish.

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The recipe is actually quite easy.  You dice and fry zucchini in the skillet then set it aside with some mint and parsley to cool.  Wanting to add a bit of meat to the dinner, I also marinated and pan-friend some chicken breasts.

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Then you cook the risotto, a process that consumes a bit of time (30 minutes) and all of your attention (you have to keep stirring, stirring, stirring) but is not complicated:

Sweat some onions, garlic and shallots in olive oil and butter over medium heat until translucent.  Add the risotto rice and stir for a few minutes until very lightly toasted and glistening with the oil.

Add a bit of dry white wine and stir until the liquid evaporates.  Then start adding hot stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but vegetable stock works, too) one ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until the liquid is evaporated. 

Once the liquid is evaporated, add another ladleful of stock and continue the process for the next twenty minutes or so, until the mixture is thick, creamy, and the rice is done al dente

At that point you add the ricotta cheese, the zucchini mixture, and shave in some Parmesan.  Stir for a few minutes until the cheese melts and, if necessary, add a little more stock to fix the texture.  Season to taste then serve.

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Sadly, the brand of ricotta at our local market is one I don’t like.  The texture is too dry, like feta, and it never really melts.  Instead, it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.  As such, the risotto didn’t have as much creamy cheesiness as I was looking for.

Nonetheless, it was a tasty risotto.

I also had the time to pull together a bottomless apple pie, although I cheated and used prepared pastry dough.  In a hot kitchen in a hot country, making pie dough from scratch is quite difficult.  It simply gets too warm.  Maybe if I get a marble pastry board that fits in the refrigerator I will have more luck.

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Nonetheless, a pretty decent Wednesday night meal.

 

On other notes, thanks to all of you who commented on and recommended the previous post about lessons I wish I had known when I started working.  Somehow the word got out and the blog received a spike in traffic.  Lots of new people walking through this corner of the internet.  Welcome to all of you!

 

33 thoughts on “Something Healthy to Eat

  1. Wow that looks so yummy, Chris! Especially the apple pie!Isn’t it interesting how it takes only a few rec’s and boom! You all of a sudden get 3x the traffic to your site? (: I’m some what of a noob to the whole Xangaceleb world but after a few posts with lots of rec’s, more and more people are flocking to my site. It’s quite overwhelming but much welcomed. =]

  2. For your readers’ information, Michael Pollan also wrote “The Carnivore’s Dilemma”. I’m just beginning to read it. Reading “Fast Food Nation” several years ago all but ended my eating in fast food restaurants…probably not more than a half dozen times in a year. I maintain, as you know, that preparing one’s own meals can result in healthier eating, plus there is something about the process of preparing food that can appeal to a deep part of one’s being.

  3. @jandsschultz – “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, actually.  I actually asked Dad this morning whether he recalled if I loaned the book to you, but I guess that would be my answer.  Also, there are two or three other books waiting for you at Jenn’s when you get there next weekend.

  4. My door and heart are always open for you and yours Chris.  I am having a couple of people from Sao Palo, Brazil this week. They want me to make the shrimp and beef biryani. Of course I am complimented….but I would so love to have you come here.
    It is always so good to read your posts. I have made some of the dishes you have shared with your readers. Thank you always.

  5. That’s it. I’m coming over for dinner tonight. Hehe. :o) Oh, and I finally left a response to the previous post. Sorry. I browse through xanga so quickly these days in order to maximize my sleeping time. Trying to adjust to this life revolving around work. :o)

  6. “Lots of new people walking through this corner of the internet. Welcome to all of you!”Haha. you’re welcome. I’m nearly 18 and getting out of high school soon.

  7. Hello Chris,You worked hard to make your site so simple yet elegant. The pictures are a nice touch. I see that you have a wide variety of interests and observations here! I’m sending an important message to people about God’s plans for us that is in the Bible: 9 I, the LORD, will show no mercy or pity when that time comes. In my anger I will destroy the earth and every sinner who lives on it. (Isaiah 13:9) (CEV)

  8. @iso_whiteSnow – In the twenty years of working so far I’ve done many different things, but I’m now primarily focused on human resources training and development, along with a bit of side work in corporate communication.

  9. @christao408 – No, but I know the series you mean and it’s good too. This is by the guy who wrote “The Secret Life of Lobsters” and it’s basically the story of sushi from “samurai to supermarket”.

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