Karl’s big day is almost here! He is taking his medical board exam tomorrow, so I am trying my best not to flag him down every time I come across videos of small animals doing cute things. Now I curate what I find and save the interruptions for only the best, e.g. this (just watched it again, and now I’m dying). Along with not distracting him, I sometimes help by coming up with silly stories for remembering drugs and diseases and pulling questions/mispronouncing names from his thick USMILE prep book.
As for me, the hairs on my head have been slowly jumping ship ever since I decided to look for a new apartment to accommodate our permanent party of two – boy is it a stressful process. By now I’ve looked at dozens of listings, and it seems like my options are: clean, bright, spacious apartments or smelly, dingy, cramped apartments. It may seem like there’s an obvious choice, except the first option would leave us with no monies for luxuries like food, water, and electricity.
“I’m gonna miss being able to afford food” – Chandler, FRIENDS
Between the big exam and the mad apartment hunt, we’re both feeling a little bogged down. Our daydreams feature fantasies of fleeing to Middle-of-no-where, Nebraska where the mortgage for a three bedroom house with two acres of land is $2. We’d have a good time out there. We’d spend our days feeding the fluffy goats, pulling crabgrass from the vibrant vegetable garden, harvesting the tall corn, and driving 50 miles in our pickup truck to the nearest town for provisions. It would take us an hour to walk to our nearest neighbor, who we’d probably visit once a week to exchange goat milk for fresh eggs or something. At night, we’d sit on our wooden porch, lit up by gas lanterns and fireflies in recycled spaghetti sauce jars, and read until our eyelids got heavy. That’s the dream. Finding solace in our peaceful and lively plot of land and in each other’s company amongst the raw agricultural landscape. Where there are no broker’s fees, cramped apartments, standardized tests, packed agendas and schedules. Where we could just live our lives on our own time and spend our precious days just doing things we love.
There is a part of me that is deeply attached to city life and really appreciates the beauty of dense neighborhoods and tall skylines. That part of me loves buying new soft dresses at Anthropologie, visiting the art museum (especially when it’s free admission), grabbing a greasy burger and creamy shake at midnight, and feeling anonymous in a herd of pedestrians at the crosswalk.
Who knows where we’ll end up, but I hope we can find a middle ground in the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, I can escape to the kitchen and lose myself in chopping, stirring, and sautéing.
Rarely do I make appetizers. Unless an occasion calls for it, I only prepare a side and an entree for dinner. That is a little sad for me because I absolutely adore bite-size, finger foods. They’re so much fun to make, serve, eat, etc., and they just make me so stankin’ happy!
On Saturday, just a regular ol’ weekend, I made stuffed portobellini mushrooms, aka baby bellas, as a pick-us-up for Karl and me. I stuffed these babies (hehe) with a delicious, savory bacon and leek risotto. The smokiness from the bacon goes so nicely with the oniony leeks. I always add white wine to risotto because it adds a shy but rich undertone to the creamy rice. When you bake these stuffed mushrooms, the risotto gets slightly crispy on the outside, and it is pretty much the best thing ever sprinkled with salty parmigiano reggiano. They are so great as an appetizer or a side dish, and the process of making and eating them is the perfect stress reliever. Yep – we will be serving these at our housewarming party on our Nebraska farm. (;
- 8 ounces cured bacon
- 1 cup (75 grams) leeks (white part only), quartered lengthwise and sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 1 large (75 grams) shallot, diced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup + ¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- extra virgin olive oil (to grease the pan)
- 12 portobellini mushrooms (also known as baby bellas), stems removed
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook each side for 3 to 4 minutes. until crispy. Plate the bacon over paper towels to drain the grease. Coarsely chop the bacon, then set aside.
- Remove half of the bacon fat from the pot to be discarded when cooled. Heat the remaining fat in the dutch oven over medium heat, then add the leeks and shallots. Cook for about 4 minutes, until soft. Add the Arborio rice, and cook for one minute to toast the rice. Add the white wine, and stir often until absorbed. Add ½ cup of chicken broth, and stir often until absorbed. Continue to add the chicken broth, ½ cup at a time, until all the broth is used up. Remove from the heat, then stir in the parmigiano reggiano and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with some extra virgin olive oil. Stuff the mushrooms with the risotto, and place them on the greased baking sheet. Top with the remaining parmigiano reggiano. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the risotto is heated through. Plate, then garnish with green onions. Serve warm, as an appetizer or a side dish.