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Eat Drink and be Merry

I love food. Not just because it nourishes the body, but because it brings people together. Sitting down with friends, family or even strangers, over a meal, is such a rewarding experience. When traveling, the first thing I do is ask where the locals go. Fancy high end restaurants are not on my radar, but small locally operated mom and pop's are the places which stand out. I don't believe food should be stuffy, or take a lot of time to prepare. Sure you have your special occasions, but for the day to day calorie requirements; something yummy and filling is always a great bet. A firm believer I am, that dinner should not take more than 30 minutes to prepare, and that the norm should be closer to 15. I also don't believe in fast food or microwaves. The creation of the food is part of it's zen. Yes, this makes me a bit of an anomaly. Having owned several Bed and Breakfasts, where any and all meals could be served during the day, I became a bit of a kitchen short cut guru, and always have a pantry full of items to make a quick, healthy meal on the fly.

With that said, I am also not very good at following directions. For those that know me, this is not a shocker. I believe cookbooks should be used as guidelines for your own creativity. Yes, I know, baking is more of a science experiment and should be followed quite closely for that perfectly moist and airy cake you plan on making for your husbands birthday.....but in general, if you don't have the required soft silk flour required, use what you have. Your end product may turn out slightly different, but you may also like the outcome much better than if you followed the directions precisely. Don't be afraid to work outside your comfort zone.

As time goes on and more and more recipes are added to the website, you will see a theme. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the process, don't stress. The kitchen should not be scary, but instead a location which gives you a sense of calm. Certainly a glass of wine is encouraged, which may help relieve any stress levels you have.

Today we are going to make Risotto. Unlike rice for which you may be familiar, Risotto is made with Arborio ( Carnaroli or Vialone) which has a starchy outer layer perfectly adept to absorbing sauces and creating a velvety end product. You will find Arborio to be a bit shorter and fatter than the rice you might be familiar with. It also cannot be used in a rice cooker, if this is your thing. Nor can it be placed in a pot with water and left alone. This is a labor intensive meal, but I promise, it is well worth the outcome. My rule of thumb still applies as well; your meal will be complete in 30 minutes or less and you can be creative in it's preparation.


Shrimp and Broccoli Risotto:

1-2 tblsp Coconut oil

1-2 cups Arborio Rice ( depending on how many are eating and how hungry they are, think 2-4 persons )

2-4 cups liquid ( water, cream, milk, broth )

1-2 cups peeled and deveined shrimp

1- 2 cups broccoli florets ( fresh or frozen )

1/2 -1 cup grated cheese

Fresh ground pepper

The biggest difference in making your Risotto is the "toasting

" of the rice in the oil, before any liquid is introduced.

1) Place your oil in a deep and wide pan and heat up to shimmery. I prefer coconut oil, but olive oil, butter are both fine as well.

2) Pour your dry Arborio Rice into the hot pan and begin "toasting" it. You must constantly move the rice around so it does not scorch.

3) Once all the rice is covered lightly in oil and has begun toasting, lower heat slightly, and add enough liquid to cover rice.

4) Burner should be at a heat which allows liquid to be at a low boil, while rice is absorbing.

5) Stir, stir, stir. Keep it moving, so sticking does not occur to the bottom of the pan.

6) Slowly add a bit more liquid as the rice soaks up what you have already placed in pan.

7) Add your shrimp and broccoli, keep stirring

8) Add more liquid, just a bit, and as it absorbs, add more. Keep stirring.

9) Add your grated cheese and fresh ground pepper. Turn off heat. Stir. All liquid should be absorbed and rice should be al dente.

Voila! You are done! Remember you can make this anyway you like. Add Bacon, add tomatoes, add spinach, add mushroom....the list goes on and on. Vegetarian friendly and something most kids adore. Easy to make, easy to reheat. Filling and yummy. Enjoy!

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