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this must be the place

February 20, 2010
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A night at home alone is a supremely satisfying thing.

Lest you think I’m having second thoughts about the concept of “til death do us part”, let me reassure you that Chris is eminently marriage-worthy.  He is a force to be reckoned with on the Scrabble board, makes a fried egg and onion sandwich that will cause you to weep with joy, and can shimmy with reckless abandon on the dance floor, with an enthusiasm rarely seen past the age of 7. It’s an event to behold.

There is something to be said, however, for having the house to oneself every so often. Back in the days when I lived alone, I relished a Friday night that involved nothing more than my couch, my cat, a plate with a cobbled-together assortment of Sarah-tailored goodies (generally involving cheese), and a generous glug (or two) of red wine. I smacked my lips and set to work on my platter, and once sated, pulled from my shelves one of many dog-eared tomes, and eventually sent myself off to bed.

As I type this, Chris is no doubt perfecting his shimmying technique, but today he’s swapped the dance floor for his snowboard. I elected to forgo this trip as my graduate school workload continues to hiss at me from my backpack, as it gathers a fine film of the dust in the corner of the bedroom. Having already decided on a weekend housebound, you can then imagine the thrill I felt yesterday afternoon when my boss suggested I zip downtown to a lighting showroom. Said showroom happened to be a mere block from Cowgirl Creamery, otherwise known as mecca. After ogling gorgeous Italian light fixtures, I nipped in to the shop and emerged a few moments later, giddy and victorious and clutching my treasure, three wedges of cheese and a bottle of red, close to my chest.  As soon as arrived home, I set to work in the waning evening light. I roasted a mess of vegetables and carved hunks from my bounty, slipped into a cardigan, and boiled some rice.

This may shock you, but I only recently discovered the genius that is the cardigan. All the comfort and warmth of my old faithful college sweatshirt, only much more fitting for a 26-year old who isn’t holed up in a cinder block dorm room subsisting on macaroni & cheese from a box and Nutella. My latest acquisition might be my favorite yet, woven from a pale wheat-tinted yarn, nubbly and lovely, with a texture not unlike a Belgian waffle. Infinitely swathe-able, it lends itself quite well to a night on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns on Hulu, accompanied only by my rather chatty cat and a bumbling moose of a dog.

This little rice dish is the edible equivalent of that cardigan-a slightly more refined yet no less loveable version of my college mac & cheese. It may be a little homely, but it’s tangy, tart, and chewy, a fitting accompaniment to the earthy, sweet vegetables and oozingly buttery lumps of cheese that I also enjoyed last night. This is probably not what to serve when company’s coming, but when you’ve barely eeeked your way through an exhausting week and don’t want to muss much with the stove when you can finally, finally!, relax, it’s just the thing. Warm, fragrant, and satisfying, and goes down nice and easy, much like that Dr. McDreamy-ahem.

hot rice with cold lemon

adapted from Viana La Place’s Unplugged Kitchen, a favorite of mine that is sadly out of print.

As with any deceptively simple recipe, the quality of the ingredients will shine through in the finished dish. This is not the place to use your basic white rice or standard cooking oil. If you do, you will be sad. Trust me.

1/3 cup arborio rice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

a drizzle of white truffle oil (optional-I had a few dregs left from a tiny bottle I picked up in London 2 years ago. It was quite wonderful.)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

fine sea salt

freshly ground black pepper.

Bring a small pot of liberally salted water to a boil. Once the water is at a good, rollicking boil, pour in the rice, and let it burble for about 12 minutes, until al dente. Drain the rice and place it in a bowl. Douse your rice with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and salt. Give it a good toss or two, drizzle with the truffle oil if using, grind the black pepper over the top, and devour.

serves 1

*thank you, Talking Heads, for the post title.


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18 Comments leave one →
  1. Daphne permalink
    February 22, 2010 1:17 pm

    OMG – a recipe that actual says “serves 1”! Yeehaw! Finally, someone understands that there are those times when cooking is for one’s OWN pleasure, not for show, not for company, but for that oft forgotten person: SELF! Bravo, Sarah – I’m right there with you. No one likes being alone, but every one LOVES some time to oneself, and a recipe for a single serving is impossible to find – one has to do all the math to skinny down those “serves 8” recipes, or just accept a frige full of unappetizing leftovers, or worse, just settle for a PBJ sandwich. Thanks for helping us not feel guilty about serving ourselves!!

  2. Vani permalink
    February 22, 2010 2:54 pm

    YUM!! I don’t play with arborio rice enough. Will you make this for me when you come visit??

    p.s.: CAN’T BELIEVE London was 2 years ago!!! sheesh!

  3. February 22, 2010 3:03 pm

    Vani-uh, yes, absolutely i will make this for you, amongst other things!! can’t wait to see you in 2 weeks!! ee!

  4. February 22, 2010 3:04 pm

    Daphne-I agree. It’s so nice to have a few single-person sized recipes up one’s sleeve that require little to no brain power to prepare, for those nights that you just need something easy!

  5. February 23, 2010 1:53 am

    cardigans, cold rice, does it get any better?

    • February 23, 2010 1:57 pm

      Yes, it does….hot rice :) Great to see you here again, Molly. Hope you are staying warm!

  6. February 23, 2010 8:01 pm

    Satisfying, simple, lovely.

    • February 23, 2010 8:37 pm

      Exactly my very favorite type of food to make and eat, Tracy :)

  7. Nancy Udell permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:41 pm

    Hey, I didn’t know you were such a great writer! Good stuff! Sorry it took me so long to get there. Want to read more..

    • February 24, 2010 3:47 pm

      aw, shucks. thanks nancy!! still trying to get myself on a good writing schedule, but the main point is, i am enjoying it, and it is non-school related. phew! talk soon.

  8. February 24, 2010 6:12 pm

    Mmmmmm. This has me fantasizing about Friday night. Actually, next Friday night when the boyfriend will be out of town and I won’t have to answer to anyone, but myself. Time to plan a great meal!

    • February 24, 2010 7:26 pm

      Hello, Jessica! Get thee to the cookbook stack! As much as I love cooking with and for my fiance, those nights when you only have to answer to yourself are priceless! Would love to hear what your Friday meal will be. Enjoy!

  9. February 24, 2010 8:09 pm

    I’m obsessed with cheese. You’re right on the money for a night at home alone.

  10. February 24, 2010 9:49 pm

    Love the post, Sarah! Nights alone are one of my favorite things, especially because they are rare. Will definitely try this recipe. Thanks.

    • February 24, 2010 10:12 pm

      Thanks, Jennifer, and thank you so much for visiting. It’s such a simple and unassuming dish-but I love it. Enjoy!

  11. February 25, 2010 2:28 am

    “A night at home alone is a supremely satisfying thing.” That is so true! I HAVE to make this!! :)

  12. rachel permalink
    February 25, 2010 8:25 pm

    followed a link and found you. didn’t realize your blog is brand new this month till i got to the first post. congrats. a good read. can’t wait to try the rice. i by no means live alone, but i covet those times…

  13. February 25, 2010 10:03 pm

    cafe fashionista-i highly recommend that you do :)

    rachel-welcome! and thanks so much. i hope you like the rice-i’ve made it numerous times and it never fails to satisfy me!

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