this must be the place
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.
*thank you, Talking Heads, for the post title.