Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow... Snow... Snooowww... Meatless Mondaaay Week Thirteeeenn...

I never thought I would miss the snow but I do.  Growing up in Alaska, our winters were always filled with snow.  Sometimes it was beautiful, sometimes it was brown, and at times it was an obstacle to overcome.  Here's one of those stories.

Many people ask me how Alaskans make it through the long dark winters.  Alasakans are nothing if not resourceful and find many ways to count down the days until summer.  My mom had a very simple solution.  Go on a vacation somewhere south.  One particular year, this was easier said than done.

The last day of school was a typical march Alaskan day; we had a windstorm blowing snow into deep drifts and piles like a sinister white monster taking over our house.  My mom and I were leaving on a red eye flight for Southern California that night.

Now some people may see blinding snow, 10' snow drifts, and hurricane force winds as a disappointing sign that the spring break trip is canceled.  Silly.....  My dad looked at the wild eyed feverish glare my mom was giving mother nature and realized there was no stopping her.  He dutifully put on his warmest gear and went outside to shovel out a path through the snow drifts so we could get out of the driveway later.

That's not the end of this battle however.... much can happen in a few short hours while waiting to leave for a 2AM flight.

Here's what I remember....
  • I remember getting bundled up in warm clothes just in case we got into an accident or the car broke down on the way to the airport.
  • I remember sitting in the car in the garage looking at my breath as I exhaled and thinking about which ride would be first at Disneyland.
  • I remember the sound of my mom's gloves as she tightly gripped the steering wheel like a race car driver waiting for the flag.
  • I also remember watching the garage door go up and seeing the impressive sight of a newly formed snow drift that had built up in front of the garage.
The snow drift remained perfectly in place as the garage door slowly lifted.  The demonic drift was over three feet high and we had no time to dig out a path again.

I imagine that many things went through my mom's mind that night.  I remember looking over at my dad and he must have been thinking, like myself, that there was no way she was going to make that flight.  Then I remember the sound of an engine revving and knuckles tightening again....

She revved the engine of her old Oldsmobile sedan, backed up as far as she could in our garage, and rammed into that snow drift like Humpback whale breaching the surface of the ocean.  She made it over the snow drift and didn't take her foot off the pedal until we were parked at the airport.  Did the garage door close?  Who cares.. we were going to the sun and warmth of the south.  Could the airplane take off in such horrible conditions?  She would have shoved the pilot out of the way and flown herself if necessary.

That night in the battle of Mom vs. Alaska, Mom won.

Now what makes me think of this epic battle in my history?  A few events are leading up to it actually.  First, we celebrated Christmas with my Mom a few days late but just in time for snow in Oregon.  It was fantastic to have a white Christmas for the first time in years.

We live in Portland, Oregon now so snow like this is rare.
Next, the weather forecast is calling for more snow today starting this afternoon.  In the grand tradition of Portland, the city is shutting down already.  Run for the hills!  The rain we are all used to is crystallizing!!  The horror!

Finally, I decided to make Mushroom Risotto for Meatless Monday.  I've never made Risotto before and have only tasted it once so I'm not an expert.  But the Mushroom Man at my local farmer's market had Black Trumpet mushrooms, which I had never heard of before.  I asked him what he would cook with the 'shrooms and his vote was for Risotto so I had to try.  My recipe is for a very basic Risotto but I looked at Eating Well in the Northwest for tips on how to bring out the best in my dish.

Sadly, the Risotto ended up tasting a bit pasty in my opinion.  I think that I may have either stirred too long, added too much broth, or waited too long to eat it (darn pictures).  Or it could be that I've only tasted Risotto once before and it was exactly how it should be.  If anyone has some advice let me know!

In the battle of Me versus Risotto, Risotto won.

Black Trumpet Mushroom Risotto

I served my Risotto with a Salad of Spinach, Pomegranate Seeds, Apples and Spiced Pecans.

2 cups Arborio Rice
1 Tbs Olive oil
1/4 cup shallot, diced
1 cup Black Trumpet mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic clove, minced
6 cups mushroom stock or vegetable stock

1. Heat the stock in a large pot and keep at a simmer.

2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Add the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms.  Remove the sauteed vegetables and keep warm.

3. Add the Arborio Rice to the pan and toast the rice over medium high heat.  This should take about 2 - 3 minutes.

4. Add the vegetables back into the pan and stir to combine.

Here's a tip:  Use a pan with high, straight sides NOT like me.  I got rice everywhere as I stirred!

5. Add 1/2 cup of the stock into the pan and stir until it's absorbed.  Repeat this process until the risotto has your desired consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Servings: 4
Yield: 1 cup per serving

For a printable version of this recipe, click on the widget below.

Black Trumpet Mushroom Risotto

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  1. Ha! Loved the story! Sometimes it takes real mettle to overcome what nature (especially Alaska's nature, apparently) throws at you ... it builds character, right?

    And the risotto looks fantastic ...

  2. @Rich - My mom called after reading this post and she said that I remembered it exactly how it happened :) But sadly I have lost my Alaskan thick skin. I went to Michigan recently and was freezing! I couldn't wait to get back to Portland and flap around in the rain with my webbed feet.




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