Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers, Take One

So, I recently joined a group called the Barefoot Bloggers. As a member (I guess that's what you would call it), you commit to making two Ina Garten (a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa) recipes each month and posting about them on your blog on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. Well, today is the day. The first assigned recipe of the month was Butternut Squash Risotto. I made it tonight...nothing like a little procrastination. It was pretty good, but it didn't wow me like it did some of the others who have blogged about it. There are probably several reasons for this.
1. I do not frequently cook with wine, so I'm not used to that flavor.
2. I have never in my life used (the very expensive) saffron and am still not sure if I can appreciate its flavor.
3. I used a richer chicken stock than I think was necessary for the dish.
4. I put in too much cheese.

I did love the butternut squash in the dish though. It was quite tasty. And, Phil thought the whole thing was just fine and helped himself to seconds. I did take some pictures, although my food photography falls far short of most bloggers. I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Although my first attempt was not the rip-roaring success I was hoping for, I'm still excited about being part of a group that tries out a variety of recipes. It's motivating and has the added element of accountability that I sometimes need to tackle all those recipes on my list. (And, it gives me an excuse to buy ingredients I might not on an ordinary day!)

Green Thumb?

My mom has an amazing green thumb. When I was a kid we had a huge garden, and it seemed like she could make ANYTHING grow. Not so with me. Right after Phil and I got married, I received this beautiful plant (couldn't tell you what kind) from a door prize drawing. For months, the plant was gorgeous and flowering. Then, I don't know what I did, but it started dying and nothing I did stopped the process. The same exact thing has happened with every single houseplant I've ever had. (It might have something to do with the chilly temperature we keep our house at in the winter.)

Well, this past May, we decided it was time to try container gardening. Mother's Day weekend, we went to the local garden store and bought 5 containers, 3 tomato plants, 3 pepper plants and a variety of herbs. I had such high hopes of making recipes like this one without having to spend a fortune on poor produce from the grocery store.

Well, the first couple months, I was so vigilant, caring carefully for my baby plants, watering them and checking on them every day. For a time, they flourished. But then, like all other green things in my life, they began to look a little sad...and then a little worse...until I thought for sure the end was near. I even pulled up some of the herbs, leaving only thyme and parsley. I tried asking for advice, but it was always conflictual...water them more, water them less. What to do?

I decided to ignore my plants as it seemed unlikely they would produce any fruit at all. It was a noble effort but an unsuccessful one. After at least a month of not even checking on the plants, I peeked around the corner of our house to find thriving tomato plants. Hmmm...I'm not sure what this means. Anyway, on October 1st, here's what the healthiest of the three looks like. I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed. It's full of tomatoes that likely will not ripen, unless it stays unseasonably warm!