Yesterday, I went stir crazy.
And it’s not even that I sat in the house all day, more that I was inside my head all day. The neospinothalamic tract of the anterolateral system, the one that senses pain, temperature, and crude touch, was battling it out with the dorsal column-medial lemniscus system (or DC-ML as we in the biz call it), which senses fine touch, vibrations, posture, etc. And then in stomped neuroradiology with its many and varied forms of MRIs and CT scans, forcing itself into the proverbial boxing ring of my inner psyche. (Leave it to radiology to add insult to injury. It always feels the need to add its two cents wherever it is least wanted. And no offense to the radiologists out there. But did I really need one more thing to add to my study sheet?)
It is a crazy world in there, let me tell you.
And so, after the madness of all that, I think you can all understand why I sent out my own version of a “Dear John letter” in the form of a tweet that read. “I want to quit med school.” Simple. Concise.
Suspicious. Because I think we all know that if I were to write a real “Dear John letter”, it would certainly not be able to be contained by the 140 character limit of Twitter. No. It would be prosaic. Lengthy. There would be a nice mix of both run-on and incomplete sentences. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Have to stay true to form.
Anyway. Within about thirty seconds, about twelve of you replied, all begging me to reconsider.
At which, I couldn’t help but smile. Partly because in reality, I tell my roommates I am going to quit med school at least thirty times a day. If not more. And partly because. You care. And I care that you care.
Which begs the question. Why?
And so, instead of committing to memory all of the first, second, and third order neurons of the somatosensory tracts. I ruminated. Pondered.
And realized this. I care because blogging is what keeps me afloat. It’s something that I can look forward to every day, even when everything else is/was/will be in shambles. Even when my pelvis was fractured and I could barely move. Even when I had to memorize every artery, vein, and nerve of the brachial plexus.
I could take a break. Cook and eat and write. I could wax sarcastic about everything under the sun. I could come here, to this space. And I would always have someone to laugh with me about it.
You care, I highly suspect, because you can always come here knowing that I will probably be writing the most hallucinatory, ridiculous, outlandish things. My posts will never be short, I can promise you that much. They will always be kooky. Cadavers and sperm count and latin lovers will abound. And yet, no matter how far afield I go, it will always come back to food. That is what makes me unique as a food blogger, I think. That there is food, with a side of life. Crazy, insane, off the wall life. As seen through my highly distorted kaleidoscope colored glasses.
And so for my first challenge, I give you risotto, one of those dishes that I make when I aim to impress. It is deceptively easy to put together, aside from the intense stirring action required, and something that people never seem to think you can accomplish at home.
This wouldn’t be an accurate representation of me without an orange vegetable and a twist, however. And so we have sweet potato risotto. But not the kind that you would expect, paired with the fall flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and a touch of maple syrup (although wouldn’t that be just dreamy). No, no, no. I have to keep you on your toes! This risotto is all shook up with some south of the border flavor. Sweetness from the sweet potatoes, spice from the chipotles and chili powder, tangy from the lime juice, salty from the cotija. It’s a veritable smorgasboard of flavor. One that will keep you coming back for more. Bite after bite. Post after post. Ridiculous after ridiculous.
Mexican Sweet Potato Risotto
Serves 4, an Eats Well With Others original
3 sweet potatoes, or about 1 1/2 lb
4 cups vegetable/chicken broth + 4 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
12 oz arborio rice
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tsp hot chile powder
1 tsp cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime
salt and black pepper, to taste
cotija cheese, freshly grated
1. Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender. Let them cool so that they can be touched, then cut them in half and scrape the insides out into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
2. Bring 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth plus 4 cups water to a simmer. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of this mixture to the potatoes so that they have a looser consistency and will blend better into the risotto.
3. As the broth/water is getting to a simmer, head 1 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion into the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add the rice to the skillet and saute for one minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add in the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Stir.
4. Pour the broth/water mixture into the rice in 1/2 cup-ish increments, stirring continuously, and only adding the next half cup after the previous one has almost evaporated. Keep doing this until the arborio rice is just about al dente. Add the sweet potato mash to this mixture, stirring it in until it is fully incorporated. Add the cumin and chile powder. Mix in. Add the lime juice and salt/pepper to taste.
5. Ladle into four bowls. Grate some cotija cheese on top of each bowl.
I am submitting this to Hearth and Soul!