The Honeymove, Part 3: The Audition
(Featuring Sous Vide Risotto)
I woke up refreshed. We had received our basement fridge (that’s right, we have TWO fridges – or we will when the kitchen is finished). The electrician got the basement electricity connected and we finally achieved a working appliance. We’ll be kicked out of the hot toppin’ club soon for sure now.
In all honesty, the house-camping was starting to wear on me (see part 2: http://awonderlandofwords.com/the-honeymove-part-2-hot-toppin/). I try to stay optimistic and to let go of expectations, but I am a person who likes to actively create and the limitations of our construction-zone life were epic.
Francis and I did, after all, get married in October. Our gifts were all sent to Portland and are mostly unopened in the basement next to Francis’ moving boxes. I had fantasized of waiting until our house was finished to unwrap the gifts, but I knew for a fact that we had registered and received a sous vide machine. A sous vide is an appliance wherein your vacuum-sealed food is placed in a heated water bath and cooked slowly and gently. The result is evenly cooked, perfectly tenderized and seasoned food. The plumbers had finally hooked up the kitchen sink, so there was running water, but still no stove or fridge upstairs. I was going crazy not being able to cook. If I could find that machine, I could cook us an actual fresh meal in our new home.
I felt unstoppable. I walked over to our local market, New Seasons, with a shopping list and a twinkle in my eye. I was going to make a vegetarian sous vide risotto! Francis is a vegetarian for the most part and, after eating out so frequently these past weeks, I longed for the taste of home-cooked vegetables. The checkout girl exclaimed “Gonna make some risotto tonight??” when she saw my shopping basket. Arborio rice, mushroom stock, garlic, parmesan… she was hardly a psychic.
“I knew you would know what I was making when I walked up here,” I replied while smiling, trying to ditch my snarky New York tone.
She was nice and told me about a seasonal black truffle risotto she had made the previous week. I almost shared my sous vide plan, but decided it would be better to keep it to myself. This was my first time with the sous vide after all, and I had no idea what I was doing. This black-truffle-knowing cashier might challenge me to a sous vide battle and I would surely be revealed as a fraud.
I walked out of the store with my ingredients and a car suddenly pulled up into the driveway I was approaching, cutting me off. The kid in the driver’s seat opened the window, pointed a semi-automatic shotgun at me, and screamed “GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY, BITCH, I’M DRIVING!!!”
Oh wait, that’s not exactly how it happened.
The car cut me off for about 6 milliseconds and then a very pretty middle-aged woman rolled down her window and said, “I’m so sorry dear, I’ll be right out of your way. Have a beautiful day.” She must have been confused by the look on my face. I’ve never been so shocked. It’s different here.
I came home and started chopping veggies with a wedding present knife on a wedding present cutting board into wedding present bowls. I went into the basement to see how Grace, Francis’ cat was doing. She had been hiding down there since we brought her home the day before. My dog, Amelia, is not a vicious cat killer, but she wants to aggressively play with anything on four legs and Grace was not having it.
“Grace! Here Grace. Graaaayyyyyyaaaaaccccceeeeeee.” Nothing. No Grace.
The truth is I don’t know anything about cats. I was allergic to cats until I was in my 30’s and have never been drawn to them regardless.
I started getting nervous. I went to the places we knew she liked to hide.
“Graaaaayyyyyyyaaccce!!!” I poked and I moved stuff around. Amelia came down and I thought she would definitely be able to find her but she just turned up her nose and went back upstairs.
Oh christ, I thought. I’ve lost my husband’s beloved cat. Francis has been so worried about the dog and cat interactions that I didn’t want to call him to say I couldn’t find Grace. I took to the streets, walking up and down our neighborhood, calling her name. I don’t even know if cats come when they’re called. I was shaking. What’s that dark patch in the street? Is that her? Has she been squished by some distracted texting driver? I was practically in tears. The dark patch was a garbage bag. I felt ridiculous.
I came back home and searched through all the corners and closets. Maybe she was trapped in a construction hole and couldn’t get out. I listened for desperate, help-seeking mews. Nothing.
Now, an hour and a half of prep time gone to cat drama, I returned to the basement. It was there that I saw those ears… and heard a tiny, devilish snicker. That damn cat was down there the whole time.
Outraged, I vented on the internet– only to learn that this behavior is routine feline hijinks. There was cursing but also relief. I was really nervous something bad had happened.
Back to the kitchen went I.
I had decided to cook the risotto and the vegetables separately so as to not overcook the veggies. The Arborio rice I would vacuum seal with some chopped garlic, some mushroom broth and some fresh herbs (I had beautiful fresh thyme, marjoram, and one basil leaf). The veggies (broccoli, peas, zucchini, and mushrooms), I would vacuum seal separately, also with some chopped herbs and a little mushroom stock).
It was at this moment that I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Only one of the outlets in our kitchen was hooked up then and it was a low socket for the stove (which is still in the other room due to red tape I won’t bore you with here). I felt a certain betrayal to my food safety license as I set the vacuum sealer on the floor and then tried to seal my bags of food. Maybe I had put too much liquid in the bag or hadn’t left enough room at the top to create the perfect seal, but the machine kept filling up with mushroom broth, which then spilled onto the floor. The veg bag simply would not seal. There was more cursing, which, of course, was the moment that my amazing husband walked in after his long day at work.
It’s hard to remember that this isn’t an audition. I got the job. We said “I do”. I am his wife. But I’ve always had a pretty intense 50’s housewife fetish. At least right now, as I’m getting my business set up in this new city, I want to be able to greet Francis with a graceful, chipper smile and a sumptuous feast.
Instead, it was more like, “Here’s your fucking risotto brick, honey.”
It’s a work in progress, I understand.
There’s a reason you’ve never heard of sous vide risotto. I knew that it wouldn’t taste like regular risotto, but I wanted to give it a whirl. The taste infusion was nice, but the luscious, creamy, slightly al dente magic that is a slowly stirred risotto was nowhere in sight. It was clumpy and sad. We ate it and got to the laughter eventually. He didn’t care. He doesn’t have a 50’s housewife fetish. He just likes me.
I’m pretty lucky.
No recipe this week. Our gas line will be inspected later today and then, hopefully, the stove will be installed.
Then, it’s off to the races.