Thursday, May 7, 2009

in may

For a short time I lived in a house with a backyard full of lilacs. Each May, seemingly overnight, the hedges would burst forth with fragrant, large blossoms of purple and violet. After school I would play in the yard and stand under them, breathing in their heady scent. I would close my eyes and wish I could sleep in the grass beneath them, gazing up at the little purple flowers all night. In the morning before school I would run out and cut down a few branches. Then I would wrap the ends in damp paper towels and tin foil, carry them to school, and give them to my teachers. It brought me such comfort to gaze at the familiar blossoms on the teacher's desk throughout our classes.

This week the small lilac hedges in our own backyard blossomed. Yesterday I cut a few branches and brought them to the house. The scent recalls springs of the past and I only wish the flowers would last a little longer.

Other good things this week:

-- Capri blue candles, particularly the No. 6 Volcano scent. Worth every penny.

-- I start each day with this poem. It reminds me to think before I speak.
Next Time
Mary Oliver

Next time what I'd do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more -- the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.

-- This week I read a fantastic article titled, The Science of Happiness: Barbara Fredrickson On Cultivating Positive Emotions. You can read a portion of it here, though the real meat of the article appears after the online excerpt. I'd be happy to drop you a copy in the mail, or you can pick up your own copy of the May issue of The Sun.

-- Barefoot Contessa's spring risotto recipe. It's kept us fed all week long.
Spring Green Risotto
* 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
* 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
* 1 cup chopped fennel
* 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
* 2/3 cup dry white wine
* 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock
* 1 pound thin asparagus
* 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

-- The end of Charlie's finals, chocolate chip cookies, eating dinner outside, clean laundry, packing suitcases, seeing family

-- This song makes me think of summer and all of the good things that lay ahead in June, July, and August.


seth said...

I love that line, "the body glowing inside the clothes like a light." I've been bumping into Mary Oliver poems a lot lately. Maybe it's time I sat down and read some of her stuff. P.S. I enjoy your enthusiasm for things.

Fred said...

FYI that poem is actually by William Stafford.