Peas are fun to shell - especially when you are three years old. 

Last night's dal was, as usual, very popular.  The turnips were great - really good mixed in with rice. Jason thinks the turnip greens would have been a nice addition, as the meal was a bit monochromatic.  

Risotto is really simple to make, its great with all sorts of spring veggies and nice for evenings when I'm feeling brain dead, like tonight. And since its just about almost spring, there were shelling peas at the grocery store this week, so I bought some.  Green garlic and leeks were in our produce box, and we just happened to have chicken stock in the fridge.  The kids and I sat out on the back deck and shelled peas this afternoon. Then they loaded the pea pods into their toy dump trucks and delivered them around. Lovely!  

Also a salad, the same lettuce pomelo one from two days ago, especially if you still have 3/4 of a pomelo languishing in the fridge like I do.  A simple lettuce with vinaigrette will do too, if thats the case, I would add a half teaspoon of dijon mustard to the vinaigrette recipe - not so great with fruit, but good when its just lettuce.  A few sliced radishes would be nice as well, if you're not using fruit.


Very Early Spring Risotto:

2 T butter

2 cups arborio rice

2 leeks, thinly sliced

3 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced    

1/2 lb peas, shelled

1 quart chicken stock

salt & pepper

parmesan cheese

Heat the chicken stock to simmer in a covered pot.  In another large pot, heat the butter.  When the butter is melted and starting to froth, add the leeks and green garlic.  Cook them for about ten minutes on low heat, until they are translucent.  You don't want them to color, at least not much. Add some salt, if you're using unsalted stock, about a teaspoon or to taste. Add the rice, stir to coat it with butter and let it sit for a minute or so.  Add the peas. Next add a couple ladles of stock and stir the rice.  You'll need to stir frequently (but not constantly) until the rice dries out, then add a couple more ladlefuls of stock.  Continue on, adding stock, stirring the rice, letting it dry out, then adding more stock again, until the rice is done - it will be soft and a bit chewy, usually in thirty to fourty minutes.

When its done, add more salt if needed, serve and grind pepper over the top and grate some parmesan on top.  Thats it. Really, its that easy.



Chicken Stock:

1 big crockpot

Leftover chicken carcass

1 large onion   

2 stalks celery 

1 small carrot

We usually make stock the night after we roast a chicken, or cut the meat off for some other chicken meal.  Sometimes we just cut the meat off (two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks) and freeze it for later, when we need some stock.

Put the meatless bird in the stock pot.  Trim the ends of the onion and peel the paper off, quarter it and put it in the crock pot.  Scrub the carrot and celery, then chop them into five or six pieces each and toss them in.  Fill the crock pot with water.  Set the crock pot to low, and leave it over night.  

If the chicken has a lot of leftover meaty bits on it, then after an hour or two pull it out and shred the meat off, then save it in the fridge for chicken rice (or noodle) soup.  Put the chicken carcass back in the crock pot.  

In the morning, strain the stock into a fat separator, and pour it into jars.  Let it cool for an hour or two, then put it in the fridge.  It freezes really well, but you have to use widemouth glass jars for that (a curved neck will crack when the liquid expands as it freezes).  You can also keep it in the fridge indefinitely, as long as you either use it within a week, or take it out and boil it for five minutes every week.