Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cooking the Weather

Often, it seems as though I talk about food inextricably with the weather outside my window.

I thoroughly admire home chefs who can menu plan for an entire week - the closest I've ever come to weekly menu planning is observing to myself that a 13 hour clinical shift means that I should cook supper with leftovers the night before, so we wouldn't have to begin preparing supper when I arrived home at 8PM, but beyond such foreshadowing a day or two in advance, I spend quite a bit of contented day-to-day time spontaneously pondering what to fix for supper that night. If I've visited the grocery or a roadside farm stand that day, likely supper will revolve around whatever bit of greenery, grain, or other such happy ingredient sparked my fancy on the drive home.

Always, though, I'm cooking the weather - the wind, the storms, the spring flowers and the winter furies. If it's raining, or especially cold, there will assuredly be a stew or soup of some sort - yesterday, for example, the weather turned suddenly chill, taking us by surprise amidst our blissful Southern spring, so, since we'd already had a hearty lunch with friends in the afternoon, supper was simply noodles in broth - whole grain noodles floating blissfully in a homemade vegetable broth with lots of diced vegetables of all sorts of colors and textures - simple, soft, warming. Had the wind stayed gentle and warm, we likely would have whipped up a supper salad instead.

Tonight, the weather is supposed to drop below freezing, so I plan on returning to a favorite melding of spring flavors and chill temperatures - asparagus and barley risotto...

Often, reading all your wonderful blogs, dear readers, I sense I'm not alone, as I delight in your sharing of recipes that celebrate the seasons... So, I wonder - do you cook by the weather too?

Asparagus and Barley Risotto

5 slices bacon, diced OR 5 slices smoked tempeh, diced, plus 1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 lbs asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
4 cups cooked barley (I love cooking mine in a rice cooker - so speedy!)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup 1% milk

~ In a large skillet, cook the bacon or tempeh over medium heat until browned.
~ Add the garlic and onion, and saute until the onions are limp and translucent.
~ Add the asparagus, and continue to saute until the spears are just crisp-tender.
~ Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the cooked barley, Parmesan, and milk, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
~ Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve nice and cozy warm!


VeggieGirl said...

Crazy cold weather!! Grr. But hooray for a comforting dish of risotto :-)

Ricki said...

Barley is one of my faves (I've got a barley risotto waiting to be posted in my blog backlog, too!). Yours looks great. I'm just the same when it comes to planning/cooking--can never decide until that very evening what I want to cook (or if I don't want to cook!). Even when I tried planning out a week's meals once, I got home and realized I didn't feel like eating that particular dish, so abandoned the list. Yay spontaneity, I say!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Oooh, I love barley risotto. So yummy!

Yes, I'm always cooking the weather too. Its turned cold here again so last night I made a luscious, spicy carrot soup. It seems this winter will not end ... consequently, I'm still cooking winter!

I can't plan many meals in advance because I never know when or if my husband will be home. He works long, irregular hours so I tend to cook and shop day by day. And I tend to make things that can be reheated easily, if he arrives late.

stephchows said...

I'm all about spur of the moment meals :) If I'm craving it one day... there is no guarantee I'll want to eat it 3 days from now when it's "planned" :)

Cookiemouse said...

Sounds like you need good comfort food at the moment!

Johanna said...

I definitely cook with the weather - I sometimes plan one thing and have to change the meal because the weather is different to that I expected - although living in Australia we do get used to eating traditional foods in inappropriate weather (christmas dinner!!!)

Lauren said...

I've been looking for a risotto recipe that uses a grain other than white arborio rice - this barley recipe sounds great!

Meg Wolff said...

I'm checking out your other yummy recipes. Thanks for the links!