My World Famous Risotto Recipe

I’m contributing risotto to Thanksgiving dinner, and I could not find my piece of paper with the recipe on it! Good thing I posted it online a couple of years ago. Here’s a repost of that post with not only the recipe but how I came to make the best risotto in the entire world.

People often ask me about this recipe because my risotto is FUCKING AMAZING. I keep telling them that the whole thing was a work in progress and the ability to make it exactly like mine depends on several factors, including location. But still, I am not one for keeping amazing food a secret.

First thing I will say is that anyone who doesn’t know jack about risotto should first find the Good Eats episode wherein Alton Brown explains how to make it. It’s called Do The Rice Thing. You don’t need to watch it so much for the recipe, but for his explanation of technique. I try to explain technique and people look at me funny.

The basic recipe comes from Alton, of course, and you can find it here. I do not put in asparagus and random wild mushrooms. I do not use dry white wine. I do not use onion, lemon zest, or nutmeg. I do use the rice, tho!

Here is my recipe, modified from Alton’s:

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, stock or Pot Liquor
1 cup Barbadillo Oloroso Sherry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter/duck or bacon fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Arborio rice
1-2 cups mushrooms or anything you’d like to try
1 cup meat of some kind
2 ounces grated Pecorino Toscano Fresco

In an electric kettle or medium saucepan with a lid, combine broth and sherry and heat just to simmering. Keep warm. In a large 3 to 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter/fat. Add the rice and stir. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the grains are translucent around the edges. Be careful not to allow the grains or the onions to brown.

Reduce the heat to low. Add enough of the sherry and broth just to cover the top of the rice. Stir or move the pan often, until the liquid is completely absorbed into rice. Once absorbed, add another amount of liquid just to cover the rice and continue stirring or moving as before. I usually have to pour in about 4 – 5 times. It should take approximately 35 to 40 minutes for all of the liquid to be absorbed.

After the last addition of liquid has been mostly absorbed, add the mushrooms and whatever else and stir until risotto is creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Taste and then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Interested in the long journey between Alton’s recipe and mine? Continue reading “My World Famous Risotto Recipe”

5 Reasons To Support The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship

There are just two days left in the fundraiser for the Octavia E. Butler scholarship. Over on the Carl Brandon blog I provided folks with 5 excellent reasons to support the scholarship either by buying tickets to win an eReader or autographed book or buy donating directly (as Jeff Vandermeer just did). Here’s a taste:

3. from Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, 2009 Butler Scholar and Clarion West alum:

“I remember telling people about how receiving the Butler Scholarship made me feel like my dreams had been given wings. …[Without it], the chances of me attending Clarion West would have been close to zero.

To me, being given that scholarship was like receiving word that there were people who believed in me and in the stories that I had to tell. There were people who believed that what I had to say was something worth saying and something worth listening to. This knowledge inspires me even now that I am far away from all the beloved people who inspired me and who continue to inspire me. Each time I sit down to write, I think of the people who support the Butler scholarship and there aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for you. You may not be aware of it, but in my darkest moments, the knowledge that you believed in me has kept me here.”

5. from Jeff Vandermeer, author and Clarion instructor:

“The Clarion workshop is important for reasons that go beyond the value of in-depth workshopping from six different experienced instructors and talks by other guests that provide talented beginners with the tools to improve their writing.

It is also important career-wise because many of the instructors can be of use in shortening the path to publication through sharing of contacts, resources, and leverage. Many instructors also aren’t just writers but editors, which is also of use. In addition, the connect to and comraderie with fellow students will, over time, mean more than being part of a community, since many Clarion students go on to have full-on writing careers.

Therefore, in short Clarion is partially about access, and lack of access for talented writers due to monetary concerns is something that diminishes the field and makes it even harder for talent to win out.”

Click here for all 5 reasons. Or just click here to buy tickets.

How Much Does It Cost To Go To Clarion?

We are in the final days of the Butler Scholarship fundraising prize drawing! We have raised a lot of money! We need to raise more! Why? Well…

In order to go to Clarion in San Diego, a student must come up with $4,957. In order to go to Clarion West in Seattle, a student must come up with $3,200.

Every year the scholarship pays for one student to go to each. Thus, many thousands of dollars are needed. Thus, this fundraiser.

There was no specific goal in mind when we started this project. I wanted to raise at least $1,000, which is a little over what I raised for the scholarship last year. Now my goal is to raise enough to cover tuition for one student. It would be awesome to be able to cover the Clarion West tuition. But how much more awesome if we could raise enough to cover the Clarion Diego tuition? It’s possible.

If you’ve already bought tickets, thanks! Would you mind spreading the word far and wide? If you haven’t already bought a ticket, please do! Or, if you just want to donate, you can do that as well.

It costs a lot to go to Clarion. In this way, you can help offset that financial burden and support a new writer.

How To Go About Raising Money For Personal Reasons

For a little less than a year I’ve been needing to buy a new mattress. Mine is old, it doesn’t support my back, and for the past month has been the cause of much severe back pain. Since the holidays are upon us, I’ve decided to ask my family to chip in toward getting a new mattress, which is going to cost somewhere in the realm of $500 even though it is only a full size bed. Bah.

My dilemma is this: I want to give them an easy way to send me money electronically. PayPal is out because they take a portion of the money in fees. I’m willing to pay some fees, but they take too much. I was thinking of some system like Kickstarter, where it keeps track of how much has been raised so far. But I feel like that is for actual projects, not just a personal “I want this thing.” Given that Mary had such a terrible time with Fundable.com, I’m a little afraid to try another similar site without knowing anything about them.

Does anyone out there know of a site where people can send money and see how close the fund is to the final goal and etc? I’m looking at ChipIn.com right now but, again, I know nothing about them and I am wary.

Book Blogs?

I’ve been forwarding the Carl Brandon raffle press release to everyone I can think of to get the word out. Right now we’ve raised quite a bit of money, but I won’t be happy until we’ve reached the goal in my head. I’m keeping it secret for now.

Anyway, it hit me that I should be sending the press release to book blogs as they will probably love the idea and post about it. But I don’t read many book blogs, so I don’t know who I should hit up. However, I know lots of you read them and I’d love to know which ones you like best.

Win An eReader and Support Writers of Color At The Same Time!

As some of you know, every year for the past several I’ve done the Clarion West Write-a-thon, a fundraising event for the 6 week writing workshop I attended a few years ago. Usually what I do is split the money I raise between Clarion West and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship, which assists writers of color who are accepted into Clarion West and Clarion Diego. This year I wasn’t able to do the Write-a-thon because I had no time. But I was feeling very guilty as I raised around $1,900 the last time. I vowed to come up with a fundraising idea that would require a bit less intense commitment from myself but would still raise a nice chunk of change.

Thus, I am pleased to announce that the Carl Brandon Society is holding a prize drawing to support the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. For those who don’t know, the Carl Brandon Society is an organization dedicated to racial and ethnic diversity in speculative fiction. So it’s fitting that the prizes available consist of three awesome eReaders. Entrants can win one of two Barnes & Noble Nooks, One of two Kobo Readers, and an Alex eReader from Spring Design. And to sweeten the pot even more, all of the eReaders will come pre-loaded with short stories, poems, and books by writers of color.

Tickets cost $1 each and you can buy as many as you want for any of the eReaders you’re interested in. Click here to buy tickets. The drawing began last week and will run through November 22, 2010.

I want to give a shout out to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Spring Design as they generously donated the devices for this drawing, and also to the authors who are donating stories, poems, books and essays to tempt you. We don’t have the full list of authors yet, but they include: N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Terence Taylor, Ted Chiang, Shweta Narayan, Chesya Burke, Moondancer Drake, Saladin Ahmed, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and more.

One final note: eReaders make awesome holiday gifts. So, even if you’re not interested in one for yourself, I’m sure there’s a book-loving person on your list who would love one. Tickets are just one dollar! And the proceeds go to an awesome cause.

Click here to buy a ticket, and click here to learn more about the Carl Brandon Society.

Is It Okay To Dislike Gwen If I Swear I Won’t Use Misogynistic Language?

Is It Okay To Dislike Gwen If I Swear I Won't Use Misogynistic Language?

Over at GeekFeminism there is a really great post about how hating on women characters isn’t cool, especially if you’re doing so using really misogynistic language. It’s definitely worth a read. As I was going through the post, I found myself cringing at the language and hatred on display. I mean, I have issues with Gwen, too, but dear Isis, people, must we make fun of the gap in her tooth?

Scrolling down the comment thread, I saw this from Lizabeth S. Tucker: “I also believe that the reason that a large number of female characters on television series are not liked is simply because they are badly written. I always hope for a strong female character, not necessarily perfect, but one who holds her own, who stays in character.”

Yes. Absolutely yes. And no where is more apparent than with Gwen Cooper. Let it be known up front that I do not usually like Gwen. I did not begin disliking her immediately, as many fans did, but over time. After watching my favorite Torchwood episodes over and over again, I discovered that the times I really wanted Gwen off the screen were the times she was in a room with a guy she was snogging or wanted to snog. She was fine in scenes with Jack until the horrendous moment when Torchwood decided that the two of them were inexplicably in love. Anything she did when Owen was around annoyed the hell out of me until they finally got over each other. And I am convinced that I hate Rhys only because we rarely see him not with Gwen, and thus everything is just horrible all around.

When Gwen is not in a scene with a man she fancies, suddenly all the things that I find annoying about her fall away and she becomes a character I can really like and root for. So what’s up with this? I suspect that it’s because many of Torchwood‘s male writers do not know how to write relationship and sexual tension stuff to save their lives. They do not know how to make a woman be in love or in lust without being insipid and ridiculous. Need more evidence for this hypothesis? Look 3 feet to the left where Toshiko is standing.

And, as always, I blame Chris Chibnall most of all.

So really, the problem here is not Gwen, it’s the writers. And I’ll just bet if you went through every episode of Torchwood that was written by a man (with the exception of Russell T. Davies), you will find the bad writing, characterization, and awkward, bullshit sexual stuff with Gwen and Tosh (though Tosh’s stuff was limited to Owen, mostly, and her badly written character we felt sorry for). If you look at the episodes written by women, I bet the better aspects of both Gwen and Tosh come to the fore, and we feel less sorry for the latter and/or more warm toward the former.