Marriage and Fried Things


The other day I was invited to go into the man cave to play video games with Chris. Usually if we play together, then we play in our family room. But from 3-5 pm every day in the summer, light from our super-high windows hits the television screen and obscures the picture completely. So we both retreated to his man cave, which is blissfully cold and dark, and also has a decent setup for gaming.

I was stringing together magic attacks against what appeared to be a giant robot armadillo on Final Fantasy XIII when Chris out of the blue announced, “Kristie, you’re the perfect wife.” After I finished off the robot armadillo, I asked him to elaborate. After all, it was Easter Sunday and I was not barefoot and pregnant in an apron basting a spiral-cut ham. Nor was I outside hiding eggs for masses of freshly-washed offspring. Nor was I fighting back against the giant robot pile of laundry upstairs. No. I was sitting on my duff hogging the game console.

He went on to elaborate. “Maybe I’m saying it wrong. You’re also the perfect PARTNER.” Wrong answer, good sir. The correct answer here would have been “you’re the perfect wife because you’re a total babe and funny and awesome and look good in a short skirt.” I am too young to be the “perfect wife” and I am FAR too young to be the “perfect partner.” I’m still striving to be the perfect girl. And I’m not ready to give up that journey just yet.

I was trying to explain to him, through his clear alarm and confusion, that partners and wives are both like a great pot roast. They’re nutritious and hearty and delicious and they warm the home with great smells and sounds and comfort. But the perfect girl is more like a martini. She’s sexy and dirty and unpredictable and makes you feel free and kind of wild and mesmerized. And that I’m totally down to be a pot roast most of the time. Hell, I’d be grateful to be the perfect pot roast. But I still want to be a martini, too.

Basically I was having a married life crisis, right there in the man cave. In clear violation of the spirit of the man cave, I might add. And it was left unresolved because he said that he thought being warm and comforting and a good partner was more important than being sexy and unpredictable. Which I think is wrong, and possibly directly insulting.

Anyway, the end result of this was that I Googled “properties of a good wife” and most of the Google results were related to being a Godly wife and woman. The websites suggested that Chris should have married someone humble, quiet, content with the hearth and home, modest in her looks, and someone who doesn’t manipulate to get her way.

In other words, Chris did not marry the perfect wife or partner. He married the WORST POSSIBLE wife and partner. Looks like he’ll have to settle for a mediocre pot roast and a martini. But doesn’t all food taste better after a martini?

As I reflect on my own marriage, my little brother gets ready to tie the knot. He’s 22. He’s still very much in his martini phase of life. So my wish for him and for his fiancee is that they enjoy their pre-dinner cocktails together, and that when they’re ready to be pot roast, that they do so together and it ends up being perfect. Cheers to both of them!

In the run up to the big day, though, I’ve been asked to come up with a couple of vegetarian options for the rehearsal dinner. Here’s (part) of one of them–

Arancini (deep-fried risotto balls) stuffed with mozzarella and served with fresh roasted tomato soup (thick enough to almost be a puree)

I’ve blogged about arancini before, because I love them so much. But this was somewhat different and SO GOOD with the stuffing of mozz. And roasted tomato soup? Such a gimme when tomato season begins (it’s in its early stages in Texas right now).

Quickie, simpleton recipes to make this at home:

Risotto (must be made at least 4 hours ahead of time)

2 T butter
1/2 sweet, white onion, finely diced
2 C carnaroli or arborio rice
6 C chicken or vegetable stock, hot and salted to taste
A splash of dry white wine is optional
1 T butter to finish

-Melt butter in a large, high-sided skillet.
-Saute onions until they start to become translucent.
-Add rice and saute (dry) until it starts to turn semi-translucent as well. Have it on medium-high heat.
-Add a splash of wine and stir until it’s completely absorbed and the rice looks dry again. Or skip this step.
-Then add about 2 C of hot stock. It should sizzle pretty loudly because the rice is dry and hot. Stir with a wooden spoon in circles, slowly and constantly. When the stock is almost completely absorbed, and a wooden spoon leaves a trail across the pan, add another 2 C stock. Keep stirring in circles. Repeat, until your rice is al dente (meaning it still has a touch of firmness to it).
-The final texture should be creamy, with almost a very thick “sauce” forming around the rice. This is just starch from the rice combined with stock.
-Pull from the heat immediately and stir in another T of butter. Then immediately spread on a cookie sheet or hotel pan to cool. After about 10 minutes, cover it and put it in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.

Tomato puree/soup (the easiest version)

5 Roma tomatoes
6 vine-ripened slicing tomatoes
1/2 C sweet white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 C olive oil
salt
handful of fresh basil
1 C chicken or vegetable stock

-In a large saucepot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
-Add garlic and onion and saute gently until completely translucent and sweet
-Meanwhile, cut the stem end off of the tomatoes and stick them all in a 400 F oven on a piece of parchment paper.
-When the tomato skin splits and starts to shrink, and the liquids that are seeping out begin to turn a bit brown, take the tomatoes out of the oven and peel them.
-Make sure your onions and garlic don’t brown, which may mean keeping them on super-low heat
-Add the tomatoes and stock to the onions/garlic mixture and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
-Then blend them in a blender on high speed until they’re well-pureed. Add salt to taste. Then add the handful of basil and puree again.
-Cover and refrigerate

Arancini assembly

1 egg
2 C breadcrumbs (dry)
1 pan cold risotto
8 small pieces of mozzarella
at least 3 inches of vegetable oil or olive oil, heated to 355 F (I use a deep fryer)

-Form balls of risotto with an ice cream scoop. Pack tightly with your hands.
-Form a well in the center and stick in a piece of cheese. Repack into a ball.
-Roll in egg wash
-Roll in bread crumbs
-Repeat with remaining risotto
-Fry in oil until golden brown on all sides
-Drain on a paper bag or towel

Reheat the soup until warmed through, then serve with the hot arancini. Done. And duh. It took no time at all to assemble, and it’s delicious and filling and fancy looking.

Serving this with a white bean salad tossed in basil oil would make a meal of complete protein. I’ll discuss that more tomorrow, but it’s basically because the combination of rice and beans makes for all of the amino acids that you would find in a slab of chicken.

I’m hungry again.

And this serves 3-4 people, one of whom is Chris. He’s a MACHINE of eating. Maybe that’s why he’s so into the idea of marrying a pot roast?

16 thoughts on “Marriage and Fried Things”

  1. You are a good wife because the google search was wrong. Good wives love their husbands the best way they know how and like to be with them. Comforting and loving isnt necessarily incohabitable with sexy and unpredictable. You are a great mix of it all and that is why he loves you. Bake your next pot roast naked with nothing on but an apron. Then you get both! :) love you! Dont get down on comforting- When it is all said and done and everything is gone – it will be a comfort to have eachother.

  2. You're a great example of a marriage to a zany girl who is also comforting and fun. Andy did a good job of picking you, and I hope he knows that. You're like a key lime and cream virgin martini after a delicious pot roast. Which is basically a melted combination of lime popsicle and vanilla ice cream. Which sounds really good right now.

    …I think I have a big ol' chuck roast in the freezer right now that needs to make its way to the thawing portion of the fridge.

  3. P.S. Do you remember when we'd make movie theater popcorn and dip it in semi-melted mint chocolate chip ice cream? Or when we'd slather salt and vinegar kettle chips with Wishbone italian dressing and watch movies? You and I were pretty good at complementary flavors 17 years ago, so it's no wonder we're good at coming up with them now.

  4. Here's the thing, never analyze what men say too much. A little is okay, but mostly it's important to take things at face value and concentrate on verbs and adjectives. Women aren't used to this, though, and tend to think of connotations and deeper meanings when descriptive nouns are uttered as part of a man's sentences. But really it's all about the verbs and adjectives. For us men, those nouns just get in the way because women always are in the mode of thinking "what did that mean? (noun)?? Oh Hells no!" And yet our intent in communication hinged entirely on the verbs and adjectives. In this case, there was no deep meaning to the word "wife" but it was all about "you" and "perfect". Trust me on this one.

  5. first off: zohibble.

    secondly: I had written a whole thing about pot roasts and martinis, and I think there was some rosemary thrown in, maybe a little sage. But then I decided that it's not making any sense and I should just leave and have a margarita instead…so with that, I bid you adieu.

  6. Thanks, John. That's basically what he said, too. And this is coming from a guy who really, really doesn't understand connotations sometimes. Like when he told me "I'll always love you. Even when you're fat and pregnant." He's darling, he just is very clearly NOT a chick.

  7. OK, the fact that your husband got anywhere near the vacinity of 'you are the perfect wife' is pretty much the highest compliment that a heterosexual guy can give a lady. Don't analyze it. Don't overthink it (because that way lies folly.)Just bask in the fact that you actually must absolutey ROCK for it to have come out of his mouth at all. 😀

  8. I've been trying to overcome the fact that the sun to too overpowering for you to play games upstairs. But then that is linked to you making a rich tomato soup that wouldn't be worth making for a special occasion without good fresh tomatoes.

    Do you want to swap some quality moss or inedible ferns for some tomatoes? I haven't learned to forage for chantrelles yet; you need a mentor, and dedication.

  9. aw man. I was so not ready at all to read this last blog – I have just recently become addicted to food blogs and found yours in such a round about way that I can recall how just now. That is because it has been 3 years! I had to start at the beginning, I am anal like that. I have wanted to comment so many times but wanted to finish and in either case dont know if you can see comments from that far back. So am de-lurking (finally now I dont feel like a peeping tom as I have read others mention the feeling). The funny thing…my nephew just joined the Air Force. He went to basic training and graduated on Jan 15 (well not sure exact date since it took several days) I missed it because my meeting in Hawaii was the same time…AND he was sent to training in …Mississippi! He is fine, he is young and happy with the pool hall and hookah bars… but I feel such a connection here! lol

  10. oops, not that I wish Mississippi on you. I am keeping finger's crossed that you get to go to Colorado – you so want to and I have a feeling your blog will be better for it!

  11. Remember, we can be both at the same time. Next time you make a roast use a good high alcohol wine to baste it and then add a bit of the wine to make your gravy. Just a thought. All kidding aside, I love this post. It gave me something to think about. After 20+ years of marriage, I feel I am back to being the martini. I was the roast for many years and the bliss of an empty nest is being able to go back to being a good martini whenever we want to be a martini.

  12. Arancini are beautiful things and if that doesn't make you the perfect wife, then nothing does. I'm truly of the opinion that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Home-cooked meals have casued forgiveness for a multitude of sins (as well as that lack of humility and submissiveness) and I'm hardly a trained chef!

  13. Wow, the coincidences! I'm in San Antonio, I'm in culinary school, and I'm embroiled in hunting down marks in FFXIII as well. I also am too young and too loudmouthed to be "the perfect wife." Hi, long lost twin!

    Arancini looks amazing. I would nom those til the vacas come home.

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