I spent this past week in Minnesota with family and friends, mourning the passing of my grandfather, a man our family considered rich, with a beautiful, loving wife; a family who would do anything for one another; a job he was passionate about; and who, as my uncle put it while speaking at his memorial, defined integrity. I even gathered the courage to walk up and speak.
Although it was difficult, most of the stories had us all laughing. I shared my memory of him telling me my favorite bedtime story about a blueberry monster who would capture children and turn them into blueberry muffins—yes, he told me this story at the ripe old age of 5. But not to worry, he always came to save me in the end!
On this trip, I learned even more how a good meal could bring people together, even in the hardest of times. Family dinner for us was squeezing all 13 members of our immediate family around my grandmother’s dining room table, enjoying not just the food we all cooked together but also the company … minus the lack of elbowroom.
When we came home, I realized how hard it could be to have family or friends come together for dinner. We are always running around, working, attending school, and traveling, and sometimes 30 minutes around 7:00 p.m. can seem near to impossible! But I was determined, and with my dad on a business trip and my sister away for spring break, it was just my mom, my best friend from college, and me for family dinner.
We flipped through The Garden-Fresh Cookbook, looking for a dish we could all agree upon. Eventually, the Spring Risotto on page 228 won out! I had never cooked risotto, so I was looking forward to trying out a dish that I often ate and enjoyed in restaurants. The recipe called for scallops, but since scallops can be expensive, we decided to go for the equally delicious alternative of shrimp.
As I slowly poured the chicken broth in with the arborio rice, we played music and talked, and despite the smaller version of our family, it felt good to make something together.
I’m not one to brag, but this risotto was one of the best dinners I have ever made … or had! It was full of flavor, and while scallops would have been delicious with the risotto and asparagus, the shrimp worked perfectly. We set the table; I plated our dinner and we sat down to enjoy our food and, most important, the company.
Curious about what I served along with the Spring Risotto? Find out in the next blog—it’s an easy dish that will wow friends and family at your next dinner party!
Spring Risotto (as found on page 228 of The Garden-Fresh Cookbook)
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
½ pound bay or sea scallops
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-½ cups arborio rice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Steam the asparagus briefly, drain, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the scallops to the water and cook (poach) until white and firm. Drain, set aside, and keep warm. In a separate saucepan, heat the broth. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the rice to the onion, reduce the heat, and stir for 3 minutes. Add the hot broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Continue cooking and stirring for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove the rice from the heat. Add the cream, Parmesan, scallops, and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.
Jane received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Western Washington University where she studied Creative Writing. She now lives in the greater Seattle area, where she writes and drinks copious amounts of coffee. When she isn’t writing, cooking, gardening, or taking photos, you can find her at local shows and concerts, or running to prepare for yet another half marathon.