Tag Archives: cooking


I’m preparing two essays, one brief and another longer, on religion, knowledge, and contemporary society. Plus, I’m due to post an update on the job search. Meanwhile, as I’m continually threatening to violate the spirit and form of a blog with my long even if somewhat spontaneous ruminations, here’s a few small things.

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Cooking meat

I should be grading, or revising my teaching letter to send out for job applications, but the flu has laid me pretty low today. So I’ll make a quick post.

Thanks to those of you who are following along despite my unorthodox approach to the art of blogging. My posts may not be short, but they’re short for the format I’m accustomed to writing in, the academic article/paper. My thoughts were to experiment in writing series of short, off-the-cuff essays on topics that are important to me: namely, the natural world, my ambiguous professional status, writing as an art and discipline, secularism, and cooking. There are so many more I could add, but I thought these choices would give the blog consistency and coherence and still reflect the full presence of a mind.

I’m enjoying it immensely – I honestly do enjoy writing, and my life is too chaotic and fragmented right now for me to find the peace and concentration to write poetry, so the blog has become a welcome companion. I hope that I’m good at it: most of the posts are written in one or two brief sittings, and then edited for spelling and grammar live on the blog the day they’re posted. The one exception is a post on science and belief ideologies I’ve been working on, which, perhaps because it’s more like my academic work, has taken several sittings and may not ever make it up.

I’m constantly tempted to post shorter pieces on the attractive detritus that I find strewn about the Web, because there’s a lot of it and I have lots of interests, but I’m forcing myself to limit those “link” posts to material that fits into the predefined array of topics. Meaning that people encountering the blog are being expected to do a lot of heavy lifting, while I’m simply enjoying having a form to fill with my typically overwrought sentences.

Anyway: cooking meat. I was a strict vegetarian for well over a dozen years, and then when my body began displaying signs of “metabolic syndrome” (hypertension, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol) I added seafood to my diet, thinking that would be healthier for the heart than a strictly vegetarian. That may be controversial, but I’ll stand by that assessment. That lasted for five years or so, and now over the past year I’ve become a full-blown carnivore. Or at least in what I’ll eat out and about. At home, I’m still largely vegetarian in what I cook. Why? Well, partly it’s because that’s still clearly a healthier (and more satisfying) way to live, but also because I’ve got no idea how to go about cooking a piece of meat.

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Beet barley risotto with the red greens

We had gotten a couple bunches of beets with brilliant red stems and leaves from our CSA share, and I was very excited to cook them up. I was also craving risotto, so voilĂ : beet risotto. Although risotto has a medium-long cooking process, prep is pretty easy, and while it takes a while on the rangetop, you can – despite the common assumption – leave the risotto pot alone for periods at time. Perfect for an evening spent grading papers.

I had the beets roasting in the oven and the onions and garlic cooking along in brown butter in the dutch oven before I realized that I was out of arborio rice. As I was rummaging through the pantry I came across a fresh bag of pearl barley. Always handy for excellent soups, but it also makes an excellent if a bit toothy risotto. Problem solved. I poured some chardonnay over the barley after cooking it in the onions and butter, ladled in some stock after the wine cooked off, and went off to grade a paper. I’d come back after a paper, stir in a ladle-and-a-half of stock, and head back to another paper. With a glass of chardonnay for myself, natch.
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