the last time i was in my community garden plot was back in late september. ever since we began to actually paint my parents' house (prime and final coat), i haven't had any time to visit the CGP. when the weather was nice i was painting, and when the weather wasn't very nice, i was at home but didn't feel like going out. there was nothing left to harvest in the garden anyway, so it wasn't a high priority. but it's the gardener's duty to clean up after the season is over, so today i finally found the time and went down to the garden to see what my 6 weeks of neglect had wrought.

it wasn't as bad as i'd imagined. most of the annuals were dead of course: cucamelons, tomatoes, eggplants, hot peppers, zinnias. there were still some surviving snapdragons, as well as columbines (which are naturally winter hardy, being alpine flowers). i didn't notice any lupines but i'm sure they're there as well. some nasturtiums have self-germinated, and so have a carpet of what appears to be delphinium seedlings.

i pulled up all the dead plants and threw them away in a garden refuse bin. next i pruned all my raspberry canes. i forgot what the rule is, but pruning them down to about 2-3 ft tall as least made the area look presentable. surprisingly, i was also able to harvest a few leftover vegetables, including several eggplants, green tomatoes, and red jalapeno peppers. finally, i dug out my rosemary so i can keep it indoors during the winter.

i went around the community garden taking some photos with my iphone of what's growing before i left.

i had a 1:30pm dental appointment in allston. i left a little late - around 1pm - and arrived via bicycle. the weird thing about today was how unusually warm it was, with temperature in the mid-70's. i wore a t-shirt, but i should've changed into a pair of shorts as well, because i arrived all sweaty (and out of breath). i didn't have to rush because a vietnamese mother and her 2 daughters had an appointment ahead of me, and they weren't finished until 2pm. i sat in the waiting room, surfing the web on my phone using free mcdonald's wifi from downstairs.

i was there to get a crown installed on my recent (if you can call a one year duration recent) dental implant procedure. in my mind, i figured the dentist had a box of tooth molds and all he had to do was find one that matched my mouth, attach it to some anchor, and then install it onto my implant. that turned out not to be the case. after a preliminary x-ray to make sure the implant screw has fused with my jawbone, doctor huang removed the abutment and installed a temporary anchor point. next he took a mold of my teeth, both upper and lower jaws. he then gave me a quick courtesy cleaning and i was finished. i thought getting a crown would cost somewhere around $800; turns out the whole procedure is $1400. i wrote a $700 check, will pay the rest when i'm actually fitted with the crown in 2 weeks. i've already sent $2900 on the implant itself. it's expensive replacing a tooth!

i was back at the house around 3pm. ana had just finished lunch and was doing a load in the dishwasher, including all the burner grates. it makes me a little crazy seeing her wash them because 1) i've never gotten them so dirty that they needed to be cleaned in the dishwasher, and 2) i can't use the range to cook when they're in the dishwasher, and it takes about 2 hours to do a full cycle. i also noticed a particularly oily spot on the hardwood floor and was on my hands and knees cleaning it up. maybe at some point she spilled some oil on the maybe, or maybe it's just condensation from the incredibly oily cooking she does. girl can go through a large bottle of olive oil in 2 weeks.

i was making risotto for dinner tonight. i went across the street to star market to pick up a few missing ingredients. originally i was going to bike to market basket, but it was getting dark soon (4:30 sunset), and wasn't worth the hassle just to save a few dollars. i picked up: a bag of grated parmesan cheese (i wanted to get the cheap kind you get in a bottle but i could only find the freshly grated packaged variety, $2.99), a can of star market brand chicken broth (69¢), and a sweet onion (96¢).

just as i'd hoped, ana went out around 6:30p, dragging her suitcase. she was spending the night at her friend carlos' swanky park street apartment, but told me she'd be back tomorrow because carlos' contract was over and he was returning to spain. after she left i began making my risotto.

my risotto is my go-to recipe when i want something super hearty and filling yet easy to make. that recipe used to be my macaroni and cheese but ever since i discovered how easy it is to make risotto, i haven't made my macaroni and cheese (also the processed kraft cheese i use probably isn't that healthy).

despite being a personal favorite, i never wrote down a detailed ingredients list. i had to piece it together from clues left behind in past weblog postings (111222 first time making 120412 steamed broccoli 120419 red wine risotto 120731 anchovy risotto 130224 vodka risotto). i didn't know how much arborio rice to use, nor the amount of chicken broth (1 can or 2 cans?).

italian sausage & broccoli risotto (2-4 servings)
2 cans of chicken broth
(or 1 can + 1 can of water)
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 italian sausages, raw
1 cup of white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes
fresh ground pepper
bowl of frozen broccoli

begin by simmering 2 cans of chicken broth in a separate pot, covered. the broth has to be heated because making in the risotto in cold broth will lower the cooking temperature. you can either use 2 cans of chicken broth, or 1 can plus 1 can of water. once the broth begins to simmer, turn off the heat. in a larger pot, melt the butter and then add the chopped onions, followed by the sausages, which are squeezed from their casings into tiny meatballs. my risotto actually starts with sausages: if i see they're on sale, i buy them just to make risotto. once the onion is translucent and the sausages look to be cooked, add the arborio rice, coating it in the residual butter. then add the white wine, simmering until absorbed. add the pepper flakes and ground pepper at this stage as well.

ladle 1/2 cup of warm broth into the rice mix and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. repeat until the broth is completely used up. also the risotto has to be constantly stirred otherwise the rice will stick to the pot. while this is going on, heat the broccoli in the microwave, 1-2 minutes, just enough to soften. overheating will cause the broccoli to get too mushy.

once there's about 1 cup of broth left, mix in the broccoli. when the broth is used up, turn off the stove and stir in the parmesan. the cheese isn't required, but adding it will add an extra level of savoriness. serves 4 or split into 2 hearty portions.

it's been more than 2 years since i last made my risotto dish. earlier when i came back from the super market i also stopped in the liquor store to get a 6-pack of woodchuck hard cider. "what?" the girl behind the counter exclaimed incredulously as she saw the date on my driver's license. "1974?" she asked. i nodded knowingly. anyway, the risotto came out excellent. despite serving myself a large portion, i was surprised by how quickly i finished everything. the only downside with risotto is the leftover is never as good as fresh.

i spent the rest of the evening enjoying the solitude, watching a few more episodes of duetschland 83.