Autumn Begins: Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

November 15th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

 

Right before Halloween, my favorite ingredient magically appears in every grocery store: Pumpkins! Okay, magical might not be the word. But isn’t it nice to imagine a Halloween pumpkin fairy, all tentacles and slime-green glitter, gently placing each pumpkin on its proper shelf in its proper aisle. No? That’s not nice to imagine? Pshaw! Lies, I say.

Sometimes I even carve my wee sugar pie pumpkins prior to devouring them.Sometimes I like to carve my sugar pie pumpkins prior to the Great Devouring.

Returning to the point, each year I begin stocking up on sugar pie pumpkins in order to make every pumpkin-related dish humanly possible. This year, the first dish I’ve chosen to make is also my first rich Autumnal meal of the year. Every Autumn and Winter, I tend to think that stews, tagines, and casseroles are the perfect meals for the growing cold. I hate the cold, but I love the seasonal foods. I chose a risotto as the perfect vehicle for my first pumpkin of the year.

I wanted a good mix of flavors and I’m personally quite fond of a combination of sweet and salty. I also wanted to clear out some things I had in my fridge/cupboards. Therefore, I decided to make a roasted pumpkin risotto using Black River blue cheese, lap cheong (sweet Chinese sausage), caramelized onions and mushrooms. It turned out even better than I’d hoped and the leftovers were even better with the addition of some Mama Lil’s Hungarian goathorn peppers.

Here’s the recipe (a printable version is below that):

Roasted Pumpkin & Blue Cheese Risotto with Chinese Sausage

  • 1 Sugar Pie Pumpkin, roasted and cubed
  • 1-2 TB Olive Oil, plus more for pumpkin as needed
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1 whole Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 TB Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups Short Grain Rice (pref. high starch, I use sushi rice and don’t rinse it)
  • 5 Chinese Sausages, diced
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic
  • 2/3 cup White Wine (I used a pinot grigio this time)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Blue Cheese, crumbled (I used, as I mentioned, Black River blue cheese, which is a rather mild, nutty blue)
  • 1 cup Cream

First off, preheat your oven to 425F and prepare your pumpkin. Break off the stem, cut it in half, and scoop out the strings and seeds (if you like, set aside the pumpkin seeds and roast them later). Rub the outside with a bit of olive oil, then set it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes. Check it with a fork for tenderness. It should be tender enough to eat, but not completely softened or mushy. When done, remove from oven and let cool.

While the pumpkin cools, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add onions and brown sugar and allow to caramelize, stirring regularly. When the onions are about half-done, add the mushrooms. When onions and mushrooms are done caramelizing, remove from heat.

While the onions and mushrooms cook, reheat the oven again to 350F. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil at a medium-high heat. Add rice and lap cheong, stirring well. When the rice begins to turn golden, add white wine. After the wine is completely absorbed by the rice, add chicken broth and turn up heat to high. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Put the lid on the dutch oven and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

While waiting for the rice to cook, skin and dice the pumpkin. Set aside.

Once rice is done, remove from heat. Add the crumbled cheese and cream, stirring thoroughly. If it seems too thick, add a bit more cream. Add onion and mushroom mixture, then diced pumpkin, gently folding to incorporate it into the risotto.

Then, poof! You’re done!

I suggest eating it with a huge bowl of salad. I made mine with a tangy vinaigrette to offset the creamy risotto. I also had a glass of the remaining pinot grigio, which was rather fantastic. I may have even finished off the bottle.

Roasted Pumpkin & Blue Cheese Risotto with Chinese Sausage
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8-10
 

Ingredients
  • 1 Sugar Pie Pumpkin, roasted and cubed
  • 1-2 TB Olive Oil, plus more for pumpkin as needed
  • ½ Stick Butter
  • 1 whole Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 TB Brown Sugar
  • 2 cups Short Grain Rice (pref. high starch or Arborio)
  • 5 Chinese Sausages, diced
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic
  • ⅔ cup White Wine
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 to 1½ cups Blue Cheese, crumbled (I recommend a mild, nutty blue so it doesn’t overwhelm)
  • 1 cup Cream

Instructions
  1. First off, preheat your oven to 425F and prepare your pumpkin.
  2. Break off the stem, cut it in half, and scoop out the strings and seeds (if you like, set aside the pumpkin seeds and roast them later).
  3. Rub the outside of the pumpkin with olive oil, set it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil and roast for 35-45 minutes.
  4. Check it with a fork for tenderness.
  5. When done (tender enough to eat, but not too soft), remove from oven and let cool.
  6. While the pumpkin cools, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
  7. Add onions and brown sugar.
  8. Caramelize, stirring regularly.
  9. When onions are about half-done, add the mushrooms.
  10. When onions and mushrooms are done caramelizing, remove from heat.
  11. Meanwhile, reheat the oven again to 350F.
  12. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil at a medium-high heat.
  13. Add rice and lap cheong, stirring well.
  14. When the rice begins to turn golden, add white wine.
  15. After the wine is completely absorbed by the rice, add chicken broth and turn up heat to high.
  16. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, covering with lid.
  17. Put in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  18. While waiting for the rice to cook, skin and dice the pumpkin.
  19. Set aside diced pumpkin.
  20. Remove rice from oven.
  21. Add the crumbled cheese and cream, stirring thoroughly. If it seems too thick, add a bit more cream.
  22. Add onion and mushroom mixture, then diced pumpkin, gently folding to incorporate it into the risotto.

Notes
You can roast the pumpkin up to a day ahead, then refrigerate it to firm it up for cutting.

 

NaNoWriMo!

November 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Greetings, my beloved readers (I don’t really have any readers, but if I did, I’d love them)!

I’ve begun doing Nanowrimo this month! ‘Tis the season and all. To be depressingly honest (emphasis on the “depressingly”), I’ve attempted to do this in the past. But really just in a rather half-assed way, since I’ve had the most epic case of writer’s block in the history of everything ever for over five years.

Funny enough, it seems to coincide with the sad demise of Livejournal. Despite its drama-addled potential, there was an alluring quality about Livejournal that seemed to get people to write. Write well and even regularly, somehow. Since it has faded away, I find that I live in a world of soundbite media. Which, in my opinion, creates a wholly different kind of creativity. I am not in any way bashing Twitter. Facebook, maybe a little. There’s an interesting knack to creating condensed knowledge and passing it along. A method to taking information and distilling it to its most concentrated form. It creates a new kind of impact. Humor seems to especially benefit from this treatment, of course.

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself with that social media tangent, though: Nanowrimo! I’ve managed to write over a thousand words in one day. And yeah, I know. That’s nothing compared to the vast majority of my Nano-engaged writerly friends. That’s not the point, though. The point is that I have had a seriously debilitating case of writer’s block for well over five years now. It’s made me question my very closely-held conceptions of who I believe I am. I always thought of myself as a writer, but what on earth is a writer that does not write? Right?

Wish me luck, invisible ladies and gentlemen and ladymen and gentlepeople, etc.

OCTOBEROCTOBEROCTOBER

October 15th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s nearly Hallowe’en, so I have a present for you all!

Here you go, spooky kids:

New Ventures, Nothing Gained

May 22nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s certainly been awhile since I posted much. My idea of blogging some Doctor Who stuff has fallen by the wayside, thus far. Mostly because it’s an expensive venture in both time and money.

However! I have begun some exciting terrarium design! Hopefully I shall be posting the first pictures of said terrarium design! Also, I’ll be selling some examples of my wares at the on June 9th, along with some clothing and adorably cozy crocheted goods from my mum.

I hope that people like them, because if they don’t, I am certainly going to have a lot of terrariums at home (and very little space to keep them in).

Doctor Who: The Quest Begins

February 29th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Since I’m still riding the high of Gallifrey One’s gloriousness, I have had Doctor Who on the brain more than usual. As anyone that knows me will agree, I already have Doctor Who in my thoughts A WHOLE DAMN LOT already. As Gallifrey One (or Gally, as all the cool kids call it) becomes more and more distant in my memory, though, I find myself trying to figure out ways to keep the sheer awesomeness of it alive in some manner. One great thing about the convention is its ability to leave me feeling all kinds of inspired by the wealth of geek culture and craftiness that fills its hallways and hotel rooms. I participated in one podcast while there, as well as doing some costuming, but other people there brought even bigger and better costumes. They brought brilliantly conceived knit toys, plush versions of Doctor Who characters, their books and lovely selves. This, of course, leaves me bursting with ideas about what I can do to fill my time until the next con with as many neat Doctor Who crafts/projects as possible.

In this spirit, I have decided that I am going to be watching every Doctor Who episode EVER and blogging about each one. Really, I am going to dedicate a blog entry to each and every serial. Because each individual episode would get a little silly. The only partial stumbling block would be the missing episodes, but luckily those all exist in audio form. In fact, I have already listened to most of the Second Doctor’s stories that way and would happily do so again.

I will also be making some plushie baddies inspired by my classic Who-watching. I actually had the idea last year, but hadn’t followed through. This time, hopefully, I will be able to ride the wave of inspiration and manage to be beautifully productive.

The Life of an Extrovert Trapped Inside a Hermit

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m beginning to fear for the health of both my body and brain. It’s scary when you don’t feel like leaving your home anymore. It’s been a gradual decline into hermitude. Hermitry? Hermitacity? Well, whatever it is, it’s certainly been hermilicious. Hermitastic, if you will.

In order to make things better, I’ve taken on a number of projects. I am going to make myself busy. Like grown-ups do. I have already begun to make stencils and use them to decorate clothing. My first one was finished last night. A stencil of Vincent Price and Peter Lorre bein’ buddies has been painted onto a black t-shirt. I’ll be posting a picture of this later. It didn’t turn out quite as awesome as I’d have liked, but I at least I am still super rad, right? This is what I have to tell myself, in order to retain my sanity. No one wants to feel like the Walrus of Sadness, right? That’s what they say, right? They don’t? Oh. Well, then. I am so drawing the Walrus of Sadness in the future. He’ll have a moustache. A droopy sad moustache.

The projects are working out pretty well, in general, though it is a constant struggle to keep myself motivated. Basically, picture the gladiator-style fight scene in that episode of classic Star Trek (you know, the one with the urgent music and all). That is a pretty good description of my brain at times.

Anxiety vs. Common Sense: FIGHT!

SIFF 2011 Review Post II: Karate-Robo Zaborgar

June 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

First off, I must apologize for putting off writing this for a couple of weeks. I had a helluva case of writer’s block, on top of some high anxiety. No fun, as you can imagine. I’ve dragged myself to set fingers to keyboard, though, to give you this lovely review of a ridiculous film.

From the first time a bad guy’s death ends in an explosion of Michael Bay-esque proportions to the last bit of overwrought and unrealistic dialogue, this movie was perfect.

Based on a tokusatsu television series of the 1970s, Electroid Zaborger (Japanese: Denjin Zaborgar or Denjin Zaboga) is a cheerfully mad homage to the genre. For those unfamiliar with the tokusatsu style of television or film, it is Japanese for live-action media that features superheroic characters and over-the-top special effects. Sub-genres of tokusatsu include things like kaiju movies (Godzilla, Mothra, etc.) or mecha shows featuring giant robots. A good example of the genre for American viewers would be Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, which was actually using footage from a Japanese show for its action scenes (and fresh-scrubbed all-American teens for the other, less-interesting, crap).

Karate-Robo Zaborgar does a good job of embracing all that is wonderful and weird in this style. Just to get the main plot summary out of the way, I will once again turn to the SIFF website’s description:

Robogeisha (SIFF 2010) director Noboru Iguchi returns with his newest cybernetic thrill-fest. Following the death of his scientist father, police officer Yutaka Daimon inherits robot warrior “Zaborgar.” Equipped with an array of weapons, an expertise in karate, and the power to transform into a motorcycle, Zaborgar is Daimon’s sole partner in their battle against Sigma, an evil organization bent on stealing the DNA of Japanese politicians for use in a giant robotic weapon. But when Daimon meets Miss Borg, a sexy cybernetic Sigma agent, the two become star-crossed lovers—a development that spells the tragic end to the once inseparable crime-fighting duo. Twenty-five years later, the disgraced Daimon, now working as the Prime Minister’s personal chauffeur, discovers Sigma has finally finished their ultimate weapon and is preparing to unleash it upon Japan. Will Daimon ever be able to earn Zaborgar’s forgiveness, stop Sigma’s nefarious plans, and save the world from total destruction? Offering more of Iguchi’s trademark brand of furiously frantic kitsch, Karate-Robo Zaborgar is a hilarious mix of mechanized martial arts and cybernetic slapstick.

Having watched Robogeisha at last year’s SIFF and also having seen other of Noboru Iguchi’s films, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into when I decided I needed to see this film. Iguchi is the kind of director that takes a ridiculous gag as far as you think he can take it, but then manages to successfully push it to an even greater level than you would have believed possible. Sometimes this works for me, since I’m a firm believer in the words of the great sage, Ferris Bueller: “You can never go too far.” Honestly, if you gone too far over-the-top, the only way to make it work is to take it even further. It evens out somehow.

This movie was a bit more calm compared to Robogeisha or Machine Girl. Of course, with a measuring stick like those, this could be a misleading comparison. It is still the kind of film that just keeps on managing to top its own outrageousness, as well as encouraging frequent double-takes. That said, the nudity and genuinely messed-up humor is toned down. This is basically Noboru Iguchi’s family-friendly film. Of course, I still don’t think most people (in the U.S. at least) would take their kids to it. I would, but I might have a different view of age-appropriate viewing than the average person.

Compensating, I think, for the lighter shock value is the storyline’s ability to change gears in a couple of very surprising and funny ways during the course of the story, as well as put the characters in some very creative situations. It also has a noticeably larger budget than Iguchi’s previous films and looks great. I felt like this film struck a better balance between the different elements of humor within it. It contained a lot of the sort of random absurdity that I love, so I may be biased. It had me nearly in tears from laughter at times.

As a spoof of a beloved genre, it surprisingly still manages to stay pretty relevant and funny for audiences that aren’t as familiar with shows about giant robot monsters and helmeted super-spy policemen. Perhaps if it had been based on a more famous/well-loved TV show, it wouldn’t have had the ability to poke so much fun at the tropes of the genre overall. In Karate-Robo Zaborgar’s case, a mild familiarity with Speed Racer, the Godzilla movies, and/or Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (as well as Japanese culture in general) will get you by and the crazy situations will do the rest. I really do suspect that I’d appreciate the sheer insanity of the film even if I wasn’t knowledgeable about any of those things. I mean, c’mon: Cyborg assassins, robot DNA-thieving samurai with giant sucker faces (you’ll just have to see that one for yourself, I promise), football-themed killer cyborg ladies, and an entire cast of evil baddies with names almost as ridiculous as their superpowered abilities.

(Seriously. King Africa. Apache Drill. Baron Armor. Best names EVER.)

If you have a love of older special effects and cheesy television, I especially recommend that you stay for the credits after the film. Interspersed throughout are clips from the original television show, Denjin Zaboga. They serve to highlight the loving recreation of some of the original effects, which I found extremely effing rad.

So, basically, SEE THIS DAMNED FILM. The end.

Zaborgar-large-4

SIFF 2011 Review Post I: The Thief of Bagdad

May 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Seattle International Film Festival has rolled around again, making me feel like time is running ever faster (didn’t I just go to the 2010 Midnight Adrenaline category movies like yesterday!?). Sadly, it sort of snuck up on me, so I missed the first film that I’d been waiting excitedly to see. I’m still kicking myself for missing The Troll Hunter (Trollejegeren in Norwegian). I had managed to mix up my weekends, because I am not always the sharpest lightbulb in the crayon box. Also, because I have a problem with time (seriously, yo. I mix up the words “yesterday” and “tomorrow” in everyday speech with alarming frequency).

Determined to carefully plan the rest of my film-watching, I scoured the SIFF website for films that I’d like to see and bought a six-ticket package deal (so as to limit my viewing to an affordable amount). Factoring in that I’d be bringing the boycreature with me, this meant that we could see three films. The first of my choices was The Thief of Bagdad. The original, with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., filmed in 1924. I am a total sucker for a good silent film and this one is exceptional by even modern standards. But really, the cherry topping off this film-sundae of awesomeness was that this was a re-imagining of the music. This had been set to the music of Electric Light Orchestra, a band that I’ve discovered a deep affection for in the last year or so.

Backstory on how this came to be, courtesy of the SIFF website:

In the 1920s, Douglas Fairbanks’ passion project was to turn the tales of One Thousand and One Nights into one of the most lavish and fantastical films of the silent era. The Thief of Baghdad is just that, a no-holds-barred epic filled with indelible images of flying carpets, magical creatures, death-defying stunts, groundbreaking special effects, and sprawling sets. Sixty years later, radio personality Shadoe Stevens embarked on his own passion project, to take Fairbanks’ silent adventure and give it the ultimate rock soundtrack. After years of experimentation he discovered something surprising: that the lyrics, tone, and music of British art rock band Electric Light Orchestra were a perfect match for the film.

Shadoe Stevens was at this showing, speaking on his motivations for making this crazy mash-up. He’s apparently been enamored of The Thief of Bagdad since the very first time he watched it. Having seen it (finally!), I can understand completely. The movie is a marvel, with special effects that are impressive even to a modern sensibility. Take the ending, which involves a flying carpet ride over the city streets. This was done without camera tricks or film-tampering. They really covered a steel sheet with a carpet and suspended it from a 100-foot crane, then put the actors on it. A smiling, waving Douglas Fairbanks is standing on a thin steel sheet that is hanging over thousands of extras.

That man was a total king of badassery. I mean, seriously. Balls the size of watermelons, people. Not only that, but he did all of his own stunts with an effortless catlike grace. He almost seems to dance through his fight scenes and daring escapes.

On top of that, the acting (from everyone, not only the amazing Mr. Fairbanks) was lovely. A perfect balance of comedy and action. I really believe that the greatest loss we experienced in the transition to talkies was this sort of physical acting, especially regarding comedy. Once we had the lightning-quick retort and the double-entendre, we no longer needed the subtler nuances of body language that can be ridiculously humorous. Honestly, the only place I feel like I still see that sort of body-humor is in French cinema. Dominique Pinon has a wonderful talent for this kind of comedy, shown to its best advantage in Jeunet’s Delicatessen.

Enough of the comedy tangent. Really, what I am saying is that The Thief of Bagdad was absolutely freakin’ gorgeous. The sets were epic in an over-the-top, beautifully detailed way that just doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Just truly BIG and MAJESTIC. The villain was suitably villainous in all the creepiest, smarmiest ways. Anna May Wong (perhaps the first worldwide big-name Asian-American actress EVER) in her first big role as the traitorous and scantily-clad slavegirl was pretty great, too. It is an overall impressive, swashbuckling, lush fantasy of the highest order. It even has a sweet little message, written overhead in both the beginning and end of the film in sparkling stars:

Happiness must be earned

Not the worst message to walk away with, I think.

(Stay tuned for the next two films that I will be reviewing: Karate Robo Zaborgar, because Japansploitation is rad-frickin-tastic, and The Whisperer in Darkness, because H.P. Lovecraft is the keeper of a little bit of my heart.)

Sacrifice & Sensuality: A (ridiculously glowing) Review of Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

May 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

My first book review! On my wee fledgling blog! Here goes nothing!

WARNING: I am going to gush embarrassingly about how much I fell in love with this book. So there.

I’ve just finally finished Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, and what a long strange trip it was.

Okay. Well, it really would not have been long, except that I found that I never wanted it to end. In part, because it was just entirely too delectable a read to want to finish. On the other hand, it being my first experience with Catherynne M. Valente’s longer work, I feared the ending. I felt sure that the book couldn’t satisfy me with its ending. That there wasn’t enough book there. The imagery contained within what I had read was just so big and sprawling. I was afraid that there weren’t enough pages there to wrap up all of it. Thankfully, I must begin my review with the happy news that I found the whole thing entirely satisfying.

For those of you that have not heard of Palimpsest, let me quote from its back cover:

“Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse – a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night.”

This is not a bad introduction to the idea of the book, but I think I can simplify it even more. A sexually-transmitted city with all of the pleasures and pain that implies. Sweeping war fueled by passion. Love turned to bitter dregs in the mouths of the beloved. Hope. Home.

Perhaps I feel the need to simplify the basic summary because it’s a deceptively simple book. For something filled with lush landscapes and peopled by the outlandish and bizarre, it is somewhat surprising in its simplicity. I kept expecting bigger events, bigger actions, a big reveal. Instead, I got a story large enough to fill me with wonder and small enough to hold in my heart. This will be a book that I relentlessly hype to my friends (the ones that I think will appreciate it) and don’t shut up about until everyone is tired of hearing me talk it up.

The premise involves four people pulled out of their realities (our humdrum world) by chance erotic encounters and sent tumbling into a city full of wondrous sights and fabulously exotic peoples. It’s about alienation and old war wounds and the cost of coming home. It’s absolutely lovely.

I particularly like Valente’s knack for making each character’s life shine with internal strangeness. Each of them is already living in a self-created world that borders on delusion, with their own private rituals and peculiarities. The city of Palimpsest is a logical place for these perpetual outsiders to find themselves, both literally and otherwise. It is a city of rituals and peculiarities.

If you enjoy A.S. Byatt’s ability to take pieces of the everyday and add that touch of otherworldliness that illuminate them and make them into something new and shining, you will greatly enjoy this novel.

If you enjoy the lush, hedonistic prose of Angela Carter, you will love this novel.

This is prose beautiful enough in its descriptive powers that I find myself wishing I could wrap it around myself like a deliciously heavy and soft fur throw (perhaps of the sort that the White Witch wrapped Edmund in) and this is likely why I took three months to read it (seriously). It was just too good to finish, until I used my meager store of willpower to do so. And I am glad that I did. It was, as I’ve said already, supremely satisfying.

I cannot wait to read Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales, Volumes 1 & 2. I’ve just gotten them in the mail and I plan to start on them tonight!

Also, Catherynne Valente’s children’s book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making has just come out in print! It looks gorgeous, and I cannot wait to get my hot little hands and hungry eyes upon it. I shall be reviewing it as soon as I manage to get a copy.

If you’d like to get MOAR INFO on it, you can go to: www.catherynnemvalente.com/novels/fairyland

She’ll also be in Seattle in the near future to do a reading!

The First Food Post of Blarghdom

March 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Well, in part, I started this blargh to  post my exciting adventures in cookin’ stuffs.

Recently, I had to stay home from work.  This was for the most depressing and painful of reasons.  The day before, I had a crown put on.  My dentist was kind and as gentle as she could be.  She’s good people.  It all seemed to go well, really, until the local anesthetic had worn off completely and I began to contemplate the fact that I hadn’t been prescribed any pain medication (this seemed okay to me at first, since  I’d had a crown put in about a month ago, which had been easy-peasy).  Everything seemed like it would be just fine…

BUT THIS WAS NOT TO BE.

By evening, the left side of my face was a hot pit of pain.  I spent the majority of the night in excruciating pain, with throbbing cheek/gums/teeth.  It was like evil pain gnomes had colonized my face while I wasn’t looking and were hard at work tunneling throughout my teeth to build their evil pain network of evil pain homes.

Funny enough, I discovered that my dentist doesn’t work from Thursday through Sunday, so I couldn’t reach her when I called in the morning.  All I got was an answering machine message with a “dental emergency” number to call.  At first, I didn’t want to call this number.  I mean, when I picture a dental emergency, I imagine that the situation must be dire:  Your teeth must all have fallen out.  The now-empty sockets must be spewing torrents of blood.  MORE BLOOD THAN YOUR BODY EVEN CONTAINS.  THEN THINGS CRAWL OUT OF THE BLOODY SOCKETS.  THINGS!

So, I called my  mom, who convinced me that being in a lot of pain was, in fact, a dental emergency.  And when I finally did manage to call my dentist, she was totally surprised to find that she hadn’t prescribed any painkillers or antibiotics for me.  Heh.  The pharmacy lost my prescription once, but eventually I was filled with painkillers and antibiotics.  YAY!

Now for the point of this rambling explanation:  Once I had the delicious relief of painkillers flowing through my veins, I realized that (despite my evil pain face) I was STARVING.  But an entire side of my mouth could not be closed without fiendish levels of ouch.  Add to this my normal kid-in-pain reaction:  I wanted A TREAT.  TREAT FOR ME.  I AM HURT.  MUST HAVE SWEETS!  I am not sure which family member convinced me that sick/hurt people need treats, but I am a firm adherent of this belief to this very day.

One wee issue, though.  Very few sweet treats are soft enough for minimum chewing.  There’s ice cream, but I don’t really care for ice cream (don’t look at me like that!).  Also, with teeth being involved, anything very cold seemed like a bad idea.  But I *do* care for pudding.  And cookies.  And whipped cream.  And fruit.

Thus, a recipe was born:

 

Gingersnap Mandarin Trifle*

1 packet instant vanilla pudding

3 cups milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 small container whipping cream

2 T sugar

1  can mandarin oranges

1 bag crunchy gingersnap cookies

First, add cinnamon to instant pudding mix.  Prepare according to instructions on box.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.  Add sugar, increasing or decreasing amount to taste.

In a bowl (preferably a trifle bowl or smallish glass punch bowl, if you have it.  if not, like me, use whatever you have to hand), start your layering.  I made a layer of gingersnaps first.  I topped this with a layer of pudding, followed by mandarin oranges, and then whipped cream.  Repeat until bowl is filled, topping with a final layer of whipped cream.  Then, sprinkle with some crushed gingersnaps or a nice decoration made of the remaining cookies.

(I was feeling lazy, so I just topped it off with three centered cookies.)

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

 

*Pictures will eventually become frequent; I’m just trying to get all this construction under control first!