Like most food bloggers, I've been a total slacker this holiday season. I've continued cooking and baking like a mad woman, but I've fallen off on blogging, mainly because of what I'll call The Macro Effect.
The Macro Effect is the term I came up with to describe the hyper-styled, "perfection in a food photo" approach that magazines, cookbooks, and now food blogs take to recipe sharing (and named after the setting on my camera that conveniently allows me to zoom in on the pristine image of the food and shut out all of the dusty crap and empty wine bottles in my dining room). If I'm being honest, my blogging declines when I'm busy thanks to the Macro Effect, because I don't have enough light/time/creativity to take the food photos that I want to for my posts. Sure, I dream of book deals, but I blog to express myself and connect with people who share my passions, so I shouldn't let the Macro Effect keep me from posting. (Also, I wouldn't trade places with Julie Powell for a second. Nora Ephron and Amy Adams?! Are you kidding me?!)
Folks who write about these things hypothesize that the Macro Effect has caused food blogs to become more commercial to their detriment. The argument is that we get enough glossy perfection every time we turn on the TV. Food blogs should allow people to connect on a real and personal level about real life and real food, rather than simply tossing around recipes and cutesy, sterilized anecdotes while painting a reality where people eat on adorable china with a fresh-picked bunch of yellow daisies "casually tossed" next to their tomato bisque every day. Food bloggers keep a majority of their stresses--illness, heartbreak, or just run-of-the-mill disappointment--out of their blogs. The internal reasoning goes something like this: Journalists don't talk about their messy divorce in an article on seasonal preparations of spaghetti squash, so I should keep my personal life private as well. But again, the argument goes, food bloggers shouldn't hide behind their commercial aims because part of what they "sell" is the experience of being human, and all the emotions and difficulties that go along with that.
I can understand their criticism, though I'm not entirely ready to give up my cutesy anecdotes and my serving plates sourced from Salvation Armys far and wide. However, as penance for me letting the Macro Effect keep me from posting, and posting honestly, I will: post an ugly photo (see above) for my Wild Mushroom Risotto with Manchego Cheese recipe (see below) and tell you, readers, that it has been sort of a shit year, emotionally, here at BaCon. In the grand scheme of things, I am very blessed. I have a close, happy family that is made up of some of my favorite people on the planet, a great job, and an understanding and deeply passionate partner who loves me for all of my imperfections rather than in spite of them. I have also lost two very close friends in the past 4 months--they haven't passed away, there has just been a decision to "part ways," and it's been very difficult for me. I know it seems silly, but here are 2 people who know me better than anyone, and in the past 120 days they've both decided after years of friendship to give me up in one way or another. And although I'm very blessed, all of that doesn't keep me from feeling sad, hurt, and sometimes angry about how everything has worked out.
I'm hoping reconciliation is possible with one of them. But I didn't want to just write about the reconciliation, citing peace and the magic of forgiveness and all that, after the fact and without the mess. Because that would just be soo Macro Effect, wouldn't it? So, here's the mess. I'm a lucky, lucky girl who sometimes feels very lost, and who maybe has done something to drive her two best friends away in completely separate instances. Or maybe they weren't really my best friends. Or maybe they were, and relationships just change. And maybe I can be close with one of them again, some day.
And for bearing with me through all of this, here's a yummy, creamy and rich (vegetarian!) Mushroom Risotto recipe for you. Thanks for listening.
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Manchego and Parsley:
8 cups mushroom or vegetable broth
1 oz. dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted with 1 cup hot water & chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lb. portabella mushrooms, gills removed and chopped small (or 1lb. baby bellas, chopped)
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup Manchego cheese, chopped
Bring broth to a simmer. In a deep skillet or heavy bottomed pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add the portabellas and cinnamon, salt and pepper, and saute until browned. Add rice and reconstituted mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Don't let the rice brown. Pour in wine and cook until almost completely absorbed.
Add about 3 cups of warmed broth into rice and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until it's all absorbed. Add 2 cups and repeat. Add fresh herbs. Repeat broth/stirring steps, adding 1 cup of broth at a time until rice is tender and the sauce is very creamy. (This takes awhile. Grab a glass of wine and call me to talk about what's stressing YOU out. I owe you.)
Stir in cheese and continue cooking until melted. Serve promptly.