March 30, 2011 1 Comment
To say that I’m antsy is a huge understatement. I think most people would say that I have spring fever, but spring has not yet sprung in the Chi even though we are nigh on April, so that can’t be it. Or maybe it is. Maybe my internal body clock realizes that it’s [past] time to stop putting on 1746 layers just to leave the house to run an errand and my mind and soul are rebelling. Who knows? But, kids, I’m (as Blanche Devereaux would say), jumpier than a virgin at a prison rodeo (hi, Mom! Don’t pass out…).
Like last week’s brownies experiment, I needed something that was so mind-numbingly rote that my brain would shut off and stop sending off flares that would eventually lead me to doing something totally inappropriate. I should pause here to say that when I get like this–when I get all bored and twitchy–I find myself getting into trouble. I tend to get impulsive just to have something to do or something different to think about. Rarely does this impulsiveness include practical things like organizing my closet or checking items off of my to-do list, because seriously, what fun would that be? Usually I can stop myself from doing truly detrimental things and narrow the field to a haircut or buying a few pairs of shoes, but sometimes I’m led down the path of rekindling so-not-good-for-me-relationships or quitting a job. True stories. We haven’t gotten nearly that far this time, so I’m hopeful that the thought of a trip to Cozumel in a few weeks will quiet my mind enough to keep me out of therapy. Or jail. Either way.
So, yes, I had to come up with something to make that would occupy my mind for a bit, but that wasn’t so complicated that I wouldn’t do it. I decided on polenta, because I hadn’t had success with it in the past, so there was a good challenge involved and it only has a few ingredients, so I wouldn’t get discouraged. A friend mentioned that she’d made polenta using cream cheese, and my mind instantly went to mascarpone, because it has just about the same consistency but is much more yummy. Plus I’ve always wanted to use mascarpone in something, because it sounds so fancy. I mean, would you be reading this post if it were called Polenta with Philly Cream Cheese? Methinks not.
Honestly, it couldn’t have been easier. A total of 5 ingredients (water, cornmeal, salt, sugar and mascarpone) and 30 minutes later I had a side dish that I had to stop myself from devouring like it was my job. It was also perfect, because it required a fair amount of watching and stirring, and I learned that if you stare at a swirling mass of cornmeal long enough, your mind really will shut off (to the point that the timer may go off for a good minute before you realize it’s yours). Mission accomplished! The polenta was creamy and slightly sweet from the mascarpone. It tasted ridiculously decadent, and even though I just served it with slow cooked beef I did in the crockpot and steamed spinach, I could easily see this making it to dinner party plates.
It was an excellent distraction, which I needed, but unfortunately one cannot stir polenta all day every day. Any suggestions on ways to keep myself out of trouble are happily welcomed. In the meantime, I just ordered these:
Polenta with Mascarpone (adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2010)
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Bring 5 cups water to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, then 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until polenta is tender, thick, and creamy, whisking often and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer, 25 to 30 minutes (I would say that it took about 35 minutes to get it relatively smooth and thick). Mix in mascarpone cheese. Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.