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Comforting Polenta & the parting of friends

October 8, 2011

Fall is upon us, and with the coming of the cooler weather brings the desire for warming, comforting foods. Soups, stews, mac & cheese and yes, cheesy polenta topped with fresh basil and tomatoes. My world needed some comforting recently as we lost one of my dearest friends, my cat Midge, whom I had in my life for 12 years. (she was an adult cat when I got her, so her actual age was closer to 17)  I notice the silence in our home now, she was a tortoiseshell cat and very vocal yes, but the silence is actually from me. I hadnt noticed how often I chattered to her, inane observations as she walked by, (Its gonna rain, Midge), blurting song lyrics or a loud “there you are!’ if I hadnt seen her in several hours– especially if my husband wasnt home at the time. We fed her on a regular schedule and when my husband is home alone now and one of the feeding times nears, he pauses on whatever he is doing then remembers he doesnt have to change the food & water bowls anymore.

Comfort can come from many things, loved ones, food and personally for me –creation, whether art or food. The artwork/word — “Comfort” is a result of this creation. When we think of comforting things, I think of the sun, especially when it gets cold. The color is just that –yellow, bright and very simple, subtler than some of my other work. What appears to be water on this piece is actually hardened resin(acrylic) that gives the entire piece a bumpy yet smooth texture to the touch. The large circle is actually the letter ‘o” from “comfort”, the “c” is in the lower left hand corner.

“Bumpy-yet-smoooth” texture and bright yellow describes polenta,  the “italian grits” of sort. This recipe is revised from the “Cheesy Polenta” recipe from Giada De Laurentis, I cut some butter out, changed the cheese and added the topping of fresh basil & tomatoes. You can stir them in instead of topping each serving, but if let to sit(on stove or refrigerator)the basil and tomato may add more water/moisture to the recipe, making it thinner. Now I hadnt tried this recipe with just vegetable broth & roasted garlic but I believe it could make a nice vegan dish– its on the list of things I need to try…..

NEW NEWS: My artwork (original and reprints as small as a postcard) is now for sale at http://www.fineartamerica.com, just search under my name

POLENTA WITH FRESH BASIL & TOMATO

9 cups of water

1 tablespoon salt

2 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup Parmesan & Romano blend(or just parmesan OK)

1/2 cup  sharp cheddar cheese(white or yellow OK, and you can just use 1 1/2 cups of parmesan & romano if you’d like)

1 1/2 cups whole or 2 % milk

3/4 stick of unsalted butter

1 medium to large tomato seeded and chopped (to seed a tomato, cut in half and using you fingers pull out all seeds and discard. Chop only the shell/hull) OR  heaping cup of chopped cherry tomatoes can be used too

1 cup chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy pot, add the salt.

2.  Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and cornmeal is tender, 15-20 minutes.

3. Remove pot from the heat. Add the cheese & butter, stir until they have both melted.

4. Taste– add salt and pepper to your liking. At this point, if you do want more butter after tasting, please add.

5. Serve–

For each individual serving dish, top with desired amount of fresh tomato and basil.

TOP: Polenta with basil & tomato, BOTTOM; "Comfort", oil & resin, 16 X 20, 2011

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