Life revisited

I just spent the evening going through my old fanfic journal, tagging entries for easier sorting. At this point, it’s been more than five years since I was intensely involved in fandom, so it’s strange to go through the entries and see patterns I didn’t recognize at the time, or that I did recognize but later forgot.

I remembered how much I wrote in the four years I was most deeply involved in fandom, but I’d forgotten how much I used my fanfic to experiment and stretch myself as a writer. There’s a bunch of entries that start out, “I have no idea how this will turn out, guys, so be gentle while I figure this out!” and each time, my friends list responded with real encouragement that kept me going.

I wrote a lot more there about my personal life than I had remembered doing. My friends list was made up of kind, wise people who I could trust with very personal things. I’d forgotten how deep that closeness ran. I’d remembered putting a lot of time and energy into fandom, but I’d forgotten how much fandom gave me in return.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back into fandom in the way I was before. I’m really trying to work on original novels now. The fandoms I used to focus on are all off the air, and I don’t know if there are any fans left who will care if I ever review the old seasons well enough to be able to finish writing the massive Sentinel/SG-1/SGA/Torchwood/Dr. Who fic I got stuck on. And in terms of new fic, I’m just not getting story ideas for the fandoms I’m into now, like Sleepy Hollow or Sherlock. But who knows? Maybe I will wend my way back someday. For now, it feels important just to acknowledge how much I owe to fandom, and what a big part of my life and my growth as a writer it was.

Butternut squash burritos

One of the most useful skills I’ve developed since I started cooking for myself is knowing how to separate the ingredients/concept from the vehicle of a recipe. I hate risotto, but since risotto is a starch, I can take the asparagus, lemon and parmesan from a risotto recipe and mix them with a starch I do like, such as pasta. I keep kosher, but I can take a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato baked chicken recipe and change it to a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato baked fish.

So I saw a really interesting galette recipe on Smitten Kitchen and instantly thought, “Hey, if I can turn this into mini galettes or hand pies, that would make an awesome lunch!” Two problems with that idea: the pastry dough is way too fattening for everyday food, and working the dough when you have no pastry cutter, rolling pin, or counter space is a bit challenging.

Hence, my invention of the butternut squash burrito: much simpler to make and much less fat to feel guilty about.

1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
1 T butter
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 t salt
1/8 t cayenne, or to taste
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated or cut into small bits
1 T chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 t dried)
2-3 cups cooked rice
Soft tortillas

Preheat oven to 400. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place cut-side-down on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray. Roast for 1 hour and set aside to cool.

While squash is roasting, saute the onion in the butter and cayenne over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Let cool.

Scoop the butternut squash out of its shell into a mixing bowl with a spoon. Stir together the squash, caramelized onions, sage, and cheese.

To assemble burritos, spoon equal amounts of rice and squash mixture into tortillas and fold up. Since the squash mixture will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, I assemble the burritos one at a time before work every morning so they’re fresh.

Lime Cilantro Rice

I had my first taste of lime cilantro rice in a little Mexican restaurant in Colorado. Light and fluffy, sweet and flavorful, it balanced whatever it was paired with: fish tacos, black bean burritos, fajitas. Since then, I’ve been trying to recreate the magic of this deceptively simple starch at home with little result, but I think I’ve finally cracked it–adding lime zest as well as the juice of the lime helps punch the flavor up enough without weighing the rice down with too many spices or ingredients.

1 t oil or butter
1 cup white basmati rice
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 cups hot water
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

Heat the oil or butter in a medium saucepan/pot. Add the rice and stir to coat grains with oil. Add the salt, lime juice and zest, and water, turning up the heat to get everything to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, turn it down, stir once, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add cilantro and stir. Cover again until ready to serve.