But the day ended up being so busy that when it came time to make dinner, I didn't feel like fussing with all the root vegetables, which always require a bit of attention. I felt more interested in drinking a beer and watching "Mythbusters" with the husband than painstakingly peeling and chopping, and fretting over a new recipe. So I scrapped the original plan and instead pan-fried the fish with lemon and parsley, and served it alongside potatoes and steamed broccoli. A dinner straight out of my childhood.
The next night, I felt prepared to take on the vegetables, but I had no fish. Time to wing it, Hungry Dog style. I had the parsnips, which are homely on the outside but once peeled, reveal themselves to be a beautiful, snowy white. And I had a little butternut squash, the cutest thing you ever saw, about five inches tall and three inches wide at its, um, hips. Ridiculous. And I had some beets that had been waiting patiently in the vegetable bin for a few weeks. I began to envision a bright autumn risotto, with little squares of color running through the pale rice.
I peeled, diced, and roasted the veggies, and got started on the risotto. Usually I add white wine but all I could find was vermouth (where did that come from?) which did the trick. And I minced up some fresh rosemary to give it a woodsy flavor.
When the risotto was nearly done, I folded in the vegetables, which looked like teeny Rubik's Cube squares. The rice did not remain pristine white as I had hoped; once the beets and squash made their way in, it turned startling shade of pinkish orange. But it was still pretty, and it tasted good. Perhaps most importantly, it fit the mood I was in. Sometimes you feel like sticking to the plan and sometimes you don't. Often the best discoveries happen when you're short an ingredient, can't remember the exact measurements, or when, out of laziness, you divide one recipe into two.