Risotto Therapy

November 14, 2011

Dear readers, I have happy news for you.  This month, the Mouth Sores from the Bowels of Hades never showed up. Those nasty gremlins took a hiatus for the month of November, much to our delight.  Mama’s white blood cells are churning out the good stuff, and while we realize this won’t always be the case, it truly feels like Thanksgiving in our little corner of the universe.

Mouth sores that bugger off are definitely cause for celebration.

I’m so blissed-out that I can still give thanks, even in the throes of the of kindy-sickies.  Kindy-sickies that, alas, eventually got passed on to me.  Not on to my husband, mind you–the man has the immune system of of a Great White Shark–but I got a wicked case of the Nasties.

Naturally, I couldn’t get the Nasties in the privacy of my own home, nestled by the fire, typing away on my snazzy red laptop. That’s much too plebian, don’t you think?

Here Follows a Tale of Woe:

I got the Nasties on a Friday night, smack in the middle of a date night that we hadn’t been on in…well, you know.

And, just for fun, the universe sent me the Nasties on a date night with another couple–our first real chunk of time spent alone with them.

Normally, I wouldn’t be so bitter about it, but we actually like these people. We like both of them. Together.

Is it just me, or is that almost an impossible feat?  I mean, I like people (a few), and my husband likes people (many), but if we both like the same people, at the same time, who just happen to be a couple?

Amazeballs, right?

Somehow, the stars aligned; the babysitter Gods smiled on us, we snagged a reservation at a fun, hip, hoppin’ bistro in Boulder, my jeans actually fit without a shoe horn involved and I found a blouse sans food stains.

Life was good.

Until we actually got to said hip, hoppin’ bistro.  The ride there was jovial, the conversation was lively, we ordered a cocktail and toasted to our good fortune…

And then the menu arrived. It was huge–one of those behemoth affairs with lots of little tapas plates that normally  make me as excited as a mink in springtime, but as I scanned it, nothing sounded even remotely good. I took a sip of lush, jammy Syrah and almost couldn’t swallow it. Clearly, something was amiss.

I grabbed a breadstick and nibbled it. Sawdust.

“Should we get an appetizer? Do you like carpaccio?”

“Oh, we love carpaccio!”

“How about grilled raddichio salad? Calamari? Do you mind sharing?”

I’m all for sharing and I love all of those dishes, normally. I’d happily devour any and all. At the moment, though? Not feeling it.

But this was important. This night was important to me. I liked these people, and they liked us, and we had freaking babysitters on a Friday night.  I was going to make this work, Hell or high-water.

Beef and buffalo carpaccio arrived, sleek and ruby-colored, slicked with extra-virgin olive oil, nestled on beds of arugula and parmesan.  I speared a forkful, pushed it around my plate, committed, chewed, and…

Frantically rushed for the bathroom.

It’sokayit’sokayit’sokay. Hack. Spit. Rinse. Spit. It’s just a one-time thing. Your stomach’s just a little sour. You’re fine. Put on some lipstick sugar; you are fine.

I shook it off, returned to the table, and agreed to split salads.

“You okay?” my husband said, watching me down a glass of ice water.

“Yeah, of course,” I said. “Just a little digestive stuff.”  I raised my wineglass. “To Friday.”

One bite into Ensalate Caprese, my second favorite salad of all time, I had to excuse myself again.  The loo was just to the right of the very crowded bar, and the bartender–a sleek-haired brunette with an arrow tattooed on her shoulder–narrowed her eyes as I rushed past again.

Fuckit. She thinks I’m one of those bulimic freaks. Or a cokewhore. Great. I’d wonder which one, but I’m pretty sure I’m too old to be a cokewhore, so bulimic it is.

Repeat hurl and rinse routine.

Buckup. Go.

I returned to the table, smiled, apologized. Pushed my salad around, subversively passed my wine to my husband. I ordered the dullest, most benign thing on the menu–spaghettini with tomato and mozzarella.

The whole place smelled like grilled meat, the stuff of the Gods: lamb, veal shank, bistecca a’la fiorentina. I watched the servers bring steaming skillets of fragrant flesh to ardent diners, watched them dig in with zeal.

I forced conversation and studiously ignored my pasta.

Suddenly, there’s no way to politely do this. Bolt for bathroom.

I return, humiliated, and fess up. But at this point, everyone knows anyways. I’m too pale, too slack-jawed, too leaky-eyed to hold up any pretense.

The final nail in the coffin? I had to ask the waitress for a plastic bag to go. You know, in case I lose my intestines in this nice couple’s car on the way back home. I almost do, but I zoom the window all the way down and stick my head out, like a Doberman pinscher, begging for mercy.

I make it into the house, but just barely. I retch so violently that I stumble, miss my handy-dandy puke bag and pee my pants. Awesome. Thank you, childbirth, for the dissolution of those pesky pelvic-floor muscles. Who needs them?

I’m up all night, trusty bucket by my side, praying for death. In the morning, I’m sleep deprived, nauseous, sticky and my ribcage aches from all of the hacking.  Next day: still worthless.

The point of all this–and yes, I’m finally getting to it–is that I’d made risotto for Mama a few days prior, in case the rat-bastard mouth sores decided to show up. Which they didn’t.  I gave her some anyways, as a preventative measure, but she insisted that I keep half of it for my own consumption.

That leftover risotto saved my sorry ass, let me tell you.  For a while I didn’t want to eat anything, but when I finally recovered enough to feel peckish, this risotto was just the thing.

Creamy, toothsome, and fragrant with saffron, it was the ideal recovery food.

It was so ideal, in fact, that I plan on making risotto bi-monthly, just so I have leftovers to count on when the Nasties hit.  If this month is any indication, risotto therapy is going to come in mighty handy. Hopefully, you won’t be visited by the Nasties, but make this risotto anyways. It’s lovely stuff.


Saffron Risotto with Roasted Peppers, Peas and Parmesan

serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

5-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed on the stove

1/2 teaspoon dried saffron threads

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

1/2 cup pinot grigio or other dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

1 (8-12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

about 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

a handful of fresh parsley or basil leaves, torn

In a medium saucepan over medium flame, heat the chicken broth to a simmer; add the saffron, turn down the heat and keep warm.

In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and onion; cook until rice is coated with butter and beginning to toast slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add white wine and a little salt and pepper. Cook until liquid dissolves.

Add warm stock, about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Stir often–you sort of have to babysit this dish–but it only takes about 20 minutes, and it’s worth it, I promise.

As soon as the rice begins to dry out, add more stock, stirring, keeping the heat on medium.

Cook for about 20 minutes, making sure that the mixture is not dry, but not soupy, either. Cook until the rice is tender but still a bit chewy. Add the roasted red peppers, the peas, and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley or basil leaves.

If desired, you can stir in an additional bit of butter at this point for extra creaminess.

*Re-heat leftovers with a little chicken stock in a saucepan over low heat.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

elizabeth November 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

Yikes! I probably shouldn’t have read that right before lunch. But I’m glad the risotto helped to soothe your weary stomach.

The other thing you can do with leftover risotto? Roll them into balls, stick a cube of mozzarella in the middle, coat with breadcrumbs and fry them. They are so so so good.


Abby November 14, 2011 at 10:21 am

First, never use the phrase “amazeballs” again, as that alone will make me hurl.
Second, holy hell. That sounds awful, but at least you’re back into a state of relative health and normality, so perhaps the worst is over for awhile. Ugh.

The last time I got sick I was traveling for work and dressed like a “Disco Diva” for a flashback party with 1,000 people. Five minutes in I got cold, clammy and dashed up to my hotel room just in time to worship a toilet that was not my own. On came a migraine. Not my finest hour, as getting sick sucks. Getting sick while traveling sucks even more (especially when you have OCD and a germ thing.)

Glad you’re ALL feeling better.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri November 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

Oh, Kitch. Those kind of sick nights are awful. Not.Fun.At.All.
Hope you are feeling better. xoxo


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon November 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

Kitch, the Universe certainly is piling it on you these days. Hope you’re feeling better and that cosmic forces conspire to give you another night out with Fun Couples Friends soon…minus the vomiting, of course.


Jennifer November 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

Worst sickness ever. I can’t believe that you even tried to soldier on, and I hope that the stars align again and give you another chance with the perfect couple.


bryan November 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

Oh my… you poor thing. The universe really does like to mess with you in the evening out area. Rest up my friend and enjoy your risottotherapy. I’ll be sending you the good vibes!


Katybeth November 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

Aww..I am so sorry you were sick and how miserable to be out and sick! Glad you had the comfort food on hand to help you recover. So happy to hear your Mom is without cold sores and her white cell is up… Thankfulness a few weeks early!

I use to do a happy dance when Joe sneezed; the man never ever got sick. It was unnatural. The only time he ever looked at me and said, “Ya know babe I’m not feeling great”…he died 20 minutes later.

Hope you stay well through the holidays…all of you.


Jenna November 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Oh no! That sounds miserable–and fie on anyone who gave you dirty looks, you poor thing! I always forget how actually terrible it is to feel sick and vomitous until I’m on a plane and we hit turbulence. Then, I realize that feeling like throwing up makes just want to die. I’m not even joking.
It’s a good thing that risotto was there to welcome you back to life!


Stacia November 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

And the pelvic floor muscles always make it worse. Always, always, always.

Also, just direct your friends to this post and they’ll remember why they like you so much and forget all about the puking. =>


Sherri November 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

OH no – the worst – sooo looking forward to a night out and then THAT happens. Sucks, sucks, sucks being sick. Glad you’re feeling better, though. Glad you posted a risotto recipe

And….. glad to hear that your mama is doing well. Good news :-).


Phoo-d November 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Ack! That is totally awful Kitch. I’m sorry your evening out was ruined. You will have to invite them out for a re-do once you are feeling better. So glad to hear that your mama’s cold sores are on hiatus. The risotto looks divine!


Lyndsey @The Tiny Skillet November 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Isn’t that the way is goes…so funny we never get a chance to go out with another couple much either. That is the way it goes…so rare to find people that you both like and get along with both of them. Also kids and their parents too. Too bad you don’t live closer to us!

This is a lovely risotto, good to know it’s good for recovery! If you need other ways to use up the leftover risotto Giada has many!


Ginny Marie November 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Oh, no! And those night with a babysitter are so few and far between! I hope you get a night out with the same couple again soon to make up for it.


koreen November 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

oh gods. yeah, that’s insult to injury with the whole lack of pelvic floor muscles thing. happens to me on a regular basis. sorry it hit you, hope you don’t get it again!


pamela November 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

First of all, can I just tell you how impressed I am that you TRIED to eat? Not once but thrice?? You have cajones fo shiz.

Second of all, I am sorry. About twice a year I get hit with the nasties. It’s awful. I have prayed for death too.

SO glad your mom is doing better. It’s such a good sign!!!


Jane November 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Your resolve to stick the evening out is oh-so-admirable. The first sign of queasiness sends me home, camped out next to the toilet bowl.

I’m so glad you – and your mom – are feeling better! xoxoxo


Justine November 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

LOL. Loved your play-by-play. And I had to laugh because this sounds just like My Guy and me: “I like people (a few), and my husband likes people (many)”.

Hope you’re feeling much, much better. I’m all about rice porridge (or congee, depending on who you ask) when I’m sick so I totally get needing a certain type of comfort food when you’re mending from the Nasties.

Have a better week and good luck on your next date night ;)


BigLittleWolf November 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Only you could make a series of vomitrocious scenes so utterly fetching.

Brilliant. And that was before you used the Kevin-on-Top-Chef word “toothsome.”

Hope you’re doing better. Time to go make dinner.



Stephane in Alaska November 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Sweetie, if you ever do write that autobiography, librarians are going to have to assign it the Dewey decimal classification reserved for intestinal disorders–or hell on earth. You get stuck entertaining the nasties way more often than your fair share.

Do you eat yogurt? If you don’t eat regularly eat yogurt–and you don’t mind hearing a suggestion from a layperson (whose credentials include emetophobia)–consider giving it a try. Even the types not specifically enhanced with probiotics are supposed to help your immune system in general, and your gut in particular. (It’s currently ranked as one of 38 “power foods”–although I suppose next week, they’ll decide it causes parasitic weevils or sudden death or something. )

I’m so glad your mama is skipping the sores this round. I so hope she’s able to continue to feel well.


TKW November 15, 2011 at 6:56 am


I do eat yogurt, but not on a regular basis. I do, however, take those pro-biotic things that are supposed to help with all issues related to the tummy. Obviously, they didn’t help me this time, but I don’t think anything could have!


Cathy November 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Would it make you feel any better if I said it’s better that you pee’d your pants rather than shit them? Holy hell.


Amanda November 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Oh no! That is a terrible and very sad story. I know the pain of dateless Bermuda Triangles with my own husband all to well. I’m glad you are feeling better. Next time will be better. It has to be right? Nothing could be that cruel as to make a night like that happen twice.

Also that risotto looks divine. I agree that risotto is the best known recovery food there is.


Contemporary Troubadour November 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Oh, Kitch. That IS a tale of woe. I so hear you on the people you like and people your husband likes coinciding in the same couple. We haven’t been so lucky yet. Somebody needs to make an eHarmony for married couples looking for other married couples to befriend. Hopefully, your pair of friends is understanding — do they have kids too? I’m guessing that’ll up the empathy factor big time.

On your other news: three cheers for Mama’s mouth sores going on hiatus.


TKW November 15, 2011 at 6:57 am


eHarmony for married couples searching for other married couples is genius. Invent it. You’ll make a fortune.


tasteofbeirut November 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Glad you found the right antidote; for me it is rice too, just plain rice and plain yogurt. Incredibly soothing. I would have also packed up the drugs!


Velva November 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Don’t you love how a virus/flu presents itself…out of nowhere (ugh). My mother used to say often that “it doesn’t matter how much your shoes cost, when you have to throw-up”
So glad that you are feeling better…Glad that your mom’s mouth sores from treatment are at bay, and that risotto rocks.



TKW November 15, 2011 at 7:02 am


“It doesn’t matter how much your shoes cost, when you have to throw up,” is now my new favorite saying! Awesome.


Amber November 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm

That is pure bullshittery (is that how you say it?) Or assholery? Hmmmm

Anyway. Pure suckage.

You know what? ANYTIME I puke I pee my pants. It’s awful. God awful. And embarrassing.


Naptimewriting November 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Hey, Look! Kitch has a new post! Hey, look! risotto!
Hey, look…mouth sores, gastroenteritis, and stress incontinence. Mmmm. I’ll get right on making this recipe.
Sweet thing, hope you feel better. And I hope I never hear the words crackwhore risotto ever again. ;-)


TKW November 15, 2011 at 7:04 am


That did occur to me. I was writing the draft and thought, “nobody is going to want to make this after they hear the backstory…” :)


Tiffanyt November 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

That totally sucks. I’m so sorry the nasties ruined your fun date night…and you’re so right…to find a couple you both like is amazeballs!! Hope you are feeling better…and so glad Mama doesn’t have any awful sores right now! Eat, Mama, Eat!!!


Heather November 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

The nasties have hit around here but nothing compared to your house! Nobody’s yarping up anything but phlem. We got hit with your particular bug at Christmas time last year. My honey missed Christmas Eve altogether and surely could have used some of this risotto on Christmas Day as she didn’t eat much. Come to think of it I better just make some up in a few weeks. You know, just in case…

Hope the nasties take a hike from your house soon. But please, oh please let them get lost in the snowy haze of the Rockies!


Mary Lee November 15, 2011 at 4:57 am

Well, that’s just about the most gawdawful date night story I’ve ever heard! You found a couple that you both like BOTH of them? That’s POSSIBLE?

Great news that your mother is having a good week. Keep churning out the good stuff, white blood cells!

Risotto is one of my favorite things. I’m making my grocery list.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes November 15, 2011 at 5:56 am

Oh, I hate it when the nasties come by, why can’t they just stay away!
Glad to hear mama is doing better. I hope the white blood cells keep it up!


Samantha @ Bikini Birthday November 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Shit, that sucks.
Why does that sort of thing happen at the most inopportune times? Why not, say, when you actually want to be home sick and watching full seasons of television shows on Netflicks all afternoon?


Salad in a Jar November 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm

My new phrase of the day…”jeans that I don’t need a shoe horn to get into.” LOL

Only YOU could make being sick so funny.

We have friends like you are talking about. We’ve been going to church, camping and vacationing with them for 30+ years. It is truly an amazing thing that all of our kids seem to covet for themselves but it’s not an easy thing to find–as you know. At a certain point, all the kids need to get along too. Now we have daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws in the mix, so we don’t get the whole families together as much. We just hang out with our friends as a couple.


Christine @ Fresh November 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I hope you feel better. My goodness that sounds like an awful bug.


Dawn November 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I so enjoy your writing…sorry you had to get sick to provide us entertainment! And very very glad this month is not as bad for your Mama.

Take a nap now…sounds like you need one. Hope you are all through with the nasties for the winter…though I suppose if you have little ones in school that’s a hopeless hope…


Biz November 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Oh, Kitch, I remember those days when you finally found a babysitter you trusted, found another couple who was equally as lucky and look forward to a night out sans kids – sucks that the Nasties had to hit just at that time! :(

Thank goodness risotta came to the rescue! :D


Katrina Kenison November 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Only you could follow such a tale with a RECIPE. Love that. This is a big click up from my favorite come-back food, orzo cooked in broth with a splash of olive oil, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Easy and good, but probably not something you’d serve to anyone except your own sick self and your sick kid. Hope you get back for another shot at the carpaccio!


faemom November 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

That looks yummy too! And what is up with the peeing and vomiting thing after having kids?! Seriously sucks.
P.S. I like the immune system of a Great White Shark; better than the immune system of a cockroach


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