Hello! How are you all faring this winter? Last week Scott and I finished our interviews for his residency and our whirlwind travels around the country are now done! I can now cook (yay!) and buy a gallon of milk without wondering if I should have bought a half-gallon or if the expiration date is far enough out that it will still be good when we came home from wherever his interview was that week. It was actually a good experience though, and on this last trip to Denver, Seattle, and Portland, we managed to squeeze in some fun, despite Scott naming the trip on our Expedia itinerary “The Trip of the Century” (all three cities in one week and five different hotels, yikes!).

We went skiing in Colorado and I did my best to teach Scott how to ski. I tried to take it slow and easy with him showing him the “pizza wedge” and other tricks to slow down, but he thought he knew better. Perhaps he got a little over-confident when he successfully made it off the chairlift, because he took off, shooting right by me, on our first run down the mountain. Well, he lasted about twenty feet before he went tumbling head over heals for another twenty losing both skies and a pole! Poor guy, I could not stop laughing at him and how utterly predictable it all was, as I skied down to him gathering his skies and pole along the way to help him “reassemble” himself. The day included many other falls for Scott, like one when he got stuck in the trees,

or the one when he bent his pole in half, and the one where he was going so uncontrollably fast that when he fell he slid down the hill 60 feet from where his ski had come off and received a compliment from the guy who retrieved his ski saying that his fall looked “awesome, like an atom bomb went off.” Thankfully Scott did not receive any injuries (though he was terribly sore during his interview the next day), and by the end of the day his skiing was much improved, not falling once on our last two runs down the mountain.

The rest of the trip managed to be fun as well despite it being a "business" trip with Scott’s interviews and my meeting with realtors. Near Pike’s Place market in Seattle we found a spice shop that had hundreds of different exotic spice blends and pure spices from all around the world. I purchased some pink peppercorns, dried edible roses, a tandoori spice mix, and gomasio.

Scott and I also ate at a restaurant (the picture above is the view from our table) where a scene from Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, attended our first wine tasting, had an excellent supper at Delancy (the restaurant of one my favorite bloggers, Molly Wizenburg of Orangette), and I hiked through the rainforest outside of Portland to some gorgeous waterfalls.

But it is so nice to be home now! Despite the freezing cold and blizzards, I do like it. There is something peaceful about sparkling bright white, piercingly cold days. For me they have a calm quietness to them that I appreciate. It is on days like these, that I just want to be a hermit inside our house and crave something homey, comfy, and totally delicious. One of the first things I made upon returning was Aged Cheddar Risotto. I posted a picture it last spring on this blog and promised to tell you about it later when I “had more time.” Well, now is the perfect time! It is a warm, flavorful, wonderfully cheesy, risotto and it is so good. In my opinion, macaroni and cheese has nothing on this. The risotto’s texture is just so smooth and creamy! Combine that texture with an aged cheddar cheese and you’ve reached a whole new level of goodness.

*There are more pictures of our trip posted below the recipe.

Aged Cheddar Cheese Risotto

This recipe has been adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Cheddar Risotto. I have found that using an aged cheddar cheese, with its extra sharpness and depth, gives a lot fuller flavor than an ordinary cheddar. I’ve also omitted the chives per Scott’s request and replaced them with peas and added a sautéed chicken breast as well. By all means, make this how you would best like it; chives or no chives, with or without chicken, it is your choice. This is not meant to be a fussy recipe that must be exactly constructed. You must simply pick a worthy cheddar cheese (I’ve tried this with gruyere and it was not as good), keep it very simple with very few add-ins (lest your dish becomes clumsy and the cheddar flavor muddled by the crowd), and add plenty of chicken/vegetable stock so the risotto can avoid clumpiness and be properly smooth and creamy. Follow these tips and you’ll be golden.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp canola oil

2 baby leeks or one large leek or 2 fat scallions, finely sliced (I have substituted ¼ of an onion or 1 shallot for this and it seemed to work fine)

1 ½ cups risotto rice (Arborio to be exact, but I find this short grain rice painfully expensive so I cheat and use medium grain white rice and this works fine. Do not use medium grain brown rice! I tried and it’s a no go.)

½ cup white wine

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

5 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup chopped aged cheddar cheese (I use Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar Cheese)

½ cup peas, thawed if frozen optional

2 Tbsp chopped chives optional

4 chicken breasts optional

Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the baby leeks (or whatever substitution you have) until softened. (Or until turning golden brown in the case of the onions.) Heat stock in a smaller saucepan to have at the ready.

Add the risotto rice and stir for about three minutes until the rice turns transparent around the edges. Then add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.

Spoon in two ladlefuls of the hot stock and stir the rice until stock is completely absorbed. After a few minutes that stock will be absorbed and you can add your next two ladlefuls. Continue stirring and let stock absorb again. Keep repeating this process for about 25 minutes until rice is tender.

After you last stock addition, before all the stock is absorbed, add the cheese and stir vigorously until the cheese melts. Not only does this melt the cheese, but it also releases starch from the rice that will give the risotto that wonderful creaminess. Check the consistency, if you think it looks like the perfect consistency add more stock to thin it out because it will thicken by the time you get it on your plate and are ready to eat. The risotto should be able to flow and should not hold its shape. Stir in the peas if using, spoon out onto plates, top with the sautéed chicken breast and chives (if using), and dig in!

Please fit Pillow, you have to! I can't sleep without you!
It's in! Barely. Thank goodness!

Scott, master skier, King of the mountain.

Myself, I managed not to fall once the whole day! It helps when you stick to the greens ;)

This Seattle icon was a block away from our hotel so we did our duty took a picture of it.

Walking along the Puget Sound on our way to the market.

Umm, the sign basically says it all.

Eye-catching produce at Pike Place market.
Watch out! This fish will "jump" out at you if someone behind the fish counter sees you standing close by and thinks you could use a good startling.

Hooray for crêpes! Especially for giant ones :) at a crêperie in the hip Nob Hill neighborhood of Portland.


  1. Oh Whitney our husbands are WAY to much alike. I have yet to take Jon skiing, but he, like Scott, thinks he will be able to just fly right down the mountain! We hope to see you guys again soon now that our crazy interviewing schedules are done :)

  2. Whit I'm so glad to hear that Scott was bad at a sport (even if it was just for a few hours) - hehe (don't tell him!). Also, totally jealous you got to go to Delancy!! miss you guys!