The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

The Hunchback of Northfield and Parmesan Risotto with Spicy Shrimp

Call me accident prone-I’m not but I’ve become rather good at hurting myself. While working out last night with my husband Greg, I attempted to show him a different technique because it looked as if he was going to hurt himself with his style. I quickly tried to show him an alternative move when I immediately pulled a muscle…which hindered my abilities for the rest of the workout. Dur!

That’s what I get for trying to help and I guess looking like a “know-it-all”…he thought it was funny. I became Quasimodo and am still in a hunchback position this morning. Ouch and typical. I’m used to it. When we started to workout with one another in the evenings, I snapped a resistance band to the back of my head. The position was correct, I’d done this move hundreds of times before but this time it got away. I guess I should just be happy that I didn’t break this one, as I have done to the two previous bands. I don’t think I’m that strong, those were cheapies (and I have pretty awful luck).

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, or stop yourself from reading if you’ve heard it. I think I was a teenager when I attempted to kick the tassel on the ceiling fan…I’m 5’3” and this was a feat. I jumped, I kicked and I fell flat on my back (my sisters remember this)…I say that I achieved my idiotic goal but I am not really sure and I don’t know what I was thinking. That is probably why my lower back has issues.

I used to perform cartwheels and other gymnast moves (I wanted to be an acrobat as a child), throwing myself down hills in the backyard or attempting to teach friends in their tiny bedroom spaces…not a good idea to smack your leg forcefully into a wall or lamp or bunk bed or sibling. As a stage manager for a showchoir in high school, I crawled and beat myself up to get things in place to have a good show. My knees and shins never forgave me.

Greg believes that he needs to go to a chiropractor (and I don’t argue that) but we can’t afford it; we either pay for those sessions or pay bills and keep our things. I have never been to a chiropractor. I’ve never had stitches, staples or anything major. Well, when I was a toddler, I had pneumonia and was placed in the hospital and I think large needles were involved for something but that could be the toddler’s memory in me. On our way to the circus, I opened the automatic garage door (which was for our large shop and not your ordinary garage-this thing is huge) and my pinky got stuck while it rose and eventually, my nail turned black and fell off. My hand has been shut in the car door a few times (a good one before going into a wedding reception). My sisters have had stitches; they have stories. I remember a fight that ended with a basket to the forehead between the two of them and a few other things. I’m fairly sure that by mentioning that I have not, I’m bound to have something happen- it’s inevitable.

Greg and I both get queasy, (Greg passes out when he sees, experiences pain or sees others experiencing pain sometimes) especially when it comes to blood. One day, something will happen and we’ll both pass out, no one will know.

I think all the times that Greg has passed out, he’s hurt himself worse falling…like when he did in his parent’s old kitchen. He bashed his head (behind his ear) on the cabinet and fell to the floor or the time when he wedged his finger in the truckbed removing wood (working for his dad’s construction business before I came along). He knew to get himself inside the cab but I think he fell out of the dump truck, to the ground, quite a distance. He worries me.

I’ve become better at dealing with things of that sort- like when Greg caught a glass bottle from falling off of the refrigerator to have it break all over his hand last year. He has a scar and he says jokingly “chicks dig scars.” That ruined the night. I think adrenaline kicks in with me and I try to assess/take care of a situation before I allow the queasiness to take over. I don’t think I’ve ever fainted but I don’t like to be standing or touched and I can’t use my hands or rely on my knees to keep me up, even just thinking about it sometimes. Greg’s signs are that his face becomes very pale, he begins to sweat and breathe heavily, which is when I know to support his head and sit him down. If we ever have children this could be horrible.

I do easily bruise and my shins are damaged beyond repair; some of my fingers have signs that arthritis will come but that’s hereditary (women of the Shaffer side). You should see my pointer fingers and I have hitchhiker’s thumb, as pointed out by my husband and his family…I hadn’t really thought about it until it was pointed out but isn’t that how it goes sometimes? I call myself cautious but not accident prone or clumsy, only occasionally in my adult life do I throw caution to the wind like I used to in my younger days. I slightly miss that.

I mentioned before that Greg needs to go to the chiropractor-he grew up with a family friend that took care of them at his office. Then, right after graduating from college (almost 3 years ago), we were living with a friend for a short period of time who had a rather large dog that didn’t like living in town. This dog would run off whenever given the chance and never listened, despite our training him…his owner didn’t really do anything to help. I loved this dog but that day, it was my last week of working at the psych hospital, he went over to the neighbor’s backyard and Greg decided to jump the fence (that was the best way to capture him), a rather tall one. After a twist of his shoe on the top, he landed on his back and was unable to get up or move. This was rather scary to see; I thought he wasn’t going to walk again the way he was lying there.

I made our friend call an ambulance. When they arrived, they helped figure out what might be wrong and tested those areas. Soon after, they helped him up…his tailbone and some discs were out of place but they didn’t think he needed to be taken to the hospital. I stayed home to take care of Captain Pillow (he had to sit just so on one for days with little walking) and that’s when he began seeing another chiropractor but couldn’t finish his sessions before we had to move again. This haunts him still and that damn dog…I love him. If our friend, who is no longer our friend (but not really from that), had taken action about his dog, I don’t think this situation would’ve happened but what did we expect, this guy was barely home. We took care of most of his things. Oh well, the neighbor’s got the bill since it was on their property…even though we weren’t aware of that until the elderly man came by to see how Greg was doing, nice to us but who knows today.

What’s on tap for Tuesday? Spicy shrimp with creamy Parmesan risotto (and peas). It’s pretty simple-I hadn’t had risotto, some might call it the Italian equivalent of mac and cheese, in quite some time and shrimp usually sounds good to me. The Parmesan risotto recipe, from Real Simple, I’ve had for years and the shrimp is something I throw together for some heat. This particular meal involves saffron, which is expensive and perhaps hard to find where you live so you can leave it out but if you can find it, I would use a large pinch. White wine is also in this meal but not required although, in my opinion, it does add another flavor level. Otherwise, this is a very easy and worthwhile meal. I would recommend adding peas on the side to cut through some of the creaminess of the rice dish.

Parmesan Risotto and Spicy Shrimp
Parmesan Risotto and Spicy Shrimp

Parmesan Risotto with Spicy Shrimp
Serves 4


3 to 4 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
large pinch of saffron-optional
1 cup dry white wine (Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc)
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (plus more to top)

1lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic
red pepper flakes (to your taste)
1 tbsp olive oil

Risotto: In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat. In another medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, stirring until coated with butter, about 2 minutes. Add the saffron and wine, simmering until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle ½ cup of the broth into the rice, stirring occasionally, until it is absorbed. Repeat, adding a ½ cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the remaining butter, salt/pepper and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir and taste for salt. Serve immediately, top with more Parmesan if you wish.

Shrimp: In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp, garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring a few times. Cover and simmer until the shrimp turn slightly pink, remove the cover and cook for a little longer until pink but take off the heat when they turn bright pink or you risk overcooking them. Add salt and pepper, and then serve with the risotto, maybe some peas. Yum!