No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

Tuesday night insomnia: Sour, mineral tang of uncoated pills. Tepid tapwater washes it away. Soothing drone of informercials; snoring dogs. Counting rich mosaic of ceiling cracks.*

Okay, never mind that first sentence. I was thinking that I might write an entire post as a series of Ruth Reichl-inspired tweets, for shits and giggles, but then I started to annoy myself.

Thanks to the Oxycontin – which does, thankfully, help with the pain a LOT – I am unable to sleep more than two or three hours at a stretch. It’s been a little over a week, and the cumulative effects of so little sleep have rendered me a complete shell of a woman.

*Let it be known that my in-laws’ living room ceiling is NOT webbed with cracks; I do not wish to impinge on their hospitality by besmirching their home upkeep on the internet.


I realize that every parent is now rolling their eyes at me, irritated that I would dare to complain about a scant week of sleep deprivation.

To them I say: I understand your irritation! I don’t know how anyone manages to raise children! I think we should re-organize society so that all babies go to community play centers on Sundays to allow their mothers 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Also, the mothers should get foot rubs. If they don’t have partners to rub their feet, we’ll send in federal employees. Honoring mothers AND job creation: it’s a win-win!


I realize that this will be a controversial proposal, and will lead to partisan bickering over the potential privatization of the foot rubbing industry, whether we can trust the government to provide quality masseurs and what will happen when a religious masseur refuses to touch the feet of a gay parent (you know, because they’re scared to catch teh gay).

I’ll think about this a little more, and hopefully at that point I’ll realize that this is a RIDICULOUS idea and it would be much easier to just give each new parent their own foot bath with massaging jets. (The infant community play center, I’m totally firm on. I don’t see any potential problems with that one.)


Somehow, dinner still managed to get made tonight although I’m fairly certain I had almost nothing to do with it.

Stuck in my head was the idea of doing a root vegetable “risotto,” with finely diced carrots and parsnips standing in for the traditional arborio rice. Needless to say, this involves chopping. A lot of chopping. A lot of chopping that has to be done with care, so all your little veg bits are sized consistently. A lot of chopping that’s really hard to do when (1) it hurts to stand for long periods of time and (2) one’s hands are shaking from exhaustion. Thus, dinner only made it to the table thanks to my trusty sous.

The basics: saute minced shallot in a bit of butter. Add the veg and a sploosh of white wine; let the wine reduce. Add enough hot stock to barely cover the veg and cook, stirring frequently until the stock is mostly absorbed/evaporated and the veg are cooked but still toothsome. Fortify with a little mascarpone. Eat.


Carrots and parsnips do not a complete dinner make, even when you add another little dollop of mascarpone and some hazelnuts, so Brian roasted off some chicken thighs glazed with orange and honey.

Holy shit, unholy amount of knifework aside this was a great dinner. The carrots and parsnips still had some bite, and some orange zest and nutmeg punched up their natural earthy sweetness. Hazelnut was right in their flavor wheelhouse, a needed textural element, and I’ve never met a manifestation of mascarpone that I didn’t love. Paired with juicy, crisp, salty-sweet chicken: dinner perfection.

It’s now almost 1:30AM and I probably have another three hours before I fall asleep, so I look forward to another evening of immersion in Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty.

Root Veg “Risotto”
serves 4 as a side

I medium shallot, peeled and minced
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1/2 c. white wine of your choice
1-2 c. stock of your choice
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/3 c. mascarpone
1/4 c. chopped, toasted hazelnuts

Pour the stock into a small saucepan and warm it over medium heat; when it comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to low.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add the carrots and parsnips and toss to combine.

Pour in the wine and stir until wine is almost totally evaporated.

Pour in enough stock to just cover the vegetables (depending on your pot, this should take between one and two cups); add the zest, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed or evaporated and the veg is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning (this will vary depending on how salty your stock is).

Serve immediately, sprinkling the hazelnuts over the top.



9 thoughts on “No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

  1. Root vegetable risotto is an AMAZING idea and I’m going to try it as soon as I get the chance.

    While the pain and lack of sleep is unspeakably sucky, the Reichl-esque thoughts made me laugh heartily and I love your ideas train of thought- there’s some genius in there somewhere. Somewhere close to the surface, because I agree entirely!

  2. i sympathize very much with your insomnia shit, i am working on day four or so myself of say 3hrs per night. i’m trying to research it when i can, i have a handful of semi-crackpot sounding suggestions that i’m messing with. i realize they sound like crazy people talk but as you know shit gets pretty desperate when yr sleeping 12 hours per week.
    (not so well organized, but his advice about not computing/watching TV or eating too late has worked a little)

    and this, which sounds ridiculous, seemed to work for some people:

    hope there’s something helpful there, good luck…..

  3. awesome idea! I can see that on my table in the near future!
    Glad to hear the drugs kicked in!
    Also, I would have really really loved a child free sunday siesta of 10 hours… you should run for office, you’d have my vote.

  4. I have never tasted risotto. Is that some kind of crime? I actually bought a box (is it not supposed to come in a box) about a month ago. It’s still in the pantry. It’s like plantains: I am 100% sure (an underestimate) that I would screw them up with my lack of knowledge. I know what pancakes are supposed to be like and I still screwed those up!

    As for sleep, whatever the reason for not getting it is, be it children or pain meds or anything else, it’s the worst thing ever. I don’t think anybody could fault you for complaining about that. It’s a miserable feeling to want to sleep but not be able to, one of the worst there is.

    Except for that week when I had some type of whole-body allergic reaction and anything that touched any part of my skin (including clothing) made me feel this intense, incredible itchiness/pain, which the walk-in clinic tried to diagnose as scabies. That was worse than lack of sleep. But it’s a close second.

    I hope you get more than 3 hours soon.

  5. @melissa, it’s not a crime, but it is something you should remedy in short order. once you get the risotto technique down (which can be boiled down to: stir a lot), it’s endlessly variable.

    i’ll take the sleeplessness over the terrible pain, but i’d much rather have to take nothing at all.

  6. I made this last as part of a dinner party at which we also watched the Oscars! The Oscars were kind of irritating, but this was super-easy and turned out fantastically, the annoyance of cubing parsnips aside. Thank you for posting it!

  7. That perfectly chopped veg will be a nice test for my OCD cutting board. Great idea! I adore all things parsnip and have no idea why it doesn’t receive more love. Off to grab a sharp knife now….

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