Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

Once in a rare while, we get a weekend where we virtually have no plans. As one might imagine, I truly love these kinds of weekends. It gives me a chance to recharge a little bit, not to mention get caught up on all the shows I’ve Tivo’d (or Comcasted, or whatever).

Whenever these free weekends come along, it’s also an opportunity for me to try out a few new recipes, which I always like to do. So on a fairly chilly Saturday night, the first night of the season when it truly felt like autumn, I drew up a nice, comforting risotto (pictured), made tasteful by a variety of chopped seasonings, including basil & leeks. It was made all the better by topping off the risotto with some nice imported prosciuotto. I also made a side of bruschetta, as taught to me by my old Italian-born roommate Guilio. I’m slightly suspicious of his one-time claim that bruschetta isn’t authentic unless you actually rub the tomato directly onto the bread, but I went with it regardless and it does taste good.

Last night’s experiment was a batch of cornmeal-encrusted scallops, enhanced with a mint chimichurri sauce and some Trader Joe’s cornbread.

Both of these recipes (courtesy of Cooking Light) proved good enough to serve to guests. I probably cannot stress enough the importance of making something on your own before serving it to guests, though. I decided to try something “new” for guests one night a while back and the dinner was so putrid that I vowed to never, ever again unleash something on guests which I hadn’t made before on my own. There’s almost always something, no matter how small, you want to change about a meal.

On the baseball front, I tuned into Game Four of the Braves-Astros in the 8th inning yesterday and with the Braves up 6-1, was looking forward to the winner-take-all Game 5 tonight. Surely the Braves were going to hold on to win this one. Wrong.

The game ended up being one of the most classic post-season heavyweight battles I’ve ever seen. It also turned out to be 18 innings – the longest playoff game in baseball history. The Astros staged an amazing comeback and tied it in the 9th inning on a 2-out solo home run that was literally an inch above the line and out of the park. The next nine innings featured incredible pitching and defense and scores of tense at-bats. Each team had their chances to win it, but pitching repeatedly trumped hitting, a norm for the playoffs. Even Roger Clemens had to pitch in relief, starting in the 16th inning. This was his first relief appearance since 1984! The game was a true classic and it was fun to watch the celebration after Astros Chris Burke won it with a home run in the bottom of the 18th inning. What a feeling for him!

As for the Red Sox, it simply wasn’t to be. The pitching for Boston was simply depleted and it couldn’t be any more clear that for the rest of the team, the tank was on empty. I tell you what, though, I love the guts on that White Sox team – they’re the ones I’d like to see win it all now.

As for the locals, I’m tempted to support the idea of going almost completely young next season. Youkoulis at third, Pedroia at second, Papelbon and Jon Lester in the rotation, Delcarmen setting up Timlin/Foulke. those kids are all ready. It’s going to be really nice to see what the Red Sox have done with their farm system over the next couple of seasons – always nice to rely less on ripping out checks from the checkbook for free agents.