Risotto Milanese… ala Christi

May 2, 2011

by Christi Borden

As promised, this is my version of Risotto Milanese or Milan-style. What makes it Milan-style? I believe it is the addition of Saffron and cheese but perhaps someone wiser than me can answer that question. Regardless, this is my version and I stand by it.

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots (finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, (minced)
  • 1 Cup Abrorio Rice (there is no substitute)
  • 5 Cups Chicken Stock (homemade is best but Swanson’s will do)
  • 1/2 Bottle Dry Italian White Wine (again, use a quality that you would drink. If it is not good enough to drink, it is not good enough to cook with).
  • Pinch of Saffron (expensive but worth it)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated, not the sawdust stuff in the green bottle)
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

First, Combine stock and wine in a microwave container and heat for 5 minutes. The secret to successful Risotto is adding heated liquids to the rice as you go along instead of shocking the rice with cold liquids and not fully releasing the starches that make this dish so deliciously smooth and delightful.

Second, heat oil over medium/high and saute garlic and shallots for 1 minute (careful not to burn garlic). Add dry rice and saffron, and stir for about 30 seconds to warm and to coat with oil.

Now, the magic of risotto begins: Add enough liquid to cover rice by about 1/2 inch, and constantly stir over medium heat until liquid is almost gone. Continue adding more liquid and stirring mixture until rice is al dente (gives slightly when biting but almost cooked through) and creamy. This takes about 20 minutes or so.

Helpful Hint: I stir about every minute so grab a book and the glass of chilled wine and hunker down. If you walk way and do not stir properly, you will not be happy with the results and may burn your rice. Believe me, the results are worth the effort here.

After rice has reached the perfect consistency, remove from heat and add cheese, butter and salt (check for this as the cheese, butter and stock all add salt so it may not be necessary) and fresh black pepper to taste.

There, your Risotto is done and is the perfect dish to serve as you would pasta or potatoes. I sometimes add baby bello mushrooms to this dish but it will change the color and flavor to create a delicious but less delicate side.

E squisito!

I hope you enjoy this as it has become a family favorite!


Have you lost your Parakeet in Katy, TX? We may have found it!

March 15, 2011

Found Parakeet in Cross Creek Ranch, Katy!

by Christi Borden

While my usual posts cover lost or found cats and dogs, we love all of our pets and I have an unusual post today!

A Katy resident has found a beautiful Parakeet in Cross Creek Ranch on March 13, 2011 on Brandy Creek Lane. The bird has a yellow head with yellow and black feathers and a green with bluish tint body.   If you have possible information about the owner, please call Karen Mayr 713-240-8831 or leave your comment here and I will make contact.

Thank you so much and help us get this lovely bird back home.


Katy, Texas: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

January 31, 2011

I am fortunate to live and work in the sprawling western Houston suburb known as Katy, TX, recently recognized as the top community for growth in the Nation by the Gadberry Group. Click link to read more…

There are obvious reasons for my statement and a few that are not-so-obvious:

1. Location, Location, Location: Close proximity to the Energy Corridor, a major area for our top employers. 

2. Terrific Schools: Just search www.katyisd.org to see what our school district and individual campuses have to offer to our residents and their children. (As the mother of a National Merit Finalist and a Semi-Finalist, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the administrators and their staff.) Thank you Katy ISD!

3. Cost of Living: We still have lots of available land for building and labor is fairly inexpensive so housing is affordable. However, our property taxes tend to be a high but keep in mind Texas does not have a State Income Tax so our property taxes are used to fund our great schools.

4. (Relatively) Easy Commute: Traffic, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and it depends on what you consider an easy commute. Face it, Houston loves its vehicles so the traffic will always be with us. However, with the completion of the I-10 expansion and the Westpark Tollway completion, there are several avenues for timely travel into Houston and beyond. I know some people do not want a commute and are willing to pay higher homes prices to live closer in and perhaps sacrifice a bit on the schools but our many residents feel that the trade-off is worth it.

5. Great Communities: There are so many different neighborhoods available to a home buyer in our area. I tend to call them “communities”  because some of them are larger than many small towns. In fact, Cinco Ranch is currently the number one new home selling community in entire country and has recently acquired 500 additional acres to continue its growth. Katy offers many other terrific choices such as: Grand Lakes, Firethorne, Cross Creek Ranch, Seven Meadows, Kelliwood, Grayson Lakes and more. Our developers have thoughtfully designed and completed their communities with the homeowner in mind. With careful presentation of commercial/retail, beautifully landscaped common areas, abundant resort-style amenities (golf, pools, tennis, hike/bike trails, lakes, etc.), our residents can feel secure that they have made a wise choice with regard to their families’ enjoyment and potential resale value.

6. Quality of Life: Katy offers a true, small town experience with big city features. We have great dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities for everyone of all ages. We are thrilled to be the lucky recipient of abundant medical care, including but not limited to the new Medical Center’s West Campus: Texas Children’s Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Hermann Memorial Hospital, Christus St. Catherine Hospital and the MD Anderson Radiology Center.

7. Diverse and Interesting: Our area is truly representative of the world’s population. As the destination of choice for most expatriates moving here with their energy sector jobs, you will love our multi-cultural make-up. Our kids grow up with friends from all over the world and so many international buyers (drawn here because of our schools), develop strong ties to our community. I know on my street alone we have residents representing: US, Canada, Africa, India, Russia… and this is one street.

8. Family: Katy is family centric and is a place where you can finally stop, unwind and relax with the ones you love. This is a place where people gather to enjoy everything that a true “community” can offer.  

9. Spirituality:  At one time, this area was known as the “City of Churches” and offers a place of worship for everyone, regardless of your faith.

10. Friendly Residents: I have lived all over US and abroad and can attest that I am living in one of the friendliest places on Earth. This could be one of the reasons so many people keep moving back to Katy, TX. When a family moves away, chances are … they will be back.

Why not drop by and check us out. You just might love it and never want to  leave. For more information, please visit my website www.ChristiBorden.com .

See you in Katy!


Top Restaurant Cities in US Named by Esquire… Surprised by Houston?

January 4, 2011

by Christi Borden

Houston, TX - # 7 Top Restaurant City in US

Esquire magazine has just published their list of top food cities in the United States and Houston .. Yes, Houston…came in at number 7. Does that surprise you? If you knew Houston, it shouldn’t?

As the 5th largest city in the US, Houston is probably one of the more diverse cities in our nation and offers so many different nationalities, cultures, and amazing cuisines  that it truly can compete with the finest gastronomic epicenters of the Globe. And the experts agree…

As an avid Foodie, I am particularly thrilled about this recognition. We Houstonians are used to being at or near the Top of many lists and they have not always been positive: Fattest City, Worst Traffic, Longest Commute, Least Attractive, Least Walkable City, etc. There has been such a negative bias against H-Town that it is so sweet to have positive recognition. In fact, as one of the top areas that people are chosing to relocate…Like it or not, it is getting pretty hard to ignore us any longer.  

What type of epicurean experience awaits you when you visit here? First and foremost, you will have to narrow your focus because it would take a lifetime to try them all. The ethnic make up and geographic location of this Port city are truly reflected by the choices available to the lucky diner. We have the most amazing: Steakhouses, Barbeque Joints, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, French, Soul Food, Cajun, Creole, Seafood, Middle Eastern, Russian, Latin American, Catalan, Indian … Well, you get the idea. You want it… we have it and it is divine.

I have to make a special mention about my favorite… which is Mexican – made authentic and delicious due to our close proximity to the origin of this amazing cuisine. There are so many variations that fall into the basic description of “Mexican Food”, you may need the help of a local to find the one that appeals most to you. I am personally a fan of what is commonly known as  “Tex-Mex”, which tends to be “spicier” and “cheesier” (my word and I am sticking with it) than the South of the Border variety. Pure heaven on earth…

If I am given the choice of one last meal to enjoy prior to departing this sweet earth, I can tell you it will probably be a steaming platter of Grilled Chicken Breasts smothered in a fire-hot Habanero Cheese Sauce at El Jarrito’s Mexican Restaurant in Katy, TX … along with a frozen pitcher of the best Margaritas in the City.

How about you? Any favorites you wish to share? The world is finally watching and for that, we in Houston thank you, Esquire Magazine!

FYI: The  article list goes follows and you can read the entire article here.

1. New York

2. Chicago .

3. San Francisco

4. New Orleans

5. Los Angeles

6. Las Vegas

7. Houston

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Boston

10. Seattle

I welcome you to comment your thoughts and to subscribe to TheBordenReport.


Christi Borden, Realtor receives the “Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®)” Designation

August 6, 2010

Professional negotiation skills a must for all real estate agents helping home buyers/sellers, especially in current market

Christi Borden, a Relocation and International Property Specialist with Prudential Gary Greene in Katy, TX has been awarded the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute.  The CNE® is earned by real estate professionals by successfully completing formal training in the art of negotiation and persuasion.  Agents who receive this certification are in the top 1% of all agents nationally.

With professional negotiation skills, agents are able to help clients obtain better results in the sale or purchase of their home.  CNE® agents have a powerful competitive edge because of their ability to 1) uncover more information, 2) work collaboratively with others, 3) exchange value during sales/purchase negotiations, and 4) retain control over desired outcomes.  Bottom line, CNE® agents know how to influence and persuade others more effectively than agents without professional negotiation training. 

The Real Estate Negotiation Institute, the leading negotiation training and coaching company in the real estate industry (based in Peoria, AZ) provides the CNE® certification training.  Tom Hayman, the CEO and co-founder of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, is a professional negotiator with 35+ years of experience, including 25 years with The Procter and Gamble Company, a Fortune 50 company.  Hayman asserts “Any Buyer or Seller who hires a CNE® agent can feel confident that they have the best trained agent in the business.  They will get superior results and have better resolution of any issues when hiring a CNE® agent.”

 For more information call me at 281-492-5984 or visit http://www.theRENI.com.


Home-Buyers Beware: Your Decisions Today Can Cost You Tomorrow!

July 27, 2010

by christiborden

Today is the day! You have spent hours and hours looking for and now think you have found the perfect home, right? Who cares if your Realtor has maybe mentioned a few aspects of the property that might have a negative affect on your market value when and if you sell. You love the home, the price is right and you are certain that any issues mentioned will be minimized in the future. No need to worry about that now, right?

Before you make that leap, please keep in mind that your Realtor should be an expert in the area you are purchasing and should be aware of conditions that could negatively impact your home’s value and marketability. I am not speaking of state required disclosures but simple items that historically have made a difference between identical homes selling quickly and at market value or languishing on the market and selling for far less than the competition.

Why is it that two homes can be in the same community, be of similar size and age, maybe even the same floor plan, and still differ widely as to market value and marketability?

First and foremost, the old mantra of “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION” still stands true. There are simply some location features or benefits that buyers will pay more for and conversely, there are negative features that will drive future buyers away forever. These factors can differ from area to area and what turns off a buyer in the suburbs is simply an unavoidable fact of life in urban environments and visa versa.

Adjacent communities could vary widely in average sales price depending upon the amenities they offer, actual builders constructing the homes and the developer’s reputation for upholding their resident’s market value. A Realtor’s knowledge of the community is crucial to making an informed decision.

In Katy, TX – We have communities that back to one another yet the same home by the same or similar builder will cost thousands more on one side of the fence than the other? Why is that? Strength and reputation of community can affect sales values. And guess what? If the home costs more at purchase, chances it may sell for more than the competition in the future. This is not a given but should be considered if you think saving a little money today is your only consideration.

Items to consider with regard to your lot location that can have a direct negative impact on your future market value: power lines in backyard, backing or siding to a busy roadway, backing to MUD water storage facilities, backing to commercial developement, etc.

Alternatively, favorable features that could be a positive in the future: backing to green space, golf course, lake or water, wooded areas, etc. Most builders or developers will charge a premium to purchase a lot with these positive features but you usually recoup this expense when you go to sell.

So what is a buyer to do? Just take a step back and consider carefully that it is not only the home you purchase but your surroundings as well. And it is far easier to change things you may not love about the home itself than to change things that might be an external detriment down the road.

Ask your Realtor their opinion… and happy House Hunting!


Proof that Texas is Truly the Best Place to Live!

July 23, 2010

by christiborden

As a natural-born and very Proud Texan , I could spend days going into so many reasons why Texas is currently the most popular destination for those who have had the misfortune to have been born elsewhere:). Disclaimer: I have lived and travelled abroad so I know I am taking a risk when making such a bold statement but it is my opinion and as any self-respecting Texan…I stand by it.

Just a few reasons would be our great culture, welcoming smile, wide-open spaces, varied but pleasant climate, friendly residents and more… but some would argue that those items are not necessary objective.

According to the Texas Real Estate Center located in at Texas A&M (Whoop): ” Texas is leading the United States in the current U-shaped economic recovery. The state’s economy experienced its second month of positive annual employment growth after 16 months of job losses.

“Texas’ annual employment growth rate was 0.9 percent from June 2009 to June 2010 compared with a negative rate of 0.1 percent for the nation. After 17 months of job losses, the state’s private sector posted a positive annual employment growth rate of 0.4 percent.

“The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 7.8 percent in June 2009 to 8.2 percent in June 2010, while the U.S. rate in June was 9.5 percent, the same as in June 2009.

“Six Texas industries — education and health services; mining and logging; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; manufacturing; and transportation, warehousing, utilities — and the government sector had more jobs in June 2010 than in June 2009. Five other industries experienced net job losses over the same period.

Sixteen Texas metro areas experienced positive employment growth rates from June 2009 to June 2010, up from 13 for the period from May 2009 to May 2010. College Station-Bryan ranked first in job creation followed by San Angelo, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood and Waco.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in June 2010 was 8.5 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Abilene and College Station-Bryan.”

If you would like to view more information about this great economic news, please click here.

Having been born and raised in the Panhandle and currently living in fabulous Katy, a huge suburb west of downtown Houston, I can tell you our State is as varied and amazing as one would expect from the second largest state in our union. Our people are quick with a joke and a smile, and it takes a while for non-Texan’s to get used to complete strangers waving at them as they pass.

We offer breathtaking landscapes, job opportunities, affordable housing, metropolitan/urban areas for culture and suburban areas for those seeking a slower pace.

And did I mention the food and wine? So many choices and some of the best Bar-B-Que and Mexican Food to be found in the nation… and our wine industry continues to win global recognition for quality.

With so many reasons to make Texas you home… what are you waiting for? Come on over, we are waiting for you!