Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Four Years of Kitty Fun: A Retrospective

April 17 is Kitty Day in our house, the anniversary of the day we brought our guys home from the Dane County Humane Society.

Our guys were brought in as a bonded pair, and they were a package deal. Matt and I had decided we wanted two adult cats, and we were delighted when we discovered they had pairs of kitty friends. We met several pairs on April 16.

The Humane Society staff were all very helpful and patient, and we came home the next day with Geronimo and Mirando.

Because Mirando is blind, the adoption counselor suggested we keep them in one room and let him get used to that for the night before introducing him slowly to the rest of the apartment. After about an hour, he had explored our bedroom and was ready to go out the door. Geronimo hid under the bed for a while, but eventually, both cats slept up on the bed with us.

We can't imagine our home without them!

Happy Fourth Kitty Day, guys!

Knitting: The sock just isn't doing it for me. I have to take some time to go through my stash and patterns and find something really perfect. Maybe I need a more summery knit to do as the weather finally gets warm. I will have to also go through the blogs I read and see what you guys are making. After seeing Rain's Simple Knitted Bodice I really want to make one! I hadn't liked the sample yarn--the photos never screamed "You must knit this pattern!" to me, but I love Rain's, and could see a light summery variation. The only problem is that I have no yarn for it. However, I do have some birthday money...any suggestions for yarn that would make this a nice summer layering piece?

Reading: I finished About A Boy by Nick Hornby, and really liked it. The film is a very good adaptation, and Hugh Grant is perfect casting in it. The ending is different, which bothers some people, but I feel both were good. Sometimes in a film, you need a different scene than the one that was written. It doesn't make the written one bad, just less suitable for film. At any rate, I've been quite enjoying Nick Hornby. I'm rereading the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, some of my favorite books ever, because he's coming out with a new one in July! The first is The Eyre Affair, if you're looking for it, and I love these. They are so much fun, and really speak to my inner English/Literature Nerd. Lilah and I are reading Book 6 of Harry Potter aloud.

Writing: A bit of mapmaking and timeline work. I tend to be lazy about such details, but I really need to give myself some of this stuff so I don't have to keep going back and skimming 120 pages to figure out what street something should be on.

Cooking: It's been like Iron Chef: Tahini Battle over here lately. Except without anyone competing against me, I guess. I made the most amazing hummus, from a recipe that my dad cut out of my parents' local paper. It was a neat article that laid out how to achieve different elements, and ended with the best hummus recipe. It's very involved and kind of a pain, but wow. It is so good. This is on par with the hummus at our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant. I couldn't find it online, so I will reprint with credit to the author and hope no one cares. I actually multiplied this by 2.5 because that uses a pound of chickpeas and is the amount that I can cram into my cuisinart, and we can really go through hummus in this house. I don't have a mortar and pestle (an oversight that must be corrected), so I forced the garlic through a press and sort of mashed it with a spoon in a bowl. Follow the instructions carefully, down to the temperature of the chickpeas when you puree--the article goes into the science behind it, but I'm too lazy to type all that out, so take my word for it :)

Classic Hummus
From The Bakersfield Californian, March 3, 2007

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 1/2 tsp baking soda, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 medium cloves garlic, mashed until smooth with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup tahini
2 TBL extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

The night before you make the hummus, place the chickpeas in a pot and cover with 4 cups cold water. Add 1 tsp of baking soda and stir gently. Cover pot and refrigerate overnight, about 12 hours.

Drain chickpeas and rinse well. Cover again with 4 cups cold water. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp baking soda. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, skimming the foam and stirring occasionally 45 minutes. Spoon out a few chickpeas and cut in half. If the center of the bean reveals a hard, white node of starch, continue cooking another 15-30 minutes. Cooked chickpeas should be uniformly yellow inside.

Drain the chickpeas, retaining cooking water. Let the beans and water cool to room temperature, then refrigerate both until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Place chickpeas in food processor. Add salt and lemon juice. Process until smooth and light in color. The puree should be thick, but not so thick it rides up on the processor blade. To thin the puree, add cooking liquid 1 TBL at a time until the puree moves freely.

Transfer the puree to a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. With a rubber spatula, force the puree through the sieve. The skins of the chickpeas will be left behind in the sieve. Discard skins.

Rinse and dry the food processor bowl and blade. Return the pureed chickpeas to the processor bowl. With the blade running, add garlic and tahini. Scrape down sides once or twice and adjust salt and lemon to taste.

When the mixture is smooth, and again with the blade running, drizzle olive oil and process very well. If mixture is too thick, add cooking liquid 1 TBL at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Serve drizzled with olive oil. Makes 3 cups.

I also made enough changes to Sesame Noodles With Broccoli from the April Cooking Light that I feel I can post my version.

Sesame Noodles With Broccoli

2 TBL tahini
2 TBL water
2 TBL rice wine vinegar
2 TBL low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 TBL dark sesame oil
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and forced through a garlic press
2 cloves garlic, forced through a press
1 TBL chili garlic sauce

8 ounces soba noodles
12 oz. broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, cut into strips
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 TBL sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk.

Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water 4 minutes (or 2 minutes less than cooking time on package). Add broccoli, carrots, and red pepper. Cook 2 minutes. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle with sauce and remaining ingredients. Toss well. Serves 4.


YarnThrower said...

Congrats on being kitty "parents" for four years! I'm sorry so see that you've moving away. Isn't that weird?! We've never met in person, but I felt like we're "neighbors". Anyway, best wishes on your move, and I'll be watching for when you return to Madison for your book signing!

Knittypants said...

Happy Kitty Day!

That's so great that your cats are a bonded pair and they came that way as adults. I would love to have a pal for my cat, but I don't think it would work out to bring in a new cat.

Rachel said...

Aw, that little photo collection is an excellent advertisement for adopting from your local animal shelter. Your guys are lucky you happened to come along that day. And you're lucky too -- what sweeties they seem!

I have suddenly lost interest in socks for the moment as well. I do think the weather has such an affect.

Rain said...

I love your boys they're such a sweet pair. Mirando never ceases to amaze me with what he gets up to.

SKB is a really simply pattern to do, but whatever you do steer clear of the yarn I used. It's shed and bobbled and looks awful. Looks like I'll have to make another...

For yarn ideas if you do a google image search it should show many versions in all different yarns.

Marie said...

Happy Kitty Day! I love your cats. :) Those photos are absolutely wonderful! I hope to find a pair of adult kitties when I finally get to have cats one day.