Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cat Friends: Now Starrring David and Rocco!

Today’s Cat Friends is a guest post from my awesome Twitter friend, Madonna Monster! :) Let’s meet David and Rocco!

Shortly after my Yoda passed (http://madonna816.blogspot.com/2011/07/painful-journey.html), I found myself in my local PetSmart, looking for a gift for a friend’s pup. I couldn’t help but peek in on the kitties up for adoption. What a saw through the plexiglas instantly had me in tears. A tiny black kitten, all curled up. After a couple of minutes, he raised his head & I saw the white spot on his chest, just like my Yoda. I crumbled and all I could think of was holding that kitten. They were having open adoption hours later in the day so I called up my partner (who is now my wife) & asked her to meet me, because I knew I’d be a mess. Mind you, I was NOT ready to adopt. I was still grieving for my Yoda & crying several times a day. In my heart, I was looking for some kind of comfort from that kitten. Michelle, my wife, had other ideas.

So there we were. I was sitting on the floor, inside the cat room, holding that kitten & sobbing. I don’t remember much, beyond feeling pain. Then, Michelle piped up & said she wanted to take the kitten I was holding, along with the other tuxedo kitten that had been making a racket & zooming around the place. This seemed unacceptable to me. I felt like I was betraying Yoda. I was crying & pleading my case, but even the lady from the shelter was now trying to convince me, saying Yoda would want me to rescue them.

Baby Rocco and David

It’s now 4.5 years later &, as I type, the crazy, mouthy kitten, now a crazy, mouthy cat named David, is perched on my leg. The kitten I drenched with tears, now named Rocco, is curled up in his bed, just a few feet from me. At the time, the adoption definitely made my grieving process harder (I still find myself crying for my Yodie Bird), but I also can’t imagine life without David & Rocco.

BTW, when we adopted them, their names were Dave & Otto. Being a huge Madonna fan, their names were quickly changed to the names of Madonna’s sons.

Christmas 2011

Rocco, for the most part, is an angel. He sleeps about 22.5 hours a day (at least it seems that way). We make a huge deal of it when he walks into the room & we start cheering “Rocco’s awake! YAY!” He LOVES the home grown catnip that my best friend, Jay, sends us once or twice a year, along with the laser pointer, his chirping bird, and the strings on our hoodies. When we adopted him, he was the smaller of the 2, but he now dwarfs David. He tolerates being picked up & can’t wait to get down. However, he does love affection. We call him the stealth hugger, because he likes to sneak up on you, give you a head-butt & run away. He wants to be chased into the bathroom, where he flops on HIS mat (aka the bath mat) & rolls around, letting you pet, scratch & smooch him. Over the last year, he’s also started finding his voice, as small and high pitched as it is. It’s funny & heartwarming, all at once. He’s so big, thumps when he walks, is a loud jumper (like he’s going to crash through the floor), yet has the softest meow. He sounds like he’s straining to even make a noise. It tugs so hard on my heart.

Rocco, when awake, also runs to the door to greet me. The dog doesn’t even do that. The myth that cats are aloof is just that. Cat lovers know the truth. They are regal & want to be treated well, but they deserve it! They are also loving & sweet. 

Gorgeous Rocco

As for David, he is the exact opposite. I hardly know where to begin. He is definitely the boss (except for when Rocco has had enough of being pestered & kicks his butt. Thankfully it’s not daily & there has never been any blood *knock wood*). David is my shadow. My mouthy, bossy shadow. If I’m sitting, he’s either on me, or next to me. If I leave the room, he follows. He even yells at me the entire time I’m taking a shower.

David’s favorite toy is a polar fleece ‘string’ on the end of a plastic stick. He will drag it from room to room, demanding that we play with him. First we hear the plastic being dragged across the floor &, before we can say “oh crap,” the guttural meowing begins, with the toy still in his mouth. If you ignore him, it gets dropped in your lap & he’ll start pawing at your face.

Mouthy David

But the biggest frustration is the kitchen counter. I love to cook. Having 2 cats & a dog, it’s nearly impossible to avoid pet hair, but the idea of offering food that could be tainted is something that gives me anxiety every time I step foot into the kitchen. The cats are allowed everywhere, as they should be, except the kitchen counter. Rocco, God Bless Him, has figured it out. David, on the other hand, not so much. Daily, we do battle with the squirt bottle. The problem appears to be, not only does he feel entitled, he actually likes to be squirted. He’ll run away, but immediately return, & if he thinks I haven’t noticed his paws on the counter quickly enough, he yells at me, often with his tongue sticking out. I have never known a cat to stick their tongue out at you, while screaming at you, until David. We often call him The Punk, but he’s the cutest punk in the world!

Beyond our kitchen counter battle, I’m putty in his paws and he knows it. If I nap, he’s right there with me. If I bend over, he jumps on my back. The other day, while getting ready to go out, he made himself quite comfortable on my back. Being a “crazy cat lady,” I never want to disturb him, but it was starting to hurt (and I needed to leave) so I decided to start walking to see if he’d get down on his own. I need to mention that I have a bad hip & a pretty pronounced limp. Being bent over, the limp was even more pronounced so I thought for sure he’d jump down. The little bugger stayed on my back through three room & only jumped down when Michelle started to film us, because he didn’t like the bright light from the phone. http://youtu.be/yb67GjbnZ7A

Family!

I adore these two…so much so, it was painful to whittle down the amount of photos to submit. They bring us so much joy, we can’t imagine life without them. They are warm, safe, well fed, comfortable & endlessly loved so I can only imagine that they wouldn’t want life to be any other way, either.

omg!

The sad reality is that black cats are the hardest to adopt out. I don’t just know this as a statistic. I am a volunteer at a shelter in NH, that often has special, lower adoption fees for black/tuxedo cats (and dogs), because there still exists a stigma around them, in much the same way that there is a stigma around certain breeds of dog. I have personally shared my life with three tuxedos, spent time with black cats that lived with family members, and cared for them in the shelter. If anything, they have a tendency to be sweeter than any other type of cat. The stigma is silly & stems from mythology & superstitions. If you ever get the chance to adopt, and I hope that you do, because we’re overrun (spay & neuter, too…PLEASE), by all means adopt from your heart, but please don’t pass up black cats out of fear. Seriously, look at these faces!

Cutie David

Precious Rocco

Let’s Eat! Spicy Split Pea Soup

The other night I decided I needed to use up the last of some split peas I’d had around for a while. I ad-libbed a spicy soup recipe and was super happy with the outcome. I like when I just throw stuff together and it turns out great! I had a good feeling about this one so I actually wrote down what I did so I could make it again- and share the recipe!

I had some onion leftover from another recipe, a near-the-compost-bin-bound carrot, some beautiful bok choy from a friend and a bit of soyrizo leftover so this is what I came up with:

Spicy Split Pea Soup- 3-4 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil

half large onion- chopped

2 cloves garlic- minced

1 large carrot peeled and rough chopped- smallish

2 small bunches bok choy- rough chopped- smallish

pinch of black pepper

dash of celery salt

3 cups veg broth (I made mine using Better Than Bouillon)

1 cup split peas soaked overnight- then drained and rinsed

1/4 tsp marjoram

bay leaf

half package soyrizo

In a three quart pot sautee the onion in oil for a few minutes till softened. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring often.  Add the carrot and cook a few more minutes. Add the bok choy and cook another minute. Add a pinch of pepper and a dash of celery salt (I love celery salt and try to find ways to use it, but if you don’t have it, I’m sure regular salt would be fine. Or you could even use Mrs. Dash or something like that if you are watching sodium).

veggies cooking

Now add the broth and peas and stir. Add the marjoram, bay leaf and soyrizo and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 1-2 hours or till peas are tender (depending on how old the peas are or how long you soaked them- just keep an eye on them). Test for seasoning and voila! (be sure to find the bay leaf and remove it before serving) I ate mine with some crusty french bread, but I also think it would be great with a quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich or cornbread!

ssspppiiicccyyyyy

Vegan’s Daily Companion: Lemon Berry Muffins

This was week three of Vegan’s Daily Companion. And I finally made the week’s recipe! But before we get to that let me tell you a little about some of the other topics from this week.

On Monday I learned about walnuts and how they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that are so important.  Tuesday was my favorite entry for the week. The topic was titled, Answering the Same Questions Again and Again. The passage that hit me the most was, “Whether we like it or not, if we’re the vegan someone comes to, we represent all vegans.” When someone asks us questions like, “Where do you get your protein?”, it is important that we don’t just roll our eyes out of annoyance, but sincerely answer the question with patience and compassion. They may never have talked to a vegan before and genuinely don’t get it. Or they may be trying to mess with you, but even so, take the high road!

Now let’s fast forward to the weekend section- food! Saturdays and Sundays are combined into one section in Colleen’s book and there is always a recipe. I HAD to make this week’s- Blueberry-Lemon Muffins! I wished I had read ahead because my mom gave me a beautiful pint of fresh blueberries, but I ate them up before I realized I could use them in the recipe for the week! So I improvised with frozen mixed berries. And they were still amazing!

I had some lovely home-grown lemons from a friend’s yard. And I think the thing I was most excited about was the fact that the recipe called for lemon extract. I’ve had an unopened bottle of organic lemon extract that I got on clearance quite a while back that I haven’t had a use for. I think I actually squealed out loud when I realized I could use it!

So the muffins turned out fluffy and perfectly cake-like. Just the way I like them. They were also nice and lemony!! (I should hope so with the zest of two lemons and a teaspoon of lemon extract!) I inhaled enjoyed them slathered with Earth Balance buttery spread and a nice cup of kukicha tea, hot out of the oven!

look at that berry goodness!

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I got a laptop this weekend and was soooo excited to sit at my kitchen table and blog whilst the muffins were baking! I’ve never had a laptop before and is it ever a treat! :)

Vegan’s Daily Companion- Lessons and Gifts

Every day in 2012 I’m reading a passage from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Vegan’s Daily Companion (VDC). I wrote about the book last week.

This week in VDC I learned about dates (the fruit). I LOVE them already, I’ve been a huge fan for years but now I want to get my hands on some date sugar and bake something! There was also a recipe for Pine Nut-Anise Cookies. Yum! The recipe calls for a cup of pine nuts and almost a cup of maple syrup, so it’s not a cheap recipe! I’d like to make it at some point, but I’ll have to get the supplies and plan for it.

My favorite passage for the week was Wednesday’s entry on Optimum Health, “Receiving Lessons and Gifts”. Colleen talks about how every experience in life is either a lesson or a blessing. It is hard to think of things in this way when you are going through a really tough time. Recently, I lost my bestie kitty, Bas, and I’m still trying to see the ‘lesson or blessing’ in this experience. I know that I’m learning to cope with loss and that’s a lesson of sorts. I can look back at my 5+ years of memories with Bas and those years were a blessing. But it is still hard. I’m still grieving.

Another point in this passage is how we never know the impact that our lives or actions will have on others. This made me stop and think. Gosh, I really hope that my actions would be a blessing to someone else. A kind word, a funny joke, a smile when they need it. I don’t want to be a lesson to someone else- eek. I mean, I’d hate for my actions to make someone think- eww, I never want to act like that! HA! I’m kind of joking but not really. :) I want to focus on being a positive blessing in the world.

After two weeks of reading a bit in this book daily, I definitely recommend it to vegans or those open to learning about veganism. I’m looking forward to the coming week. I took a tiny peek and it looks like some great stuff! ;)

My nephew Jake feeding a rescued goat. What a blessing he is to me!

Happy Hour: Cocktail Infusions

I was planning to write this post about detox smoothies filled with yummy “super foods” because that’s what one does in January, no? But then I decided that
A: Everyone knows how to make a smoothie, and
B: Cocktails are WAY less boring than smoothies. (not that smoothies are boring, but cocktails are fun!)

In my Christmas stocking I got something very interesting: A box of Tea Forte Cocktail Infusions. They look like fancy tea bags and I had never seen anything like this before. The box says, “These revolutionary pyramids infuse directly in spirits.”

The  infusions flavors are Lemongrass Mint, Lavender Citrus, and Silkroad Chai. There is a little  booklet with recipes for cocktails and mocktails, too!

So you just put the ‘tea’ bag in a glass and pour alcohol over it and steep for three minutes. Just like tea! But you can add different ingredients to make all kinds of cocktails. The recipes for the Lavender Citrus infuser include: Cosmo de Provence, Lavender Pear Martini, and Lavender Lime Rickey. The Chai recipes include: Peach Chai Crush, Chai White Russian (sounded amazing!), and Bombay Chai Rum & Tonic. The Lemongrass infuser recipes are: Bali Breeze, Lemongrass Gin & Tonic, and Wild Mint Mojito.

The mocktails include Lavender Fizz- Lavender infuser with lemon/lime soda; Virgin Sunrise- Lavender infuser with orange juice and seltzer; and Chai Cooler- Chai infuser with ginger ale! They all sound so refreshing!

cute little infuser bag filled with chai goodness

I decided to make the Chai White Russian because I had the ingredients on hand and I love chai AND white Russians! The recipes says to infuse the chai bag with 1 1/2 ounces of vodka (I used vanilla vodka), then add 1 ounce simple syrup and 2 ounces of light cream ( I used soymilk) over ice.

Santa Claus- where did you find these??? A quick internet search revealed they are available at specialty stores and fancy department stores and also online through their own website, amazon, etc.

infuser steeping in vanilla vodka

I steeped 1 1/2 ounces of vodka with the infuser, but I only used 3/4 ounce in my cocktail (saving the rest for another drink). I ended up steeping it for about 10 minutes because I wanted to get as much flavor our of the infuser as possible and it seemed like it needed much longer than three minutes. I made a quick simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, heat in a small sauce pan till sugar dissolves). Then mixed according to the instructions.

the final product- perfectly spiced

WOW! The Chai White Russian was easy and fun and super tasty. I loved using the pretty little bag, too. It was definitely a ‘craft’ cocktail as it almost took me longer to make it than to drink it, but that was mostly due to the fact that I needed to make the syrup. I definitely plan to enjoy an infused cocktail again! I’ll be sure to let you know what I make next.

Cheers!