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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just in time for Halloween..

I didn't intend to do a special Halloween recipe post, but it just sort of happened. Last night I decided to make some sesame cookies, so I did. That's not really the blog-worthy part. I made the dough, rolled them into logs and rolled the logs in sesame seeds. Along the way I began to notice something funny. Totally without intending it, I was making cat turd cookies. Granted, the color was wrong, but the shape and texture resembled cat turds rolled in kitty litter. They did not look like that in the recipe, but I guess I made them longer and skinnier. And I have three cats, including a very constipated one, who coincidentally had to go to the vet today. And for the vet visit I needed to take along a stool sample. So at the end of the evening I had a large bag of cookies that looked like cat turds, and an actual small bag of cat turds. I wasn't too grossed out to eat the cookies, but if I make them again I am going to shape them into balls, and skip the sesame seeds.
Anyway, since I am sick and twisted and happen to know that one of you lives with a bunch of evil cats and is having a halloween party, I decided to share the experience. So, if you should decide to make cat turd cookies for a Halloween party, take the above recipe, skip the anise and add a spoonful or two of cocoa, roll the cookies in sesame seeds, and bake. Serve the cookies on a plate covered with sesame seeds for the ultimate in gross looking party food.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beet Craving

When I was a kid, my mom used to keep canned beets in the cupboard. Ever so often, usually at night, she would announce that she had a beet craving and open a can and chow down. I have no clue why she'd get beet cravings - perhaps a mineral deficiency? I can't say I get cravings for canned beets, but I do take after my mom and like beets.
There are several simple and foolproof ways that I prepare them.

Easy pickled beets
Peel beets and slice in half. Set them flat side down on the cutting board and cut them into very thin slices. Add balsamic vinegar and stir so that all the beets are coated. Store in fridge at least a day. Stir once or twice if you remember. The beets will tenderize up a bit. They are tasty by themselves or on top of a salad. Drizzle some of the beet flavored vinegar over the salad for added tastiness

Roasted beets
I never made these until last night. They're actually very easy. Wash beets well and trim off all but an inch or so of the greens. Place beets on a piece of foil and seal it up into a packet. Stick it on a cookie sheet and roast them in a 400F oven until they are tender - maybe an hour or so, depending on the size of the beet. Allow to cool and then remove skins (you may want to use a paper towel to do this so you don't stain you fingers.) Eat them as is, use them in salads or serve with flavorings of your choice.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon, and Garlic

I originally wasn't going to blog about this recipe, since it's pretty simple and straight out of the Foodie, Formerly Fat cooking blog. It's one of those alchemical recipes in which the final dish is a lot greater than the sum of its parts. Garlic and cherry tomatoes are sauteed, and then broth, lemon juice, and basil are added. The sauce is then mixed with linguine. It was originally from a diet cookbook, but trust me - I will never make it when I am seriously dieting, because I can't stop eating it. There's something about the lemon that really makes it taste great. Anyway, without further ado, here's the recipe. I upped the amount of tomatoes and basil and decreased the amount of pasta relative to the amounts given here. If I am unable to resist its charms while I am on a diet, I will cook precisely one serving of pasta and mix it with the entire amount of the sauce, or have lots of dinner guests so that there are no leftovers.
Without further ado, here's the recipe. There are some nice pictures on the link if you are so inclined.

Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon, and Garlic
1 lb of linguine
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
Juice of one lemon
1 lb cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), halved
3/4 cup fresh basil


Turn on the heat under a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a frying pan heat the oil, the garlic (crushed and minced), and the tomatoes. Saute gently over medium heat. When the pasta is just about halfway cooked, squeeze the lemon juice into the frying pan, add in the broth, and then toss in the basil. Stir to combine.
Under-cook the pasta just a tiny bit and toss it into the frying pan and allow it to soak up the liquid in the pan.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Parking Pass Ponderings: Getting in Touch with my Inner Slug

I finally got a permit to park close to the chem department. This is a huge deal. Parking is tightly enforced and many spots are off limits even on nights and weekends. Due to construction they were only letting faculty purchase the better parking permits. As a result I was parking in the free lot, which was about 3/4 mile away. I liked the walk, which is quite pretty but hated the inconvenience, both not having my car close by and also having my overall commute time be about an hour per day (more in winter). The unexpected outcome was that it wrecked havoc with my exercise schedule and I gained weight. Why? I'm still not entirely sure. As far as I can tell it's a lot of little things. The gym was on my way to the parking lot, so that should've been good. The 1 1/2 mile walk every day certainly did help mitigate the fact that I wasn't working out, but it had the side effect of making me very hungry, more so than could be attributed to the walk itself. To go to the gym it became a question of lugging my gym bag, backpack, and lunch bag to and fro, and what to do with my wallet and computer when I was at the gym, and by 7 pm I'm usually cranky and hungry and want to go home. The preferred option was to go around 6:30, right before I turned into an evil hungry slug, and then come back to lab, finish stuff up, and then go home. However, making a separate trip, then coming back to lab, then going home, meant that I was walking almost 2 1/2 miles not even including my workout. Regardless of whether I worked out or not, I was crazy hungry by the time I got home, and usually long before then. Although I knew that these things were playing a role, most of the time I assumed that it was my work schedule or general laziness and old age that were making me not want to go to the gym.
The construction was finished and they started letting people on the wait list buy passes. I did not hesitate and got mine immediately. As if by magic, all of a sudden I started going to the gym again. I don't get crazy hungry late in the day, either, although it's only been a few days so it may be coincidental.
If I had been able to buy a permit when I first got here, I'm sure I wouldn't even be questioning my motives, but the irony of buying an expensive parking pass and replacing my daily walk with a somewhat more intense workout 3 or 4 times a week doesn't escape me. But whatever - honey badger don't care.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2 +1

When I was thinking about getting another cat, I read that it was a bad idea to have odd numbers of cats, since they pair up and one ends up as the odd cat out. I fully expected this to happen with Rugrat and Lucy, but didn't think that Luna would mind being the odd cat out, since it would mean that Rugrat would pester her less.
However, this hasn't really happened. The cats spend most of their time divided into a group of 2 and a loner cat, but the composition of the groups is really fluxional. In general it's about equally divided between Lucy and Luna or Lucy and Rugrat, with a smaller portion of time spent as a group of three or with Lucy off on her own.

Reflections on Fall, part 1

We've had a mild fall so far. It's been warm - in the 60's and 70's during the day and in the 50's at night. Yesterday it was in the low 40's and rainy, but we still haven't gotten the first frost. Luna and Rugrat are still California cats at heart and refuse to go outside when the weather starts to resemble a California winter day. Lucy, aka Ithacat, does not have this problem.
My yard is full of creatures, both little and big. There is an abundance of squirrels, chipmunks, mice and voles. Lucy caught 3 last weekend. I don't know if she caught anything this weekend, since I've been keeping the door closed. Yesterday I saw a large fox in my back yard, perhaps attracted by all the small critters. It looked at me and then took off into the woods. There are larger animals too. The geese are back, and the turkeys come through every morning. Last weekend there was a deer out back, and I'm waiting for the semi-annual bear announcement from my neighbors.
There is a odd symmetry to the colors outside, In spring, white snow gives way to yellows - daffodils, forsythia, etc. Then come the purples and reds - lilacs, peonies, and roses, as well as green everywhere. As summer shifts into fall, the yellows and whites make an appearance again in ragweed, wild asters, and falling leaves, until it all fades into the grey-white of late fall.

Ithaca Apple Festival

Ithacans are fond of their festivals. In general, there is a theme, but it's also an excuse for food, shopping and people watching.
This weekend is the apple festival. This is the first festival that I've attended twice - I guess I am well on my way towards being an old timer (as well as an old biddy).
Anyway, the apple festival features apples + tasty calorie-enhanced apple products, wine and cider, and a large number of non-apple food vendors. There are also arts + crafts + gifty stuff for sale, and a few carnival rides for kids.
I went with some of the grad students last year. It was a picture-perfect fall day - clear and crisp and not too cold. I bought a peck of apples and some cider, and had to haul it all up the hill.
This year I went with cowdude. Unfortunately, the weather was not so cooperative this time around - 40F with wind and rain. Did I mention that it's been in the 60's or 70's for the last few weeks? Needless to say, no one is acclimated to the cold yet. We walked around and checked it out, and I bought apples. Despite the cold, it was still very crowded, and the lines at the really popular food vendors (hello, pumpkin funnel cake, where have you been all my life?!?!) were way too long. It was dinner time anyway, so we opted to go eat at a Mexican restaurant across the street and get out of the cold.
It's slightly warmer today. I may have to go back and get that pumpkin funnel cake, after all.