Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's My Birthday Too, Yeah

When we took the cat to the vet earlier this year, we discovered that his estimated date of birth was in April, 1997. So of course, for simplicity's sake if nothing else, we decided he'd share April 23rd with me.

911 is known for his vicious nature. When we first met him, at his old house over on 19th street, the many contractors working next door studiously avoided him. Neighborhood children learned the hard way that not every cat in a sunbeam wants to be petted. Brian and I sported long scratches down our arms for months on end (that's my arm he's mauling in the above photo).

At first I worried, given his Monster Cat reputation, that I'd never come to like 9. When we first moved in, he was almost feral, spending most of his days and all his nights outside in the neighboring yards. I'd sit on the back porch at sunset, and he'd sometimes come and sit next to me. If I was still and quiet, he'd even curl up beside me, his body barely touching mine.

I joked with Brian that it was like parenting a teenager: every show of affection was on 9's terms. If he deigned to sit beside me, I'd better not acknowledge him, lest he hiss and scratch and run away. He'd talk to me when he was hungry, grunting in satisfaction when I put food in his bowl. And he liked to know we were around. As he grew accustomed to our presence, he'd follow us from room to room, not going so far as to hang out with us, but seeking out our company nonetheless. The first time he sat on my lap, I didn't move for hours, for fear of breaking the spell.

He's a mischief maker, a rough-and-tumble puss, the kind of cat that prickles and scratches his way into people's affections. He bites when he's happy, not hard enough to break the skin, just enough to let you know he's there.

Since we moved in with Hope last September, he's formed an uneasy bond with the other animals in the house. They squabble and fight, and Nine chases the dog down the hall sometimes, particularly when Re Dag's been trying to sneak his food. Sometimes Nine disappears for days, and I worry that we did the wrong thing bringing him here, that our prickly solo cat's not suited for communal pet-hood.

But the front window's where truces are made. There's only so much sunbeam, and the pets will go to great lengths to pretend one another aren't there. When I came home today, there were three beasts in the window: Phoenix, Nine, and the dog.

This is unprecedented. I've seen Nine share the space with one other cat before, but never the dog. I guess our little rapscallion is growing up.

Happy birthday kitten. We're so happy you're here.

And by 'we,' I mean Brian and I. The dog ain't signing your birthday card just yet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hello, hello

So, I've been cooking a lot lately, that self-indulgent sort of cooking that's all about smells and tastes and process. Today, for example, I made a huge pot of stock with my CSA box scraps. Then I used five cups of that to make a cream of asparagus soup (with tarragon, which was yummmy).

But the yummiest, most self indulgent thing I've made recently was last Saturday. Hope went to the farmer's market, and discovered some early strawberries at Eatwell Farm's booth (they haven't made it to the weekly box yet). When she got home, I had a sudden strong sense-memory of the strawberry omelets they used to serve upstairs at Grendel's Den, back when Grendel's had an upstairs. So I set out to make one for Brian and my lunch, except that I have no patience for omelets and opted for a scramble. Here's what I came up with:


one small shallot, chopped
a handfull of spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup or so sliced strawberries
4 eggs
grated gouda cheese (a half cup? Less? I don't know)
2 tbs or so of butter
water or milk
a few sprigs of mint
salt & pepper

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and add about a cupped palm full of water or milk. Add salt if you like.

Melt one and a half tbs butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until it's fairly soft. Add the spinach, and cook until the spinach is wilty and very nearly done.

Add the strawberries and cook until they're sort of jammy (it won't take long). Add mint. Transfer the strawberry/shallot/spinach mixture to a bowl and cover it to keep it warm.

Add more butter, let it melt, and then add the eggs. Count to 30 slowly (I use the ol' "one chimpanzee, two chimpanzee" method). Push the edges of the eggs toward the center of the pan, letting the eggs fill in and cook along the edges. Give up all pretense that you're going to make an omelet and push the eggs around willy-nilly until they've almost set. Add grated gouda.

Throw in the berry mixture, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serves two.

Saturday, April 12, 2008