Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Muh-Muh... Ode to My Cat

On the Friday before Christmas, sometime shortly after I left for the office, Mattie the cat met her demise.

Being hit by a car was a surprising and violent end for this skittish, needy and endlessly person-oriented animal. She fled in fear from any footstep (It's not about you Mattie...). She drooled on me almost daily. She used her jaw as a front-end loader to scrape up heaps of cat food, and inevitably barfed it up later, barely chewed. She meowed at me, constantly. I had to periodically stop talking back to  her, when the meowing really got out of hand. (Hreh, hreeowww)

She was fat. Small head, very round body. She got thin (well, thinner) in the summer after we moved to the new house, because she got more running and hunting in. But in preparation for winter, she had packed the weight back on. I referred to her as my keishke.

Mattie was equal parts endearing and annoying. If nothing else, she had a strong dose of personality. And she loooooooooved us. (reference the drooling). It was impossible to sit down without her jumping in your lap. Every pair of slacks I own has the rents and snags to prove it. Every night, she draped her chubby little self over my shoulder or my hip, and purred and drooled her way through the night. In spite of myself, I loved her back, as much as she loved me.

We invented all kinds of amusing adventures and stories. We have a special voice for her. (Um, so anyways... everything ends in questions?...) In our imaginary world, Mattie started a ladies' gym called Narrow Miss. The first location was in Burnips. She went on to run a temp agency, and to take contract work as a receptionist and business identity specialist. She was superb at coming up with funny names for companies. (Omer Goodness, Mattie speaking)

Mattie understood the give and take of relationship. She loved us no matter what. She let us know when she was unhappy (pretty sure she's behind the poop-storm we came home to after our vacation), but in the end, it never changed the look on her face when I stopped to meow back at her.

She's in the ground now, under a favorite tree. I'll plant some catmint there in the spring, when I remove the pine boughs we used to cover the bare earth.

Her companions miss her. Pips, cat roommate of almost 11 years. Gribby, her first idol. Kevin, her nemesis and object of fascinated affection. Me, her cat-mom and favorite lap.

Update, 12/31, my birthday... found a few more photos of the dince-rat (pron. dynse - rate, inspired by the fact that she was small and somewhat mattie-rattie).

Monday, December 5, 2011

The humble sweet potato

Meatless Monday Gnocchi

Another tasty vegetarian meal to celebrate meatless Monday.

For the gnocchi:
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 1 russet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. parmesan or similar cheese, grated
  • salt
  • nutmeg
  • cayenne
  • all-purpose flour
  1. Roast the potatoes and cool until they can be handled. Remove the skins and press through a ricer. (I use the one that came with my Grandma's Kitchen-Aid. Old-schooler, but it works.) Mix the potatoes together and form a well in the center.
  2. Beat egg with cheese and spices. Add to potato mixture (pour into the well) and gently fold together using a rubber spatula. 
  3. Generously flour a work surface, and your hands, and working with a handful of dough at a time, roll it into a rope and cut into bite-sized pieces. 
  4. Roll with a fork to score.
  5. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat and freeze. 
Once they are frozen, portion onto quart zip-lock bags. They store nicely for several months.

To prepare, boil 3 quarts of salted water in a large pot. Add the frozen gnocchi to the boiling water, and leave heat on high, uncovered. Gently stir occasionally. The gnocchi will rise to the surface as they cook. When all are on the surface, boil gently for a little longer (a minute or two at most). Drain.

For Meatless Monday Gnocchi:

  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi
  • 1 lb. arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pecans
  • salt
  • pepper
Prepare gnocchi as above.
  1. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch saute pan over medium-low heat. Saute garlic until it turns the color of straw, and sticks together. Add pecans, and saute lightly for a few minutes, until aromatic.
  2. Add the arugula in layers, salting each layer as you add.
  3. Stir together until arugula is tender (only a couple minutes).
  4. Drain as needed (sometimes will be quite watery, depending on the arugula, and may need to be pressed to remove excess liquid).
  5. Push arugula to the side, and add the cooked gnocchi over medium-high heat (augment oil if needed), stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with grated cheese or a balsamic vinaigrette.