Pets

There is apparently a small problem with having some time off from work around the end of July, beginning of August. I start to think about adding pets to the house. This was not a problem when we had four furry creatures, but less than that and I start to think, and look, and really want another pet. Last year I decided to “just look” at dogs and ended up, on the first visit, falling in love with Arthas. Although in my defense, how does one not fall in love with this face.IMG_20170814_122232

This year I was so busy for June and most of July that I barely had time to think about a new cat. I went through the “I’m not ready” phase, then the “Tigger isn’t ready” phase, then the “it’s not a good idea” phase, followed closely by the “I’m good with just the two boys” phase, and then hit the “oh screw it, I want another cat” phase. I can give you twelve different logical reasons why a new kitty is a bad idea (and counters to every one of them) – Arthas has issues with other animals (but he does fine once he knows the animal and it doesn’t rush him – we can train a cat), Tigger had his world turned upside down four times in the last year and he needs stability (he has always had other kitty companions and might like the company), I have a full time job plus an internship coming up (cat will still get more attention and love than she would in a shelter), and we have no idea what my job situation will be like in a year (technically this is always true, so why should this year be any different).

So … I started looking. I went to a few area shelters, scoured petfinder.com and just looked and looked for the right kitty. Bob went with me a few times to look at kitties and there were one or two that I really wanted to be the right cat, but just weren’t.  There was one cat that I wanted to want to bring home (ok, more than one, but one in particular) as she was sweet, calm, friendly and super cute (admittedly I think most cats are super cute, so take that with however much salt you need) but something kept stopping me from taking her. There were two kittens I really wanted to want, but they just weren’t right either.

I want the feeling I got when I first saw Jessie or Gracie or any of my other babies – that feeling of you belong with me and I just can’t wait to bring you home. I want to be eager for Bob to meet the kitty and fall as much in love with her as I will and I just haven’t found that yet. Add to this mix I want a cat the boys will be ok with, and maybe even like (I do have little fantasies of our own“Dear Kitten” video moments). I know it will be an adjustment period, and we have so much going on right now that it is a bad idea, but I’m going to keep looking. Heck, if I can go to multiple shelters over multiple days and not bring a kitten home, I think I can be trusted to wait for the right cat, and not just the right time. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my boys – cause the are super cute and super sweet and my babies (ok, Arthas has become Bob’s dog, but he is still my boy).

Pot Stickers

Appetizers for a meal make me happy. Appetizers that I can make at home and make a meal are even better. I was trying to find something a little different and came across this recipe for pot stickers that looked really interesting. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, so I knew there would be some manipulating of the recipe, but the basic idea sounded great.

I could not find red cabbage at the grocery when I went this week so I decided to go with the bagged mixed coleslaw as it is mostly green cabbage with a little red cabbage and carrot thrown in. Yes, I was lazy and didn’t feel like shredding or chopping lots of cabbage, so this worked. And now I have leftover for salad. Woot!

Making the filling was pretty darn easy. It didn’t take long to cook everything in a hot pan and it looked really pretty. I like pretty food. Now the making the individual dumpling – that was a pain. I managed to make about half of them before giving up – I’ll finish today so I have lunch the next couple of days – but I just could not stand there trying to fill them correctly for much longer. And I was getting hungry. IMG_20170725_171426

So my recipe:

  • wonton wrappers
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 small/medium zucchini grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 7 oz tofu, pressed and diced (I’m going to crumble this next time for easier filling)
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

I heated a little oil in a pan and added the ginger, cooked for 30 seconds then added the onion. I cooked that for about two minutes then added the carrot, zucchini and cabbage. I let that cook, stirring sometimes, for about two minutes then added the tofu, tossed it together and cooked for three minutes. Off heat, I added in the scallions, pepper, sesame oil and soy sauce and mixed it together. I let this cool for about five minutes while getting the wontons ready for filling.

I lined a plate with a damp paper towel and kept a small bowl of water near by. In each wonton, I added about 1 tablespoon of filling and ran a wet finger over the edges of the wonton before trying to close. I tried a few different ways to seal these, and found keeping the bottom just a little longer than the top and folding it over the edge worked best. This is one of the reasons I needed to mash up the tofu – I needed to shrink the height of the filling.

To cook, I heated oil in a pan and when hot, added the pot stickers, cooking over medium high heat for two minutes. Then add 1/4 cup water, cover and reduce heat to medium for two to three minutes. Take the lid off and cook for two more minutes until the water has evaporated and the bottoms of the pot stickers are crispy. Remove to paper towel lined plate while you cook the next few batches the same way.

These are a lot of work, but oh they were so good.  If they freeze well (this will be an experiment) then I have a quick dinner for those days when I just can’t get it together. If they don’t freeze well, these will become a special weekend dish. Maybe I can get Bob to do the actual filling and sealing.

 

Jonc Blanc – White Blend, 2014

  • Basic info:Jonc Blanc, “Les sens du fruit” white blend, France, 2014 (sauvignon, semillon and sauvignon gris)
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $11 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Pale yellow in color with no noticeable legs when cold. Few legs noticeable as the wine warmed up.
  • Smell: wine, maybe a little citrus. very little aroma.
  • Taste: Apple, lime, pear and a slight mineral taste part way through. Good acid, but not overpowering. Medium finish with a touch of lemon on the end.
  • Conclusions: I liked this wine a lot and found it surprisingly easy to drink. I had to be careful with this one as it didn’t taste like it had a lot of alcohol and was very smooth. I liked the citrus taste in this one – lemon and lime that were just sweet enough.
  • Other notes: We had a merlot by this same producer that was great the first day we opened it, but a few days later, I could not drink the wine as it had turned. The white lasted much longer and I’m not sure if it was the specific bottle or if whites just last a few days longer after opening. I was hoping for more stone fruit in this white, but I still loved the wine. It had character and that is hard to find at this price point.
  • From the bottle: The bottle was in French, so I have no idea what it actually said, but the description from the store, “fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and since – really unique and lovely. Very complex fruit on the palate – pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Bombina – Red Blend, NV

  • Basic info: Bombina, Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon & Sangiovese), Puglia Italy, No vintage
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $15 (local wine store)
  • Look: deep red with no noticeable legs
  • Smell: dark fruit, cherry
  • Taste: fruit. very smooth. nice acidity, but not too much.
  • Conclusions: This is a good drinking wine, but it isn’t memorable. I could not discern too many specific tastes or smells in this wine, but it was a nice wine.
  • Other notes: I almost didn’t post this wine, since I didn’t have much to say about it, but I decided this is part of the experience. I need to remember the only ok wines, and the wines I really don’t like, as well as the good ones. I also think I have a good baseline now and it may be time to start playing with smells and tastes, and take a look at what I’ve learned so far.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes. 12.5% alcohol by volume.

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Pupsicles!

It has been just over a year since we got Arthas. We thought about getting him some puppy ice-cream for his anniversary date, but when I looked at the ingredients, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. After a little thought I decided to make my own “puppy ice cream” but make them more popsicle like. The shelter had used frozen chicken broth with milk bones in them for treats, so we did a play on this concept.

IMG_20170807_111004Basic, cheap ice-cube trays from the dollar store were perfect for portioning out the treats. I found a recipe on-line and modified it just a little. Erin was super helpful and very encouraging (I am way more creative when she is around) so we just got a few ingredients and made pupsicles.

These are stupidly simple to make. Yogurt, honey, peanut butter and a banana. Mix then portion into the ice-cube tray and add a milk bone in the center as a stick/handle. They froze in about two hours, although we did keep them in the tray a little longer to solidify more. Except for the milk bone, these are all human ingredients so technically you could eat them too.

Recipe:

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • small Milk bone dog biscuits

Mash the banana with a fork in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Portion out into ice-cube trays and add the milk bone biscuit in the center for a handle. Freeze.

Arthas loved these. Small snack for him, but perfect for these really hot days.

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Spicy tofu, sweet potato and pepper

There is a joy in a simple to make, less than an hour start-to-finish delicious meal. There is something even better about such a meal that is also colorful and tasty.

I was searching for something easy to make, that didn’t require a lot of heavy pots or constant stirring and came across a really interesting recipe from Cookie and Kate. I loved the idea of this, but wanted to make sure it would be filling enough as a main dish, especially since I needed to use less pepper as Bob is not a fan of them and I only had one sweet potato on hand. So with this as my starting point, I experimented a bit and came up with quite a tasty dish. And Bob even said he did not mind the peppers. Bonus points for me.

Recipe:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 block tofu
  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • nut butter of choice – about 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • hot water to thin – about 3 tablespoons
  • oil for coating and frying
  • ground cumin
  • 2 scallions
  • cilantro leaves
  • peanuts (dry roasted, unsalted)
  • salt

Cook rice according to package directions. Should be about 1 cup water to 1/2 cup rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take of heat and let sit, covered, for about ten minutes.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut sweet potato into 1/3 – 1/2 inch half moons or cubes. Chop peppers into large chunks, about 3/4 – 1 inch pieces. Coat in oil and spread on baking sheet, keeping separate. Sprinkle all with salt, and sprinkle some cumin on the sweet potato. Roast for about 25 minutes – the potato and peppers should be soft but not burned. If your oven is anything like mine, stir half way through to prevent burning the bottoms of the potatoes before they are cooked.

Press tofu to remove as much water as possible and cut into chunks. For crispy tofu, coat in corn starch, for less crispy tofu, leave uncoated. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium high heat and add tofu. Let cook about 4 minutes before flipping. If the bottoms are not browned, let cook another 1-2 minutes. Cook second side until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.

To make the sauce, add nut butter (I used a combination of almond and peanut as I didn’t have enough of either) to a bowl. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and honey. Mix well and add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until creamy and sauce is thinning enough to pour. It should be similar to a dressing consistency, but not a vinaigrette.

Chop scallions, cilantro and peanuts.

Layer rice on a plate, then top with potatoes and pepper then tofu. Spoon dressing, about three tablespoons, over top and garnish with scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve hot.

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Domaine de la Roche Bleue – Chenin Blanc, 2015

  • Basic info: Domaine de la Roche Bleue “Jasnieres” Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France, 2015
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $19
  • Look: light straw color, some legs, but not many when chilled.
  • Smell: honeysuckle, lemon and melon
  • Taste: Lemon, salty. Crisp and clean, but with a little brine. Medium finish.
  • Conclusions: Good wine. Easy to drink and great on a hot day. Not something I will seek out again, but it was definitely a good wine.
  • Other notes:
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, ” The Roche Bleue 2015 Jasnieres shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate reveals almond, pear, stone and chalky minerals that continue in the ver long, tart, very mineral finish.” 12% alcohol by volume.

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