Monthly Archives: May 2013

Training Cats–attempt #1

20130531-175321.jpgIn October of 1987, I went to a circus in Moscow and watched well trained cats jump through hoops, perch on poles, and walk across tightropes. When we had our first kitten, Figaro, we managed to train him to fetch. Okay, so he only fetched green things–beans and scallions being his favorite– but, it was a predictable trick. We tried to teach him to keep his claws out of our sofa by squirting him with a spray of water only to learn that he liked it. He would go up to the sofa, dig his claws in deep and turn his face to accept the spray. We gave up and bought a leather sofa. Score one for us.

A few years later, a new house, and new furniture, we were back to having a cat attack the furniture. We ended up using “sticky paws”–a double sided tape–to some effect. But, it turns out as he aged, Figaro didn’t spent as much time scratching as he did as a younger cat and he didn’t cause as much damage to the new furniture. After he died, we got our two new kittens– fully grown cats now–and I did my best to not really see what they were doing to our furniture. Our chenille sofa is much worse the wear, and I am ready to get rid of it. The kids don’t see it the same way, but that is probably another blog post all together. I am really hating the shreds of fabric and bits of white stuffing that are popping out all over.

20130531-172709.jpg The new sofa comes next week, and I decided to do some pre-emptive cat training by getting some new, more interesting scratching options for them. The first picture shows Inkidu for scale. He is just yawning after having spent some time ripping at it and then sleeping. It’s a round kitty lounger/ scratcher designed to give the cat a place to lounge or scratch. I opened it less than two hours ago. The cats took right to it–so much so that they did enough damage that it’s already trashed. I was hoping for a longer, more slow destruction.

I think it’s time to try them with the squirt bottle.

Day two:

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Got Rhubarb on My Mind

20130527-085154.jpgI recently wrote a guest blog for Full Circle Farm where I included a drink using rhubarb syrup. The color of the rhubarb syrup against grapefruit juice made for a stunning visual, and the flavors mingled nicely. I still wanted to pop the rhubarb flavors up a bit so got some more to play with. Then I got lazy and started thinking about this cake I had a couple of years ago in Belleville, Pennsylvania. We were at an Amish market, complete with cattle auction, and had a hearty, down-home lunch above the barn. I ordered their rhubarb cake and was in heaven. It was a simple white cake with a layer of creamy rhubarb on the bottom. The tartness of the rhubarb offset the richness of the cream. At the time, it was a “new taste combination” and a reminder about how much I loved rhubarb.

You probably know what a food craving is like. It starts with a little niggle and builds into a frenzy if you don’t satisfy it. I have been thinking about this cake off and on for about four years now, so I figured it was time to do some googling. I found a few recipes that seemed like they would fill the craving if not match the memory. Of course, none of them were vegan. *sighs*

I pulled out my favorite author’s cupcake book,Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule, and found a basic white cake recipe. I revised it for an 11×13 pan size, added a few tweaks and came up with a passable craving stomper. It doesn’t match my memory in every way, but I don’t think anything short of going to Pennsylvania will do that.

Rhubarb Cream Cake

4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
3 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
2 cups soy or almond milk
2 tsp powder
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup almond or safflower oil
4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup “cream” (I used Silk soy creamer)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare an 11x 13 pan with a nonstick spray. Use a whisk to blend dry ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold wet and dry. In another bowl, whisk the one cup of sugar, milk, oil and vanilla together until blended. Add to dry ingredients and mix until there are no lumps. Pour batter into the pan. Layer the rhubarb over the batter. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar over the rhubarb and pour the cream in around the rhubarb. Bake for 40 minutes or until done.

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