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My other favorite childhood book, part 1

Sammy, the Crow Who Remembered may be my favorite book, but I must admit that there is a close second…

You may have caught the headlines about a recent study which claims that one’s personality is pretty much set by age 7.  I can attest that this is true.  After all, though I started this book in my fifth year, I was six — er, seven when I finished it (did Michelangelo paint all roads leading to a bear in the woods in one day?  No, he did not), so you can assume that anything I am about to share with you is still true today.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.  As the book says, first of all there is one thing you should know: I am a feminist.

Sometimes I wear a big false nose.

Occasionally I have bad hair days.

I often find it difficult to choose just one favorite.

Oh my gosh, how did I know that those are my favorite colors??

As is to be expected, this book is too important to share just a few pages.  Come back Thursday night to get a little more personal, including my career aspirations, an amazing look into the workings of my mind, and the saddest page of the entire book, which is strikingly prescient.

My favorite childhood book

I was reminded of this book by a recent post at Childfree Chic:

My parents got a bunch of children’s books that had been purged from the local library system, and this was one.  Apparently it wasn’t very popular — it appears to have been checked out just once.

However, out of all the beautiful, colorfully illustrated books I grew up with, this black and white book from 1969 became my favorite.

It was about a crow that had made friends with a woman who lived at the beach, as well as with her cat, her grandchildren, and a seagull.  In the story, Sammy plays with the children every day until he meets a lady crow and flies away with her and some others.

Ultimately, Sammy misses his people too much and leaves the other crows, returning to his friends at the beach.

I’ve always loved crows because of this book — they’re all Sammy to me.

What was your favorite book as a child?  How did it influence you?

Guess who’s back

Here comes trouble…

I bailed out Her Biteness today.  On the way home she tried to get me to stop at an elementary school and let her ‘play’ with some children.  When I refused, she tried to convince me that it would be fun to knock over a Petsmart.  I told her she would have to find a more appropriate outlet for the things she learned from the other inmates in kitty jail.

She harassed her toys for a while and then curled up in her favorite chair to rest.

At least I think that’s what she’s doing…

“Leave me alone, human.  I need silence while I plot my next deed.”

She may be a criminal, but she’s our little criminal, and we’re glad to have her back.

Too tired Tuesday

I think I wore myself out with that last post.  Hopefully I’ll recover in time for Thursday’s.

True story: that donkey bit me.  I had a half-dollar sized hickey on my forearm for a week.  Never trust a jackass.

Someone reads me!

Look at what Ms. Childfree Chic has passed on to me:

Check her out for a taste of true Southern style and your weekly martini fix!

This meme requires me to tell you seven things about myself that you may not know.  Try these on for size:

1. I’m a dedicated Dr. Pepper fiend and have been as long as I can remember.  Luckily for me, Texas is the home of Dublin Dr. Pepper, so our grocery store sells Dr. Pepper made with Imperial Sugar year-round.  It usually comes in cute little glass bottles, but right now it is also available in cans for Dr. Pepper’s 125th anniversary.

2. I considered a career as a herpetologist.  I had a pet garter snake as a kid, and later a pet corn snake.  The former ate goldfish and the latter ate baby mice (‘pinkies’).  My dad would pick up the pinkies for me at the pet store on his way home from work, and I would put them in the cage and run away so I couldn’t hear them squeal.  When I was away at college with my snake, I found a supplier of frozen pinkies.  I liked this a lot better and the snake didn’t care once they were thawed.  She once escaped in my dorm room and I had to go to Campus Security to get her back (she briefly escaped from them as well).  I didn’t get in trouble because they were so amused.  Eventually I housed her with a boyfriend and she escaped for good.

3. I played the cello from 3rd grade through high school.  I have a beautiful Rudoulf Doetsch but I don’t read music very well anymore.  Mark had my bow rehaired for me and I would like to take private lessons.

4. I may be an engineer, but I have a big creative streak.  I loved drawing and creating shoebox dioramas when I was younger, and now I especially enjoy creating mosaics.  I still like to make silly dioramas.  Unfortunately I don’t have a place to make anything in our current home, so this blog is my main creative outlet for the time being.

5. I started rowing as a freshman in high school and loved it.  Rowing paid for part of my college education, gave me a permanent connection to a lot of great people, and provided inspiration with every sunrise on the Schuylkill River.  I haven’t been in a boat in a really long time but I dream of having my own single scull and a quiet lake where I can stroke through the morning mist and watch the sun rise again.

6. I nap almost every day, even weekends.  The only days I don’t get to nap are the days when I go directly from work to spinning class.  I can nap in the heat or in bright light and sometimes with the television on, but I can’t nap very well in a car or an airplane.  I have to be careful about napping on the couch, though, because for me that can trigger sleep paralysis.  Even when I’m not having sleep paralysis, I have dreams that make Inception look like a documentary.

7. I married a pirate!  We were married in the Cayman Islands during Pirate Week.  Jes bought some props and we hammed it up.  The resulting shots are some of my favorites.

So now I’m supposed to pressure someone else into doing this meme.  I’m nominating Julia over at WafflerToaster.  Visit her for some delicious recipes and a taste of life in Berkeley!

Muffin pan mini-frittatas

I recently came across this recipe and decided to give it a shot with what I had on hand.  My first attempt was much less fancy, but it tasted spectacular.  The two things I like best about this concept are 1) how easily you can customize it to your tastes or a guest’s tastes, and 2) how little you need in the way of ingredients.  If you wanted to get really gourmet, you would need hardly any of each ingredient that you used — this is a great way to get rid of the little bits of this and that in your fridge.  This is all I used to make four frittatas for Mark and me to share:

As you can see, I used silicone muffin cups instead of a muffin pan, because I wanted to make sure everything fit.  I think it would have been a challenge in a standard muffin pan.  For each frittata I used one piece of thick-cut hickory bacon, one egg, one half of a thick slice of cheese (chopped), and one half of a sausage patty (also chopped).  (Confession: those aren’t real sausage patties, they’re Morningstar Farms breakfast patties.  They are so awesome that they can be forgiven for not being real meat.)

I curled the bacon around the inside of the cups and filled in with my cheese and sausage pieces:

I beat the eggs individually and poured one over each cup of ingredients, then baked the cups at 350F for 30 minutes.  If you end up with a little egg white at the top, the whites will look shiny and you may think they’re not done, but if you see the surrounding ingredients start to brown up, take them out.

They puff up beautifully as they bake.  Just give them a minute to rest and gently loosen the bacon from the sides with a fork, then pop them onto a plate.  You may lose a little bit of fat from the bacon if you don’t spray the cups, but it won’t be much.

These little protein bombs were a lot more filling than they looked.  After two I don’t think I could have eaten anything else (except dessert — I always have room for dessert).  Try it your way!

Kitty jail and chocolate cake

Sweet Pea is already a criminal.  Mark said he would be proud if it weren’t for that girl that she mauled.

Wait, let me back up.  We took her to our vet yesterday for a wellness checkup, spay confirmation, and rabies vaccine.  I picked the absolute worst appointment time, as we happened to be there when Angry Cat’s cousin was in an exam room, and another client was leaving with a fairly unhappy cat.  So even though Sweet Pea should have been primed for the Worst Vet Visit Ever, she was pretty compliant when it was her turn.  She got some blood drawn and received an x-ray of her hips because she limps slightly (turns out she is missing the ball and socket connection in her right hip and the associated femur is shortened!  Could be from surgery or a birth abnormality).

Before administering the rabies and distemper vaccines, the vet attempted to shave a small spot on Sweet Pea’s belly so she could find the spay scar to be sure.  Unfortunately the clippers turned our sweet little kitty into a tornado of teeth, and the vet tech was on the business end.  Since the rabies vaccine was still in the syringe and we have no prior vaccination paperwork for the cat, the vet is legally required to hold her for ten days for observation. *facepalm*

We left the vet’s office somewhat in shock, without our shiny new cat.  So I did the only thing I could under the circumstances — I baked a cake.

This is adapted from Warren Brown’s chocolate pound cake from his CakeLove book.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (as always, I used Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa)
  • 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (just a hint of coffee flavor can ruin a dessert for me; you will not taste coffee in this cake)

Liquid ingredients:

  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 3/4 cup + 4 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Creaming ingredients:

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the middle.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the liquid ingredients in another.  In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs (individually, fully incorporating each one) and the cream at low speed.

Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately in 3-5 additions each.  Work quickly and don’t wait for everything to be fully mixed between additions.  Stop the mixer and make sure everything on the sides and in the bottom is churned up, then mix at medium speed for about 20 seconds so the batter becomes uniform.

Pour into a greased 12-cup Bundt pan, level with a spatula, and bake for 50-60 minutes until the center no longer jiggles and a toothpick or skewer comes out cleanish.  (When the cake cools, it will have the typical poundcake crust on the outside, and the inside will be super-dense and moist.)

What’s a cake without frosting?  So I made some cream cheese frosting and served it on the side.  (I actually bought the cream cheese and mascarpone when we went to Whole Foods a few days ago for chorizo and had to occupy ourselves while they made a batch for us.  Nice strategy, Whole Foods — we bought a LOT more than chorizo!)  This recipe comes from Joy of Baking:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Combine the cheeses until smooth.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, mix until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  Gently add the whipped cream to the cheese blend in several additions, then refrigerate for an hour or two if it needs to set up.

The verdict?  Overwhelming approval.  Duh.  This should last us a few more days, and then I will bake something else to distract us from the remaining six days of the kitty-shaped hole in our life.

Sweet Pea

I’m playing hooky tomorrow.  Here’s why:
That’s Sweet Pea, the newest member of our household!  (You’ll never guess who chose her name.)

We fell in love with her on Petfinder.com last weekend and tried to bribe the shelter into holding her a week until we could pick her up, but they won’t hold animals.  I stayed at work as long as I could stand it on Friday and then headed down to League City to pick her up!

She is gradually acclimating to us and to her new home.  She has spent most of her time hiding on a comfortable chair in the dining area.  She does not appreciate closed doors — she was pretty sure there was something good in the closet under the stairs:

Sorry kitty, nothing but cleaning supplies and storage.

She is about two years old and seems to be a great cat — playful and affectionate.  She spent a while socializing with us this afternoon and seems to be getting much more comfortable, but I think we wore her out, because eventually she headed back to her chair.  Tomorrow she’ll get introduced to our vet for her wellness checkup.

Coming in for a landing

Oh, is it Thursday night already?  Well, let’s see if we can make a graceful exit from the week.  I know a place where you can find supplies if you are lacking serenity:

Fly away from the worries of the past week and be free!

Yep, I’m ready to let the sun set on this week.

Do you have anything exciting planned?  My M.O. is the usual: good food and lots of relaxation!

Island treasures

I got a package!  Miss Jes sent me a few things, some or all of which she picked up when she went to St. Croix:

I noticed that they misspelled ‘wonderful.’

These earrings are made from butterfly wings!  Don’t worry, the butterflies died peacefully in their sleep at the age of 92.

Isn’t that pretty?  It has a magnet on the back.  It’s not going anywhere near the fridge — some people get a little too excited over there!*

Thanks, woman!

*I may or may not be talking about myself.