October 27, 2010

Kinky cat tales | Feeling parsnippity | Bakesale success


Recreated crime scene — blurred for 'effect.'

Once upon a time, a long time ago, our friends Ronnie and Earl had three cats. We had three cats too, and we often cared for each others' cats during vacations. Ronnie's cats were Siamese, and the male, Tico, was madly, crazily, in love with her. His intense devotion was, at times, kind of creepy. One evening when Ronnie and Earl were out of town, I headed to their apartment to give the cats food, water and attention, and change the litter box. When I opened the apartment door, my heart kind of stopped, and I froze, taking in a strange, dimly lit scene. The furniture was haphazardly draped with bras and panties, and I was paralyzed with the thought that a pervert had broken in, and might still be lurking in one of the rooms. It was eerily quiet, with no sign of the cats.

Then Tico, tail high and flicking back and forth, sauntered in with a deep Siamese mrrroouuww. "Tico," I said quietly, "did YOU do this?" "Mrrroouuw," he said, rubbing against my leg. "Where's Ronnie?"

Next, squat, clutzy Mei Ping shyly entered the room. "This has nothing to do with me," she said, avoiding the furniture. Finally, tiny, delicate Hampton bounded in on her teeny little paws. "Play with me," she mewed. Now surrounded by cats and feeling slighter calmer, but still unnerved, I cautiously entered the apartment and headed towards the other rooms, ready to flee at any moment, if necessary. The cats and I checked all the rooms and closets, and found them empty. In the bathroom, one lacy bra still hung on a drying rack. "You're a bad boy, Tico," I said. "I love you," he answered, with great sincerity.

I left the living room as I'd found it, furniture backs and seats bizarrely covered with underwear, for Ronnie to enjoy on her return. But I did warn her when she called to ask how the cats were, that Tico had been doing some redecorating. I didn't want her to be alarmed when she entered the room.

The weather over the past couple of days made me remember this cat story — you know, as in "raining cats and dogs." And since it's been rainy and cold, just like you, I've been thinking about, and eating, soup.



I've been wanting to make parsnip soup ever since I had it for lunch at Café Flora, a local vegetarian restaurant. It was so creamy and warming, every bite was a treat. To make my version, I used a pressure cooker because it's fast, and I love the way it seems to intensify flavors, but you could use a regular soup pot instead.

I could never have made a soup like this when my children were growing up — all three boys had an aversion to what they called, "white things." White things included mainly parsnips, turnips and celery root, all three of which I love. I used to try to sneak small amounts of these flavorful foods into soups by cutting them up really small or by making judicious use of the blender, but I could never fool the boys. "ARE THERE WHITE THINGS IN HERE?" one of them would always ask, in a voice filled with angst.

Well, hell yes, this soup is filled with white things, and it tastes great! And if I'd had celery root in the house, I definitely would have added some to the soup. Next time.



Mellow parsnip soup (serves four generously)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • scant 1 teaspoon coarse salt (or more to taste)
  • 7 (or so) parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 organic potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 to 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tahini (taste and decide)
  • 1 to 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (more for thinner soup)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • garnish
  1. In a five quart pressure cooker, warm the oil a little and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the seeds become fragrant and start to sizzle, about four minutes.
  2. Add the coriander and stir.
  3. Add the salt and stir.
  4. Add the parsnips, potatoes, celery and garlic, and stir to coat the vegetables.
  5. Add the water. Bring to pressure. Cook five minutes. Bring the pressure down and open the pot. (In a conventional pot, cut the veggies into small pieces and cook in the water until tender.)
  6. Add the tahini. With an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth and creamy, adding vegetable broth as needed to achieve your preferred texture. The soup should be fairly thick and creamy. (To use a regular blender, blend a small amount at a time, until all the soup is blended.)
  7. Grind in black pepper. Taste for seasonings.
  8. Place in bowls and add a green garnish of your choice. (I used shredded bitter greens, but parsley, coriander or green onions would all be good choices.
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Bake sale success


Bethany and me at Sidecar Vegan Store, before the sale started.

Thanks to Bethany's refined organizational skills, the bake sale for Pig's Peace Animal Sanctuary was a huge success. A shocking amount of baked goods were donated to the sale, and at the end, only four pieces remained unsold! The grand total raised was $1,299. This was Bethany's last sale as organizer, and she deserves an award for all the hard work she's put into making these events successful. But I know she doesn't like awards so a big THANK YOU will have to suffice.



Bethany took photos of all the donated goods, and here's the one that shows some of my puffed rice bars. They were sitting on the same plate as filled chocolate whoopie pies, which was a little intimidating. It's kind of like choosing a brussels sprout instead of a fresh, ripe peach. Not that I don't like brussels sprouts ...



Here you can see my personal stash of purchased bake sale goods. Everything from gluten-free zucchini muffins to cinnamon buns. One of the coolest things about the sale was I got to meet some Seattle vegan bloggers — the writers of Bitt of Raw, and The Discerning Kitchen.

.......................................................................................................

Farm Sanctuary Reveals 10 Fascinating Facts About Turkeys
Just in Time for Thanksgiving, Nation’s Leading Farm Animal Protection Organization Shares Little-Known Facts About America’s Favorite Holiday Bird

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – October 26, 2010 – Did you know that turkeys communicate their emotions by way of color changes in the skin on their necks, faces and snoods (the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak)? And that a turkey’s snood turns bright red when he is upset or during courtship? This is just one of the fascinating facts about America’s favorite holiday bird being revealed by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, just in time for Thanksgiving. Having rescued more than 1,000 turkeys since 1986 and provided lifelong care for hundreds at their two world-renowned shelters located in Watkins Glen, New York and Orland, California, the organization is recognized as a foremost expert on these sensitive, intelligent and thoroughly fascinating birds. Those who don’t know a snood from a wattle (the flap of skin under the turkey's chin) are sure to be intrigued by the following little-known turkey facts:
  1. Turkeys recognize each other by their unique voices.
  2. Researchers have identified more than 20 distinct vocalizations in wild turkeys.
  3. Turkeys have excellent geography skills and can learn the specific details of an area of more than 1,000 acres.
  4. Like cats and dogs, turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals who form strong social bonds and show great affection to others.
  5. On factory farms, turkeys frequently have the ends of their beaks and toes cut off without anesthesia — practices know as debeaking and detoeing — to prevent them from injuring one another as they are crowded by the thousands into dark, filthy warehouses.
  6. Between 1965 and 2000, the weight of the average turkey raised commercially in the U.S. increased by 57 percent, from an average of 18 pounds to an average of 28.2 pounds, causing commercially-bred turkeys to suffer from crippling foot and leg problems.
  7. Completely unlike their wild ancestors not only in terms of physique but also in hue, most commercial turkeys are totally white — the natural bronze color selectively bred out of them to eliminate uneven pigment colorations — because of consumer preference for even flesh tones. Also catering to consumer preferences for “white meat,” the industry has selectively bred turkeys to have abnormally large breasts. This anatomical manipulation makes it difficult for male turkeys to mount the females, eliminating these birds’ ability to reproduce naturally. As a result, artificial insemination is now the sole means of reproduction on factory farms, where breeder birds are confined for months on end.
  8. Turkeys, along with other poultry, are not protected by the federal Humane Slaughter Act, and are frequently killed without first being stunned.
  9. Every year, more than 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving holiday dinners, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you think these birds are as incredible as we do, you can join talk show host and animal advocate Ellen DeGeneres, Farm Sanctuary’s 2010 Adopt-A-Turkey Project spokesperson, in starting a new tradition this year by adopting a turkey instead of eating. Visit adoptaturkey.org for details or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.
To learn more about these fascinating birds, be sure to check out the new Turkey Talk episode of Farm Sanctuary’s Reel Life at Farm Sanctuary video series. In this short, entertaining video, National Shelter Director Susie Coston introduces viewers to some special birds in the organization’s New York Shelter flock and talks a whole lot of turkey!

20 comments:

  1. Holee, is that your underwear? I'm impressed! Mine is nothing like so spectacular! And, ahem, I have to admit I like brussels sprouts just as much as peaches; in some moods even more. And you understand CatSpeak. Somehow I knew you would. People often don't get it when I'm all, like, "Then Cheeta said, 'Get away from me, I want to sleep. There are *times* for being kissed on the head and this is not one of them.'" Great post; I'm glad the sale went so well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the story about the kitties...I guess they just needed some intimate reminders while their people were away. :)

    That soup does sound like the perfect thing for a rainy day. I love parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and celery root too! Such wonderful soup/stew ingredients that add so much flavor. I don't have a pressure cooker, so I'll have to try it in a regular pot.

    Congrats to you and Bethany, and Sidecar on the bake sale success! That is wonderful news!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mmmmmmm.... maybe I'll make some "white thing soup" soon.... except I have to use our recent beet harvest (see upcoming blog post about red thing soup). So maybe later in the fall. I almost made your lentil soup recipe last night but instead did something with the last of the chard. I'm not on my own computer as much (and that's where the photos are), and so that means fewer blog posts, but a happier me with R's laptop in the everyday emailing and stuff.

    C

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  4. haha, i love the cat story! poor, creepily obsessed tico. it's hilarious when animals act like codependent, jealous significant others. my partner and i both have overprotective animals who sometimes get upset when they see us together--we *really* have to watch what we do around my dog andy. and reed's cat explodey once made the most horrifying noise when she saw us kissing--i didn't even know cats could make this sound.

    congratulations on your successful bake sale! that is a seriously impressive amount of money.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Zoa,
    Did you notice the mood lighting and fuzzy atmosphere? That means you can't see the frayed and stretched out aspects of the almost too old to wear delicates. Most of them, anyway. Ahem.

    We had roasted brussels sprouts last night and they were delectable, but compared to a fresh peach at the height of summer ... I don't know. I'd probably grab the peach.

    Does CatSpeak make me bi-lingual?

    Rose,
    Tico was a weird and interesting kitty, with many unusual talents.

    Bethany did all the work and deserves all the credit!

    Claire,
    Are you making borsht? I love that even though it's made with beets. :D I'd like to try borsht made with golden beets. Did you grow any of those?

    Can't you upload photos to R's laptop?

    Emily,
    I know just what you mean. Our animals didn't have a problem with us, but when my dog Starr was around, no one else was allowed to touch me or other family members. Starr once gave my brother a little warning nip when he thought he was being too rough with one of the kids. If I told Starr to lay off, he would, but I had to remember to tell him!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great turkey facts! And love the cat story, though learning about Tico's obsession hasn't quite made me a cat lover yet. . . ;) Your soup looks fabulous. As one who has always loved the wrong "white things" in food (goodbye, white sugar and flour), I'm happy to see this soup and know I can enjoy everything in it!

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  7. That cat story is hilarious!!! Also, yay to an epic bake sale!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ricki,
    Are you telling me I actually made something you could eat? Yay. I knew one of these days I'd hit on something. :D

    Mo,
    Some stories seem funnier in retrospect than they did at the time. I'm still wondering if I should have gone into that apartment alone. :) Who would think a cat could do that?

    ReplyDelete
  9. nice bras :). I had a cat that used to love dragging socks around.

    It's totally time for parsnips. I'm sure your soup was way better.

    Were you tired after the bake sale? I was :). After you left, even more stuff came in. phew!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey! I know you two beautiful ladies! Hi! :)

    The bake sale was a big success! I say we all sneak up on Bethany and give her an award for all the hard work and dedication. She'll never see it coming! :D

    Your naughty cat story made me laugh out loud! Cats do the strangest things!

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  11. The cat story is too funny. I would have been too scared to go in to look around. :-0 The white things soup looks delicious, although the soup itself doesn't seem at that white. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. What DID your friend say when she returned home??? This is the funniest, funkiest, WEIRDEST cat story I've heard in a while. Kinky Kat alright! Paola

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  13. I love the crazy stuff cats do. Right now my dog is covered in laundry on the couch. She likes to nest.

    Lovely looking soup. Perhaps I will get brave enough to pick up a parsnip next time I hit the veggie section at Madison Market.

    Thanks for the bake sale total! That's a great number!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a cute cat story! :)
    I love parsnips but don't cook with them as often as I should. The soup looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Such a funny story & that soup looks incredible!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Bethany,
    I doubt my soup was better than Café Flora's, but thanks for the vote of confidence.

    You had much more reason to be tired after the sale than I did. You did all the pre-sale work, got there earlier and stayed later.

    River,
    I've tried to give Bethany a blog award but she's way too modest (or ornery :D) to accept it.

    I agree that cats can be strange, but I have to say this was the weirdest cat caper I've ever observed. Though my cat pulled one involving molasses and shredded paper that was mighty close.

    Chow vegan,
    I think maybe I SHOULD have been too scared to go inside.

    Paola,
    She just laughed and laughed. She knew Tico was a crazy and talented cat. :D

    Aimee,
    I can picture your dog rooting around in the laundry trying to get comfy. You don't have to make the whole soup with parsnips. Use carrots and just add one parsnip.

    Vaishali,
    I think this was the first time I made an entire soup from parsnips. If I hadn't been inspired by my restaurant lunch, I probably would never have thought of it.

    Abby,
    There's just no end to the surprises a creative animal companion will come up with!

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  17. hello there! i saw you on dandelions blog...anybody that agrees with me is an instant friend(im DD), in fact thats all thats required!

    anybody that would post pics of, not their bras, but their FRIENDS bras has got to be fun to be around,lol. this was a great post fun to read.
    i felt so sorry for you at the part where your puffed rice treats were next to the choc whoopie pies. *cringe* i can totally empathise.but to tell you the truth, id go for the cereal treats. you can make/buy vegan choc cake but rice crispy treats remain fairly elusive

    could i borrow/post that ten things about turkeys? i loved it.

    m

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  18. That cat story is hilarious! So like an obsessed kitty to do that. I love how self-deprecating you are when it comes to your bars. Makes me laugh. Also, it's good to see something positive about turkeys. Today at church I was teaching 4th and 5th graders, and our topic was respect. One of the things I used to illustrate this was the eagle and how it is our national bird. Then when I told the kids that the original choice was almost the turkey (by Ben Franklin), every last one of them laughed! The poor turkey has a long way to go.

    ReplyDelete
  19. DD,
    Thanks for visiting. Actually, those are my bras. The event described took place long before I had a blog, or the idea of recording and preserving weird stories like this. Too bad, because Ronnie's bras were much nicer. :D

    You should absolutely reprint the turkey info. It came from Farm Sanctuary and was meant to be spread around. Thanks for asking.

    Blessedmama,
    I guess most people's knowledge about food animals is based somewhat on their portrayal by the food industry, and those that profit from that industry. Maybe you could share the facts from the list with your class. now that Thanksgiving is coming up, and get the turkeys some respect! (Do you think the kids' families would be upset?)

    ReplyDelete
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