Monday, May 31, 2010

Correction

When I said Melly was snuggling with me, that may not have been totally accurate. It was really more like eating my pajamas...



...and hugging her own leg.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"What have you done?"


"This was a Melly-free zone. I was napping peacefully. You. Opened. The. Door."
*Exasperated sigh*

Luckily for Scarlett, Melly has been more interested in snuggling with me today, so Scarlett can continue to nap without worrying about her tail being accosted by a curious kitten.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

So there I was...

...minding my own business, when:



She continued playing with the water glass after that, but refused to repeat her silliness for the video camera. I did get this, though:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Weekend!


"I'm not on the table. I'm on a folder."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bossy Melly

When I was about walk out the door to go to work today, I found this:


"No, you may not leave."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Betty Grable

Remember this post?

Well...




Yep, that's my fuzzy little pin-up girl.



(I downloaded Gimp, which is like Photoshop only free, not too long ago and have been trying to teach myself to use it. As you can see, I'm a beginner, but I'm learning! :)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apple Cake


"Really, was it necessary to wake us up just for a picture?"

Today is the birthday of two friends of mine, both named Jackie. (They share an office, too.) In honor of their birthday, I decided to bake something. However, as we have an office-wide party for all of the May birthdays tomorrow that involves a sheet cake from Costco, I opted to make something a little less sugary.

I settled on another Smitten Kitchen recipe, an apple cake. It was incredibly easy to put together, and one Jackie reported that this might be her favorite thing I've ever made. The other Jackie said it was "superb." The rest of my coworkers loved it as well, though there were a couple of gripes about the fact that I'm sabotaging everyone's diets.


I didn't make many changes to the recipe, but I've reprinted it below anyway.

Smitten Kitchen's Apple Cake

6 apples (I use a mix of apples for a more interesting flavor - I do the same for apple pie)
1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two loaf pans or one tube pan. Peel, core, and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan(s). Spread half of apples over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until a tester comes out clean. (I baked mine for exactly that long, and the edges ended up looking a little burnt. The insides were perfect, though, and I was told that the contrast between the crust and the inside was actually a good thing.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feline Weirdness

I wrote a post about how Scarlett and Melly's fights seem to be getting more vicious, but ended up reconsidering posting it. I think the fights are less frequent, which perhaps makes them only seem more vicious. Or maybe it's that Melly's growth has made the fights look less like Scarlett is batting away a bug and more like a well-matched bout of wrestling. At any rate, more observation is required.

Now on to the fun stuff. The video below is an example of what happens every evening when I open a can of food. Honestly, you'd think by her reaction that Melly hasn't eaten in a week (I assure you, she's quite well fed).


This video was taken after Melly refused to move as I was trying to set down a small pile of just-laundered sheets. The solution, naturally, was to put the sheets down on top of her and to grab the video camera. The wonky camera work is due to the coffee table being in the way of where I wanted to stand.



Edit: I've switched to Vimeo, so videos should be speedier and viewable by all. :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Silly Kitten


"I know I'm not supposed to be on the table, but you see, I'm on a notebook. Also, I'm obviously asleep, and you wouldn't kick a sleeping kitten off the table, would you?"


"Heh.... oops."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dishwasher

I am not a fan of my dishwasher. It's incredibly loud, and its washing abilities do not meet my exacting standards, so I usually end up having to wash everything again by hand anyway. However, after my baking project earlier this week, I was tired of dealing with dishes and had let them pile up a bit, so I stuffed them all in the dishwasher.

I think this is the first time Melly's seen the dishwasher in use, and she wasn't sure what to make of it.

First, she was curious...
Then, when I turned the dishwasher on, she was alarmed...
She got used to the noise pretty quickly, though, and is now snuggled up on my lap.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yum

Scarlett: "A little help here?"

When I made those lemon-raspberry cupcakes, I thought they might turn out to be the deliciousness and prettiness pinnacle of my baking career. They were so cute! And so lemony!

And then I made this:
It's filled with lemony cream cheese AND lemon curd!! (I cannot adequately express my enthusiasm for lemon curd without capital letters and multiple exclamation points. I just can't.) Also, I got more compliments on this from my coworkers than anything I've made so far. And not just the polite I can see you spent a lot of time on this so I'm going to say something nice compliments; we're talking I haven't even finished my first bite and I'm going to talk with my mouth completely full so I can tell you how amazing this tastes compliments.

And here's the best part: it's not that hard to make.

This is another Smitten Kitchen recipe, found here. I doubled the recipe, which worked nicely since SK cut it in half to start. Doubling it actually made the measuring easier since instead of six tablespoons I could do 3/4 cups. I assembled both loaves, then stuck one right in the fridge. Loaf #1 rose and then was baked so Geoff and I could sample it. Loaf #2 was pulled out of the fridge at 4:30 this morning to get to room temperature and rise, then baked at 7:30 so it would still be warm when I got to work.

The other modifications I made were to use both low fat cream cheese and sour cream. I worried they might affect the texture, but if they did, I couldn't tell.

And in case you want to make your own lemon curd, here is my favorite recipe, which hasn't failed me yet (SK included a recipe also, but I can't vouch for that one):

Lemon Curd
3 ounces unsalted butter
room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Beat the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 minute more, then stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled. Do not panic.

Cook the mixture over low heat until it becomes smooth, then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, without letting it boil, until it thickens enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon when you drag your finger through it. If you want to go by temperature, you’re looking for 170 F.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Press plastic wrap on surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Domestic Tranquility (Images may not reflect reality)

Geoff the Boyfriend chiming in after a bit of an absence from the posting throne.

Yesterday I observed a most curious sight:
The two of them, sleeping contentedly together!?!?!
SERIOUSLY?!??!?!?!

In fact, even after they awoke (thanks to me bumping around, taking pictures, making noise), all they did was give me a look that I read as, "Hey, we're trying to sleep here, must you bipeds CONSTANTLY take pictures of us?!?!"
Then they looked at each other, seemingly agreeing, "If we ignore him and go back to sleep, maybe he'll go away." This they did...and it worked. I slipped out and let them resume their peaceful slumber.


BUT WAIT! There's MORE!

As Natalie's post the other day showed, the wee beasties have an affinity for sitting on the window ledge and gazing out at the great outdoors. As that post further indicated, they take turns. Thusly, I was shocked, SHOCKED, to find...

There was even a bit of snuggling

(in truth, Scarlett doesn't look all that thrilled, but tolerant)

There's still be plenty of noisy conflict between them, but it's nice to see that the peaceful times are getting so much more pleasant. In fact, earlier this evening, Scarlett cleaned a bit of Melly's head.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Melly Plays


Note: I pulled the audio out of this video since the only sound was the droning of the dehumidifier. So it's a silent film; feel free to imagine it with an oddly fast piano soundtrack.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Melly and the Laptop

The other day, I was sitting at the kitchen table, and Geoff's laptop was open next to me. Geoff had gone to run an errand, so his laptop was unattended. Melly took full advantage of his absence: she hopped up onto Geoff's laptop and knocked the screen down flat, then sprawled languidly across the whole computer. I couldn't grab the camera quickly enough to capture it, but I did manage to get the ensuing guilty expression.

A little while later, after Geoff had returned, Melly was again unable to resist the laptop's charms. She flopped down on the keyboard and made herself comfortable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teething

Melly, as I may have mentioned, is teething. Luckily she hasn't been chewing wires or anything harmful and has stuck to things like washcloths, my jeans, and paper. Yesterday, the target of her gnawing was a soon-to-be-recycled ginger beer box. Of course, she soon discovered that the box was excellent for gnawing and playing!


video

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wind Chimes and Oreos

Found in the toe of Geoff's right boot this morning:
- Melly's mylar ball
- Melly's wine cork

Silly kitten.

This morning, she jumped from the kitchen table to the kitchen windowsill and discovered the usually silent wind chimes.

video

On an unrelated subject, one of my guilty pleasures is Newman O's with peanut butter. (I switched from Oreos because Newman O's make me feel marginally less guilty when I eat them.) I did try the peanut butter version once, but there's really nothing like a dollop of crunchy peanut butter on top of the classic black-and-white cookie.

As you can imagine, I was very excited when I came across Smitten Kitchen's homemade Oreo recipe the other day. SK's original recipe is below with my notes in italics.


For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa (I used regular unsweetened cocoa and it worked fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (If you make the cookies separately for another purpose, I'd go with the 1 1/2 cups of sugar. For the Oreos, one cup is plenty since the filling is pretty sweet.)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. (Even if you bake only occasionally, an inexpensive oven thermometer is a great thing to have. You'd be amazed how many ovens run more than 25°F hot or cold.)

In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. (Mine were more like rounded tablespoons, so I ended up with bigger cookies. Fine by me!) With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheet on a rack to cool. (I moved the cookies to a rack as soon as they'd hardened so I could use the baking sheet again.)

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. (I used a small spatula instead of a pastry bag; a butter knife or a spoon would probably work fine too.) Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Or serve with peanut butter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Surveying the Damage

When I approached my apartment building yesterday on my way home from spending some time in Seattle, I noticed that the blinds in one of the living room windows were a bit askew. I didn't think too much of it at the time.

After greeting the kitties, who were quite happy to see me, I did a quick tour of the apartment and found everything just as I'd left it.

Except this:
That plant had been on the sill of the window whose blinds were askew. The second of the two spider plants was still on the sill, though it had miraculously become quite sparse over the weekend.*

Melly very much enjoyed the cleanup process and "helped" by chasing the broom and tracking dirt everywhere. Scarlett, who affected an air of innocence, made it clear that she was quite displeased with me for leaving her to watch over such a terror.**


* Research indicates that spider plants are not toxic to cats, though they may cause vomiting.

** I doubt Melly could have made the jump to that windowsill.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

(I'm posting a picture of Scarlett since she had two litters before she came to me and therefore gets to be celebrated today.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Melly and the Chair

The chair with its back to the kitchen is Melly's favorite (it's been featured before). She sits on the chair to watch the goings-on in the kitchen, she climbs the back of the chair when she wants attention or to get a better view of what's happening on the counter, and she sits on my lap when I sit in the chair. Last night while I was making dinner she was being particularly adorable.



I think your quesadilla is burning.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Peace

Since their breakthrough the other day, the kitties have been getting along quite well.

Last night, I let the cats in my room for the first time in quite a while. Melly was considerably less vicious in her snuggling and less intent on kicking Scarlett off the bed. At one point I woke up to find Scarlett snuggled into my right side and Melly snuggled into my left.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Close-Ups

Great segue, eh? Paws... paws... coffeecake!

I realize that this blog is supposed to chronicle the adventures of Scarlett and Melly, not my forays into the art of baking, but they're really very closely linked. (Bear with me here.) I like to bake. I spend a lot of time baking. Therefore, Scarlett and Melly spend a lot of time watching me bake. (And climbing up my leg while I bake. And trying to get onto the counter to eat what I bake.) Thus, my baking is really an adventure of Scarlett and Melly. Makes perfect sense, right?

Ok, maybe not, but I know from the recipe requests on previous posts that I'm not the only cat lover who also enjoys baking. And so, I hope you'll forgive, and maybe even enjoy, my occasional recipe postings.*

And so, without further ado, here is the recipe for coffee cake à la Nadine (my aunt):

Ingredients
¼ lb soft butter
1 cup sugar (I used half)
2 eggs
½ pint sour cream (I used light)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Nut topping
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts are my usual choice, but I was out and used pecans, which were very tasty)
¼ cup sugar (I used brown sugar)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F
Cream butter and sugar
Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda
Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture
Butter tube pan or two loaf pans (I used one large loaf pan)
Put ½ batter into pan and sprinkle ½ nut mixture, then add remaining mixture and top with remaining nuts
Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (it was close to an hour for me)

Variations
Add chocolate chips or berries to middle layer
Add a light drizzle of glaze


*The obvious solution would be to start a separate baking blog, but I get a lot of my favorite recipes from existing blogs, and anyway my skills aren't quite up to snuff yet. I have a lot of frostings that go glop and cakes that won't rise and curds that won't solidify. Someday I'll get there. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Woohoo!!

When I sit on the living room couch, both cats want to sit in my lap. Here is how it normally works: if Melly gets to my lap first, Scarlett stays at least a few feet away and acts completely disinterested. If Scarlett gets to my lap first, Melly lets her sit for a few minutes then gnaws her ear until she leaves. Melly then takes her spot. Melly, who cannot be rewarded for such behavior, is relocated and Scarlett is retrieved. If Geoff is there, he takes Melly so that Scarlett can sit peacefully on my lap (obviously, both cats are fine with that). If Geoff is not there, the cycle is repeated a couple of times until I give up, which usually results in Melly laying next to me in her usual pin-up pose and Scarlett looking disapprovingly on from the back of the couch. Never are the two within a couple feet of each other.

This is why, when Geoff emailed me the photo below (I was at work at the time) with the caption, "Could I get a few more cats for my little nest?" I was beyond thrilled. He took it with his cell phone camera - retrieving the actual camera would've disturbed the felines - and he reported that they had been there for over ten minutes! Ten minutes!!

Geoff sent another update later: "After a bit of activity from Melly, they're back to chilling. We're close to half an hour of tranquil kitties napping... I want to get up, but don't want to disrupt the peace." My response involved copious use of all-caps and exclamation points. There is also a possibility that I was doing a very subtle happy dance at my desk.

My friend Jackie has a theory that when I'm not home, the cats cuddle; the wrestling and sparring is just an act they put on for me. I'm starting to think she may be on to something.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nothing New To Report

There isn't much going on here today. The cats are engaged in their usual routine of ignoring each other, with frequent breaks for sparring and napping.

I took a couple photos of Melly chilling on the couch and she graciously held still for me. (Those wrinkles behind her are the new slipcover that I haven't ironed yet.) Most of the time she's a total nut of a kitten, but it cracks me up when she acts like a grown-up cat and is all tiny and dignified. Her little tucked-in paws are so cute!



I tried to take photos of Scarlett but she must've gotten into the catnip as she was quite silly and squirmy.