Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stowaways, Circa early 80s

When I was a child my family spent most of our vacations in Hayward, Wisconsin. As long as I stayed within shouting distance, I was pretty much allowed to run free. With that freedom, I was left to explore the little fish swimming near the dock, various bugs, and other wildlife- probably to the chagrin of all the aforementioned.

Frogs, one of my favorite specimens to observe, and play with, were plentiful and easily found hoping around or taking a dip in the lake. I loved frogs and toads. The variety of shape, size and skin type was astounding.

I also loved our nighttime drives down the long secluded road leading to the large white gates that signified we were home. The headlights of our old car would illuminate a path for all the little bouncing frogs and toads out for their evening meal. My father would do his best to carefully drive around them so as to give them another day to eat their fill of our arch nemesis, the mosquito.

Packing the car to return home, which was always a long process since it included strategically placing everything that we came with, the random things we purchased while there and collecting our four cats that found hiding better than returning to the loathed cat carrier and then, worse, the car, I decided I wanted to take some of my amphibian friends home with me. I asked my parents if I could add two little frogs, each the size of the tip of my thumb, to our already overcrowded car, which came a reply- a resounding no.

Not to be deterred, I fashioned a brilliant plan to hide them, better yet, stow them away in the car until it was too late and they were home with us. Instant new pets! Excited, I found a hole in the car door just large enough to place my special stowaways. I popped them in with absolutely no trouble at all.

I must have looked guilty because not terribly long after I executed my "could not go wrong" plan, my plan was discovered! The horror!! Luckily, my father, a man of many skills, including taking a car door apart, was there to liberate the stowaways. Both escaped unharmed, but, I am sure, quite bewildered by their strange journey from the grasses behind the house, to the hands of a giant to the dark warm mobile cave that they inexplicably found themselves. Their lives would never be the same.

We, on the other hand, had to get on the road, and, without much further ado, minus some reprimanding and a bit of a grumpy driver, we were. The white gates faded in the distance all the while cat sirens provided back up to ELO’s "Don't Bring Me Down." An all time favorite of the grumpy driver.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Neighborhood Politics

Have you ever had a neighbor that you appreciate, but, when you see him or her, she/he will take up more time than you have available? Always wanting to linger just a few more minutes discussing the weather or the gardening on the street? Do you find yourself hiding or waiting until you are certain he or she is in their car or has passed along far enough not to see you and stop? I have this type of relationship with a neighborhood cat.

The little girl is a lovely sleek black cat that lives with my neighbors across the alley. The little cat disappears for the winter, but come the nicer weather she is out in force soaking up sun and tormenting the squirrels of the neighborhood. She has the kindest disposition and is always ready to greet passersby.

A couple nights ago, I was coming home from dinner with a friend of mine walking down this little cat’s street. I noticed from afar her shadowed black shape perched on the curb and, as we approached, I acknowledged her as I would with any of my neighbors (at least the one’s I like). She, as is her way, ran over to greet us, rolling this way and that, content to make the acquaintance. The problem always comes when I go to take my leave. She is willing to forget her sentry position on the corner and follow me. I say my goodbyes and try to slip away. The little black cat, on the other hand, is not yet finished with the exchange. She happily trots off after us.

My friend, who cannot stand being followed by the furry friend, keeps turning around to peek at the little cat, I reprimand. “Please don’t even glance at her. She will get sidetracked and stop following us soon enough, but each time you look at her she takes it as a cue that maybe she isn’t keeping up and will quicken her pace to meet up with us.” My friend, a caring sort, begins to feel bad about the situation and gets slightly upset with me for saying hello to the little cat in the first place. I will have none of it. The little cat is like any other neighbor and should be treated as such. With that, lost in our debate, we turn the corner, reach the gate and the little cat is gone.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roasted Beet Hummus Recipe

So... last year when visiting family in Belgium, I was introduced to beet hummus. Although no recipe was provided, I decided to see if I could remake this lovely pink hummus. Below is my concoction. I hope those of you who try it let me know if it works for you.


1 can chickpeas (a/k/a garbanzo beans)
1/3 cup tahini (add it if you want it- if you don't, skip it)
Juice of 1 lemon (approx 1/4 cup)
4 roasted garlic cloves
1 medium sized beet
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
garlic powder (if the 4 roasted cloves weren't enough)


Peel and then roast beet with garlic in oven- 45 minutes to an hour depending on beet size. After roasting, place chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic in food processor and mix until smooth. Throw in beet (diced) and blend until the consistency matches your preference. Remove mixture from food processor and add salt, cayenne and garlic powder to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread. Enjoy!