Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Your Cat, My Cat & Our Dog: Your Cat

Just before Christmas, this cat followed Bob and Bonnie home from their evening walk. Bob always has a bit of cat treats in his pocket when he goes out walking and there are a few cats along the Way that will let him pat in exchange of food. This cat gobbled the treats. He was starving and thin but otherwise in pretty good condition – soft coat and no fleas. We have been feeding him every night since. He doesn't come inside the house but waits patiently for his food outside.

Of course, Pipi had her hissy fit the first few nights but now she is OK with us feeding Spikey (because he only comes at night so we name him after the vampire “Spike”  in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) as long as he eats (&stays) outside.

Spike is a bit nervous and easily spooked but very, very affectionate towards Bob (and that’s why sometimes we call him BobCat). He never once puts his claws out so we think he must be trained and loved in the past. We do not know for sure what his situation has been. We put flea collar on him with our phone number but no one has ever called. He might be dumped – his humans might have moved and he was not there on the day – or his human might passed away and no one could take him in. It would be quite sad if he was dumped deliberately. Cats do not need microchip or be registered in this country so it’s a lot easier to dump them on the street (or worse, in the bush). Some people think cats can fend for themselves – it might be true but they might go feral and become a nuisance. 

At present, Spikey has his food regularly so he does not have to hunt or scavenge and he is not so scrawny any more. He will not be flea ridden either and we plan to de-worm him when he trusts us a little bit more. We are willing to have him as pet but it can happen only when he’s ready.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Crying Tiger – Grilled Steak with Thai Marinade (เสือร้องไห้)

It is best to choose steak for this dish with a bit of fat on - so that when you grill it, the fat will drip like tears of the tiger (according to Thai old folk's tale:)

You will need:

600 grams beef fillet (Scotch is best for the fat)


1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce or Maggi

1 tablespoon lemon/lime juice

¼ teaspoon chilli flakes

Mix everything together and marinade the beef for at least an hour. Grill on high heat until brown on the outside but not too dry – should be a bit pink inside (medium). Rest the meat for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing thinly. Serve with sticky rice and Hot Sauce.

Hot Sauce with Toasted Sticky Rice

1 Table spoon Fish Sauce

1 Tablespoon Maggi/Soy Sauce

A squeeze of lime or lemon

1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves

1 tea spoon chopped spring onion or red onion

½ spoon hot chilli flakes

½  Tablespoon uncooked sticky rice

Mix everything together apart from sticky rice. Toast sticky rice in thick bottom saucepan until golden and grind coarsely. Add ground, toasted sticky rice to the sauce before serving.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Your Cat, My Cat & Our Dog: My Cat

I have always been a dog person but I could play with cats if they were interested. Bob has always been a cat person. He had 1 domestic cat and other 5 adopted ones that he fed everyday when we first met. He was initiated into being a dog person (as well) when we lived in Thailand. We picked up several puppies from the street with the mother included later on.

I don't know how Pipi has become “my cat”. I was not a cat person before moving to our present home 6 years ago. We had a pack of old and senile dogs that we moved with us from Thailand (when they were young and not senile). They died one after another over the first 3 years in the new home - it was inevitable as they were from 2 litters born in the same year.

Pipi was one of our next door neighbour's two cats. She often sat on the fence and we stroke her and patted her and sometimes gave her small morsels of food. She let us pick her up and at some point she got sticky to our hands and came into the house briefly every night. We still had 3 old dogs left at that stage but they were so old and not in the mood to chase or argue with any cat any more so Pipi bravely came inside our house through the dog flap after observing how the dogs did it for a while. This was on her own volition - we never taught her how to use the dog door.

The first few months she came in at night and left at dawn. Then her departure time was getting later and later….and the rest is history. She can be moody at times but never aggressive – just meows at high mew and walks away if she is not pleased. She plays hard to get with Bob quite often. Funnily enough, she has a soft spot for me – it must be because I feed her and let her curl up on my lap or on my desk. She sleeps with us some nights and on my side of the bed. Bob says she likes my service more than anything else and refers to her as my cat. When I am outside in the garden trimming plants and pulling weeds, she will be out there with me…to supervise I think.

Pipi used to belong to our neighbour’s son and then he went to Australia for a couple of years and later has his own house and family but she will never forget her first love. Everytime he comes home, Pipi will appear on my neighbour’s porch, soliciting a pat and a stroke or two on his way in and out. Time flies, she has been stolen and lived with us for about 4 years now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Eton Mess Semifreddo

This semi-frozen dessert is wonderful for summer - not too sickly sweet and a bit less guilt than ice-cream.

This portion will serve 6 to 8 persons

150 mil cream

150 mil Greek Yogurt

150  grams mixed berries (I use strawberries and blueberries), chop the bigger pieces and leave the smaller ones whole, plus another 150 grams for the sauce

2 tablespoons icing sugar

2 tablespoons white sugar

4 small meringues (about 35-40 grams), crumbled

Line 2 small loaf pans (12x8 or similar) with cling film. Mix the first portion of berries with icing sugar and set aside. In a bowl, beat the cream until fluffy, fold in yogurt, berry mixture and meringues.

Transfer the mess into the pans and freeze for about 3 hours. If you leave them longer than that you will have to take them out from the freezer and stick them into the fridge well before serving as they should be served semi-frozen.

Mix the second measure of berries with white sugar in a glass jug and microwave for 45-60 seconds. Leave to cool at room temperature.

Lift the semifreddo from the pans and slice each block into 4. If they are too hard just leave them outside the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes or dip the bottom of the pan in hot water for a few seconds. Divide the slices into the bowls and pour the sauce over. For the adult version, you can add 2-3 table spoons of Cointreau into the sauce before serving.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Summer Fun Series Part 8 – Leafy Hollow Garden

Bob took me to this wonderfully smelled garden when lavender is everywhere. Pauline who seemed to know Bob a bit (he goes to the garden quite often for his photography) held my hands when we were introduced and they smelled of lovely lavender for a long while. She told me she had to cut a thousand stems of lavender for the wedding the next day.

Admission to Leafy Hollow Garden  is free. However, don’t forget to buy a cake of soap or two from the store - not only to return the owners the favour but the soap is also gorgeous. Just put them in your bathroom and infuse the air with subtle, pleasant fragrance of lavender.