Tuesday, March 16, 2010

E-Mail vs The Real Thing

Dear Sister Very Catty,

I’m wondering if it’s just me! Am I merely old-fashioned, behind the times, stuck in old-school? Perhaps unwilling to change or move with the times, set in my ways or just WHAT?

I have friends who seem offended that I don’t e-mail….like this would bother me! So a friend told me about your advice blog and I had her send you my concerns.

My question is why is it that people don’t send real mail anymore? What’s with this e-mail jazz anyway? It barely takes a second to push a button on a keyboard, absolutely no thought process involved in regard to the recipient, and I hear for the most part, it’s just silly jokes anyway. Do they think this counts as hearing from someone? I mean sure it’s nice to know they must still be breathing if they can hit that send button but is that all there is?

Hasn’t everyone gotten excited to see there’s an e-mail from someone they hadn’t heard from in a long time only to immediately feel let down because it’s just another Tiger Woods joke. Is it the 44 cents for the stamp, too much trouble to find an envelope, or just can’t sit still long enough to put a few thoughts on paper?

Empty Mailbox

Dear Empty Mailbox,

You’re obviously suffering from letter withdrawal syndrome but be assured you are not alone. I suppose we could campaign to increase the pen pal population but if we can’t get people to write a simple hello-how-the-dickens-are-you-letter, I fear we’re stuck in computer camp.

Many share your plight though. In fact this past Sunday Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes had a very good commentary regarding this very subject . People don’t communicate the same way anymore. Now it’s a scary thing to see people driving and holding their cell phone, no doubt preoccupied with the call rather than the traffic. You have the people walking around looking like they’re talking to themselves because you can’t see their ear buds. Or better yet, have you watched some idiot walk into something because they were so busy pushing micro mini buttons on a tiny object cupped in one hand they didn’t bother to watch where they were walking!? Now that’s funny!

Personally, I don’t think anything can ever replace going to the mailbox and finding a handwritten envelope addressed to me from someone. A welcome surprise….someone took the time to write and I can’t wait to read it.

Next it’s what shall I do….grab a couple seafood treats and curl up in a sunspot on the living room carpet...or grab my reading glasses and me and my letter head for the cat box, you know, do a little time in the “library”! It’s all about how to savor the moment.

Like Andy said Sunday evening...what about the Post Office...people aren’t buying newspapers because they can read all about it on the internet. People are also not buying postage stamps to mail these letters they no longer write because they have their noses stuck on the internet! Holy Crap, what happens when we have no post office? Good grief, what would we have to bitch about without the post office??!!

Now there’s a threat the post office may cease Saturday deliveries. I can understand the cutback and I can see the positive side...this means no windowed envelopes with an enclosed envelope wanting money, it can mean no junk mail to recycle, no unwanted periodicals or catalogs, but most of all...one lost opportunity of getting another personal letter.

These are definite thoughts to ponder and I vote we all pick up a pen and paper and write someone somewhere today. You don’t even have to lick the stamps anymore people. Post it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Chocoholic's Discovery

Have you ever heard of Nutella®? Pronounced “new-tell-uh”?
This is hardly my first trip around the food bowl but this was something new to me and my humans. Made with just three simple ingredients—hazelnuts, skimmed milk and cocoa, it has this wonderful chocolate flavor and spreads like peanut butter. In fact, it’s in the stores right next to the peanut butter.
Now being of the feline persuasion I really don’t do chocolate but my humans love it so consequently this led to some research on uses for this heavenly tasting spread. It was created in the 1940’s by a gentleman named Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker. At that time in history there was very little chocolate to be found because cocoa was in such short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts to extend the chocolate, which were plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy. It made a wonderful spread for pastries.
Once again our experimental kitchen goes in to action and this time around we’re talking chocolate factory. None of this obviously resulted in any yummy munchies for me but after awhile this place really smelled good.
Seems we found us a brownie recipe using this fantastic spread along with a bit of peanut butter, cocoa, etc. Wow! If only I could be human long enough to consume such treats. Oh no, all I get is chicken, beef or fishy flavor treats! These brownie perfections were fudge-like in the center, absolutely melted in your mouth, probably a sin somewhere to eat them. And we don’t talk calories around here so if that’s a concern you better just blog off!
Yes, brownies were a huge success but the story does not end there. Once the brownies all disappeared there was a chocolate withdrawal happening so back to the internet in search of yet another recipe using this new-found spread. Alas, a recipe for homemade cupcakes was printed out for trial and error...resulting in mostly unexplainable error. Very simple, short and sweet list of ingredients for yellow cupcakes adding a dollop of Nutella® to the center of the batter swirling it into the batter with a toothpick and bake.
The instructions couldn’t have been any easier and were followed carefully, yet the “batter” was more like a thick yellow spackle. So to add that dollop of spread and swirl it throughout ...well, that just didn’t happen since the consistency of the Nutella® was almost as stiff as the spackle…’er, I mean batter.
In fact, these cupcakes went in to the oven looking as ugly as they did when they came out. There was no light and fluffy to these babies. I’d bet between the dozen that were baked they must have weighed a pound or more. There was one attempt made to eat one and we’ll refrain from further description. They were laid to rest the following morning in the garbage.
But wait, not wanting to declare defeat a second attempt was made and this time using a cake mix so the dollop of spread actually could be swirled into the batter quite easily.
After 25 minutes they came out of the oven looking picture perfect. Lovely golden yellow light and fluffy cupcakes. However, those yummy dollops of chocolaty flavor that was so carefully swirled into the batter mysteriously wound up as a chocolate blob stuck to the cupcake paper underneath the cupcake. Comments were heard to how good they tasted and what a nice surprise at the bottom of the cake. I’ll say surprise alright.
Maybe the world of baking is trying to tell us to just stick to spreading this stuff on pastry and just let it go people!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hot Dogs in the Desert

Baking Soon in the Desert wrote:
Dear Sister Very Catty:
While taking my pooch FiFi to the vet I noticed one of your cards at the front desk and thought I'd send you a line.
FiFi and I have a big problem. I am an older traveling lady - since 1999 I've been traveling around the USA with FiFi - working seasonal jobs in order to see all of the United States - supporting ourselves as we go.
Well, FiFi and I now want to settle down and we've chosen a great little community to move to on the central coast of California. Right now we are wintering in sunny Arizona while I am doing a seasonal assignment and FiFi hangs out in the RV.
There is an absolutely perfect job for me in our new home community - however due to the current statewide hiring freeze - the job just isn't open right now. FiFi and I just can't bear the thought of a summer in this desert heat (120 degrees!!!) So...do you have any ideas on what we can do??? It's already March and we've got to have a plan by the end of May!

Sister VC answers:
Dear Baking Buddies:
Not sure what it's going to take to thaw that freeze but I'd suggest having a back up plan in place just in case. You mentioned seasonal work...and California...hmm...what about earthquake season? Are you sure you've seen all 50 states?
While you wait for the thaw how's about dressing FiFi up in a hot pink fluffy skirt, hook up a tiny accordion to her, and let her dance for coins on the corner? Post a sign saying you're working your way west? Everybody falls for a pooch in a pink skirt!
Meantime hang tough...that's keep the faith in layman's terms.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fennel Gets a Bad Rap

Still catching up on my emails and will soon post a select few. So many problems, so little time to answer but keep the faith people and try not to screw up!
Meantime I’ll share a tale from the CasaBlanca experimental kitchen about a recipe that called for something my humans had never tried before...fennel.
Occasionally an unfamiliar ingredient is required in a recipe and I am here to bear witness that we braved it through a fennel experience. Learning that this produce called ‘Fennel’ or “Anise’ had a licorice flavor to it...well, that automatically ought to vote it off the island. And since my super charged sniffing ability can bring me out of any 18 hour beauty sleep in a snap I feared that a horrible licorice smell would soon filter down my way. Sure I could go nap some more but why risk missing out the possibility that something good might hit the floor? Bummer is that more times than not it’s for human consumption only so another dinner of ocean whitefish it is but at least I enjoy the aromas erupting from their experimenting.
Okay, I for one, feel licorice is the single most disgusting flavor on earth. Can’t stand the smell of it, even the thought of the taste will cause a hairball, therefore do not want to see it anywhere near me. Well, in comes this almost hairy looking green thing with a whitish round end on it... the fennel had arrived and I feared the worst.
Surprisingly enough this is why fennel gets a bad rap….people should not assume it tastes bad at all just because it is ‘supposed’ to have a licorice-like flavor. Not only did it not have any hint of licorice, my humans claimed it tasted really good.
Seems they roasted a pan of cauliflower, brussel sprouts & slivers of fennel on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and it was delicious beyond belief! Of course they didn’t share it with me but I could tell they were quite relieved at the outcome.
So my followers, believe me when I say that from what I witnessed everyone should give fennel a chance. It’s has an onion texture, very tasty, very pleasant surprise!
Try it...you might like it! Blessings!