There was an error in this gadget

Sunday, June 24, 2012

BULLIES OF THE WORLD-SHAME ON YOU!


Seems every once in awhile I am reminded of how glad I am to be a cat.  I have it made in the shade, reside in a lovely home with Sistah Smudge and my 2 humans.  I get 2 squares a day, fresh water and all the munchies I can handle.  I take long naps, scout for bugs, keep an eye on the back yard birds, watch the front yard for walking dogs.  Granted I have had an issue recently with a strange cat inviting itself into my back yard and talking to me thru the patio door.  Of course, being the typical territorial creature that I am I growl, hiss and spit at the intruder doing my best to show who’s boss here.  Unfortunately, one of my humans is a sucker for any 4-legged critter so out goes a big dish of food every night.  I definitely do not approve but it seems to satisfy this cat and we never see it except once in awhile late at night.  Problem is now words out my human is always anxious to feed someone or something so next thing you know I discover a big gray cat lounging on my front sidewalk doing some bird watching.  Bottom line we’re just doing what cats do...maybe there’s an occasional little confrontation between a couple of us because we don’t know each other and like I said...we’re territorial.

Humans, on the other paw, have proven it goes way beyond territorial.  I’m not even sure just what you’d call this behavior besides bullying.  It’s sad. It makes me want to scratch something to shreds.  If I had my paws on a bully for just two seconds…oh, never mind that now.  You see just this past week I read 2 separate stories about bullying.  It seems you humans almost have an epidemic going on.  What I read made me cough up a hairball I was so sickened.

The first story concerned a grandmother in New York who played bus monitor for  middle school kids.  I would say brats but I’m hoping not every single kid on the bus was involved.  Seems there were four main culprits...you know...safety in numbers?  One starts it, probably to show how brave he is, and as he leads the way his little buddies chime in.  The poor woman probably used every ounce of patience she could muster up so as to not haul off and whale the snot out of the first one she could reach.  The instigator was not at all brave but very, very stupid and we all know you can’t fix stupid don’t we?  But I hope a major lesson is learned by the little tarts and this never happens again.  How on earth can one start something like that and honestly believe it won’t come back to bite him in the butt?!  Stupid is as stupid does?  And yet others follow.  Little 7th grade woosies if you ask me.

They say kids grow up so fast...obviously some don’t.  By 7th grade you would think they’d know better.  Oh, and next thing to happen is a look at the parents and the fingers start pointing and here goes the blame game.  It’s always somebody else’s fault, right?  They’re just innocent little boys or girls, right?  Uh-huh and maybe a good swift kick in the pants is needed?  Or how about a good old-fashioned spanking?  I vote zero tolerance and good luck to the moms and dads who have had to endure the embarrassment that most likely resulted as this story started going everywhere thanks to the camera video one brat took, the availability of social media to spread it all over the internet, the news channels on TV, etc.  Kudos to the woman who held it together while going thru this ordeal and I have a feeling justice has been served to the little 7th grade bullies.  How smart do they feel now?
The other story I read went a bit better.  Two teeny-boppers thought they’d attack and taunt a woman jogging along minding her own business in a park.  A woman who just happened to know how to defend herself and consequently took the little shits down a notch until the authorities could deal with them.
This is ridiculous you know?  Kids committing suicide over being bullied…it is just so wrong.  It’s so sad.  Pull your little claws in people and be nice to others because one way or another it never pays to be mean.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THOUGHT I WAS DONE DIDN’T YOU?

No, we are not quite finished with our boiling egg egg-u-cation yet.  I have more to share and since Mrs. Chef’s BFF went to all that trouble to research this info I’m going to share it.  Someday when the subject comes up and you’re faced with a crazy question as to how to perfectly boil an egg you can just look dumbfounded and blame it all on this blog.
Moving right along and trying to keep it brief since I happen to know Mrs. Chef’s mama has voiced her boredom with the subject…
In 1947 there was a cookbook written by Mrs. Simon Kander called “The Settlement Cook Book, The Way to a Man’s Heart”.  She wrote about both soft & hard boiled eggs and it seemed similar enough to previous versions that I won’t repeat it here. The way to a man’s heart…seriously?
Next there was that classic book featuring three pages of pictures with recipes for boiled eggs and deviled eggs.  Maybe you recall the 1950 “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book” by General Mills.  Not to burst anyone’s bubble or anything but you do realize that dear Betty was fictitious, right?  How she hooked up with the General I’m not sure either but this book gave two ways using both a cold and a boiling water start and claimed you should have the eggs at room temperature to prevent cracking during cooking.  Once again I’ll spare further details and your welcome.
1965 brought “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook” 11th Edition, revised by Wilma Lord Perkins.  “Hard-Cooked or Soft-Cooked (Boiled) Eggs”.  Again suggests having eggs at room temperature thinking the cold eggs into boiling water would result in cracking the shells.  This book suggests modifying times for the different egg sizes and explains you should crack the cooked eggs, then plunge into icy cold water immediately to help prevent yolks from darkening.

Let’s bounce ahead to 1968 with the “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book”.  Again we find methods for both soft and hard-cooked with an interesting note to shell hard cooked eggs by cracking shell all over and then rolling between palms of hand to loosen.  Start peeling from large end.  Hmm, this must have made a difference and had you even noticed there was a large and small end?!  Well, see...maybe you should pay attention.
Next we see the 2005 Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book where it states that sometimes hard-cooked eggs have an unattractive but harmless greenish ring around the yolk and to minimize the chances of that ring forming, time the cooking carefully.  Cool hard cooked eggs in ice water.  In peeling eggs, gently tap each on counter top, then roll between palms of hands and again the directions say to peel off eggshell at larger end.
In 2005 “Betty Crocker, Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today” came on the scene.  Looks like Betty dropped the room temperature idea telling us to cover eggs with cold water at least one inch above eggs placed in single layer in saucepan.  Cover, heat to boiling, remove from heat; let stand covered fifteen minutes, then drain.  Immediately place eggs in cold water with ice cubes or run cold water over them until completely cooled.  To remove shell, crackle it by tapping gently all over; roll between hands to loosen.  Peel starting at large end.  If hard to peel, hold egg under cold water while peeling.
In starting this egg inquiry I also asked several friends what they considered to be the best plan for making hard boiled eggs.  Of course, some seeming unaware there was more than their way to do it.  Actually that is egg-actly what lead me to write this ridiculous post in the first place.  So hang on, Mom, we’re almost there.
Speaking of Mom...Mrs. Chef asked her mother for her version.  She always put the eggs in a pan of cold water adding a teaspoon of salt and one of vinegar which was supposed to aid in removing the shells later when peeling.  Another source did in a similar way but poked a pin hole in the fat end of the shell before boiling.  This was supposed to aid in easier removal of the shell in that it breaks the membrane inside.  Another shakes the pan after dumping the hot water so the eggs break amongst themselves and aids in peeling once cool enough to handle.  Thank goodness I am of the feline order and don’t really care because I now have so many ways to cook eggs I’m totally confused.
But, wait...just a bit more facts, jack before I peel off this subject.  Just cat curiosity lead me to further search out the why’s of doing some of the things you humans do so once again our BFF investigated a few websites for some scientific input.
According to the online encyclopedia, what we refer to as Wikipedia (whatever the hell that stands for I have no clue but let’s not blog about it, ok?) the reason vinegar is added to the water is to prevent “billowing” of the white if the shell cracks, no explanation given but then the vinegar is added to boiling water to make poached eggs for that very reason.  It said the same reason is used to pierce the eggshell and it is not recommended.  It was unclear if that statement of not recommending it pertained also to the vinegar theory because those people who write this stuff write weird!
Then there was a website called ‘Chow.com’ and its answer to adding vinegar to the water makes egg peel easier said: “Adding vinegar softens eggshells, according to Juan Silva, a professor of food and science technology at Mississippi State University.  “The eggshell is made of calcium carbonate...and adding vinegar to the water will dissolve some of the calcium carbonate,” Silva says.  The result is a softer shell and easier peeling.
In case you didn’t know there are a number of factors which affect the peeling process such as the age of the egg and how it was stored.  Older eggs peel easier.  Per Mr. Silva as time goes by, the albumin, [protein] starts to break down thus boiling the shell will come off easier.  Another method he recommends is to add sodium carbonate, also know as washing soda, to the water, which will increase the acidity of the eggs.  This helps break down the protein that holds the egg to the inside of the shell.
Thinking I could settle on just one simple fool-proof version of hard boiling an egg I decided to tap into what I considered an ultimate authority...asking someone I knew that actually graduated from Culinary School!
Here is quote-unquote her comment regarding the perfect way to cook a hard boiled egg:  “So there are professionally 101 ways to cook an egg. As for boiling it you can traditionally boil it with the shell on, braise it in the oven in a stock or broth, poach in water with just enough water to cover the egg on a low rolling boil. Those three ways I would recommend. “

So with the help of our BFF we shall now, in confusion and conclusion, break it down to two categories: the cooking basics and cooling & peeling basics.

COOKING BASICS:
1. Start with cold eggs vs. room temp. eggs
2. Pin hole vs. no pin hole
3. Pick something to add to water: a: nothing, b: salt, c: vinegar, d: baking soda, e: other?
4. Cold water vs. submerge gently in boiling water; 4a: if in cold water bring to boil vs. near boil; 4b: if in boiling water (your choice here) a. reduce heat (varied), b. bring back to boil, c: off heat
5. Covered vs. uncovered (cold or boiling water start)
6. Main cooking whether starting cold or boiling water (again you pick) a:boil, b: simmer, c: sit in water off heat
7. Main cooking time widely VARIED.  Pick whatever reason as it does not seem to make a difference as long as egg is hard cooked but not overcooked.
8. Boiling covered vs. uncovered

COOLING & PEELING BASICS (after draining)

1. Cool in (pick one): a: ice water, b: cold running tap water; 1a: in a separate bowl vs. same pan as cooked in
2. Cool completely vs. cool enough to handle
3. Initial tap to break shell vs. shaking pan to break shells
4. Begin peeling on big end of egg vs. anywhere on shell
5. Tap egg on counter vs. shaking against bowl or pan
6. Break shell hitting with spoon vs. rolling on counter vs. rolling in hands
7. Peel immediately vs. whenever you get around to it
8. Peel under cold running water vs. under water vs. peel dry
Seems the one thing all agreed upon was that the yolks outer skin will turn green if overcooked.

And that’s it in an eggshell.  I hereby promise to never bring this up again as I feel I have eggausted the subject.  I also send out a personal apology to Mrs. Chef’s mama for the boredom she endured.  Bet you all can’t wait to see what subject I crack next!!







Thursday, May 10, 2012

MORE ON EGGS 101


So continuing on with more than you ever wanted to know about the history of boiling eggs we’re going back to 1894 this time.  While this may seem useless information to some...well, who cares?  It’s my blog!
Mrs. Grace Townsend put out a book titled “Imperial Cook Book, a Monitor for the American Housewife in the Dining Room and Kitchen”.  This was considered to also be one of the Standard cookbooks of that era.  Mrs. Townsend gave three ways in her book: one for invalids and considered more healthful: “Place boiling water in a granite kettle, set on back of the range where it will keep hot but not boil; put into it carefully as many eggs as need, and let it stand 10 minutes; all becomes cooked but not hard.”  “The other method is to place the eggs into boiling water.  For those who like eggs lightly boiled, 3 minutes will be found sufficient; 3 to 4 minutes will be ample time to set the white nicely; and if liked hard, 6 or 7 minutes will not be found too long.”  Last but not least a recipe for Soft Boiled Eggs: “Put them in boiling water; if you only wish the white set, about 2 minutes’ boiling is enough.  A new laid egg will take 3 minutes, if you wish the yolk set.”
As our BFF says it seems the debate about whether to boil or let sit in boiling-hot water has been around awhile.  Also note similar wording of instructions between Mrs. Townsend’s book and Mrs. Beeton’s book from last post.  Notice they talk funny back then or is it just me?
Now let’s jump ahead to 1898 and read our BFF’s copy of “The Ladies’ Home Journal Mrs. Rohrer’s New Cook Book” 1st Edition.  Here we find a recipe for steamed eggs as boiled eggs can be tough: “...Eggs boiled for two minutes” produced eggs with tough whites near the shell.  “Steamed Eggs are preferred”.  For “Steamed” eggs: “Eggs put into hot water, the water kept away from the fire, are much better than when they are boiled carefully even two minutes.”…”To cook four eggs, put them into a kettle and pour over two quarts of boiling water.  Cover the kettle, allow them to stand for ten minutes.  Drain off this water, put the eggs into a large bowl or dish and cover again with boiling water and send to the table.  The white will be coagulated, but soft and the yolk perfectly cooked.  If you should add six eggs to this volume of water, allow them to stand 15 minutes.  A single egg may be dropped into a quart of boiling water, the kettle covered and in eight minutes it will be ready to serve.”  “To hard boil...eggs into warm water; bring the water to about 200 degrees Fahr. And keep it there for thirty minutes.” …”Throw them at once into cold water and remove the shells.  Eggs cooled in the water in which they are boiled are dark and yellow.”
Mrs. Chef’s BFF offered this information as a sort of baseline by which all subsequent cookbooks are based.  As refrigeration became widespread and ranges (electric as well as gas) showed up in even the commonplace kitchen there were changes to the various recipes.  Also, interestingly enough, spices, flavorings, fats and tastes changed and each manufacturer put out a cookbook for it’s product, some using the icons of their day like Ida Bailey Allen 20’s through the 40’s so now BFF is taking us ahead to times that people cooking today, be they young or old, will be able to relate to.
So moving on to 1941 and our BFF claims to be tossing in a pre-WWII pretentious French dude into our mix.  “The Escoffier Cookbook” by A. Escoffier.  His recipe goes like this:  “Boiling eggs hard may seem an insignificant matter, but, like the other methods of procedure, it is, in reality, of some importance, and should be effected in a given period of time.” (this was one comma-happy dude-I’m typing as written-trust me)  “If, for a special purpose, they have to be just done, it is pointless and even harmful to cook them beyond a certain time-limit, seeing that any excess in the cooking only makes them tough, and the white particularly so, owing to their aluminous nature.  In order to boil many eggs uniformly, they should be put into a colander with large holes whereby they may be plunged at the same moment of time into the boiling water.  From the time the water begins to boil, eight minutes should be allowed in the case of medium-sized eggs, and 10 minutes in the case of larger ones; but these times should never be exceeded.  As soon as they are done drain the eggs and dip them in cold water and shell them carefully.”
Still talking funny!
BFF tells us that during WWII there were wonderful cookbooks that showed how to save the rationed goods.  So she included an early one here as it was a standard of it’s time.  Irma Rombauer was the Julia Child of her day.  She dabbled in the French forms of cooking but also the traditional American.  BFF really admired her and says the revised and updated editions of her cookbook are still being published and still considered a must have.  She also published with the times.  Her first edition was in 1931 and sustained many Depression era and pre-war era cooks with basic good cooking techniques over the first several revisions.  Oh, and by the way…does anybody out there know where our BFF can get a 1st Edition?  Seriously, let me know!  Evidentially the style of recipes in this cookbook are unique and are written in paragraph form but each ingredient is boldface and listed by itself rather than in the paragraph.  Even better!
Does Irma S. Rombauer’s “The Joy of Cooking” from 1943 ring a bell with anyone?  Her recipe was titled: “Soft and Hard Cooked Eggs (Boiled Eggs)”: “Place eggs in boiling water, reduce the heat and keep the water under the boiling point.  Allow 6 minutes for delicately coddled eggs; 8 minutes for firmly coddled eggs and 30-35 minutes for hard-cooked eggs.”  Double boilers were a wonderful, relatively new invention so she also gives instructions for that: “...put eggs in the top of a double boiler, pour boiling water over them and place the pan over boiling water.  Keep the eggs hot but do not permit the water in the lower container to boil.  The eggs will be hard cooked in 35 minutes.”  As for the boil she goes on to say, “Plunge hard-cooked eggs, when done, into cold water to prevent discoloration of the yolks.”
Now stay tuned, I have lots more but honestly...that’s enough typing for one day.


Monday, May 7, 2012

MORE EGG FUNDAMENTALS

Since I'm just certain you're all on the edge of your seats in anticipation of more egg enlightenment, I thought I'd share the following.  When you're about to make hard boiled eggs these days you probably don't give it much thought.  Can you imagine cooking in days of yore and not wonder how anything was accomplished with what they had available then?  I bet they didn't know what indoor cat boxes were and poor kitty had to bury it's business in the snow...I can't even think about that.  Anyway, before getting into the nitty gritty of egg boiling in today's times, here's some really old methods I'd bet you never knew.

As I told you yesterday, Mrs. Chef's BFF did some fantastic detective work to help make this interesting.  The first recipe she was able to locate for hard boiling an egg came out of a reprint of a 1st bound edition dated 1961.  "1859-1861 Beeton's Book of Household Management" by Mrs. Isabell BeetonHer recipe reads as follows:  "Have ready a saucepan of boiling water; put the eggs into it gently with a spoon, letting the spoon touch the bottom of the saucepan before it is withdrawn, that the egg may not fall and subsequently crack.  For those that like eggs lightly boiled, 3 minutes will be found sufficient; 33/4 to 4 minutes will be ample time to set the white nicely; and if liked hard 6-7 minutes will not be found too long.  Eggs for salads should be boiled from 10 minutes to 1/4 hour, and should be placed in a basin of cold water for a few minutes; they should then be rolled on the table with the hand, and the shell will peel off easily."
A tiny footnote was added at the bottom reading: "When fresh eggs are dropped into a vessel full of boiling water, they crack, because the eggs being well filled, the shells give way to the efforts of the interior fluids, dilated by heat.  If the volume of hot water be small the shells do not crack because it's temperature is reduced by the eggs before the interior dilation can take place.  Stale eggs, again, do not crack because their air inside is easily compressed."

My question is where did they teach all this egg-o-nomics in the 1800's anyway?

Here's one from 1876 called "76 Cookbook" by the Ladies of Plymouth Church, Des Moines, Iowa:  "Put the eggs on in cold water and let it come to a boil, or place them in a saucepan of boiling water, being careful not to let them crack or break, by dropping them in.  Three minutes will be long enough to cook them if desired soft, ten if hard.

Not long after in 1879 there was "Housekeeping in Old Virginia" by Marion Cabell Tyree.  Our BFF tells us this was a particularly interesting book in that it was one of the first to list ingredients first rather than having the recipe in just paragraph form so you could get the ingredients ready...ah, yes the mise en place at last.  Also it was quite the popular book written and published in the States, one of the Standards of it's time.  BFF tells us these early ladies were the Julia Child, Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray of their day.  This recipe only listed instructions for soft boiled eggs but BFF mentions it because it gives a recipe similar, for the time, for what could be considered a forerunner of the deviled egg called "Egg Cups-A Breakfast Dish" and it says that the eggs should be "boiled perfectly hard" even though there is no instruction on how long to cook the eggs for that.  They cut the eggs in half and the yolks mix smoothly with butter, salt & pepper and a separately made sweet cream sauce, put back into the egg garnished with fresh parsley.  (mayonnaise which is a mixture of beaten raw eggs, oil and seasoning was not safe to keep around back then without refrigeration.)

Next we find in 1889 "The Every-Day Cook-Book and Encyclopedia of Practical Recipes, For Family Use" by Miss E. Neill.  This book only gave a recipe for soft boiled eggs but then in a later recipe uses a hard boiled egg with instructions to boil 6 eggs for 20 minutes before slicing them on bread and covering them with a cream sauce.  Now back to the soft boiled egg one has to assume it's the same 6 eggs and 20 minutes but then actually boil the eggs not just leave them sitting in hot water.  The book reads: "Place eggs in warm saucepan, and cover with boiling water.  Let them stand where they will keep hot but not boil for 10 minutes".  As our BFF says the book leaves a lot for a woman to guess but is still one of the early Standards of American cookbooks.

I'm going to let you chew on this awhile and we will return to more of the oldies next post.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

NOT EGGACTLY EGGCITING

There's a pretty good chance this will be the wackiest thing I've blogged about yet.  Besides the fact why would a cat even care about such a silly subject as...are you ready...hard boiling eggs.  That's what I said...hard boiling eggs.



Let's just start at the beginning so you'll understand how this rolled out.  I happen to reside in a home with one male and one female human who spend a lot of time in their kitchen.  I'll just nick name them Mr. and Mrs. Chef as they both love to cook, other humans have actually made requests and paid them for special dishes, and they don't even seem to mind the clean up involved following a project.  Yeah, so maybe they are a little weird but I do get my two squares a day, all day munchies, litter box is always clean, I can't complain.  Whenever they have a concoction going in the kitchen I usually manage to stay on my nap schedule undisturbed.  That is until the times they make hard boiled eggs and those stinky fumes start permeating the hallway.  Frankly my litter box doesn't smell that pungent but whatever.


Aside from that my point here is not about the aroma of hard boiled eggs but rather the process or method one uses to hard boil them.  Mrs. Chef originally used her way which I understood to be pretty much just boil the living daylights out the eggs until there's no doubt whatever is inside the shell is boiled beyond belief.  Then along comes Mr. Chef one day and suggests she try his way, turned out his way was better and for that eggs everywhere are probably relieved.  Let me mention also that Mr. and Mrs. Chef often times watch the food network on TV and it just so happened one day they caught a show about making hard boiled eggs.  This particular TV Chef explained that the egg when cooked properly should have a solid yellow yolk with no green outer coat.  Funny part about this is Mrs. Chef thought that green exterior on the yolk was normal and made it look like an itty bitty planet earth.  Now thanks to using Mr. Chef's method she no longer gets the outer green color...and she'd never even noticed that until she saw that egg episode.  Then one day Mr. Chef happens across a video clip on how to boil the perfect eggs so they both decided they better watch this one too.  See how everyone lays claim to the "perfect" egg?  So this got Mrs. Chef to thinking that there must be more than one or two or even three perfect ways to boil eggs so she began asking her friends.  Next thing you know she'd collected quite a variety of methods.


Now I'm sure this isn't the first time somebody has taken the egg boiling methods to task and I'm definitely not here to say which is the best way or the worst way.  Frankly, I could care less how the rest of you stink up your kitchens but I thought it would be interesting to share some of what we learned. 


Interestingly enough Mrs. Chef's long-time best friend, we'll call her BFF, has a cookbook collection with books dating back to the 1700's.  Can you imagine worrying about hard boiling eggs back then minus electricity or running water?  So for fun Mrs. Chef asked BFF to do some research and see if she could discover how far back she could find a recipe for hard boiling eggs.  She tells us the early cookbooks seemed more concerned with how old an egg was rather than how to cook it.  Most times they were just served for breakfast soft boiled.  Another bit of trivia tells us that the very first American cookbook was by Amelia Simmons dated 1796 but no mention was made of cooking hard boiled eggs.  Back then all cookbooks came from England but here in America there were different foods available that were not covered in the English cookbooks.  Things like turkey, pumpkin, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, berries, etc.  Not that cooking eggs was done any differently here from there but no mention was made as to how to hard boil them.  Maybe they had not yet invented egg salad or deviled eggs.


It was also mentioned that the spelling in these books was horrible (ah, the pre-spell check era).  Way back then the letter 'f' was used in place of the letter 's' which made for some fun reading for BFF.


In BFF's research she told Mrs. Chef about a book from 1753 called "The Compleat Houfewife: or accomplfh'd Gentlewoman's Companion".  Whew...my spell check is going nuts over here.  Anyway, her book is a 15th Edition and she notes that the earliest edition is the 3rd Edition from 1729 and it now resides in a British Museum.  Notice the "f' and lack of the 's'?  And again nothing noted on boiling eggs but it did advise that when buying eggs you should put the big end of the egg to your tongue to see if it's fresh and warm.  Try that today and you're bound to hear someone yell security.  Now I'm going to let you digest this much and will continue next post with the very first recipe we found for hard boiling eggs!
Are we eggcited yet???



Saturday, April 14, 2012

IS IT ENOUGH ALREADY?

How about it was what it was? Is it? Was it? What? No doubt you have heard the phrase it is what it is. When you first hear it you think it's kind of catchy, but then you notice you hear it more frequently and not too long after that you swear if you hear it just one more time....

How about next time somebody says it is what it is you say 'oh no, it's not!'. Or better yet tell them it was what it was but it is no more. Do you have any idea what I'm meowing about? Me neither but as it is I'm going to keep going.

So curiosity led me to research the origin of this simple phrase it is what it is and as it turns out, it is a bit of a mystery. No one can pinpoint who originally coined this phrase. Which leads me to ask who coined the phrase 'coined the phrase'?

What is around here is it's just a regular Caturday (that's Saturday to humans) and being a typical cat I've already enjoyed my tuna in gravy feast, rearranged my litter box, taken a nap, stared out the front window awhile, taken another nap, a bath and not quite ready to curl up and sleep yet. It's been awhile since I last posted and I decided to meow about something on my blog today. See, I could have just as easily said it is what it is rather than describe what it is.

The way I see it words occasionally escape some humans and using that phrase works well as a sort of multipurpose alternative to actually allowing one's self to form a complete thought or opinion into a sentence.

There are definite theories regarding the phrase it is what it is but no one seems to have been able to confirm when it was very first used. It is a well known phrase in the sports world. Easy enough to understand why...uh, we lost the game, low scores, it is what it is. The pitcher was way off base...it is what it is. Our best receiver was out with injuries...it is what it is. How about just say it like it really was...we suck therefore we lost.

There are some websites that want to give Al Gore credit for the phrase because he used it in a statement to explain why a situation could not be changed. Al Gore...it was what it was.

Then I read where the phrase was used as far back as 1949 in a Nebraska State Journal and odds are you could probably research it beyond that date and discover another quote by somebody. I've since lost interest and that is, after all, what is with me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

AWAITING PIPSQUEAK

As hard as it is to tear myself away from perching on eagle watch 2012, I decided it was time to blog, bitch, or whatever. When I left the website just now, Papa was doing his shift on the nest. Today in Decorah, Iowa the temperature is a cool 41 degrees with a lot of wind and at times you can really feel that nest sway in the tree. Seems I'm not alone in my new found bird watching hobby...over 42,000 other cats are watching this site along with me this morning. I think that number is even up from the totals I saw over the week-end as the world anticipates the first egg to hatch. The eggs usually hatch between 35 and 37 days or thereabouts. Everyone is intrigued and watching closely now because the first egg was laid 38 days ago but so far all is quiet in the nest.

Here's a little eagle lesson for you...just pretend like you asked...The first poke in the eggshell is called a 'pip'. The baby eagle has developed it's 'egg tooth' and it uses this to poke a hole in the shell...aka the pip. In reading all the comments that people write in alongside the video I have learned lots of information. People are listening for a squeak, a sure sign there's been a pip, I suppose. Get it? A pipsqueak! Interestingly enough I do recall being called that a few times as a very young kitten. Imagine all these years later to learn it actually has a meaning.

Once the pip occurs it will take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for baby eagle to completely break free of it's shell and Mom and Dad do not assist in the process. Maybe they just pace the nest? At any rate this has been quite fascinating to watch, even for a cat. Face it, a critter this size could easily carry my furry butt away so I shall respect big bird!

Now I must confess that I am looking forward to tonight's DWTS episode. I know, I know...a couple of my previous posts contained a few wise cracks regarding the latest line up of not-so-star-stars. Well, curiosity got the best of me and I found myself tuning in last week for the premiere. While I completely expected to be disappointed I was quite surprised to be very impressed over all. In fact, I'd go so far as to agree with a lot of viewers that it was probably the best yet premiere for DWTS. Granted I never heard of most of these new contenders but I will admit most actually seemed to dance pretty good for their initial time on the show. Even Gladys Knight was on there minus her "Pips" and showed she had rhythm. Guess the Pips never let her dance, just sing back in the day.

Anyway, speaking of PIPs I just heard the first pip was confirmed at 2 pm. and I missed it because I was on here...must fly for now. I will leave you with a hint regarding my choice for DWTS first elimination....either Melissa or Martina. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

HAPPY ST. PATTY'S DAY

Here's to a Pot 'o Gold for all, or green beer for those who partake in the bubbly. I'll stick to my ocean whitefish pate with a side of catnip! Green 'nuff!
March is flying by and while I had wanted to share some special dates for this month I soon discovered there just wasn't much worth meowing about. In fact, the month of March's alleged holidays seem to range from basic bizarre to just plain ridiculous. I have been doing a bit of research to add interesting dates to my 2013 Sister Very Catty Calendar but honestly, March just didn't cut it for me.

For example, would you believe according to a couple of websites that March 1st is National Pig Day? Uh-huh, that's what I said. Who makes this shit up anyway? How does one celebrate such a holiday? Spare a pig? Adopt a pig? Have a ham sandwich?

Since I almost feel bad for my piggy cracks I returned to these websites to find out what the pork this was all about. Sure enough it's a date set aside to recognize and give thanks to you domesticated piggies out there who were lucky enough to be adopted as house pets. Humans hold special events to honor your day with snort offs, pig outs and there's even online pig chats. Let's hear a round of oink oinks on that one, folks.

But wait, there's more to March 1st than porky...it's also National Peanut Butter Day. Yep, America's favorite sandwich spread has it's own day of recognition just like it's little piggy cohorts. Hmm, now I'm torn...do I want a peanut butter sandwich or a ham sandwich?

Other than those two goodies, a lot of you had to switch to Daylight Savings Time on March 11th. Come Monday morning that probably sucked for most of you. Bummer.

Next up we'll have the first day of spring on the 20th. Big whoop for us in these here parts because it just leads to summer. By these here parts I mean hell. Commonly referred to as the desert section of the good old USA, it's hell in summer no matter whatcha call it.

For those of you keeping a watch on those eagles in Decorah, Iowa don't forget the first egg is due to hatch along about the 23rd. There's a date to watch for March. Mama and Papa have been diligently taking turns perched on their three eggs and arrival time is really getting close. Occasionally it's been almost scary to watch the nest when it sways in the high winds they have from time to time. That's one rock-a-bye-baby home sweet home 80 feet up in that tree.

Next week starts the new season of DWTS...yes, I just felt compelled to bitch about that again. I may tune in just to see how disappointed I figured I'd be with the new line up of this season's not really stars. Back to the nest I'll probably go....
Cheers!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HOW TO GET TO DECORAH, IOWA

My last posting was the day after Valentine's Day so thought we'd tell you exactly where we got lost to. You won't believe it coming from a cat's world but what I'm about to confess is the absolute truth. You see a friend forwarded this website to my cohort a couple weeks ago and while she didn't take much interest in it the first couple visits...well, truth be known, now we can't drag her away from it.

The website is called 'Ustream' and what we've been watching is a live 24/7 video webcam of two bald eagles in Decorah, Iowa. Now I have no clue as to why they are called bald eagles because their heads are most certainly covered in feathers. The first few visits to this website we saw a huge empty nest high up in a cottonwood tree. Not exactly spellbinding. Then one day we visited it again just in time to see one eagle in the nest and the other one come soaring in demonstrating a beautiful landing as it perched next to it's mate. It was amazing and to think we're watching it live makes it even more so. Soon we began reading all of the information displayed below the video and now that we know a whole lot more about eagles we wanted to share it.

Sure I suppose as a member of the feline race I'm naturally an avid bird watcher but let me tell you this really kicks it up several notches. Our back yard birds are pretty well fed and half the reason they're fed is the kitty entertainment factor. Being strictly indoor felines, we do enjoy watching the feathered critters eat out in our back yard through the big patio door, but to see these eagles live on our computer is just phenomenal. I might add that those are some big-a** birds that could easily carry us off one in each claw.

This is wildlife education at it's finest and it's provided by a group called the Raptor Resource Project. These folks are truly ingenious. If you just go to www.Ustream.com and click on The Decorah Eagles it will take you to something better than anything on television. I don't even know where to begin describing what's happening. I'll try and be brief but we're so excited at this we want everyone to know about it.

As of this posting we have two eagles about to be a Mama and a Papa to 3 offspring. Not their first rodeo either so don't panic when you check on them and they're being snowed on or rained on or even looking like the wind is about to blow the whole tree down. I've learned from reading the 'Social Stream' to the right of the screen that these birds choose to live here. If they didn't like the weather they'd migrate elsewhere. Since today the temperature is very cold with drizzling rain and/or sleet off and on we decided it was a good time to break away awhile and post. I have to admit it is a little bit upsetting to see this regal pair getting soaked as they sit perched on their 3 eggs so good time to peck at this.

When we started watching these eagles on a regular basis we quickly learned that the first egg had been laid on February 17th. We also learned that on an average there are 2 or 3 eggs laid at most when they mate. Did you know eagle couples stick together like they were married and that they can mate until death do they part? In addition, the male does just as much as the female taking turns sitting on their offspring.

Soon after egg #1 was laid they mated again meaning egg #2 would be laid 3 days later. I was able to stay tuned in that evening and sure enough on February 20th we witnessed Mama lay egg #2. Yep, we were right there in labor and delivery with mama bird.

Now, are you ready for this? The next morning as soon as we got up we headed to the computer to check on the birds. Talk about great timing....Mama was on the nest taking her turn at egg sitting when in flies Papa. Next thing you know the two of them are perched over on the y-shaped branch on the other side of the nest. Papa's on the left branch and Mama's on the right one. I suppose they're just exchanging chit chat while the eggs cool down a bit. The body temperature of these birds is about 106 degrees and every so often they'll stay off the eggs a few minutes so as to not overcook them. They also frequently roll them over.

So next thing you know Papa has joined mama on the other branch and then right there on live video cam they did the deed. C'mon, we all know what we're talking about here, right? I was almost embarrassed feeling a bit like a peeping tomcat, but it's just nature being nature so as a fledgling eagle watcher I merely checked my calendar for three days later in case we have one more egg. Sure enough I was there once again in L&D on February 24th for the arrival of egg#3.

Next exciting event will be the anticipated hatch date for egg #1 on March 23rd. Meantime, a few interesting facts...this nest is 80 feet high in the tree, it's about 6 feet around and four feet deep. Again...big-a** birds! The video cam was installed a few years ago and the birds are completely unaware anyone is watching them. Even in the dark there's an infrared light so we can still watch and the birds have no clue. One night I'd been watching, left the room for a half hour, when I returned the bird and nest were completely covered in a blanket of snow. If a cat could cry....

We find all of this to be really fascinating. There's a tutorial on how to tell the difference between the male and the female...they do look alike but there are distinct differences...for one thing Mama looks meaner! You can also watch a slide show on how these brave souls installed the equipment while the eagles were elsewhere during the fall. Having it live you also enjoy listening to the sounds of nature like other birds or geese flying by, the rain as it falls, an occasional horn honking from the highway down below. The camera operator occasionally pans around showing us the farm below, the horses, the snow accumulated on the ground, etc. This is near a fish hatchery so the eagles never hurt for chow. The days Mama was due to lay her egg Papa would fly her dinner in...true love with room service.

I am very thankful our friend turned us on to this website and we hope others who were unaware of it will check it out. Let's face it...not much else worth seeing on the boob tube. Even worse they just announced the upcoming contestants on season 14 of DWTS. I don't even want to talk about it. I had so much hoped for real stars this year after last season's huge disappointment....but, nooooooooooo, once again we're stuck with nobody we ever heard of or watched before. Boring...I'm off to fly with the eagles...my new feathered friends.

Stay tuned for more updates in eagle world!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

THE NEW VALENTINE'S DAY?

Hope you humans all enjoyed a nice Valentine's Day, maybe scored some yummy chocolates. Let me tell you a little secret. Your best bet is to celebrate the day after. Beautiful bouquets of flowers, roses, orchids, etc. now half price. Lovely boxes of gourmet chocolates marked down 75%! Stores have to get rid of all of it so you might as well fore go the day a mere 24 hours.

Taking today's economic situation into consideration it's no wonder everyone must monitor their spending a lot closer. A sale is a sale, all the flowers are still fresh, the candy is still yummy, what's a day's difference when it comes to saving money?

Did you hear Cupid was even in dire straits this year? Couldn't meet all his valentine requests due to his hours being cut back. Poor dude already works without benefits and then they cut his hours. Makes no difference to the higher ups that he doesn't have enough hours in a shift to complete his deliveries. They just bark at him to do it faster. Nor does it seem to matter that he's been a long time faithful employee, always willing to work a flexible schedule, be on call, but no, too bad, too sad. Even Cupid knows he's replaceable. Is job security a thing of the past?

What's the world coming to? Whatever happened to employee appreciation anyway? These days one is expected to show up on time, do the work as instructed and carry on as though you are grateful just to have a job. The employer lords it over you, that you either accept shorter hours, less pay, no bennies or the next one in line gladly (temporarily) takes your place. That simple. And insurance? What? Another thing of the past. You're on your own with that because you're not full time remember? Such a vicious cycle.

Wasn't it said that life's like a box of chocolates? My advice is go buy yourself a box of leftover Valentine candy and live it up for once. Remember when life doesn't seem fair, there's always chocolate and the day after it's always on sale. That much you can count on!

Monday, February 6, 2012

POST PUPPY BOWL

From a feline's perspective I have to admit that Puppy Bowl VIII was an exciting game to watch. The stands were packed with enthusiastic fans making this year's bowl a huge success. The starting line-up was loaded with high energy all stars ready to bounce onto the playing field. About the end of the first quarter Fumble scored the first touchdown of the game. Baskin was soon edging in but seemed to have trouble handling the ball. No challenge to Fumble. 2nd quarter brought in Leroy Brown who came on strong in spite of rumors that he actually preferred baseball. Calvin seemed very excited about the plays and York was more than ready to throw his weight around. Suddenly Fumble tackles Prancer, showing off his speeding abilities as he heads across the stretch. Next he gets tackled by Oscar who seemed to come out of nowhere. A personal foul was then called on account of a dog tag tackle by Fumble. Fumble quickly distracts his opponents and scores another touchdown. Then Shiloh scores, a rookie with great footwork shown as she heads to the end zone. In comes tiny but mighty Fumble to score another touchdown. At this stage of the game Fumble looked like a definite contender for MVP of the year...well, up until he needed a short nap at the end of the first half.

Halftime entertainment was outstanding as the kitty kapers displayed genuine gymnastics abilities. Even Madonna couldn't compete with these athletically skilled kitties. It was a non-stop fluffy finale. Not a single mishap, misstep or wardrobe malfunction to be seen.

Into the 2nd half we see Augusta coming out full force, taking the ball, heading to the end zone, stopping, reversing direction, running to the other end zone and scoring a touchdown. In fact, it was history in the making as two touchdowns were made simultaneously.

The Piggy Pep Squad went nuts, the crowd roared with delight. You know, even the 'Kiss Cams' were adorable...and when do we ever use that word talking about football?

There were no doubt too many great plays to list them all but I really have to say I don't think I've ever seen that many touchdowns in a game. In the 2nd half we witnessed Aberdeen come out ready to go. At one point he had the ball, was all ready to score when Hollie scooped it away, losing her footing long enough for Aberdeen to regain the ball and score.

Referee Dan Schachner had to call a time-out for too many puppies on the playing field and then he discovered his flag and whistle were missing. Think he may have blamed a feline party but not sure.

For a short time the tailgaters were annoyed when it appeared as though the players just wanted to dance around when suddenly Aberdeen scored again. Unbelievable footwork by that puppy. Hunter challenged him for the ball. Following an intense face-off, Hunter blinked first and Aberdeen with his sights on the end zone scored again. Aberdeen took over as high scorer but did have a foul called on him for excessive toy hogging. It was indeed a new puppy record for most touchdowns in one quarter.

Then the inevitable happened...and people, remember we are talking puppies here! A personal puppy foul was called on Montana for soiling the field resulting in a five yard penalty at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Okay, 4th quarter, Abilene breaks for the end zone, Aberdeen intercepts, Anthony steps in, Abilene continues racing to the goal, another interception, Abilene reverses direction and on to the end zone for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Abilene went too far and earned a personal foul for illegal nipping. Anthony steps up again heading to the end zone when Brandie cuts him off, takes the ball and scores. Aberdeen's got the ball again, Anthony goes for it and succeeds in a touchdown finally. In a great finish to the 4th quarter Sweetie Pie scores a touchdown and does a celebratory dance at the end zone.

All in all it was a great game with super doggie defense. offensive fire power and lots of touchdowns. Fumble did come away with that MVP (most valuable pup) award, Aberdeen scored the most touchdowns and Sweetie Pie had the best end zone dance.

On behalf of us Puppy Bowl-watching cats we do offer our deepest condolences to those of you who missed such a wonderful display of sportsmanship, perhaps in favor watching that spandex set in the Super Bowl. Like some cats the only interest in that game is for the commercials breaks. Thanks to the internet those can be seen without having to endure the game.

I vote Jerry Seinfeld's commercial the best overall. No clue what car he was plugging but he was funny regardless. The Budweiser Flash Fans was really clever and I think even the hockey players agreed. Pepsi and Elton John was pretty good, but being a coca-cola fan I really loved the Polar Bears. Now the dog working out to beat the VW was great as well but gotta tell you....the Chevy Silverado, even with a plug for Twinkies, was pretty farfetched. Then that Fiat - Abarth ad...huh? The Samsung ad...utterly ridiculous. Met Life...get a life! Can't even justify Oikos Yogurt with a comment. The Avengers, eh? Whatever!

My Totally Stupid Dishonorable Mentions go to Century 21 & The Donald, Chevy Volt and/or Chevy Sonic, even dumber, Cadillac ATS...at least it was brief. Add in Career Builders and monkeys for completely silly, Hyundai...ridiculous right along with the Camaro, the Toyota, the Camry and the Lexus. What is this anyway....a car-buying brainwash conspiracy? Do the producers of this fiasco actually think beer drinking fans will cure the day afters hangover by purchasing a new car?

Super Bowl ads for the most part can certainly be humorous but at times they push that sexuality envelope a little too much. So, just how many tattoos does David Beckham have anyway? And who, by the way, wants to necessarily see that during a football game? All you guys were just thrilled with that ad, right? However, on a more serious level, Chrysler sponsored a great message with Clint Eastwood...a very well spoken message for hope and I do hope people got the point.

Final thought....Puppy Bowl Scores!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

THE REAL SUPER BOWL!

Happy National Freedom Day on February 1st and bets on that few knew about this holiday. I personally think it should have more recognition but then what do I know being feline and all?! Just so you know President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming February 1st as National Freedom Day on June 30, 1948. The purpose of this holiday was to promote good feelings, harmony, and equal opportunity among all citizens and to remember that the United States is a nation dedicated to the ideal of freedom. Reason enough to honor the day, wouldn't you say?

February 2nd we have Groundhog Day...uh-huh, bets are that everyone knew about that day. Seems kind of sad there's always headlines about this rodent known as Punxsutawney Phil but not so much about National Freedom Day. Anyway the critter saw his chubby little shadow this year and consequently people believe there will be six more weeks of winter rather than an early spring. According to one website old PP has seen his shadow 99 times and only failed to see it 16 times. There's also 9 years of missing records but at any rate it seems to me this is one really freaking old rodent.

So that brings us to the 3rd and 4th of the month and nothing to denote for those two days...unless you want to count the 4th as Super Bowl Eve this year. Sports fans everywhere anxious to watch the game of the year with the New York Giants battling the New England Patriots for the trophy. Well, that is not the game we're watching. We'll be tuning in to the real Super Bowl game known as The Puppy Bowl VIII.

Puppy Bowl VIII has a fantastic starting line-up, the kitty halftime show can't be beat and this year features the Piglet Pep Squad. Better yet, no wardrobe malfunctions or aging rock stars squawking at the airwaves. It's a win-win bowl!

So rather than discuss the spandex set or latex or whatever it is those guys are poured into and puffed out of, let's talk about the Puppy Bowl VIII. I've learned some interesting facts on this game. The average age of the players is 10 weeks so there's never really any unnecessary roughness, just cuteness...even if we are talking puppies and not kitties. As long as the chew toy is successfully dragged into the end zone it is a puppy touchdown. The referee will keep a close look out for illegal use of paws or premature watering of the turf, otherwise known as fouls in football lingo.

I recently read that the very first Puppy Bowl drew 150,000 viewers. Last year's bowl drew 9.2 million! Now that's a touchdown people. Seriously, what's to ooh & aw over beefy dudes piled up in a heap, fighting over a silly ball when there's puppies on the field?

The Puppy Bowl is actually taped in the fall and the puppies come from various animal shelters around the country. Following the show they are all hopefully adopted. They have 58 different pups playing at different times throughout the game, allowing each one about 20 to 30 minutes to play. The stage lights get very hot and care is taken to not wear out the little paws. Not only are the puppies up for adoption, the little piglets are sold as companion piggies.

So we're all set here to watch the Puppy Bowl VIII and see Baskin, Brandy, Abilene, Hunter, Eurika, Joni, Augusta, Delilah, Lucie, Anthony, Gracie, Friday, Malie, Calvin, Leroy Brown and the rest of the line-up...just to name a few.

A big thank you goes out to Animal Planet for providing such a wonderful alternative to Super Bowl Sunday. Kick-off is 3:00 PM ET so grab your Friskies Treats and tune in!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

THE SPEED of TIME

Can you believe it? January is done. It's over. All 31 days are forever gone, completely spent. Were you ready for that? Didn't you just put away Christmas decorations? Please tell me you have taken down the lights!

One minute it was New Year's Eve, the next we're staring at Groundhog Day on the calendar. So did everything get done on that 'good intentions' list...you know, all the stuff to get done in January to get a fresh start on a new year. Yeah, good intentions are always better than no intentions so don't feel bad. There's always February but be warned...only 29 days so you'll need to kick it up a notch.

As far as the January headlines around the world it was the same old doom and gloom since that seems to be the main point to 'breaking news' reporting the worst possible events. I mean seriously, have you ever had a television show interrupted to tell you a good thing?!

Then in the political arena (circus-not caucus)there's really no sense in commenting on the so-called presidential candidates...more like bumpkins than candidates. They are all so busy degrading the opponents you have no clue what they're really all about but you sure learn the other guy's faults don't you? I've got one word to sum the lot of them up...embarrassing. That's all I have to say on it except that I am glad to be feline and not have to pay attention to such political malfunctioning.

Then we've got your weather. While sunny and 70 degrees in some parts, other places have been completely devastated by tornadoes. Mother Nature never did play a fair game. One state can have floods while another suffers drought conditions. This states unbearably hot and the another state is below freezing. There's not much one can do about it unless able to relocate somewhere you might feel is better, otherwise it's put up and shut up.

So that's it for January, 2012. First month done and over with whether we were ready or not. Might as well welcome February with open paws and hang on for the ride. The speed of time seems to be gaining on us. Now what are you going to do with your next 29 days?

Friday, January 27, 2012

IT'S NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CAKE DAY!

Believe it or not January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day. News to me and I'm betting it is to you as well so let's discuss it. Something as important as a holiday for chocolate cake should not be eaten lightly. Like Garfield has a thing for lasagna, I am a chocoholic to the core. I happened to learn about this holiday just today when I was on my favorite website, LOL I Can Has Cheeseburger. To be sure I wasn't seeing things I Googled 'National Chocolate Cake Day' and sure enough, it does exist. I will definitely be noting it on next year's Sister Very Catty Calendar, you can count on it.

After researching a few different sites regarding this holiday I found several that say the creator or origin of this day is unknown. There are no presidential proclamations or anything official like that and the only reason this holiday is referred to as 'national' is because that's just the way it is with food holidays. However, on other websites credit was given to a Dr. James Baker for developing a way to make chocolate by grinding the cocoa beans between two millstones back in 1764. Consequently this was the actual birth of cocoa powder which led to the endless possibilities for baking.

So to celebrate this day the best thing to do is bake a chocolate cake and then enjoy eating it and that's exactly what we did tonight. I'm here to tell you the cakes we baked were so yummy I decided to share the recipe we used. You won't believe how simple it is, with ingredients you probably have, and very little effort or mess you will have yourself one really good cake...well, actually two good cakes. Hang on...I'll get to that in a bit.

This recipe & info was taken from "The Best of America's Test Kitchen-Best Recipes & Reviews for 2011". It's called "Individual Fallen Chocolate Cakes For Two". The recipe explains that fallen chocolate cake is an intense, rich chocolate cake that ranges in texture from a dense, brownie-like consistency to something altogether ethereal. Essentially it is undercooked chocolate cake. It makes a perfect dessert for two and only requires a handful of ingredients. Under-baking it keeps the center of the cake slightly saucy. To bake the cakes you'll want to use two 6-inch ramekins, greasing them well and then dusting with cocoa powder for an extra chocolate flavor. This way they will easily release from the ramekin. The cakes are best served warm but we enjoyed the second cake later on after dinner and it was just as good as when warm. Positively sinful it was so chocolatey good.

So you will need the following:
2 six inch ramekins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 6-inch ramekins and dust with cocoa powder.
2. Combine the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until melted, 1 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in vanilla.
3. In a large bowl, whip the egg with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the egg to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually whip in the granulated sugar and salt; continue to whip the egg until very thick and pale yellow, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
4. Scrape the whipped egg mixture on top of the chocolate mixture, then sift the flour over the top. Gently fold the mixtures together with a large rubber spatula until just incorporated and no streaks remain.
5. Divide the batter between the prepared ramekins, smooth the tops, and wipe any drops of batter off the sides. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the cakes until they have puffed about 1/2 inch above the rims of the ramekins and jiggle slightly in the center when shaken very gently, 10 to 13 minutes.
6. Run a small knife around the edges of the cakes. Gently invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate and let them sit until the cakes release themselves from the ramekins, about 1 minute. Remove the ramekins, dust the cakes with confectioners' sugar (if using), and serve immediately.

This was without a doubt the ultimate taste sensation in chocolate cake and credit goes to Mr. Dan Zuccarello of America's Test Kitchen Books for his wonderful test results.

Now you know all about National Chocolate Cake Day and I'll just apologize for letting National Peanut Butter Day get past us on January 24th. Try to keep up people!

STOP THE GUILT!

Confession is good for the soul, right? As humans you at some time or another may do something or say something and then decide it wasn't such a good idea to have done that or said whatever it was you said. Then you start to worry about it, you can't shake it, you fret over it, you really wish you hadn't done it. Guilt starts creeping in and soon it begins to eat away at you until the urge to get it off your chest is so strong you feel you must spill your guts to somebody. I'm talking none other than the human condition known as guilt which leads to confession time. Who out there does not know what I'm talking about? Trust me, I listen to it all the time so I thought I might attempt to ease some of those guilt-ridden consciences a little bit by discussing another human ritual known as the New Year's Resolutions.

On that note let's see a show of paws....how many of you actually made New Year's Resolutions this year? That's right, just a few short weeks ago you possibly "resolved" to do something new this year. Admit it, maybe that midnight toast got to your head and you once again created these grandiose, impossible to keep resolutions. Did you write them down so you'd follow them? Did you even take yourself seriously when you concocted them? Or was it just the standard same old, same old, the ultimate boring BS resolutions....going to eat better, going to eat less, going to exercise, lose weight, join a gym, maybe go to church, save money, cut down on drinking, on spending, stop smoking, be kinder to others, call your mother. C'mon, let's hear it. Spit it out while I find the shovel...you know...since confession is ...well, you know!

My next curiosity...of those alleged resolutions, would it be easier to tally up how many actual resolutions were made, how many you've actually kept or how many have you already forgotten about? Go ahead, do the math. Then let that shame start invading your head, jump on board that guilt train to nowhere. You know the one that just keeps cruising down the tracks of the day to day grind, stopping occasionally to view a television commercial designed to keep you 'on track' and guilty! The ads that flood the air waves as soon as the holidays are gone, the ads showing you every imaginable piece of exercise equipment known to humans complete with a wafer size model to take you through the boring as hell infomercial. Don't forget the ads for all the different miracle ways to drop those holiday pounds, now endorsed by a famous celebrity. See the domino-effect conspiracy happening here? The marketing world knows you've made these ridiculous resolutions so they flood you with reminders, commercial after commercial with false promises of weight loss, or wrinkle removers, or anti-anything, instigating that guilty feeling over that empty resolution you made on new year's eve. Damn the champagne!

My mission here is to erase that guilt so people get a clue here once and for all. It's easy to see from a cat's perspective that you simply should not be making these silly resolutions when you begin a new year. What are you thinking anyway? How dumb can you be? Why torture yourselves like this? You and I know full well you have no intention of keeping that resolution so give it up. No resolutions, no guilt. Stop kidding yourselves. It's as easy as that. I mean you sure don't see us doing such a silly thing...why would we when we are already perfection in fur?!

In summation I might confess that I had a resolution to write more frequently in my blog but noting the date of my last entry it would appear as though I had not kept my resolution, correct? Wrong! Did not make any such resolution, will not be boarding any guilt train and you know what else? Frankly my dears, no one gives a damn! There...guilt absolved for all!