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Friday, February 26, 2010

IN WITH THE NEW-- A NEW CAT COMPANION, AND SOME NEW & USEFUL KITCHEN ITEMS...

Best Blog Tips Isis, the 5-year-old female tortoiseshell cat who adopted us recently:



Isn't she a beauty? She's a big cat, bigger than our male cat, Ringo.


Ringo (the one with his mouth open) in a typical pose, with his sister Tina, who unfortunately passed away last year.

Isis has been quite aloof, but last night she actually jumped up on our bed while DH was reading and sniffed his nose and purred! A first!

A little history: she began hanging around our place a few months ago and, eventually, when we began to see her regularly, I started feeding her outside. In time, she let me pet her while she was eating. We leave a window open for the cats all the time (we live in the country on an island, so we don't worry about locking things!), and we found out that she was coming in and sleeping in the house at night. DH saw her jump out the window one morning. Evidently, the other cats didn't chase her off. Eventually, he got her to stay and eat in the kitchen, and that was that. She was skittish and not terribly friendly, but she stayed.



Our friends Fireweed and Mike, who run the island's spay/neuter and release program for feral cats and strays, took her to the vet who does work for them at a discount. The vet discovered that she was spayed already, about 5 years old, and had an identity tattoo deep inside her ear (we'd missed it). Via the tattooed number, he ascertained that she belonged to a family who lives in Vancouver and has a summer home on our island, and they were contacted. Evidently, she had run away in August (they think because they got a new dog), and they had put up notices with her picture, but no one had reported seeing her. She had been a totally indoor cat in the city and quite overweight, we found out later. The weight was useful for her because she ended up on her own for about 4 months! Somehow, with no outdoor "smarts", she made her way clear across the island to us, and in very good shape!

We also found out that her name was "Isis", which I thought was very fitting, since she obviously thinks she's a goddess!

We wanted to keep her, especially since we knew that our lovely old girl Sinéad was probably going to leave the world sometime soon. Also, all of our cats have "found" us and we really felt that she had chosen us. However, when the family phoned us, they said they wanted her back, so we sadly but readily agreed to keep her safe until they came to the island in a couple of weeks or so. But, to make a long story short, they came, checked us out, and said that we could keep her if we wanted her, because she really disliked the dog! Of course, we said yes! So, she is slowly establishing her place in the house and getting to know us better, and we hope that she will be here for many years!

I wonder if she chose us because there were other cats here and so she figured she'd be welcome?

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MY NEW (INEXPENSIVE) AND USEFUL KITCHEN ITEMS

1st new item: My new Danish Dough Whisk



I ordered this from BreadTopia for the very reasonable price of $8 US!! This is the large one-- they also have a smaller one that would be useful for smaller batches of dough or batter, and, especially, sourdough starter. They were friendly and prompt, and their shipping cost, even to Canada, was very low.

I purchased this dough whisk to use on my no-knead bread doughs (see the Bread category on my Recipe Pages list on the right hand side of the page), and it works really well for that, and is easy to clean. Evidently, you can use it for muffin and quick bread batters (probably good for gluten-free bread batters, too), biscuit and soda bread doughs, and even cookie dough-- anything from a thick batter to a real dough! Eric at BreadTopia says, "It's perfect for mixing heavy dough prior to kneading. Way better than a spoon and much easier to clean." It's such a nice, old-fashioned tool. I love it!



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2nd new item: a jelly bag (or jelly strainer) on a metal stand, which I bought to strain homemade soymilk!




The one thing I don't look forward to when I make my homemade soymilk is straining it. But, I like my milk smooth, so I want it strained well. I thought the gold coffee filter, which is often recommended, was very slow and tedious, so I got rid of mine. The mesh strainer that comes with the SoyQuick machine is just not quite fine enough for me and doesn't hold much, so I use it for other things. Consequently, I have been using cotton cloth, which works well, but it takes quite a while for the milk to go through and you have to squeeze and twist the soy pulp (okara) in the cloth by hand to get all the milk out. Then you have to clean the cloths.

On another post, Pat Meadows told me that she uses a "Chinois", or a conical strainer, to strain her soymilk with ease. (These are sometimes called "China caps", and what Pat actually uses is an "8-inch Extra Fine Mesh Bouillon Strainer".) She writes: "I picked this particular one because it has extra fine mesh and it is LARGE. It's made of stainless steel. This is the perfect tool for the job, in my opinion. WHOOSH and most of the soymilk has gone through; a quick press with an oversized rubber spatula or wooden paddle, and the rest goes through. Time spent standing at sink: about one minute."

I still intend to get one of those at a later date because it would be so streamlined! Pat paid $20 on sale, but the same strainer is $28.40 now and they can go up to about $35. Then you have to add shipping costs (unless I can find one here or in Vancouver). Unfortunately they don't ship to Canada, and I haven't been able to find anything in that price range in Canada (I tried ebay, but what I could find had to be shipped from the US at a rate of over $20 shipping!), so I'm going to see if I can have it shipped to a friend in the States who I am going to visit soon.

If you do buy a conical strainer, opt for extra-fine mesh, NOT perforated steel.

UPDATE: I ordered this one from amazon.com.


I couldn't fit it into my budget just now, so I thought an old-fashioned jelly bag might work similarly well for the time being. I ordered one from a Canadian (BC) company, KitchenNiche.ca, for $10 and received it very fast. (You can get one from amazon  online, but kitchen stores should have them, too.)

It works much better than a regular strainer, or a cloth-lined colander! I think that is the fastest I have ever made soymilk! The conical shape helps the milk drain out quickly and, though I tried squeezing the last bit out, it really wasn't necessary. I strained one batch (I had made 2 at once), dumped out the okara and poured in the next one. It went so fast and the clean-up is also fast and easy!







The cloth was cleaned and dried in a jiffy and I put it back on the stand. I'm just going to leave it set up, covered with a plastic bag, and stored on a shelf, so that I don't have to re-assemble it each time I use it.

UPDATE Ap. 12, 2010: The jelly bag is started to fray and tear a bit, so I'm anxious to get the extra-fine-mesh conical strainer I ordered! (See picture above.) Otherwise, I would have to buy a few new bags to have on hand.

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The 3rd NEW item: English Muffin Rings





I wanted to make no-knead English muffins, but knew that the dough would be so slack that you would need the rings (which are probably actually crumpet rings) to hold the nice round shape. I have only tried them once and I didn't like the particular recipe that I used, so I'm going to work on one and will post it when I'm satisfied! But the rings worked just fine!

Cheers!

14 comments:

Andrea said...

Of course, now I want a dough hook.

I look forward to your perfected recipe. (Back in the "olden" days I used to use empty tuna cans with both ends removed for muffin rings.)

Anonymous said...

I had all three on my wish list and have been able to get the dough hook since then, for the same reasons. I came to the same conclusion about the soy filture ideas.

Brenda W. said...

Oh what a wonderful story about Isis!! (Must be a good name for companion animals of vegans ... Hannah Kaminsky's dog is named Isis!!)

And now I want some English Muffin rings ... just today I read Vegan Dad's blog post about making the Bread Baker's Apprentice's recipe for English Muffins!!

Zedral Z said...

What a gorgeous kitty!

margaret said...

My Dad used to say cats have a sixth sense for people who like them. I know I like them because as I type one is doing the claw dance on the quilt over my sofa (guess why my sofa has a quilt in the first place) and I don't care - I just love the wonderful sound she's making as she does it.

ms. veganorama said...

Isis is gorgeous and really glad that things have worked out and that she's with you. We have a (rescued) tortie as well who is bigger than all the other cats except for her biological brother. She's 17lbs but could stand to lose a few pounds. She is also sort of aloof. Maybe a tortie trait?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

ms. veganorama, she's a gorgeous cat! Don't you love the differences in all the torties? Isis has one completely black leg and foot-- just one! I just love your cat's face, with the two sides completely different colors, and so defined!

Eileen Smith said...

Yes! I do believe cat's will leave and choose another family like Isis did. This happened to my parents and I hear it often too. And I think they are guided to their new "people". They just seem to "know".

grunch said...

I'm always happy to hear a good story about a stray finding a good home. My sweet Eudora, who was 20 years old passed away last year. I miss her dearly.

Now I have Sam and Jack domestic longhair tabby/white mix. They are brothers and will be one year old on April 28. They are a handful but, a lot of love on eight legs ; )

Pat Meadows said...

Hi Bryanna, I'm glad the jelly bag works also - it's always good to have alternative ways of doing things.

Congratulations on acquiring Isis! She is a very pretty cat!

Suzanne said...

your cats are so adorable!

Karen's Vegan Kitchen said...

I have one of those Danish dough whisks and I absolutely LOVE it. Thanks for the tip on the strainer; I just started making my own soymilk and tofu(!) and I see I need/want another gadget. It looks perfect.

Anonymous said...

I use the nut butter and the gold strainer. The nut butter for the first go-through and the gold strainer for the final run. It gets rid of every bit of sediment. Works great. Thanks for your website and posts. Very helpful.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

anonymous, you mean a nut milk bag, I assume? I'm ordering one for making almond milk on occasion. For soymilk, I use the chinois (cone strainer for the first run, and then a gold filter, too.