It's been a busy few weeks here at the house. My friend Sue came for a visit from Minnesota last week. She enjoyed the MUCH MUCH (MUCH) better weather here. Minnesota has pretty much been a frozen wasteland this winter.
I took her one afternoon to volunteer at the thrift shop and then the shelter. And there was a kitten who needed fostering -- she came in during an ice storm about a month ago, and several of the employees tube-fed her and her siblings. Only Brows survived, and she is thriving. We'll have her for four weeks or so. She's funny, sweet, gentle, and very loving. And what a face!
Sue suggested we tackle a craft project (something we could finish in an evening.) I dragged out about 20 of my craft books, and she settled on a book called "Fanciful Felties from Mummysam: Sew People to Meet, Places to Go and Things to Do." (Mummysam is also known as Samantha Cotterill...she used to sell some of her figures on Etsy, but now you can find her at www.mummysam.com.)
You can find the book on Amazon (and yes, it qualifies for Prime) for about $8 now. Well worth it if you like to craft. Above are the two buildings we made. I had a bunch of felt here, batting, thread, buttons and pins. We weighed them down (so they'd stand up straight) with those flattened glass marbles you get for floral arrangements (I had a bag of those in my closet.) I think they turned out really cute, and although we muttered our way through a few of our ineptitudes, we ended up with something cute that will remind us of our time together.
(These are some of the projects you can make using the book -- it really is fun to look through.)
I have been trying a lot of new recipes lately, using Pinterest as inspiration, and digging through my wonderful cookbooks. Above is a recipe I've made about four times in the last month (the first time I made it, Harrison asked if I could make it again the next day!) It's VERY easy and tastes like something you'd get at a great restaurant. Although it's called "Spicy Thai Coconut Soup," it's not HOT spicy...just flavorful. A few of the ingredients are going to be things you probably won't have on hand, but they are easily found at the grocery store. Here is how I make mine (I have made a few adjustments.)
Theresa's Spicy Thai Coconut Soup:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound white mushroom (fresh -- sliced thin)
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 inch of fresh ginger grated (or a few shakes of powdered/dry ginger)
4-6 cloves of minced garlic
1-2 tsp. of lemongrass paste (find this in the produce aisle)
4 tsp. Thai red curry paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Fresh chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper
Cooked white rice (prepare this as you like -- I enjoy Jasmine rice, but you can use your favorite)
Cook the chicken breasts whole in some olive oil in a pan on the stove until finished, seasoning with salt and pepper (and you can do a little garlic powder, too). When the chicken breasts are cooked through, slice them as thin as you can (after they've "rested" a few minutes on the cutting board.) Yes, you can chop the breasts first, then cook them, but I find that chicken cooked this way can turn rubbery and lose a lot of its flavor and is less juicy.
While the chicken breasts are cooking, you can handle the rest of the dish. This comes together quickly! Start your rice. I use a rice cooker, so I just dump in 3 cups of rice and 4 1/2 cups of water, turn it on, and forget about it.
In a large and deep pan (I use a non-stick wok), heat a splash of olive oil (medium heat), then sautee your mushrooms, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, lemongrass paste, and red curry paste for a few minutes. Then add the coconut milk, chicken broth, sugar and soy sauce. Simmer while your rice and chicken finish cooking. When the chicken and rice are finished, toss your chopped cilantro and cooked chicken into the soup.
To serve, ladle the soup in a bowl, then add a big scoop of rice. This is a very satisfying and comforting dish, comes together in really about 20 minutes or so, and tastes out of this world.
I received a call from Amanda at the shelter yesterday. Trulia, a cat who had been in our care in the Cat Cottage for a number of weeks, was a bit of a hider. And it turned out she was hiding something important -- she was pregnant. Yesterday, she had one little calico baby, and the shelter was desperate for someone to take mommy and baby in. My cats don't typically like another adult in the house, but I knew Trulia was quiet and gentle, and she and baby are now set up in our guest bathroom with the door closed.
I'm waiting to see if any other babies show up -- cats can prolong their deliveries over the course of 36 hours or so. But I think this little sweetie will be it. We may name her Mercy (or Marcie.) She is so strong already, and quite large for a new born.
After hiding for weeks at the shelter, Trulia is genuinely happy to be in a quiet home with a fluffy blanket, her own litter box and food, and a lot of love and affection from my family. And she is taking very good care of her baby, too.
(Here's a better picture of Trulia taken by the Pet Photography Project folks at the shelter. Trulia is about three years old, a petite cat -- around 6 pounds -- and was found by animal control. She is very affectionate and will be up for adoption in about a month or so.)
Diane and I are thrilled with the results of our charts for charity project to benefit animal shelters in the United States. We had another drawing yesterday, and Lynda Ruth Bowers from Canada is this week's recipient of these two autographed charts from Diane and me. We'll have six more drawings, and in order to quality, go to my Etsy shop Letters Great and Small and purchase Neighborhood Friends and/or Cats in the Garden. All proceeds will be going to six lucky animal care organizations in the United States (read about how you can vote for your favorite with your order on the Etsy page.)
Keep those needles busy -- and take care of you! - Theresa