Some stuff on the stove

wood-stove

Shouldn’t Baptist churches retrieve the practice of venerating the saints, that is, engaging in corporate worship acts designed not to worship the saints, but to remember, honor, learn from, and celebrate saints from our Baptist family and from other Christian communions? Until we regularly include commemoration of the saints in our worship celebrations, we will continue to neglect the opportunity to give proper value to those from our past who have borne courageous witness to faithful discipleship. Commemorative acts done in our Sunday morning services would provide a suitable accompaniment for the tradition some have already developed as part of their Vacation Bible School program, in which stories are told of great spiritual leaders worthy of emulation … [HT: Steven Harmon]

[Image: from Old Picture of the Day]

Main Course: felis domesticus

There is surprisingly little online advice about how to prepare a cat for human consumption. But here’s an edit of what I could pull together by way of some basic preparation and simple recipes.

Preparation

1. Get a large cutting board and lay out your cat. Lop off the head, the tail and the feet with a sharp butcher’s knife. These parts of the cat contain little usable meat, so give them to the dog.

2. Make a longitudinal incision on the cat’s abdomen. Reach your hand into the body cavity, and remove all of the internal organs. Discard them – especially the liver. It may look tasty, but the liver of a felis domesticus is frequently too toxic for human consumption.

3. Time to skin. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to do it, but the basic advice is to use a sharp knife to trim off the skin, and pull it back, snipping away at the muscle tissue. Alternatively, grab some loose skin near the head stump and, using a pair of pliers, peel it back off the carcass like a banana or like how you’d skin an eel, rolling it off the body.

4. Wash the meat of stray gristle and hairs.

5. Pour yourself a drink.

Recipes

Here too you have some options:

Microwaved Cat

Place your prepared a cat in a high powered magnetron microwave for 10 minutes. This will denature the proteins and caramelise the sugars. Unfortunately, it will taste like a microwaved burger. Just as well there are other options.

Beer Roasted Cat

Ingredients

  • 1 cat cut into roast
  • 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 cube of beef bouillon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Fine Irish Stout

Directions

Cover and soak cat roast in salt water for 24 hours. Drain water and then cover and soak in beer for 6 hours. Drain and place in crock pot with your cans of soup. Add a clove of garlic, and a cube of beef bouillon. If you start to slow cook your cat in the morning with your George Foreman Cooker (or it’s ilk), you’ll have finely cooked feline in time for supper.

If a slow cooker is not available, a cat can be baked at 170 degrees for 2–3 hours in a conventional oven and still come out pretty good. Beer Roasted Cat is fantastic served with mashed potatoes, collard greens, and fresh, homemade egg rolls. When planning a full meal just remember – cat is a course best served hot!

Cat may not be the most glamorous, or tastiest of game meats, but with a little thought and preparation, Baked Cat can make the belly of the persnicketiest diner glow with home baked goodness.

You could also try a modified version of this: Instead of using Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, try using 1 chili and 2 tablespoons of grated ginger.

Cat Braisé

Ingredients

  • 1 cat cut in serving-sized pieces dusted in flour with salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 artichokes
  • thick slices of slab bacon, diced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2–4 cup homemade chicken broth
  • 4 flat parsley stems, 6 leafy thyme branches, 1 bay leaf tied up with kitchen twine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Directions

1. Snap the leaves off the artichokes until only the tender inner leaves remain. Snap off the stem. Trim the remaining green bits from the bottom of the artichoke, and cut off the inner leaves in a bunch at the point where they are very tender. Pare the tough green outer layer off the remaining stem, pairing the stem into a point. Now cut the artichoke bottom into quarters and remove the choke with a sharp knife from each quarter. Rinse to remove any traces of foin and drop them into a bowl of water acidulated with the juice of half a lemon.

2. Heat 2 tablesoons of olive oil in a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven. Dredge the cat pieces in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Brown over medium heat, turning regularly, until golden on all sides. Remove cat pieces to a plate and dump any oil remaining in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the bacon dice. Sauté until cooked but not crisp. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the onion and carrot. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the artichoke quarters and the garlic, stir one minute, and add the tomatoes and the white wine. Turn up the heat and reduce until syrupy, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Lay the parsely, thyme and bayleaf garnish on top of the vegetables. Arrange the cat pieces on top, together with any juice accumulated in the plate.

3. Pour in enough broth to come halfway up the sides of the cat pieces. Cover and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer over very low heat about 1 hour or cook in the oven at 170 degrees for the same amount of time. The cat should be just tender and part readily from the bone. Don’t overcook or it will become dry. Check the liquid level frequently and add more broth if necessary. Turn the cat pieces once.

4. When done, remove the cat pieces to a warm platter and arrange the vegetables, removed with a slotted spoon, around them. Cover and keep warm. Strain the remaining pan juices into a smaller saucepan and reduce over high heat, skimming frequently, until reduced by 1/3. Pour over the platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with finely chopped flat-leaf parsley if you like.

5. Serve with the best bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that you can source.

Cat Tamales

1. Toss one pot of bone-free cat strips right into the frying pan.

2. Add 1 cup of Mexican-style chili sauce, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1 tablespoon of crushed cumin seeds. Add chili powder, and salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Fry at a medium-high temperature in a little cooking oil, stirring occasionally. After ten or fifteen minutes, add 1 cup of water, reduce heat, and simmer.

4. Meanwhile, place 3 cups of cornmeal in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of lard, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Mix well. To this, add one and a half cups of chicken or cat broth. Beat until you have a light, soft dough.

5. Now take a small ball of your dough mixture, and spread it out on a corn husk. Remember to pre-soak your corn husks for an hour or two, so they will be soft and easy to roll. If you don’t have any corn husks, you can use aluminum foil, in 4×4 inch squares.

6. Spread at least a tablespoon full of your filling down the center of your dough. Then roll the whole thing up, tucking in the ends of the corn husk, so it stays together.

7. When you have 12 to 18 tamales ready to cook, steam them over boiling water, for about two hours.

8. Garnish with a little lettuce, spread a little salsa over the top, and they’re ready to serve!

9. Enjoy with a pilsner.

Cat Au Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 cat – skinned and diced
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese – shredded
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • paprika

Directions

1. Cut skinned cat pieces into dices.

2. Cook and stir onion in butter in a large saucepan until onion is tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper.

3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.

4. Stir in milk and 1–1/2 cups of the cheese. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

5. Place cat in ungreased casserole dish and pour on the cheese sauce.

6. Cook uncovered in 165 C degree oven 1 hour 20 minutes.

7. Mix remaining cheese and the bread crumbs; sprinkle over cat. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook uncovered until top is brown and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Dinner Music: ‘Nobody’s Moggy Now’, by Eric Bogle

Somebody’s moggy by the side of the road
Somebody’s moggy who forgot his highway code
Someone’s favourite feline who ran clean out of luck
When he ran onto the road and tried to argue with a truck

Yesterday he burled and played in his pussy paradise
Decapitating tweety birds and masticating mice
Now he’s just six pounds of raw minced meat
That don’t smell very nice

He’s nobody’s moggy now.

You who love your pussy, be sure to keep him in
Don’t let him argue with a truck, the truck is bound to win
And upon a busy road, don’t let him play or frolic
If you do, I’m warning you, it could be cat-astrophic
If he tries to play on the roadway I’m afraid that will be that
There will be one last despairing meouw and a sort of squelchy splat
And your pussy will be slightly dead and very very flat
He’s nobody’s moggy, just red and squashed and soggy,

He’s nobody’s moggy nooow, hoummmmm…

NB. This post was inspired by my deep hurt at watching a local cat attack my ducks yesterday. In Kübler-Ross lingo, I’m still at Stage Two – anger. Stage Two is probably not the best stage to be blogging in. Clearly, I never got the whole St Francis thing.

Cooking

‘In the beginning was the Word. It was only when human beings appeared that the Word became food on a table. We know that language allows us to understand each other and to express what we think and feel. We humans, however, are more than language. We humans are cookingage, i.e., that which allows us to prepare the food with which we can nourish not only our body, but also our spirit. It was when we started to cook our first meals and when we started to conjugate the incarnate Word that we noticed that we were human. Both table and Word humanize us. No wonder it is essential that the table on which our meals are served be conjoined with good conversation: at the table, the word is essential’. (p. vi)

So writes Joaquín Racionero Page in his ‘Foreword’ to Angel F. Mendez Montoya’s delightful book The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist, a book which recalls something that Lévi-Strauss once argued; namely, that in order to properly learn who we are, we need to look at the food and cooking patterns we enjoy for these reveal to us, like language itself, something of the basic structure of our systems of signification.

Such revelation, discovery, participation, is of the bene esse of life. And Voltaire was right, ‘Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity’. Indeed, and I would say the same about cooking. One of my greatest – and increasing so – life-giving joys in recent years has been cooking, and all things related – like opening up the door of the glass house and having one’s nasal passages and entire head literally attacked by the aroma of basil and tomatoes! Along the way, I’ve started to build up the beginnings of a decent library of books on food. Here’s some of my favourites:

And here’s a few more that I’m chasing (and which are on my Wishlist, if anyone’s feeling particularly generous)

What’s your ‘must have’ cookbook/book on food?

BTW: there’s no such thing as ‘just a little’ garlic, nor a ‘dash’ of wine.

Trout with Ginger, Parsley and Rosemary

wine & troutThere are few greater pleasures than cooking, and to the sharing of recipes there appears no end. The latter strikes me as entirely appropriate because food is all about sharing. Bereft of a pretentious title, here’s one of my favourite trout recipes:

Ingredients

  • Fresh trout, gutted (and, if preferred, filleted)
  • A generous handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • An equally-generous handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1–2 tbsp chopped or grated ginger
  • 2–3 tbsp honey
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 3–4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2–3 tsp soy sauce
  • 3–4 tbsp pine nuts
  • 4–5 handfuls of baby spinach (optional)
  • Crushed rock salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Butter
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Rice

Cooking

  • First thing is, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Then get the rice on (in lightly salted water). Then season the trout (whether whole or fillets) all over with all the rosemary, all the ginger, half the parsley and salt and pepper. Don’t skimp on the ginger! Place fish in a shallow ovenproof dish with a good splash of extra virgin olive oil and butter (extra butter on top helps the cholesterol) and bake covered for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.
  • Meanwhile, pour yourself a generous glass of wine (you’re working hard). Then, mix together the honey, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, and a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Then it’s time for a quick drink (of the wine, not the sauce).
  • Then, lightly toast the pine nuts until light brown (don’t burn the little fellas), then put them aside to cool down. If you’re going for the spinach option, it’s now time to add the spinach to the pan in which you toasted the pine nuts, add 2–3 tbsp water and cover. Cook for around 3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Serving Up

Place the rice (and spinach) on warmed serving plates – right in the centre. Then gently place the trout on top of the rice (and spinach). Scatter the plate with the toasted pine nuts, splash the dressing over the fish and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Eat slowly, and enjoy it with the best bottle of Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc that you can afford.

December bests …

Best books: Giorgio Locatelli, Made in Italy: Food and Stories. New York: Ecco, 2007 (this one is easily among my favourite books of the year); Marcia JoAnn Bunge, ed. The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001; David H. Jensen, Graced Vulnerability: A Theology of Childhood. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005; and Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.

Best music: Malcolm Gordon, One Voice; and U2, The Golden Unplugged Album

Best films: Death Sentence (2007)

Best drink: Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (2006)