Baking plantains & peaches

I purchased a plantain because I know that I like them but have never made them at home. I prefer the non-sweet version so I decided to try out baked tostones.  While I had the oven on I decided to whip up some baked peaches since we had some very ripe peaches.

The recipe for tostones all called for green plantains. My plantain wasn’t green but I think it turned out fine anyhow.

I sliced up the plantain into thick slices and tossed with salt and just a drizzle of olive oil.

After spreading them out on a baking sheet that was covered in olive oil spray and baking for about 15 minutes, I flipped and smashed them with the bottom of a cup.  They baked for another 15 – 20 minutes and were done! I enjoyed them but next time I’ll be sure to have some dipping sauce to go along with the tostones.

At the same time, I sliced up some peaches, tossed them with some brown sugar, cinnamon and honey and baked them until soft. Delicious!

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Making beer bread

Since I came across this recipe for different types of beer bread on Bake at 350, I knew I wanted to try it. My previous experience with beer bread was delicious. A softball party for team “Beer Me” was the perfect opportunity to bake up a batch, or two as it turns out.

I decided to make a loaf of the orange nutmeg for the party and a loaf of gruyere and rosemary for my husband to take to work.

The recipe calls for self rising flour which we don’t have and I’ve never used it before. My husband pointed me to wikipedia which says you can make your own self rising flour by adding 1 tsp of baking power and 1/2 tsp of salt to regular flour. I combined those ingredients with a bottle of beer (Avery White for the orange nutmeg bread), 3 tablespoons of sugar, zest from an orange and freshly grated nutmeg.

For the gruyere and rosemary bread, I used a bottle of Real Ale Pale Ale.

I then baked the breads for 1 hour at 350. The bread smelled wonderful.  When I took it out, the orange rosemary bread was drizzled with a fresh squeezed orange juice and powdered sugar glaze.

The gruyere rosemary bread was covered with butter.

While the bread looked tasty, it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped.  The baking powder must have been too old because the bread turned out too hard.  I also think a sweeter bread would have been better.

A friendship 10 years in the making

Ten years ago today, a very special kitten was born. Her name is Annie. Some 9 weeks after her birth, she adopted me on a hot summer day when I went into the Cuyahoga County Humane Society in Cleveland with a friend. As I walked by her cage, she reached her paw out at me so we stopped. My friend Deanna picked her up and we didn’t put her back down until after I completed the adoption forms, complete with a phone call to my father by the Humane Society to make sure I could bring home a kitten.  This would be the last time that Annie allowed me to carry her around willingly.

We dropped by the pet store and then ended up at my Dad’s house. As she played with us in the yard, we noticed that her spay incision appeared to be infected. I called the Humane Society who instructed me to bring her to the vet the next morning. That day she took a nap on my chest while I laid on the couch. This would also be the last time she ever napped on me while I wasn’t asleep.

At the vet the next day, I was informed that she was lucky I took her home when I did because she couldn’t have survived much longer with that infection.

When my Mom met Annie her exact words were “she’s homely, isn’t she?”. She’s the small one in the photo meeting my sister’s cat Spunky.  Luckily, her coat quickly grew in much nicer and she turned into a gorgeous kitty.

She moved between my parent’s houses with me that summer and then accompanied me to Oxford for my final year at Miami University. My roommate didn’t know what to think about cats at that time and now she has two herself.

Annie’s kittenhood was awesome. She loved her “mice babies”, to attack my plants, she could climb a ladder up into my crazy lofted bed, she regularly slept in the bathroom sink and she always helped me with my homework.  She would patiently ride in the car back and forth between my parent’s houses and Miami which was a four hour drive.

Annie and her “mice babies”:

Annie distracting me from homework:

Annie says this is cat torture:

After I graduated, she moved with me to Austin, riding shotgun in my Ford Focus while my Dad and sister drove my Dad’s truck with a trailer. She handled the drive well and quickly settled in to our new apartment.

We lived out a peaceful year in our apartment except for two things. The first was the introduction of my future husband in to her life. She didn’t really like to share me. The second was a tiny little kitten I rescued from the incredibly hot HEB parking lot. Annie was not amused and even though I had that kitten for no more than a week before finding her a home, Annie started licking a bald spot in the middle of her belly.

After that year, we moved in with a roommate who also had a female cat name Charlotte.  Annie and Charlotte were OK friends but Annie continued to make her bald spot larger.

A view of the bald belly:

Annie and Charlotte tolerating one another:

After another year, I knew I would graduate soon but wasn’t sure what I would do after that so I moved in with my future husband and his cat Carston.  For some reason, Annie hated Carston. When not lounging on the outside porch she was busy licking more fur off, laying on top of the fridge or picking fights with Carston.

Oh the disdain:

Trapping Carston:

The next change in our lives was moving into our current house with the two cats in tow. Throughout all the changes, Annie remained my faithful friend, purring herself to sleep next to me every night. I think she thought better of it the day I brought home a puppy.  Molly, the puppy, was a crazy crazy puppy. The cats thought she was the most ridiculous thing ever. She would chase them. Carston would simply run away but Annie would jump up on to some furniture and then give Molly the loudest thump on the head you could imagine. It was really unfortunate that a vet talked me into having Annie’s claws removed as a kitten.

You can’t tell, but they’re both staring at the puppy:

Annie is confused about who goes in the dog crate:

Eventually Molly grew up and the cats became friends with her, even rubbing on her legs occasionally. The parade of foster dogs I helped find homes for weren’t the idea of fun to our cats. Soon after adopting Molly we found a homeless old cat with cancer that we took in. Luckily he was too old and senile to want to pester the other cats.

Annie says she’s going with us:

After my promise to my husband to stop fostering dogs and the death of the old cat (Buddy, we called him) I quickly adopted another kitten. Annie was incredulous. So incredulous in fact, she finally stopped licking her fur off (parts of her legs were bare by now) and it started growing back.  To this day she puts up a good show of hating Mojo, our new cat, but in secret I think she really likes him.

Mojo and Carston have fun:

Mojo and Molly become friends:

Annie decides she can share the dog bed with Mojo:

Even now, Annie still adores me. When she’s awake, she follows me around. When I sleep, she is almost always touching me. At 10, she still goes crazy for catnip filled toys. I’m glad she chose me.

Annie enjoys a cat bed I made:

The cats laugh at the dog getting her holiday photo taken:

Only to be tortured themselves: