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?
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!
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). 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. (Ace Hardware and canningpantry.com sell them online in the States, but kitchen stores should have them, too.)
It works like a charm! 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.
The 3rd NEW item: English Muffin Rings
These were made by Fox Run and cost $5 for 4 rings at our local gourmet cookware shop-- I bought 8 of them. ( The King Arthur Flour website carries a set of 8 rings for $8.95.) 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!