Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ratcicles and Other Rats I've Missed

Stop Subbing (the Mister's father, who comments anonymously) noted that Stitcher 'Strodinaire (as in extraodinaire, the Mister's Mother) has spotted ratcicles recently in central Kansas. While there is something alluring about a frozen rat, I'm just as glad I missed it. I'm also content that I didn't see the rats (or their video) at the NYC KFC/Taco Bell or get shot while mistaken for a nutria (scroll down on the link).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beaver: Real Live Rodent

I spotted a beaver in the Little Kanawha River this evening. It will be the rodent of the month and receive full treatment later. At the moment I'm just thrilled because, well because it's a beaver. I have only clearly seen one beaver in the wild before and I haven't even seen a mouse or chipmunk this month. So it's special. And it's a beaver. Woo hoo!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sparkling Report

A few of you have been wondering, "Is Sparkling Squirrel really falling behind on seeing rodents (I haven't seen a live one yet this month), writing groundhog cards (yours is not the only one that hasn't been sent), AND drinking sparkling wine?"
Fear not, dear friends, while the rodents are reclusive and post-work evening time very very short (I'm sleeping with the texts again), the wine is being drunk. Not all is amiss in the world.

While we were asleep at midnight on New Year's, we did have ample sparkling wine-laden frivolities in Lawrence on Jan. 3, consumed the Indiana sparkling on the way home, Sanity Saver (my friend and TA for the 101 labs) brought a bottle of Balletore to the GH party and we had a bottle of Domain St. Michelle Blanc de Noir (the house cham-pan-ya) sometime in between. Enough to keep us going in any case.

Beyond the basic, over the last month we kept a bottle of Chandon California Blanc de Noir in the 'fridge, awaiting a job offer for me. Last Wednesday, my department chair recommended that the college hire me. Technically, that's not a job offer, but it was Valentine's day, it was freezing and cold outside and the Mister and I needed to open a bottle.

It was tasty. Very tasty. Fine bubble structure. Beautiful color. Just plain really good. Better than our "house champagne." Mmmmmm.

Yesterday we were in the big city in yet another snowstorm. The warehouse store to which we belong had both lobster ravioli and Cordoniu Pinot Noir Brut Cava (Spanish) on special, and displayed a big sign mentioning that the sparkling wine was perfect with lobster. Ever suckers for marketing schemes pushing things we really enjoy, the Mister and I bought both pink cava and lobster ravioli and consumed them this evening. While I'm proud of the leek cava butter sauce I created for the ravioli, they were somewhat of a disappointment (I had lobster ravioli at one of the most innovative restaurants in France at age 12 and have been spoiled ever since*), but the mister and I were both impressed with the pinot noir cava.
The wine was definitely better than any pink Spanish wine we've had. While it was pinker than most blanc de noirs, it was distinctly dry and, comprised of 100% pinot noir, made in the same style. We'd both very happily drink it again. It wasn't as good as the Chandon, but at half the price ($10 for this bottle), something we're more likely to encounter again. I'd like to do a side by side tasting with the Domaine St. Michelle, to discern a definitive favorite, but in the absence of that I'd put them at the same level and choose based on price (unless you absolutely cannot handle the pink color in which case the Domaine St. Michelle is distinctly paler).

*Every once in a while my mother wonders what sort of food snob monsters she created by taking my brother and me to Europe and out to eat at nice restaurants while we were young and impressionable. Of course I have no idea what I'd be like without my love of good food any more than I can imagine myself not noticing the plants (I mean, I wouldn't be me), but I am eternally grateful to my parents for this (and many other things). Thank you mom and dad. I hope I'm not a monster, but if I am it's not because of those fabulous lobster ravioli, or rooster kidneys, or dark chocolate apricot souffle, or casis sorbet in France or wonderful pesto or cinnamon rolls or schnitzel at home . . . or . . .

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Spanish Sower (Janet, who is gardening in Ecuador these days, and who has a fabulous blog I should link to once I learn how to do that) asked for a cabbage recipe.
I'm a bit stumped. I love cabbage. Donna and I each have fond memories of staying up all night eating a whole head of raw cabbage in high school, and Sunflower Spinner and I giggle about an all cabbage meal we made not that long ago. Yet I don't have a single showcase recipe, at least not a recipe one could easily pull together in a small apartment in Los Bancos. Both of these are very different takes on steamed (or could be stir-fried) cabbage. In general, cooked cabbage should a) not boil (it can become stinky and all the nutrients go with the water) and b) be infused with tasty ingredients (say, onions and soy sauce or apples and caraway).

Sparkling Squirrel's Everyday Cabbage

1 head green cabbage
1 onion
soy sauce
(seasame seeds or something else crunchy to sprinkle)

Chop onion and saute it in a little oil. Chop cabbage. Add cabbage to pot. Sprinkle with soy sauce, seasame oil if you have it and a little water. Cover and steam until cabbage is cooked. Sprinkle with seasame seeds if you have them. Add more soy sauce if you like it.

Red Cabbage

This is based on my mom's red cabbage, based on some Eastern European recipe she found somewhere. I don't know that it wouldn't work with green cabbage, but red cabbage has always gone better with sweet flavors to me.

1 head red cabbage
2 apples
some fruit juice
fruit jelly or brown sugar
vinegar (small amount)
caraway seeds (or cloves, cinnamon, etc.)

Chop apples and cabbage and place in pot with a little juice (water is fine) a little sweetner and some spices. Steam until cabbage is done. You can play with the color by playing with the pH with juice and vinegar (Don't over vinegar! But if you do, add more sweetener.) I prefer whole spices, in part because they impart a wonderful winter-y smell to the whole house, and in part because I've ruined this by sprinkling on too much ground cloves, cinnamon or caraway seeds before and the whole spices are better infusers and can be removed. Very different from most people's expectations of cabbage.

Asian Slaw is my favorite raw cabbage recipe. I'll save it for later unless Spanish Sower or someone else requests sooner.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Romantic Rodents

To commemorate the day of Saint Valentine*, I adopted a Vancouver Island Marmot in the Mister's name and, while I haven't yet received anything substantive, I have heard rumours that a plush Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) will be arriving for my present.
You may laugh at such romantic antics, but I'm a sucker for the romance of rodents. How could I not be smitten with a man wooed me with the latin name of a thirteen-lined ground squirrel, declared after we had been together about a year that Marmota should be the official genus of our household, and travels with a stuffed prairie dog? I wish you all someone who "gets" you as well.

*I actually intended to adopt the marmot as a Christmas present.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Groudhog Party Report

Party was fun. 15 total guests. Most were better friends with each other than with me, which was a strange situation as a hostess. The blue groundhogs (this year blue curacao, coconut rum, pineapple juice, silver rum and lemonade) were very good, however, almost everybody drank beer; the beverage which we had not bought. Somebody brought some home-distilled brandy. The mister consumed more than his fair share of it. Nobody except me wore an island outfit. Nobody "got" that Jeff's "Marmot" shirt was related to groundhogs. I spent tons of time actually staging fresh fruit at different levels around the house. It was not noticed.

That sounds like a disappointed report when, in fact the party was much more fun than I had anticipated. All of the attendees had a good time and many have thanked me during the week for throwing such an event. Had it been a bomb, I would just write it off. However, a very fun but completely unextraordinary party serves as a good foil for the exceptional parties I am more accustomed to throwing. The vast difference between my typical parties and this perfectly adequate party made it clear how great we had it in Lawrence (and Denver). As a person of joy, I should be grateful for ever having been part of a circle of friends as fun and supportive as our "gang" in Lawrence, but at the moment, the comparison is accentuating my sense of loss.

Lacking Rodents

Basically, any smart rodent has been deep underground or in a tree for the last week-- it's cold here. (While those of you in the upper midwest are not sympathetic, walking to work in two degree air is cold whether or not it is minus twenty in Green Bay.) Dumb rodents have long ago frozen or been eaten by the many local cats, so we have not seen rodents recently.

However, this morning it is sunny and quickly warming up to freezing. The local birds apparently consider this spring, or at least reason to fly, chirp and peck with gusto. Our 2 block walk to and from downtown this morning yielded two pilated woodpecker spottings, 2 presumed hairy woodpeckers, several cardinals, three mallards, lots of sparrows and assorted LBJs. Relatively, quite the plethora.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Animated Rodent Face-Off

While several of you are visiting for Groundhog Day, it's time to pose a pressing question-- what are the best animated rodents?
Mickey + Minnie, Tom (or Jerry? I always forget who is who), DangerMouse, Rocky, Mighty Mouse, Chip + Dale, Simon Alvin and Theodore, the Rescuers, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH . . . someone else?

Happy Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Island IV festivities will commence at our house at 8 p.m. on February 3. Yes, we will play pin the shadow on the groundhog for sticker prizes, drink fruity blue groundhogs with paper umbrellas, and eat sausage even though we don't have friends here. Tradition is tradition.

Hope you all are celebrating spring! or winter! or rodents! or whatever!