Hemingway's six-toed cats

Apparently there has been quite a furor over whether Hemingway's former home in Florida should be allowed to keep the clan of cats (50+) descended from the author's original six-toed feline companion, Snowball, without a special "animal exhibit" licence. This Guardian article explains it in more detail.

In other news, I am in the midst of the short but remarkably dense (in amount of poetic power per page, not mental acuity) Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick, for the Slaves of Golconda (I swear I will actually get around to reviewing this one, unlike Lady Susan! That is why I am giving myself a huge head-start before the deadline.). I am also reading the lengthy but immensely entertaining - if somewhat unsettling in its ability to predict and stereotype human behavior - Watching the English, an anthropological approach to the oddities of English social interactions. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has had to go on hold after a stunning first chapter until I am done with Sleepless Nights.

Filmwise, D and I just saw the immensely (off-puttingly) odd and diffuse Paprika this weekend, and I must get around to reviewing it one of these days, along with a few other films that have been stacking up. I am in the middle of High Society, which is proving quite grim by comparison to The Philadelphia Story, its original. It does, however, have the distinction (once I finish it, that is) of being the first movie I will have watched in purely digital form (via Netflix's "Watch Now" service). The Burmese Harp and (I brace myself) United 93 both sit in their little red envelopes on top of the TV, telling me they must be attended to.

And then, of course, there is work....

Oh, and I almost forgot! D and I threw a wee dinner party (on our Ikea folding bamboo chairs - instruments of torture disguised as patio furniture, and being used as dining room accoutrements) last night, and it was pride-inducingly tasty! I made my a dish which has recently entered my repertoire (we call it Carol's Summer Soup, after the family friend who gave it to us - it is a cold, gazpachoesque tomato soup with avocado, shrimp, cilantro, cucumber and jalapeno), an old favorite (goat cheese lasagne), and a venture into completely new territory (red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting). The latter was my first attempt at making an entire cake (frosting included) from scratch, and it was fantastically time consuming and fantastically delicious. The recipe came from a cookbook which is winging its way from Amazon to me as we speak - the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, winner of this year James Beard award for best cookbook. I can't wait (and how often do I feel this kind of enthusiasm for cooking, really?) to try something else from it.

5 Responses so far.

  1. kookie says:

    Flat out, Ariel, I need all those recipes. I love gazpacho, adore goat cheese (didn't even think to make lasagne with it) and would kill for decent red velvet cake.

    Is it a seven minute frosting you used, or a cream cheese?

  2. I am glad to share, kookiejar!

    The recipe for the cake came from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, and it is one of the sample recipes that they give you for free on the Amazon page for the book. So you can find it there.

    The lasagne is adapted from "The Belmont Kitchen's Spinach Goat Cheese Lasagna" recipe that was published in the Washington Post in 1987:

    -12 oz. goat cheese (pref. a soft but somewhat crumbly fresh goat cheese)
    -8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese
    -2 T chopped fresh basil (or more, to taste)
    -2 pounds fresh spinach, wilted in a bit of olive oil
    -1 cup whipping cream
    -1 lb. fresh or dry lasagna noodles
    -4 cups (about 8 medium) cubed tomatoes (the most flavorful alternative, I have found, involves thoroughly drained canned tomatoes, but it is sometimes fun to use a mix of yellow and orange fresh tomatoes, for a colorful, unusual lasagne)
    - 2 cups grated mozzarella (I have used both fresh mozz. and packaged, and both work well in different ways)

    Blend goat cheese, cream cheese and chopped basil thoroughly (by hand or in a food processor). Hold in a medium bowl

    Mix spinach (wilted, completely drained and chopped) and cream; add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

    Cook lasagna noodles as instructed on packaging, remove when al dente, immerse in cold water immediately, then drain.

    Smear a baking dish (mine is 9 in. and glass) with olive oil. The layers of the lasagna go into the dish as follows (from bottom to top):

    1) Half the diced tomatoes
    2) Noodles
    3) Half of the spinach and cream mixture
    4) The goat cheese and cream cheese mixture
    5) Half of the grated mozzarella
    6) More noodles
    7) Rest of spinach
    8) Rest of tomatoes
    9) Rest of mozzarella

    Bake for an hour at 350 degrees. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes (it will be too liquid if you serve it before this).

    [soup recipe to come in a different message]

  3. Carol's Summer Soup (serves 4-6)

    -1 1/2 bottles Clamato
    -Fresh cilantro to taste
    -1 small can chopped green chilies
    -1 pickled Jalapeno pepper, chopped
    -dollop of ketchup
    -juice of 3 limes
    -1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
    -chopped cucumber to taste
    -2 chopped avocados
    -1/3 to 1/2 lb. peeled shrimp (you can prepare these any number of ways, but I saute them very lightly in olive oil and garlic, then add the remaining oil and garlic to the soup)

    Allow to chill for a time in the fridge, so that the flavors set. Add a dash of high quality olive oil just before serving.

    I would love to hear what you think of the recipes after you have tried them, kookiejar (or anyone else who tries them!)...

  4. kookie says:

    Oh, wow, Ariel. Thank you so much. That lasagne looks so good! I'll let you know. Canned tomatoes are frequently more flavorful (I think that's what I'll use.)

  5. I have a polydactyl, and of course we love her to pieces. I'm glad the cats seem like they're going to be able to stay 'free'.

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