Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Storecupboard Vegetable Soup

I just made some soup for lunch and there is plenty left for the boys later on. I used what I had in the cupboard, freezer and fridge.....any vegetables would be fine.

Frozen carrots, onions and celery (from Marks and Spencer)
A few spring onions finely chopped
A Knorr chicken stock cube and a litre of water (boiled)
A packet of Telma chicken noodle soup
A handful of pearl barley
Fresh green beans finely chopped
Fresh asparagus finely chopped
A few frozen peas
A few frozen broad beans
A fresh carrot finely chopped (I had peeled batons leftover)
Half a yellow pepper, finely chopped
Black pepper
Half a lemon and half a lime, juiced
Two potatoes, peeled and cubed
A dessert spoon of tomato puree

I put them all in the boiling water and left to simmer for half an hour to let the flavours fuse and the veg soften.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


The Burmese

In the 1930s a psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Thompson brought a female cat from Burma into the USA called Wong Man and started to breed Burmese.  Burmese are small and compact and their coats have a unique gloss that makes them shine like polished wood. The most characteristic feature of the Burmese is their amazing coats which are short, fine, sleek and glossy, lying close to the body, and satin-like in feel and texture. Their coats are easy to care for, a simple pat is often enough to groom it.  Occasionally, Burmese kittens are born with long hair. They are extremely affectionate and very bright. A Burmese cat is a wonderful companion and makes an excellent pet. They adapt well in large, noisy households becoming part of the family. They are an intelligent breed with a boisterous, lively and alert nature. They are also individual, playful, fun loving, and even tempered. Burmese thrive on company, both adult, children and other pets alike. Often dubbed the "dog of the cat world", Burmese are extremely people-oriented. Their personalities are almost dog-like in a tendency to shadow their owners and in a desire to give and receive affection. They are interested in everything their humans do, and will often help with all the tasks. Most enthusiasts say that the most outstanding feature of the Burmese cat is its affectionate nature. They love warm laps and caressing hands and enjoy cuddling up in bed, either under the covers or on top of their favourite person.  They will gradually perform many dog like activities in play, from fetching small balls to walking on a leash, shaking hands, rolling over for a tummy rub or giving kisses.  They can turn the most anti-cat person into an enthusiast.  You can be guaranteed a loving welcome when you share your life with a Burmese.

After many years of dedicated breeding in the USA, the first Burmese (two females and one male) were brought to the United Kingdom in 1949. More Burmese cats arrived later, and the breed became firmly established, becoming much sought after. The ideal Burmese is a small to medium sized cat with a muscular frame. They are not as long and slender as the Siamese, nor as heavily boned as the British Shorthair. Their paws are neat and oval shaped with slender legs and neck, which give the Burmese a distinctive elegant look. The tail is medium in length, with a slight taper to a rounded tip.

The Burmese is named after Burma, where they have been traced back to the 15th century around Buddhist temples. There are many varieties which differ on each side of the Atlantic. The American Burmese has more rounder features than the British standard, i.e. its body, head and eyes. Sable (a rich, dark brown) is the most popular colour. Other colours include Blue (steely grey), Champagne (a honey beige) and the beautiful, but rare Platinum (silver with fawn or grey).  The Traditional Burmese is a normal-looking cat, while the Extreme Burmese (also called Contemporary) has a round head with large round bulging eyes.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Emergency gravy

Tonight I am cooking, if you can call it that, a ready meal from Marks and Spencer.  I have Beef Wellington to pop in the oven, to be served with baby Exquisa potatoes with mint, spinach and lemon juice, a simple meal, but found my supplies of Bisto had expired.  It is already dark outside with wind and gales, so going to the local shop for gravy is not top of my priorities.

So what could I do?  I found store-cupboard ingredients and whipped up an acceptable gravy.

Chopped frozen onions
A pot of beef stock by Knorr
A dash of brandy
A spoon of Maille French mustard
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
Boiled water to kill the saltiness of the stock and make it bigger

I fried the onions in their own oil, added some water and the stock.  Then the brandy, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

I tasted it, and it was rather nice, but a bit salty, so added more water and reduced the sauce down for a few minutes.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The A-Z of Cats The Kurilian Bobtail

Pedigrees of the World - The Kurilian Bobtail

I have written about so many different breeds and have my own favourites (although the simple moggy comes high on the list for me), I have to admit to being fascinated by the Kurilian Bobtail and would love to own one in the future.  Still a rather unusual breed, the Kurilian Bobtail comes from a chain of volcanic islands known as the Kuril islands between the easternmost tip of Russia and Japan‘s Hokkaido Island. These islands are largely uninhabited and it is believed these cats existed on the Kuril Islands for hundreds of years in isolation as wild animals. The cat was discovered sometime between the early 1950’s & the late 1970’s.  Russian hunters and geologists first brought these cats to the main land in the early 1950’s but they were only recognized as a breed in the late 1980’s. Many people were charmed by the bright personality and incredible loyalty of these cats.  For many years Kurilian bobtails were considered the same breed as Japanese bobtails.  However,  thanks to the real enthusiasts of this breed, Kurilian Bobtails are now recognized as an independent and very popular breed.  Breeding stock taken from the Kuril Islands are the base for today’s catteries. After multiple generations of offspring, the “wild type” look of the Kurilian Bobtail has remained intact. The first breeders to establish a standard for the Kurilian Bobtail were Li Lialovanova & Tatyana Bocharova.
In its natural, wild habitat, this cat is known to be both an excellent fisher and small game hunter. It is said to be no problem for this cat to catch a 5 kg fish or a hare in the wild.  Although it looks wild, this is not reflected in the temperament of the breed.  In a domestic environment, the Kurilian Bobtail makes swift work of house flies & mice, enjoying the game thoroughly.  Due to its relative isolation for so long, the Kurilian Bobtail shows excellent health & no harmful consequences of the bobtail gene like those seen in the Manx and other bobtail breed cats.  The main feature of the Kurilian Bobtail is a tail. It can be bob, pom-pom, spring or rabbit’s puff tail but they are always different. 

The Kurilian, although wild looking, is renowned for being both a clever and gentle creature. It has a great love for both human company and other species of pets, and it is perfectly happy living in an apartment in the city. In fact, the breed is smallish in the wild but it has developed considerably in size through being domesticated. The Kurilian's skill as a “fisherman” may explain why the Kuril is an excellent swimmer who loves nothing better than to play in a bath with a dripping tap! In fact, many Kurilians would probably like to join their owners in the bath, if allowed.
There are many breeds that are said to be doglike and the Kurilian Bobtail is outstanding in its accepting and gregarious nature. They will run to the door to greet their owner coming home and will also be friendly with family or strangers who visit the home. They easily adapt to changes in their environment and seem to have an incredible trust of humans and are quite easy to train to respond to voice commands. Whilst they enjoy human company, they also enjoy long periods of quiet companionship.  They may not be a lap cat but the breed loves to lay at the feet of their owner.
Unlike other breeds, the father of a litter spends as much time tending to the kittens as their mother does.  The Kurilian Bobtail is almost exclusively bred in Russia but breeders are appearing in the USA.