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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
I have lived with cats all my life and I still don’t understand them. While I was packing up the Christmas decorations I filled a plastic storage container with my holiday towels, set them in the kitchen by the attic stairs and continued working. A little while later I ventured to the kitchen and Pitou was curled up in the container sound asleep. She stayed there for a very long time only getting out for supper and then she climbed back in the box and slept there all night.

I wondered if she might be cold since the box was close to a floor register so I left the box there the next day and off and on I would find her in the box snoozing away. Since the box was in my path through the kitchen I moved it closer to the register, out of my way, and decided to leave it there until I was finished packing. After a week I was getting tired of the box on the floor but I did not want to disrupt Pitou’s new comfy resting place so I decided to go to PetSmart and buy a couple pet beds. We have never bought pet beds, our cats always slept where they wanted to, the bed, the couch, a chair, under a table, on a table, in the bath tub; you name it and they sleep there. But for some reason I thought Pitou and Mitten Kitten just might like a soft bed next to the register and it would look a lot nicer than a plastic box on the floor.

I don’t shop at PetSmart much, I find them a bit expensive but I had looked at some pet beds at other stores and was not impressed with the color choices or comfort level. If I am going to put two fluffy pillow-like objects in my newly decorated rooms they are going to match the decor. I know, you are saying. “oh, please, you want to match the pet bed with the room?” Yep!

Having never purchased a pet bed I was not aware of the prices and was surprised to note that the ones I liked were $30.00 to $50.00 and I had already decided to buy two; my cats do not sleep together, and I didn’t want Mittens to feel left out. I decided not to spend that much money and  continued to look around the store and suddenly found a large display filled with pet beds marked down to $7.99 and there were two that matched the colors of the kitchen and bathroom. I liked the price better and changed my mind again so I went home with two new pet beds.

Upon arriving home I removed the plastic box full of towels and placed the two new beds next to the register and waited for Pitou to discover it. Well, hours passed and Pitou walked back and forth without getting in the bed. Finally I picked her up and placed her in the bed and she promptly got out and lay down next to it, where she stayed for quite awhile. Then I got the bright idea to place a kitchen towel in one of the beds and before I could leave the room Pitou was curled up in the bed fast asleep. Why? What was it about the kitchen towel that made the fluffy pet bed more desirable? Mittens, on the other hand, will not go near the pet beds. I have placed her in one repeatedly and she jumps right out, not even taking the time to sniff it. This is quite a conundrum!

As I sit here in my office looking out the north window I have had a great idea. For two summers I have tried to grow grass where grass has never grown in the 50 years I have known this property. You may recall in previous articles I have mentioned that I started a project by having a fifty by four foot sidewalk/patio poured last year to reduce the grassless area but neither my efforts nor a professional seeding of grass has worked. As I stared out at the mud I thought, why not turn it into a wider shade garden. The previous owners started a three foot wide border shade garden the length of the property with black fencing behind it on the property line but hassled with the grass situation for years. My neighbors to the north are planning to install a privacy fence all around the back of their house, for their dog, so that will limit some light too.

I wanted it to be a park-like area and I have a bench and statues and other iron works dotted around but the muddy area is unsightly. There is plenty of space for a couple small ornamental shade loving trees and I already know monkey grass (Liriope) will grow there in certain spots so that is a pretty good beginning. The most important part will be finding plants and shrubs for winter interest and a shade loving ground cover to limit weed growth. Red dogwood and royal burgundy barberry would be lovely in the winter; river birch and mountain hemlock would give a woodsy feel and of course more boxwood. Oh my, the possibilities!

This is my week to make peanut butter pudding; it is Hubby’s birthday and he has loved peanut butter pudding since the first time we ate it in Canada. I have never found a recipe online so I have had to improvise a recipe to his liking. I took a bread pudding recipe and modified it to include the ingredients the cook at the B&B told us was in the pudding. Those ingredients were Eagle Brand milk and peanut butter oil drained from two or three jars of peanut butter. A couple weeks before I know I am making the pudding, I buy three jars of our favorite peanut butter and allow the oil to rise to the top and then I pour it off and refrigerate it until I have 1/2 cup.

The cook told us that this is how her French Canadian mother had made it for years and she is the one who introduced us to “Smuckers” natural peanut butter. When it became too hard to find whole peanut oil (not the cooking oil) they would buy jars of peanut butter and allow them to rest for a month for the oil to rise to the top of the jar. Then one day while she was making the pudding she discovered that she was out of sugar and she substituted sweetened condensed milk for the sugar and milk equivalents. This recipe intrigued Hubby and me and we spent years perfecting the recipe. If you don’t want to take the time to plan ahead and allow jars of peanut butter oil to rise then use peanut cooking oil and an extra 1/2 cup peanut butter. It is not quite as good but passable. I will share our end result.

Think spring!

Peanut Butter Bread 

Pudding 

* 2 qt.  bread cubes

* 1 can Eagle Brand 

sweetened condensed 

milk

* 3. whole eggs

* 1/2 c. hot milk

* 1 C. peanut butter- 

creamy or chunky

* 1/2 c. peanut butter oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and eggs; whisk to mix. Pace peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds to warm and whisk into milk mixture.  Whisk in peanut butter oil. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes completely moistening bread. Lightly grease (with peanut butter oil) 9×13 inch pan, place bread mixture into pan.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Serve warm with maple syrup or ice cream, whipped topping or hot milk. Refrigerate unused portions.

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