Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Note from Sweet Pea

Hi everybuddy, Sweet Pea here. I have two things I'd like to meow to you about today. First, I know I've thanked you before but I just want to thank you again for all the kind wishes when I was very sick. As you can see from the photo mom took a few weeks ago, I'm all better. No bleeding from my mouth, no more lumps or bumps on my neck and my luxurious furs have all grown back.

I feel very fortunate to have "strayed" into mom's yard and becoming a permanent part of her family over eight years ago! Yet, my heart is very heavy thinking about all the destruction in Haiti. I asked mom what is happening to all the poor animals and at first she said she couldn't focus on it since there was so much death and injury with all the peoples, but later she said in the back of her mind she was worrying about the animals too.
We know all our blogging friends have given as much as they can to help the human suffering but we'd like you to know about an opportunity to give help to the animals of Haiti. Mom has been a member and volunteer of UAN (United Animal Nations) for going on five years now. Their slogan is "bringing animals out of crisis and into care". UAN was founded in 1987 and their charge is to bring animals out of crisis through programs including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Throughout the United States, whenever you have seen on TV, people rescuing animals from a natural disaster or a raid on a puppy mill, or a dog fighting ring, you can be assured that UAN is there. They are the umbrella organization that coordinates with the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the US and local animal law enforcement and humane organizations to bring in whatever help they need.
UAN has now joined forces with the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), an international group of professional animal welfare organizations working together to help the animals affected by this tragedy. ARCH is spearheaded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Through ARCH, relief teams will work out of a mobile clinic donated by the Antiqua and Barbuda Humane Society. The clinic will be shipped to a WSPA member society in the Dominican Republic and driven across the border into Haiti. Once in Haiti, the team will administer emergency care to farm animals and pets belonging to people displaced by the disaster.
So, if you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating through UAN. Your money will go directly to helping the animals in Haiti. All of us cats at Possumlady Place told mom that we will gladly go without our usual Temptation treats for a while so she can put a few more dollars to work in helping our friends. We received an email about this on Tuesday and as of today (Thursday), UAN has already raised and sent over $30,000 to help. UAN has the Sweet Pea Paw of Approval!!
Fangs in advance,
Sweet Pea

Friday, January 8, 2010


Starting in mid-December of each year, the cable station Turner Classic Movies puts out a little video remembrance, that they play throughout the month, of all those who have died in the film industry that year. These are little pieces of art. The video montage along with the music is achingly beautiful. So much better then the little tributes put out by the various news outlets.

That said, I was a little disappointed in this year's tribute. The music didn't seem to live up to past years. Still, again, much better than most. It doesn't seem like I'm able to add videos anymore. Lord knows why not. So I'm putting a link to them. Here is 2009's Tribute, along with 2008, and 2007. I hope you will take the time to watch them and let me know what you think. One more reason why I love TCM so much.

Oh, one thing. It looks like when the video comes on they put a little trailer on the bottom about the song. Make sure to click that closed or you won't see the names at the bottom of the screen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kuku Paka nu Wala

On a cold winter's night, I can't think of a better stew to eat then Kuku Paka nu Wala (often referred to as just Kuku paka), an East African dish of chicken with coconut milk. I was served this when I was on safari in East Africa, though they served whole chicken pieces on a bed of rice with a coconut sauce over the top.

On our last day in Tanzania, we stopped at a gift shop. I was so excited to find a small Tanzanian cookbook that had a recipe for Kuku paka. That excitement turned to frustration as the line to check out was long and not moving. I saw a few incidents of the "ugly American" syndrome where folks were trying to haggle with the shop owner into lowering the prices. They would make comments about what a rip off some of the items were. Looking at the folks who worked at the store you knew none of them were getting rich. In fact, by American standards, they all looked pretty destitute. I was so put off by the bickering that I put down the cookbook in a huff and left. I sat in our van waiting for everyone else to return. After a half hour, folks were starting to trickle back. A fellow traveler, Gale, quietly sat down next to me and handed me a package, saying this was her goodbye gift to me. Inside was the cookbook! I will be forever grateful to her for that small gift. I've lost count on the number of people who now have this recipe or who have passed it on to others.

After over ten years of cooking it, I think I've perfected the dish. Here is my version of the recipe:

Two packages of chicken breasts (you can use whatever kind of chicken you prefer, it should amount to around 3 pounds of meat). I also recommend using chicken with the skin on and with bones still attached. I swear it makes for a much more flavorful stew than using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Two large onions, sliced.

Two cloves of garlic, minced.

A "thumb" of ginger, peeled and grated.

One tsp. of salt

Two tbls. of oil.

One can of diced tomatoes (the recipe calls for 4 small tomatoes, but with the pink and woody tomatoes of winter, I have no problem using canned tomatoes).

Four cups of coconut milk, which is basically two cans. (To lower the fat, I've tried using two cans of reduced fat coconut milk and the flavor was just not there. I then tried one can of reduced fat and one can of regular and it still is not as good as using two cans of regular.)

A bunch of chopped cilantro

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 cup of rice


Heat the oil in a large stew pot. Add the onions and saute on medium high heat until they are limp and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and ginger (I just peel the ginger and grate it directly into the pot). Stir until you start smelling the garlic and ginger. Then add the salt and the can of tomatoes (no need to drain). Put the chicken pieces on top of the onion/tomato mix, cover and lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Then, add the coconut milk, mix as well as you can, turn the heat up to medium, cover and cook for 50-60 minutes.

Now, turn off the heat, take out the chicken pieces to cool so they can be handled (about 20 minutes). Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken and return it to the stew. Turn back on the heat to medium, add the fresh cilantro, lemon juice and rice, stir to mix and cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.

I also will add a little cayenne pepper for some heat on occasion but it is not necessary. As with all stews, the flavors really blossom reheating it the next day.

I hope you will try it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Zen Kitty

Woody enjoying the sun.

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!! With my sporadic internet at home, it's been near impossible to do anything. Just keepin up with my farm on Farmville and a few Facebook quips is about it. My camera also finally died. My new one is a Cannon Powershot. Doing a little test photography on my favorite puddies of course!!

Oh, if only this one was in better focus!! Trying out my zoom on Chunky Lisa.

Better focus but I prefer the first photo.

Well, that's about it for now. I promise to do better in the New Year!!