Storytime


Ciao, amici! Unless we’re connected on social media, I know, it’s been a while. But I’m happy to be back in the kitchen with every good wish for 2020. We’re buzzing up something new in the blender that’s creamy, dreamy, coconutty, alcoholic and downright delicious! WOOOOW! I’ll give you a personal update after the recipe, OK?

First, let’s talk about coquito. Some say it’s Puerto Rican eggnog. And some recipes do include egg. But not this one. It’s coconut, cinnamon, two delightful cans of dairy–sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk–and a generous pour of our ol’ friend the Captain. That’s Captain Morgan to you. Oh, and drunken raisins. It’s fine if you want to leave them out. But damned if they don’t add a special something! Let’s get this party started right! Right on!

COQUITO
Adapted from The Novice Chef

1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
1 (13.5 oz) can organic coconut milk
12 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons shredded coconut

Note: this recipe yields just a bit more than a half gallon of deliciousness.

In a large pitcher with a lid, add raisins, rum and cinnamon sticks. Let sit for one hour.

In a blender, add the remaining ingredients. It won’t all fit at once, so blend in two batches, then pour into the pitcher. Shake to combine with the rum, raisins and cinnamon sticks.

Chill for at least four hours. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month (as if!). Shake it like ya mean it before pouring. Use a ladle to dish out the yummy drunken raisins and add to each glass. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if you like (oh, we like!). Cheers, cheers, cheers to coquito! Careful now, this stuff goes down way too easy.

A personal update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to let you know something important about the real star of this page, my precious April Katt. Sadly, I lost her last fall (April 1, 2000 – October 30, 2019).

My sunshine girl was the best friend, companion and little caretaker anyone could ever ask for. She made our little townhouse a happy home with her warm personality, caring gestures, curiosity and funny antics. She loved being part of whatever I was up to–including in the kitchen. You’ll remember those bright green eyes and shiny coat making an appearance in many recipes! She was always right by my side and often held hands with me. Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Many tear-filled days passed before I decided April wouldn’t want me to be sad and alone in a place that felt so empty without her. In her honor, I found a handsome gentleman from PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society)–the same shelter where I found AK almost 20 years ago. Mishu, Polish for “teddy bear” or “Sweetheart” came home November 9th. This charmer has done his best to brighten each day and make me laugh ever since. I’d swear April Katt either left notes or is in direct contact to guide him. How lucky I am to have two special soul kitties like these!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I know we’re just four days into 2020, but I feel good about the year to come. And I really hope you do, too. Onward and upward, amici–we got this!

We’ll be seeing you sooner next time.

Love,
Hope, Mishu and the ever-present spirit of Ms. April Katt

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You’ll never know what puts you on the path to finding something beautiful. Though 2017 was a tough year for me, each step along the way brought me closer to a sunflower field in Northford, Connecticut. And, eventually, those sunflowers led me to a very special friend.

Last July, foot surgery literally kept me off my feet for most of the summer–and eventually tried to drive me out of my mind! But on the way to the surgical center in Branford, we took the back roads. I’d forgotten all about the pleasant scenic route we used to take years ago and looked forward to revisiting it when I head in that direction–which is often!

Toward the end of August, tired of having to ask for help or a ride, I hobbled to my car, determined to drive to Branford. On my way, several cars had pulled over along Route 22 to admire a seemingly endless field of sunflowers. I made my way downhill slowly and carefully (with a cane!) to check them out. I don’t think I had ever seen so many sunflowers! It was a sight to behold.

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Fast forward to October. Once again, I was (for the most part) footloose and fancy-free and regularly taking the scenic route through Durham and Northford, then over the fabulously twisty Totoket Road down to Branford. I found interesting farm stands and garden centers–one with goats (!) and a freestanding holder I needed to hang my Corinthian Bells on the deck. But I drive a coupe and there was no way to fit it in my car. And their last day of the season was the next day! I asked my mom if she’d take her car to pick it up. I mentioned there was a second patch of sunflowers I could show her en route.

Near the sunflower field, we found a tiny farm stand, really just a patio table with an umbrella. As we were picking out a few items, I heard a distinct sound.
“Ma, I heard a donkey!”
“I don’t hear anything!”
“No, it’s a donkey and we need to find it!”

So we headed in the general direction of the sound, down someone’s driveway and THERE HE WAS, in a small pen with a tree, next to a shed. I was standing there saying hello when his owner came by. “His name is Balashi. He’s named after an Aruban beer. Be careful, he bites!”

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“Balashi and the Scary Movie” HAW HAW!

So began a new friendship. Since that drive was already part of my weekly routine, I decided I’d add some time to stop and visit this donkey. And I’d bring snacks–apples, carrots or pears. He’d greet me as if I were the most important person in the whole world and I became very attached. Over time, people would even ask about “my donkey.”

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But the more I got to know him, the more I became concerned for his well-being. It didn’t look as though anyone ever cleaned his pen, his hooves were horribly overgrown and his little three-sided shelter didn’t offer him much protection from the rain and snow. Whenever we had storms, I’d worry. Eventually, he was having trouble walking. I had to help him, but how? I live in a townhouse and, as much as I’d joke about having him sleep over and making waffles, I couldn’t keep him in my basement.

I started looking for stables where I could board him. The sticker shock of paying more per month than I ever shelled out for a car payment in my life set me back for a while.  Then I appealed to our farm friends. As soon as they understood the donkey’s health was in danger, they offered him a place to live. Next, I approached his owner, “You know I love your donkey, don’t you?” I explained our friends could give him more space and we’d provide veterinary care (he went without that for at least six  years!) and a farrier to help with his hooves. Plus, there are mini horses and an assortment of other animals on the farm, so he wouldn’t be alone anymore. “I have to ask my wife,” he said. I waited. And waited. I went to our family’s plot and cried to my grandfather. I always said if Poppy were here, that donkey would already be with us. Then I got the call–the donkey was mine. I couldn’t believe it!

The donkey formerly known as Balashi, and previously known as Jack (c’mon now!), came home July 5th, a day I’ll think of as Donkey Independence Day from now on. And now, a few words from THE DONKEY (sciccareddu in Sicilian) himself!

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A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ENZO ANTONIO, SCICCAREDDU!
NOW HEAR THIS! I have a beautiful new life, new home, new family, new start and now a new name befitting both my Sicilian heritage and mom’s ancestry.

My name is Enzo (from “The Art of Racing In the Rain” as well as Enzo Ferrari). It means “ruler of the house/estate.” It also is a variation of Henry (Goodfellas, HAW HAW, Mama’s favorite movie). My middle name is Antonio for Poppy’s father—it means “priceless one.” And not to brag, but my mama tells me I am!

I’m a happy ass with lots to say. I hope we’ll have lots to share with you as I travel the path back to good health. Thank you for being my friend.

Love,
Enzo

P.S. We’d both like to remind you to take time to smell the flowers (or to eat them). And to take the long way home. You never know what treasures you’ll find along the way!

P.P.S. I made special oatmeal carrot cake cookies to celebrate Enzo’s homecoming. I’ll tell you about them in my next post, when we return to our regularly scheduled programming here in Katty’s Kitchen. Till then, ciao!

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Enzo Antonio, donkey of my heart