Catering to Cats
My mom is without a doubt a cat person. She’ll smother cuddle them and coddle them; kissing and scratching their little triangle noses. She disciplines them in a sing-song voice: “Alexxx, noooo! You can’t do thaaat!”, again as he is stroked and kissed. Her heart goes out to all animals; she’ll probably be that grandma on the corner street known to all the neighborhood kids as the “cat lady”. She doesn’t think so; if you ask me, she’s in denial. My dad even jokes saying that when he dies, he’d like to come back as one of my mom’s cats. Then she comes back with, “well you better start doing some good, because that’s a step up from where you are now.” Oh, buuuurn.
We have two cats. Unmade beds everywhere are never safe from these little princes; oh, no. They are the heads of the household; ask anyone: there are paper cups at every sink filled just before the point of overflowing for them to lap up, doughnut kitty beds in nearly every chair in the house, towels covering the beds so as to not have cat hairs creep into our mouths while we sleep, and dozens of those sticky lint rollers to catch all that cat fur that tries to hitch a ride on our clothing. With one cat orange and the other white, the orange hairs show up on lighter colored clothing and the white shows up on black. No clothing is safe from the trap of kitty cat hairs which is our home.
I noticed something peculiar this morning; something kind of ridiculous in my eyes: in our 3,400 square-foot house and with a grand total of two cats, we happen to have 11 scratching posts. Eleven scratching posts! What is this madness? Why do there have to be five in the office, one in the master bedroom, two in the family room, and three in the living room? Absurd.
So while I noticed the plethora of scratching posts, I got to try the persimmon bread that I made last night. We have an orchard in the backyard which produces a bounty of lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges, peaches, nectarines, grapes, asian pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, and figs. The persimmons have finally begun to sink on the twig branches in a bright orange hue and mushy interior. I’ve never known what these mystery fruit looked like, let alone what they taste like. I learned how not to eat a persimmon immediately: do not eat unless they seem almost rotten in comparison with other fruit – the flesh should be completely mushy and saturated. Otherwise they have an astringent taste that makes your tongue feel fuzzy and numb. If you’ve experienced it, you know exactly what I mean.
As my first attempt at baking with these bulbous fruits, the bread turned out fairly well. It was a heavy bread, flavored mostly by whiskey and copious amounts of hazelnuts and tart dried apricots. I would describe the loaf as more of a hazelnut bread than persimmon bread. It just wasn’t much of a persimmon bread. This bread was well received by my family, however I’m not sure I would make it again for myself. It was very dense, yet not so moist. It did, however, have great flavor. I loved the vast amounts of nuts and fruit in this bread. Great for an apricot-lover.
(adapted from David Lebovitz’s adaption from James Beard)
yield 2 loaves
Feel free to add whatever dried fruit and nuts you’d like to this recipe. Toasting them really makes a difference. I used hazelnuts here and they were nothing short of beautiful in the final product, however they are a pain to prepare. After toasting them, you want to be sure to try to remove as much of the outer skin as possible. If you don’t, it lends a bitter aftertaste. Barely chopping the nuts and/ or leaving them whole is a personal preference. I like it with hefty chunks of nuts. And the huge pieces are cut when you slice the bread, so no worries here.
Dry: 1 ¾ c AP flour
1 ¾ c whole wheat flour
1 ½ t salt
2 t baking soda
1 t ground nutmeg
Wet: 1 ½ c sugar
1 c canola
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c whiskey
2 c persimmon pulp, chopped and crushed slightly (from 6-8 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2 c hazelnuts or pecans, toasted
2 c dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350˚ and prepare 2 loaf pans by coating liberally with spray oil.
Add the first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork until combined.
Make a well in the center and stir in the canola, eggs, booze, and persimmon pulp until just combined. Fold in nuts and dried apricots.
Divide between the 2 loaf pans and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool and remove from the pans onto a wire rack. It will keep for up to a week wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. Otherwise, wrap in tin foil and keep in the freezer. (it helps to slice the pieces up before freezing so that you don’t have to wait for the entire loaf to defrost before you can slice into it)