Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Drowsy kittens and a fresh risotto

Last night was dominated by the kittens slowly but surely overcoming post-anaesthetic drowsiness – both of them leapt straight out of the cat basket, pushing the half-opened gate aside, Otto racing to the litter tray and Loki straight to the food bowls before checking out that their toys were all still in the right place.

Then the former sat down, just outside the bathroom, and simply went to sleep, clearly unable to keep her eyes open or even think much.

After a while, she tottered into the kitchen slowly – and then proceeded to sit in front of a food bowl and fall asleep all over again.

Eventually, when she sort of slumped down, stage by stage, until her nose was on the carpet, I picked her up gently and placed her on the sofa.

Loki, having pottered and clambered around, had also decided that a rest was in order, and opted for a more deliberate sit down and doze.

But this state of affairs didn’t last very late into the evening, and gradually things became a little livelier.

Boudicca, has seemed to be in a particularly tetchy mood in recent weeks. But the discovery that the kittens are girls may cast a little light on this.

The Other Half has apparently spotted her flehming in recent days – that’s when a cat opens its mouth and has their tongue slightly out, as if they’re sniffing. Which is what they’re doing – except that, in effect, they’re tasting smells.

So with the kittens starting puberty, and flitting in and out of phases of being in season, she’ll almost certainly have been able to smell this. And knowing that her feline flatmates were fellow females, and were on heat, does not seem to have best pleased her.

The Queen B herself though, has changed her behaviour in the 24 hours since they arrived home, returning to her bouncy routines with The Other Half this morning, and jumping up onto a bookcase in the bedroom, which now I think about it, she hasn’t done for some weeks.

Otto and Loki go back to the vet for a post-operation check on Thursday and then have their stitches out in about another 10 days. They are not going to pleased, though, by not being allowed out for another nine days. Boudi will be delighted to have the garden to herself again for a while.

But in the midst of all this, I managed to concoct a seasonal risotto that I thought I’d share with you.

Start heating your stock.

Finely chop some shallots and the stalks of some asparagus, then soften in olive oil.

Add your risotto rice and stir until the rice has taken on the oils in the pan. Then add a good glug of Noilly Prat (or Vermouth or white wine). The smell will be wonderful. Let that absorb, then start adding your stock, one ladle at a time, until you’ve reached maximum absorbtion. On average, this is around 20 minutes.

Now, pop your asparagus heads and some drained artichoke hearts from the deli into the rice mix, plus some torn mint leaves. Stir very gently, pop a lid on the pan, lower the heat to the minimum and leave for 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add a good tablespoon of crème frâiche. Warm it back up gently.

Take a heavy frying pan and get it hot. Drop in some wafer think slices of a salami (I had a cracking one with fennel seeds) and just let the frizzle up a little.

Dish out your rice mix, top with the salami and garnish with a bit more mint and some grated lemon zest for a really fresh spring risotto.

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