During VeganMoFo I designated Saturday on my blog as “Sweet Tooth Saturday,” so here is a photo of the sublimely delicious (as well as quick and easy) chocolate cheesecake from Quick-Fix Vegan. In the book, the cheesecake is made in a square pan, although it can also be made in a springform pan as in this tester photo (shown here with a drizzle of balsamic glaze — thanks, Lea!).
Today is also “Caturday” which brings us to the real star of today’s post: the custom house that Jon built for Jason, the semi-feral cat that shares our property and our hearts. Several people asked to see photos of Jason’s house and I’m happy to oblige. As you can see in this first photo, Jon designed the roof to have a wide overhang in the front so that Jason can eat and drink in the shade when it’s hot and stay dry when it rains or snows. The sides of the house extend in the front a bit as well, against the wind. Jason like to relax on the flat roof in the summer.
Jon made this house with some plywood and 2x4s. It’s solid, and the removeable roof is great for cleaning out the house. The interior is easy to insulate during cold weather. In the warmer months I put in an outdoor chair cushion for Jason to sleep on, usually with a towel on top that I replace frequently, especially if it’s rainy to avoid dampness in his house.
In the colder months, I put one of those cat “cubes” inside and insulate around the sides and bottom. I also place a sheet of thin silver “astronaut” blanket that I fold inside a soft towel for Jason to sleep on which creates added warmth from his body heat, even in the winter. This photo shows the inside with the roof off:
We’ve positioned the house just a few feet across from our back door so I can keep tabs on Jason and also so he can feel like he’s part of the family. He likes to hang with Gary at the back door.
If you’re not handy with a hammer, you can buy a ready-made shelter, but even if you’re not a master carpenter, there are lots of simple house designs you can find like these from the Maryland Feline Society. There are also some great tips for helping feral cats in the winter on Alley Cat Allies.
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What to make for dinner was another thing entirely. I knew I wanted to make something different while still keeping the whimsical “heart” theme that I try to do each year. Looking in my pantry for inspiration, I noticed a jar of hot red pepper jelly — as eye-catching and ruby-red as it was the day I bought it at the farmer’s market last summer. With the spicy-sweet pepper jelly as the catalyst for inspiration, I decided to make a sauce combining the jelly with sherry vinegar and soy sauce. The flavor reminded me of a tofu dish I had in a Thai restaurant once. I thought the spicy sweet-and-sour sauce would also go great with sautéed cabbage.
Now, I realize tofu and cabbage aren’t exactly synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but there was no turning back. I sliced a block of tofu horizontally into three slabs, got out my little heart-shaped cutter, and started making adorable little tofu hearts. I made a few out of a slice of seitan, too, and then braised them in the sauce.
In another pan, I braised some red cabbage in the same sauce and cooked up some rice. To serve, I shaped the rice into a heart and surrounded it with red (let’s call it “purple passion”) cabbage. I topped the rice with several of the tofu and seitan hearts for a yummy Technicolor meal. Sure, it’s not the most traditional dinner to serve on Valentine’s Day — that’s why I decided to make it a day early!