Friday, April 06, 2007
The first cat I ever knew was Bill. Sir William Sneddon, to be precise, but Bill to everybody who loved him.
Bill was a completely black cat with yellow jewel-facetted eyes. He arrived in our family when I was about four or five years old, and became a constant source of enjoyment to my sister and I. He was an incredibly tolerant cat - allowing us to mess with him in a way most young cats would never allow.
My sister and I particularly enjoyed dressing Bill up in dolls clothes. We'd put a frock on him, complete with a lacey bonnet, then put him to bed in my sister's dolls craddle. Mostly he'd stay there for a second or two, then bolt, sending my sister and I into peals of laughter as he tried to walk away without tripping on the skirt of the frock, his dignity only just in tact. But there was one occassion when Bill actually thought the craddle was a good option - we have pictures of him occupying that little bed for a nice afternoon kip, blanket and all!
Our back yard was a veritable heaven for a cat. To the left was a lush, thick growth of bamboo, which was home to many a green frog (oh the miserable stories I could tell about those frogs). We also had one or two banana trees, which were perfect for any tree climbing cat. The suculent nature of a banana tree trunk was perfect for digging in cat claws while scrambling halfway up then diving back down to the dirt for a second ascent. Banana trees are generally ratty looking anyway, but with ours shredded by Bill on a daily basis (and later Spider, the stray kitten we adopted), they never failed to look spectacularly cruddy!
I never really appreciated Bill until I was a teenager - right when he was entering his dotage. I would crouch down and lean against the kitchen cupboards and Bill would come and sit on my lap to give me a good smooch. Other times I'd get him going in a never-ending round of loud, expressive MEOWs! He had a voice like no other cat.
Sadly, Bill checked out on us one morning with absolutely no warning. As my dad put it, he simply turned his toes up. We were lucky that Angus had already joined our family, who was really a person in cat form. But Bill was the original number one cat. What a top cat!
1 cup finely ground polenta (yellow corn meal)
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
¼ cup honey
1 cup milk
¾ cup soy milk
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make sure you mix everything together well – the bi-card soda will leave brown marks throughout the bread if you don’t!
2. Add honey, egg, both milks and stir with a metal spoon until all the ingredients are combined. Don’t over mix! Just make sure all dry ingredients get wet.
3. Add the mashed bananas and mix until lightly combined.
4. Pour batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper.
5. Cook in a moderate over for 40 minutes or until a skewer pierced through the middle comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve with genuine maple syrup or for something a little more naughty – go for the Cajun-style cornbread, dipped in hot chocolate fudge sauce!
Note: This batter can be divided into single size muffins - fill the muffin holes to two thirds full for a good sized muffin. Reduce cooking time by about 15 minutes, but again use the skewer to test if muffins are cooked. Also, you can use coarse polenta, but the bread will come out a lot more grainy. I’ve found the finely ground polenta creates a gorgeous, moist loaf which can be sliced up and frozen. Just microwave for 20 seconds then toss in the toaster for a breakfast with a difference.