Ever wonder why cats are always the villains of the pet world?
If you watch movies with furry, cute animals that speak, you know exactly what I mean. Babe, Cats and Dogs, any horror movie where there's always a black cat lurking around to do something mean at a crucial moment to the poor, horrified human already tormented by other unseen forces... Even Garfield-- although lovable-- is lazy, greedy, selfish, sarcastic and downright mean.
Often all that meanness is directed toward the animal considered a cat's arch enemy: the dog. That supremely lovable, bumbling, angelic dog who looks at you with huge, soulful eyes, makes that irresistible, whiny sound at the back of his throat, then rolls over for a tummy rub. He is always the one being taken for a royal ride by the cunning feline who gets into all sorts of trouble and then places the blame squarely on the dog.
Yes, no wonder there are so many people out there who insist they are dog people.
But ask someone like me who lives with both these creatures under one roof and we'd set the record straight.
In our home, our two cats-- Pubm and Pie-- are the good kids. The ones we never have to worry about. They eat their meals when you feed them, they groom themselves until they're squeaky clean, and on evenings when you sink in the couch tired after a long day's work, they don't immediately demand to be taken for a walk-- instead they curl up in your lap like soft, furry stress relievers.
Sure, Pie does get into the dogs' food all the time, but that's about it.
The dogs, meaning Opie and Lucy (Freddie's too old to care) on the other hand, chase the cats around the house when the mood strikes them and get into their food and kitty litter at the first chance. And while they have grudgingly agreed by now to share their space with Pubm and Pie (they are still the bosses, of course), when they see another cat outdoors it is as if an alien has descended on Earth and they have to grab it before it decimates the dog population. Of course, they're on leash so that never happens but you get the picture?
True, dogs offer their unbridled love -- and usually plenty of kisses-- within an instant of meeting you. But the only reason cats hold back for a little longer is because they are more independent-minded, discerning and have a stronger sense of self-worth. You can't hold that against them, can you? They take their time making up their minds on whether you deserve their affection, but once they do, they love you with the same fierce devotion as any dog would.
This is how I see it: dogs are incredibly adorable and they pour sunshine into your life. But cats are simply addictive. Bring home a cat and you'll never want to live without a cat again. Which probably explains why there are so many cat collectors around-- I have one neighbor with seven cats and another with 20!
Ironically, cats are also among the most victimized animals out there. Tune in to any of those animal rescue shows on television and you'll find stories of cats burned, tossed on a highway, thrown into the trash and even shot. I won't even dwell upon what kind of a human being does something like that, but you can be sure they are out there among us. What's more, millions of cats each year-- more than even dogs-- are put down in animal shelters for lack of homes that will adopt them.
I thought I was a dog person. I never knew what I was missing until Pubm came home from the shelter with Pie, hid away from all of us for three days, then finally emerged, tentatively rubbed herself against my legs and wound her radar-sensitive tail around my calves.
Then she looked at me with her big, round eyes and let out a soft, drawling mee-ow. I was hooked.
On to today's recipe, this is a variation on my Thai coconut rice with curried chickpeas, a great dinner combination that I posted a few months ago. This is a great tip to add some zip to old favorites-- spice them up with new flavors. This time, to my coconut rice, I added edamame-- jewel-green soybeans that taste amazing and add an extra punch of flavor, texture and protein.
To go with the rice I made some Canary Beans Curry with red curry paste. The resulting meal was protein-rich and deliciously flavorful and, with some of the ingredients like the curry paste already ready and waiting in the fridge, quick to put together.
Coconut Rice with Onions and Edamame
1 cup long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati
1 cup canned coconut milk + 1 cup and 2 tbsp water (if using light coconut milk, just use 2 cups of the coconut milk + 2 tbsp water)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 cups shelled edamame (soybeans). If you are using frozen, place the beans in a microwave for about 2 minutes with 1 tbsp of water. Make sure they are completely thawed but just slightly tender when you bite into one.
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp chives or garlic greens
Salt to taste
Heat the canola oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. Add the ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds.
Add the rice and garlic greens/chives and stir until the rice begins to turn opaque.
Add the coconut milk and water and salt to taste.
Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and allow the rice to cook for 15 minutes.
Two minutes before you turn off the heat (about 13 minutes into cooking), stir in the edamame very gently, using a fork, so as to not crush the rice grains. Cover and continue until done.
Let the rice stand at least 10 minutes before you fluff up the grains with a fork and serve hot with the canary beans curry.
Thai-Style Canary Beans Curry
3/4 cup canary beans (You can substitute cannelini beans or red beans here. If I don't have time to soak the beans overnight, I quick-soak them by covering them with water, bringing it to a boil, and then letting them stand for an hour. Drain off the water, cover with fresh water, and cook either in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop until the beans are tender but still hold their shape. Of course, you can also substitute all this with 1 1/2 cups of canned beans).
2 heaping tbsp red curry paste
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tomatoes, finely diced
2 hot green chillies (optional-- the curry paste already has some heat in it, so skip this if you have a mild palate)
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the onions and saute until they start to brown.
Add the red curry paste and 1 tbsp of coconut milk. Saute until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they break down. Add the canary beans, salt to taste, and allow the curry to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, stir in, and turn off the heat. If the curry is too thick add some water. Garnish with the basil leaves. Tip: I like stirring 1 tsp or so of the red curry paste into the curry along with the coconut milk at the very end-- I think it really punches up the flavor.
Serve hot with the coconut rice.