Holiday Recipe–Not Your Cat’s Cheese Balls
We have a problem at our house this holiday season—our laundry-stealing gray and white cat, Eeyore. Usually, I wouldn’t mind if my pet showed up at the back door six times a day with the neighbors’ socks and underwear and gloves and stuffed squirrels. Hell, the latter’s better than the real squirrel, sans head, that he brought us previous to his bell collar. But I live in a neighborhood full of writers and artists, and these are their belongings. Imagine what J.D. Salinger would say, for instance, if your cat dropped his tighty-whities on your doorstep?
Right now, I’m in possession of a poet’s gardening gloves (two pairs), an essayist’s Oregon Ducks hat (next week, I fully expect a pair of neon-yellow socks), and what I suspect to be a painter’s very sexy black Victoria’s Secret camisole. Oh, what to do?
I’ve been thinking a lot about literary citizenship this year, blogging about fellow authors, reviewing their books for magazines, and forwarding their essays and workshop information to friends on my Facebook page . But my damned cat is sabotaging my efforts of goodwill. Tonight, I face a neighborhood party with my fellow writers and the artists, knowing that I’m in possession of some of their most personal items. I hadn’t planned on disclosing any of this, but one of the wordsmiths showed up on my doorstep this week with a holiday gift and looked in at Eeyore, sitting smug on a pile of mismatched socks in the living room. “You know,” she said, “we didn’t really believe the rumors about your thieving cat, but then my partner saw him walking down the street with a bath towel in his teeth.”
In the Whiteaker Neighborhood, where Jonathan and I used to live, people wanting to get rid of gently-used possessions put them on their lawn in a cardboard box marked “Free.” Tonight, we’ll gather all the cat’s spoils (which, taken together, are probably worth a significant amount on E-Bay) and mark the basket “EEYORE.” Hoping to ingratiate myself, I’ll offer up a batch of freshly-baked Gougères, as well. For those of you who, like me, can’t pronounce the word, much less tell what it is, I’m talking about baked rounds of dough and cheese. In the spirit of the holiday season, here’s the recipe:
Not Your Cat’s Cheese Balls
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and open the back door for the cat who’s dragging a yellow rubber dishwashing glove in his teeth. Recognize it as belonging to the nature writer down the street and throw it in the washing machine with the rest of the cat’s kill. Heat ½ cup of butter and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan until butter has melted and the mixture simmers like your temper when you realize that the cat has not only jumped onto the counter where you’ve grated a cup of gruyère (the really pricey stuff, the better to impress the bestselling novelist on the next block) but that he also reeks of pot smoke from a sculptor-neighbor’s hookah.
Turn heat down to low and add a cup of flour to the butter and water. Stir like crazy for a minute and remove saucepan from heat. Add 5 eggs, one at a time, stirring even more vigorously as you look out the window and glimpse the toddler who’s likely missing the Barney bib and the Santa Claus socks currently displayed on your front porch.
Pausing to pick fur out of the gruyère, add it along with ½ cup of grated Parmesan, 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper to the saucepan. Drop mixture from a tablespoon onto greased baking sheets. Bake until brown and puffy, during the time it takes your cat to bolt out the back door, high-tail it to the poet’s house and grab a pair of boxer shorts, and return to your domicile yowling with the booty in his teeth (about ½ hour). With a sharp knife, cut slits in the tops of the balls and lower the heat to 350. Bake for another ten minutes and tuck warm cheese balls into a freshly-washed tea towel, hoping neighbors at the party won’t recognize it as their own.
(Do you like goofy, but oh-so-delicious narrative recipes and want to read more? Each chapter of my memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood (Seal Press, 2009) ends with a recipe which you can access on this very blog by clicking on the link to the right marked “Gringa.” Happy holidays, readers, and watch your socks.
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