Still Life, With Cats

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Bet you never made your oatmeal like this

What better way to start the week then with a healthy breakfast? How about something where you cook some oats in orange juice and then bake it into a cake?

I saw the recipe for Orange Oat Breakfast Cake and was intrigued. You first cook the oats in the orange juice (which is…not the most delightful smell), then you stir together all the other ingredients and fold in the cooked oats. The recipe called for a 5 inch pan, which I don’t have, so instead I divided it between two of my four-inch springform pans, and that worked perfectly.

A small breakfast cake, dusted with powdered sugar and sitting on a plate.

Sometimes things like this can come across as very earnestly ‘healthy’, but this was actually pretty good. We split one of the little cakes for breakfast this morning and the second one will be breakfast tomorrow.

Along with the breakfast cake this morning, I also made Lemon Orzo Soup for dinner. This was originally planned for last night but time got away from us.

A bowl of creamy orzo lemon soup with carrot coins

I first made this soup back in 2019 (for Thingadailies), and it’s been in our winter rotation ever since. It’s fairly quick to make (I usually just beat the egg whites by hand to avoid dirtying yet another bowl), and we always add a couple carrots, peeled and sliced, to sneak in some extra veggies. And bonus, it makes enough for lunches for the next few days.

Citrus used: 2 tangelos and 1 lemon

Total citrus used so far: 12 tangelos, 5 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Allll the orange

Hooray, it’s the weekend! That must mean it’s time for cake. Orange Pound Cake, to be exact.

Here is where I have to admit that pound cake is one of my favorite types of cake – there’s something about the dense crumb and the buttery mouth feel that makes me really happy (case in point – the Norwegian Sour Cream Cake recipe from King Arthur Baking Company is in regular rotation in my kitchen). So finding a recipe that combines delicious pound cake with the flavor of fresh orange (or in this case tangelo) sounded perfect.

Pound cakes get their name from the fact that they use roughly a pound each of all the main ingredients. I admit I winced a little when I saw it called for 5 eggs (egg prices being what they are right now) but oh, it was worth it, and not just because it used up half a dozen tangelos. The cake batter gets orange juice and zest. Then once it’s baked, you brush it with an orange glaze, and finally, once it’s completely cooled, you top it with an orange and powdered sugar icing. It sounds as if it might veer into too-sweet territory, but the tartness of the citrus tones everything down.

A bundt cake drizzled with orange frosting

As with any other pound cake, this thing weighs a ton, but it’s absolutely delicious. The orange flavor comes through just enough to brighten the palatte, without being overwhelming, probably because it gets the bulk of its flavor from fresh juice and zest instead of relying solely on extracts.

Citrus used: 6 tangelos

Total citrus used so far: 10 tangelos, 4 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

Not always about the sweet

It’s not all about the sweet stuff around here, even though I do love to bake things. Tonight I decided to go for something savory, so I made Lemon Chicken with Orzo.

This went together fairly quickly – you cut up the chicken, then dredge it in a mix of flour, salt, and pepper, then cook that in a skillet. Then you remove the cooked chicken, and in the same pan, add broth and orzo (note – I had to add in roughly an additional half cup of water, so you’ll want to monitor that) and let that simmer until it’s cooked.

The recipe called for the addition of spinach and grape tomatoes, but grape tomatoes and cooked spinach are Not Food, so instead I tossed in a whole pile of broccoli near the end of the cooking time.

The lemon juice gets stirred into the orzo just before it’s time to serve, which might sound a little odd, but actually adds a nice bite to what could otherwise be a fairly bland dish.

Plate of orzo with broccoli and chicken

It doesn’t look very exciting, I know, but trust me, it’s tasty.

We both gave this recipe two thumbs up (and luckily I made enough that there’ll be leftovers for dinner tomorrow).

Citrus used today: 2 lemons

Total citrus used so far: 4 tangelos, 4 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

A little sweet, a little tart

Today is February 2nd, also known as Candlemas across the pond, which means it was time for crepes. Do not ask me to explain why one eats crepes for this day, as I actually have no idea why, but crepes are easy to make so who am I to question.

I made these Crepes with Lemon & Sugar, as the recipe fulfills both the citrus challenge as well as the need for crepes, but any crepe recipe would work here. I do have a crepe pan, but crepes will work just fine in a regular frying pan, as long as you make sure it’s well greased so the crepes don’t stick. Letting the batter rest for a bit before actually cooking them is also key – this lets the flour fully hydrate.

Two folded crepes on a plate, topped with whipped cream and yellow sprinkles

For this recipe, you make the crepes, then top with equal parts sugar and lemon juice. I was a bit nervous that they’d still be too tart, but in fact they were almost a little too sweet (probably because Meyer lemons are not quite a tart as regular lemons like the recipe calls for). If I was to do this again, I’d reduce the amount of sugar added with the juice at the end. Regardless, these were pretty tasty.

Total citrus used so far: 4 tangelos, 2 lemons

Making a thing a day for Thingadailes.


Oh look, it’s February, which means it must be time for Thingadailies, or in this house, time for my annual month of ‘holy crap, how do we use up three full trees of citrus before they all go bad?’

So to kick off the month, I made Citrus Pecan Bread, which is a basic oil-based quick bread recipe, but with orange juice and nuts. For tonight, I used tangelos for the juice and chopped walnuts (because that’s what was in the freezer), but the general concept is the same.

This is not a new-to-me recipe – in face, I think we got this a couple years ago when we were doing a recipe subscription service, but we both liked it so much that it gets put into rotation at least a couple times each year when the citrus is ripe.

A loaf of quick bread

Can you tell where I accidentally jabbed my oven mitt-covered thumb into the loaf when pulling it out to check on it? Sigh.

Anyway, it’s super tasty and it used the juice and zest of 4 tangelos, which was the whole point.

Citrus Pecan Quick Bread

  • Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (plus the zest from the fruit)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

Combine all dry ingredients except pecans. Stir in orange juice, water, and oil until mixed (but do not overmix), then stir in the pecans.

Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let rest in pan about 10 minutes before removing; cool completely before cutting.


Making a thing a day for Thingadailies.

All that glitters

Yesterday we had folks out demolishing concrete and digging big holes in the yard in order to replace our sewer line. This is one of those things that has been on our list to take care for quite a while, so….Merry Christmas to us (we decided it was our joint present, because Adulting), so while listening to the occasional jackhammering, and not being able to flush anything down the drain for a few hours was minorly annoying, it was worth it to finally get it done.

They came back this afternoon to fill in the holes, and at some point later this week they’ll come back again to replace the cement that they had to dig up, but hooray, at least it’s done.

In less expensive news, the Christmas ornaments for this year’s tree theme finally arrived, so this evening we took roughly 90 seconds to decorate.

Doesn’t that look festive and lovely?

I know you’re wondering what they are. Here’s a closer look – can you guess?

So it turns out you can get a bag of 50 sparkle ball cat toys for less than $10 if you poke around long enough on the internet, and the beauty of using sparkle balls is that they require no hooks for hanging – you can just tuck them into the branches, and when they are (cough) ‘liberated’, you can just gather them up and replace them as you walk by.

It took Guffaw a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but once he realized what they were he was extremely excited, and over the course of the evening he plucked three from the tree and then chased them all over the house until he wore themselves out.

I think this year’s decorating scheme can be considered a qualified success.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Filling the space

Tonight was the final concert in the back-to-back three-in-a-row performances we’ve been doing for the season. The first was Saturday night, at our ‘home’ space (where we’ve been rehearsing), while yesterday’s was down in Oakland, so most of us headed down early to meet for lunch at rather tasty little Brazilian restaurant near the venue. Tonight was back in Sacramento.

This concert has been one of my favorites we’ve sung since I’ve been in the group (16+ years). The music was absolutely gorgeous; this particular group of singers blends together better than I think we ever have, and then you throw in a gifted organist, a stunning soprano soloist, and an absolutely amazing celloist, and it was just magical.

It’s a little bittersweet to be done, but also a bit of a relief. I feel like this month I have been running at full speed, and now I can see the end in sight – only a few more days of work before I get some much-needed time off, and can actually relax.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

This morning we finally put up the tree. The box itself has been sitting in the living room for the past week but we just haven’t had the time or energy to deal with it, especially since Richard has been sick. But this morning I had to get up early anyway to change the incontinent kitten’s diaper, so I cajoled him to wake up with me, and after the round of our usual chores, we finally set it up.

Guffaw was extremely helpful.

A grey cat with wild eyes sitting on top of the base of a Christmas tree

He had to make sure we’d assembled it correctly by inspecting from the outside…

Two grey cats staring at a Christmas tree

…and from the inside.

A grey cat peering from inside the Christmas tree.

We’ve ordered this year’s ornaments, so there’ll be an update picture early next week. We’re still finding ping pong balls and googly eyes from last year’s decorating scheme, since Guffaw made it is his (successful) mission to remove Every Single Ornament from the tree, and I suspect this year’s theme will have similar results.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

Properly clad

Our concert attire for the group in which I sing is all black, including black shoes. I bought my last pair an unknown number of years ago and they’ve been doing fine, although in the past few years, they’ve been starting to look a bit ragged, and they weren’t the most supportive things to be wearing when standing for long periods of time. But as performances are just about the only time I need dress shoes these days, I figured it wasn’t a huge deal to just keep using them, since it’s not like anyone was really ever staring at our feet.

But yesterday, after the performance for the TV snippet, the sole on my right shoe came off completely, and I knew it was time to finally replace them. Problem was, however, that I looked at the calendar and realized that with working full time, there was basically going to be no time at all to try to do any sort of shoe shopping between now and next weekend, which is when our string of back-to-back concerts takes place, and the thought of shopping for *anything* in person at this point in December filled me with dread.

Thankfully, however, there is Amazon. I know, I know, they are extremely problematic as a company, but when you are in a panic and need something right away, they are who you have to turn to, especially when the shoes arrive less than 24 hours after ordering, and even better, returning them is super easy if they didn’t fit.

So now I have a comfortable pair of new black shoes, suitable for concert attire as well as any sort of dressing up that I might have to do in the future, and I did not have to actually enter a store or deal with actual people in order to acquire them, and sometimes, living in the future really has its perks.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

Making early spirits bright

So yesterday while I was doing all the other things, I was also monitoring my phone because our director messaged everyone to find out if anyone was available to sing on TV the next morning, and after a flurry of back-and-forth messages that determined we’d have enough folks to cover all the parts, we finalized the plan.

Which means this morning I got up bright and early as usual, but then had to rush through the usual morning chores and fling on my concert attire and dash off to one of our performance venues for an appearance on Good Day Sacramento.

It went really well (click that link to hear our snippet) and it’s awesome to be part of a group that can pull something together in less than 24 hours notice.

Tis the season for Holidailies.