meat pigs

last year, while at the la farmer's market, grace took this amazing picture. (by the way, all the good pictures on this site are attributed to her. all the blurry, odd-angled bad ones are by me.) who knew you could use ground pork as a sculpting material? some artist out there needs to capitalize on this, quick.

on a related note, i was recently reading this metafilter thread about the differences between bacon now and bacon back in the 'olden days' as well as the different names for bacon in various parts of the world.
some good takeaways: bacon back before refrigeration was (almost!) an entirely different animal- it was more of a salt-cured pork belly, very thick and needing a lot of preparation in order to make it edible. i always wondered why there was so much boiling of bacon in the laura ingalls books; apparently it was needed to remove a lot of salt from the meat. also, there are many different versions of bacon. it doesn't signify a standard meat, like "porkchop" does. while i've tried (and not loved) canadian bacon, i'm on the lookout for other varieties to try.

colorful beet salad

some new friends came over for dinner recently and i wanted to make something really special. the caveat was that it also had to be easy, and quickly assembled after a day of work- often a time when you're not the sharpest (i'm usually prone to dropping things). in addition to pork tenderloin and a super-impressive-but-surprisingly-easy mushroom tart, there was still a salad left to concoct. i remember reading somewhere about a beet salad and thought it would be a earthly, bright alternative to the boring (but lovable!) green salad. since there were both golden and red beets available, i picked up some of each and also a couple black radishes. after adding a bunch of parsley and generous douse of homemade shallot-mustard vinaigrette, it was done. i can safely say it was a winner in both the taste and looks departments- i noticed that even an avowed vegetable hater (you know who you are...) cleaned his plate of it. on the other hand, he didn't put very much on in the first place…!

funnily enough, as much as i love beets now, i had not really had a beet (unless you count a canned one- but i don't count canned vegetables because they rarely resemble fresh ones- asparagus is a good case in point-yeeeck) until my sophomore year of college when i was invited to the birthday party of a friend who worked at the union square greenmarket. for those that don't know, the union square greenmarket is one of the largest farmers markets in the united states; bringing fresh, local, often unique produce right to the heart of the city. since gabrielle worked at the market, she got first pick of produce, but more often, would receive gifts from farmers of some of their best crops. at her birthday she had a little platter of roasted baby beets sprinkled with sea salt. they looked so pretty just sitting there with their festive red coats and glittery salt, tall leafy stems providing a perfect handle- even though i had no idea what i was getting into, i just couldn't resist. in the same way that oysters taste of the sea, i feel like beets taste of the earth- sweet, dark and pungent. and the red ones have that staining color that is like an public initiation: look- she ate at beet. i did. and i'm happy to eat many, many more.

colorful beet salad

3 medium red beets
3 medium golden beets
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 black radish (you can also use a couple of the regular small red ones)

for vinaigrette;
olive oil
1 shallot
strong dijon mustard (i use this one)
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

mince shallot finely. heat up 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over low heat. add shallot. heat for approx. 5 mins, stirring. remove from heat and let cool.
when cool, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard and whisk until emulsified. stream in 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. you can tinker with the proportions of each of these ingredients to suit your palate, but remember that most vinaigrettes have a ration of 3:1 or 2:1 oil and vinegar.

roast beets:
scrub beets of all loose dirt. toss whole beets in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. place on foil wrapped baking sheet and cover with another sheet of foil to seal. roast in a 425F oven for 50-60 mins, or until a skewer comes out easily.
let cool slightly, and place individually in a paper bag. (those large ones you get at the grocery store are great) shake the beet around in the bag until the skins come off- repeat for each beet. (a great workout!) cut and separate the red from the golden until the last minute- i stored them in two separate bowls in the fridge.

when the time comes to assemble the salad, roughly chop about half the bunch of parsley. combine beets, add parsley, shave some of the radish on top and toss with the vinaigrette. it is great at room temperature and even better cold, straight out of the fridge.

bergen in the kitchen

i guess this should really be titled "bergen in the colander". honestly, if things were right with the world it would be illegal to keep the cuteness of this picture from the hungry masses of the internets. and because i'm doing my part to make this a better place, i'm sharing this picture with you. i *still* can't believe that is MY kitten in MY kitchen. an embarrassment of riches, really.

lunch bags

as mentioned earlier, i'm a bit of a nut when it comes to budgeting, so i bring most of my lunches from home (also there are no good places to eat around wall street). usually this just means i stuff a tupperware in a tote bag or purse, but sometimes i'll use a good ol' brown paper bag. however, in trying to be a good steward of the environment this year (i'm staying away from paper towels and only using sponges!) i'd like to try and make one of these oilcloth lunch bags. i'll keep you updated when i'm done.

oilcloth lunch bag tutorial at (who else?) martha


my favorite drink to order at bars is a shirley temple. i don't usually drink alcohol and a shirley temple is a festive alternative to water, which i occasionally ask for as well. however, it is getting annoying to always be looked at little funny whenever i order one- as if the only legitimate reason i'd want one was for my kid. hey, it's not my fault the most popular mixed non-alcoholic drink was named after a child star! i'm always so grateful when bars have a menu of non-alcoholic drinks as well; i feel like mixed juices are so underrated.

at home, i'm always experimenting with different combinations. i guess these are technically called "mocktails", but i hate that word. and anyway, these are not a mockery of anything; in fact, they are often more delicious and unique than regular cocktails. let's agree then, to just call them spritzers, which evokes a kind of country-club languor that we could all use a little more of.


my standard: concord grape juice and lemon-lime seltzer

holiday: pomegranate juice and lime seltzer, garnished with a twist of lime

summer: pureed cantaloupe, muddled mint and soda water

morning: pulpy, fresh-squeezed orange juice with a dash of pomegranate juice

exotic: lychee syrup with pellegrino, garnished with a candied ginger slice

lemonades: you can use homemade, or doctor store-bought
--muddled (mint and strawberries)
--with mango nectar
--with passion fruit nectar

if you have time: you can make your own grenadine, so that you can have your shirley temples right at home!

(the picture above is from a restaurant in tivoli, ny. i had a blueberry mint lemonade and grace had a watermelon lime punch)

pear budget

when i started this blog i envisioned it to be primarily about food; the places i ate out at and the things i made, plus the recipes that excite me. sort of like a cross between the girl who ate everything, smitten kitchen, and design sponge(but for food). but, as i'm thinking of blog posts, i realize that i have other things i want to share about besides food. and other than the occasional "things to do", i mostly want to share about money.

money is not a topic that most people outside of the profession of finance want to talk about, and it is not something that a twenty-something liberal arts major non-profiteer usually wants to talk about either. but, BUT- (and here's the super secret) it is one of the most important tools you will ever have in your life, and the sooner you figure out how to use it and make it work for you, the easier everything else will be. i am only saying this because i was the last person on earth to take up the "suze orman" cause- until i realized the ramifications it could and WOULD have on my life. at some point i'm sure i'll share my story from bumbling checkbook balancer to super anal budgeter, but that's not for now.

so, i'll be sharing personal finance tips from time to time. take what works for you and don't worry about the rest.

here's #1:

easy budgeting

budgeting is such a dirty word to some people- it evokes denying yourself things you really want. i've heard it be compared to dieting over and over again. i guess it is a little like dieting, in that it can be crazy "grapefruit and cottage cheese" strict, or it can be "changing the way you think about food" flexible. i'm of the second opinion.

budgeting helps you change the way you think about money.

think about it: before budgeting, you didn't know how much money you had in your bank account, you didn't know how much you were going to need for the month, and inevitably there were times when you got that little slip from the ATM and went "huh? why is my balance so low/high?"

once you begin to budget, things start to make a lot more sense. before i started seriously budgeting, i was always wondering where all my money went- i don't buy clothes, i don't drink, i'm not a book/music junkie. but, as this blog is a testament, i love to eat. i didn't realize exactly how much that was costing me and when i did- oh wow. wow. i had to seriously re-think the way i eat out/cook.

you're in luck. the old school (and cheap) style of budgeting required you to be pretty savvy in excel (luckily something i do in my day job). or you could go the more expensive route and buy quicken or MS money. however, i just recently found a great web-based tool that has become my new budgeting partner: PearBudget .

think of it as budgeting 2.0- a free service (while it is still in beta, at least) where you can upload all your receipts and compare them to your budget. for the first few months, when you still don't really understand where your money goes, your preliminary budget will be way off, but as you continue to track all your expenses, you'll start to see patterns. budgeting is not like dieting in this way- you can't know what to spend your money on without first knowing where you spend your money, while in dieting someone can just tell you what you should eat. you're going to first need to track all your expenses. i teach a personal finance class and i always tell people to keep a little plastic bag in their purse/coat pocket (winter is the best time to try this out!) and stuff all their receipts into it- then, at the end of the week, you can enter it all into PearBudget. it is amazing what you find out about yourself- i already knew i ate a lot, but this really confirmed it!


due to the park slope food co-op, i'm in the lucky position to always have fresh, cheap, organic vegetables at my disposal. i've had to be adventurous and creative in order to take full advantage of this abundance, coming up with recipes like asparagus lasagna, or putting radishes in every salad. (thanks to emily's mom and hope for the inspirations!)

sometimes though, i'm just lazy, and whenever that happens i have a fool-proof method for putting something delicious, homey and attractive on the table. at first, i thought it was too boring to share, or too simple- but that's the best kind of recipe, right?

roasted squash and cherry tomatoes

heat oven to 425F.
cut 3 small yellow squash into halves, cross wise and then cut each half into approx. 8 matchsticks. cut 1 pint of cherry tomatoes across the middle.

toss both in large bowl with 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil, about 5-7 grinds of black pepper and 1-2 teaspoons salt (i like my food salty!). i also use about 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves- i think it makes all the difference.

lay out on a foil covered baking sheet, arranging vegetables in one layer.

roast for 30-40 minutes, just until the tomatoes begin to burst.

williamsburg, not brooklyn

there are two williamsburgs’ in my life; brooklyn and virginia. williamsburg brooklyn was the first one- i would go to shows out in williamsburg while in college and eat at kellog's diner right outside the lorimer stop off the L train on the way home. until i graduated from college, i had never been to williamsburg, brooklyn during daylight hours, believe it or not. now, i go to williamsburg for brunch occasionally, and sometimes still see shows or eat pierogies there. i don't go that often though, because it is a little intense for me and there are not enough trees.

while williamsburg, brooklyn is fine, it is williamsburg, virginia that really stole my heart. having never been as a middle school student, my first trip was as an adult, which afforded me a totally different perspective. i can see how as a child it would seem a little boring- all this history surreptitiously wrapped up in funny clothes, clomping horses, and lots and lots of dusty streets. however, as an adult (especially one from one of the newer states, california) i am fascinated by its quaint charm and the way that you can truly imagine how it must have felt like to be around at the birth of our country. grace laughs at my misplaced nostalgia, but since she grew up here she is allowed to take it for granted.

one of the best things in williamsburg, virginia, and the real clincher in my book, is something i also would have loved as a child: real barnyard sheep. they roam around in little enclosed pastures on the back streets and if you're walking around during dusk when there aren't many people around, the light will be just right for imagining all sorts of things.

while in williamsburg over christmas, grace and i took one of these walks and ending up spending quite a bit of time with the sheep. we found out they love magnolia leaves and we probably did some damage to the nearby tree attempting to strip it of leaves for them. they obviously didn't NEED more food, but it was adorable to watch them munching and besides, that was the only time they were distracted enough to allow us to lean over the fence and bury our hands in the soft, white, wool.

jewel cookies

i think magazine subscriptions are really great gifts- they're relatively cheap, more than a one-time gift, and, if they're a cooking magazine, provide endless inspiration. i recently started subscribing to Gourmet and the holiday issue was truly inspirational. in addition to the raspberry and mint lollipops and the peppermint marshmallows there was a recipe for these jam-filled shortbread cookies. since one of my favorite cookies are the pepperidge farms verona's, the strawberry jam filled butter cookies i would eat in a circle, saving the jam part for last, i figured these would be a winner in the taste department. an added bonus was how pretty they were in the picture, like little jeweled ornaments for a christmas tree.

make up a batch for christmas, or anytime, actually. i'm going to make them again soon.

jeweled trios

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
three different kinds of jams, i used golden fig, raspberry and blackberry

make dough:
whisk together flour and salt. beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 4 mins, then beat in egg and vanilla. at low speed, mix flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6 inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic, until firm, about an hour. you can chill it for up to 3 days, if needed.

assemble and bake cookies:
preheat oven to 350F with rack in the middle. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
roll three separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball, then flatten each ball slightly with your fingertips. arrange them in a triangle with the edges touching. using the non-spoon end of a wooden spoon, press an indentation onto each of the three flattened balls. fill the teaspoons with jam, but do not overfill. bake until cookies are baked through and golden brown on edges, about 13 mins. in my oven. cool on baking sheets for five minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. store with parchment sheets between layers of cookies.

what i am (links)

never let me go by kazuo ishiguro
a compelling, plot-driven first read from the writer of remains of the day. i can't tell if the second read will be boring, or even more revealing. a fast book to get through- it took me a week of 20 min. commutes.

sarah vowell's op-ed in the NYT about MLK
i know, everyone's read it. but it is worth a mention, partly because her book assassination vacation reminded me of the power of history.

the black swan by nassim nicholas taleb
just like "getting to yes" i think this book is a must read for anyone interested in anything. a great, reasoned argument to expose the gaps in our current cultural logic.

the diving bell and the butterfly
despite finding julian schnabel's personality off-putting
his version of this heartbreaking story deserves every praise it gets, most especially calling it "moving","humane" and "richly atmospheric".

the lives of others

the first movie in a long time that make me cry tears of both sadness and happiness. i can't believe it took me this long to watch it.

the wild parrots of telegraph hill
it is on my list for this weekend, partly to see the parrots i've heard about while growing up in the bay area, and partly for the scenery of california, which i greatly miss in the winter.

my mom used to keep a can in her car while we were growing up and would snack on them while stuck in traffic. now i can get them bulk at the co-op, salted or unsalted, and eat them all day at work. a great quick hunger buster.

i'm a sucker for greek mythology- my favorite poem is the painfully misogynistic (and probably fascist) leda and the swan and despite the huge hassle of eating pomegranates i can't help but be mesmerized by those glowing red seeds and thinking about persephone and how they were just so tempting. you can't blame her.

no-knead bread i made last weekend
i would be lying if i claimed a victory over bread making in accomplishing this. yes, it did turn out looking like something you'd buy in at a fancy parisian bakery. and yes, it did taste amazing, partially due to the use of some rosemary salt that i bought in sweden a couple of years ago. but. BUT. i didn't do anything. seriously. i'll post about it later, but it was truly magic.

key lime bars
the last time i made these i was under a serious time constraint. i had just gotten off a delayed 6 hour flight at 8pm and needed to bring some treats to work the next day. luckily they came through in a pinch. and were delicious!

something to fill the space behind the sink. those glass mason jars that are supposed to hold flour aren't cutting it.
how about this?

new special band-aids
with a house full of tiny cats who don't know how to retract their claws yet, putting these on has become a daily ritual.

bacon flow chart

the genius of this flow chart is in the details, which resonate strongly with me, and i'm sure with every other bacon lover out there.

exhibit a: "a good home is not complete without bacon." very true. at any given time you will find two different kinds of bacon (usually peppered applewood smoked from nueskes and dry-cured from niman ranch via the co-op) in my freezer- perfect for making some bodega beans . (i'll post that recipe soon!)

exhibit b: "the price of great bacon is eternal vigilance." i wish i wasn't so well acquainted with this one, seeing how many potentially delicious slices i've ruined. i too like my bacon crispy, and have been known to do the annoying "can you please take this back and cook it until it's crispy?" ask at restaurants. as much as i love bacon, i hate hate hate limp, fatty, undercooked grocery store bacon. i guess i'm not an unconditional bacon lover after all. but unconditional love is a little boring, no? true love, like good bacon, also requires eternal vigilance- and it doesn't hurt to be able to make a mean blt.

exhibit c: "withholding bacon from a dog is inhumane." while i can't speak to specifics of having a dog, my own anecdotal evidence tells me that the same is true for cats. the other day i was sitting at my kitchen table, innocently chewing some beef jerky (i got three packs for christmas!) and contemplating which of the many mangled pieces i would eat next. i laid out all the contenders on the table and the next thing i know francie has jumped up on the table and is eating my beef jerky! it was alternately frustrating (those were the best pieces!) and deeply endearing. that is truly my cat.

someone needs to make kitchen towels, t-shirts, tote-bags, etc with this flow-chart. I’m sure there would be a huge demand.

Bacon Flow Chart over at Incredimazing

modern beat

it is restaurant week here in nyc and that can mean one of two things:

1. delicious, quality, fancy food at a fraction of the cost

2. bad, boring, overpriced food that still isn’t worth it

blue ribbon brasserie is a great example of the second; only three options on a three course menu, so i had no choice but to get the exact same meal as my dining partner- which, all those serious eaters out there know, is a cardinal sin of eating out. furthermore, the three options were about the most boring and bland things i've had in a while- caesar salad, roast chicken and chocolate cake. i know, i know, it is my fault for going to a place that prides itself on "home-cooking" for restaurant week when i could have made a better version of that meal at home.

well, i learned my lesson because after that fiasco my taste in restaurant week has improved. now the first restaurant on my list is always the modern, which is the apex of restaurant week hospitality. first of all, there are at least six (SIX!) choices for each of the courses. second, they are taken from the regular menu, not created cheaply to serve the hungry hoi polloi that only eat out at fancy places during restaurant week. and third, they don't give you the regular menu and force you to offer the inevitability embarrassing "ummm, excuse me, i'm here for restaurant week" request- no they just hand you one menu- the ultimate in restaurant democratization.

if all that weren't enough, the food is good. really good. like seriously-i-would-actually pay-the-regular-prices-if-i-could-afford-them good. i had sweetbreads, which is the culinary euphemism for the thymus gland of a calf and something that would usually totally gross me out (i'm not that squeamish, but anything that needs repeated soakings to drain the blood out of it, i'm not totally stoked about). however, paired with my mushroom gnocchi, they were the perfect (albeit spongy) complement to the rich pillowy gnocchi. the artic char tartare was a nice departure from the requisite tuna tartare, and although it could have used one more squeeze of lemon, was very fresh, light and satisfying. the desserts were even better. grace had the weirdly incongruous sounding salted caramel parfait with coconut tapioca and mango sorbet, which was the surprise winner of the night, and i had what was essentially a nutella napoleon, but was called a "hazelnut dacquoise", which obviously made it taste better. it was a lovely, luxurious meal all for under $40- always a winner in my book.

the one downside, which actually turned out great, was that the reservations were at nine thirty. this meant quite a lot of time to kill in midtown. if you don't have money, or like to drink, this basically is a recipe for disaster, until i realized that the NYPL (god bless it!) had a kerouac exhibit up with the original scroll of "on the road". i'm not sure if i should be ashamed or not, but "on the road" was my favorite book in high school and still ranks up there for me as meaningful literature. as i was walking around the exhibit, seeing all the original photos of which i had postcard facsimiles up in my high school locker, i just kept thinking how incredibly exited my 15 yr old self would have been. she probably would have found a way to thwart the over-zealous guard who kicked us out 10 minutes before the posted closing time so he could go have a smoke. she probably would have tried to camp out overnight in the room, actually, like a mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler for teenagers. now, the beats are at best only marginally part of my life, but it was nice to revisit those feelings I had of camaraderie with this motley, desperate crew. it reminded me what a long, long way i've come. and coming home to a house full of crazy kittens who apparently forgot how to use the litter box reminded me how much further i have to go.

The Modern

Kerouac Exhibit at the NYPL


some people i know love etsy. our upstairs neighbors decorated their wedding, grace got me my christmas present and i bought most of my presents this year all from etsy. other people just give me a blank "huh?" stare when i mention it. honestly, i wish more people used it, because it is one of the most exciting shopping opportunities there is, and for shoppers like me, that is hard to come by.

unlike a regular online marketplace, like amazon or overstock, etsy offers independent crafters a venue to post all their wares and customers to access various "shops" all from one central place. you can search within type, like "jewelry" or "pottery" and even more specifically, "earrings", or you can search for overall themes, like the ever popular "owls" or, for me, "eyeballs".

due to the sheer number of crafters on etsy, you're bound to find something unique and relatively cheap- simple economics ensures that the more popular the site, the more competition amongst crafters and the lower the prices.

grace got me the above eyeball necklace made out of felted wool for christmas this year. it is perfect and i can't imagine she would have found something so funny and unique anywhere else.

NY Times on Etsy


christmas lights in brooklyn

there is something so magical about seeing holiday lights start appearing on houses around the neighborhood. as a kid, it was both a sign of good things to come and one of those things themselves, especially when we'd all pile in the car and take a trip to one of those streets where each and every house was entirely covered in lights and various movable figures. in my hometown the street was affectionately called "christmas tree lane".

upon moving to the city, i was saddened to think that this holiday tradition would be over, until this year (a full 7 years after i moved here!)when gothamist posted about the lights in the dyker heights section of brooklyn. after doing some research about good places to eat (thanks chowhound!) we set off.

when people think about brooklyn, or maybe when i thought about brooklyn as a teenager, i never pictured houses like these. brooklyn is so incredibly diverse and so woefully misrepresented in our common imagination. dyker heights is full of mansions; old colonial, tudor, french estates, italian villas. and each and every one decorated to the nines. we got out and walked around, christmas music blaring from each houses' speakers, making a confused, yet cheery, christmas cacophony.

afterward we headed over to one of the oldest diners in brooklyn, which apparently has a full soda counter still intact and homemade ice cream. sadly, we never got to see it, because, like many other small town diners, they closed very early on weeknights.

for a while last year, i was dead set on moving to la- things have changed since then, but this is yet another reason to stay in brooklyn; i still want to try that ice-cream.

More Dyker Heights Pictures

closet full of kittens, or how my heart changed

i mentioned we had kittens, more specifically five of them, in our closet currently. what i didn't mention was how they arrived there, or how amazingly cute they are, or how they make your heart burst and break when you finally learn to love them. i'll tell you all that now.

in early november, grace woke me up early one morning with the news that there were some cats on the roof adjacent to our building. sure enough, there were three cats; two gray, one orange, crying on the roof, sounding scared and hungry. having never been a pet owner, i'm not normally sympathetic to the plight of animals. in fact, if you were to ask most of my friends, they might even say i border on cruelly indifferent. grace however, has always grown up with cats, and insisted we get food and throw it over to them. fine, i said, we'll feed them. we threw over some tuna and they scurried over, devouring it. thinking they'd be gone by evening, we went about our day having done our good deed; hands washed of them.

coming home that night, they were still there. much colder now, they were huddled together trying to keep warm. over the course of the next three days it became clear that they were too scared and too high up to get to the ground. they were stranded on the roof, without shelter, food, or water. i was beginning to crack. we called around to a couple of shelters, all who said that in order to turn them into a shelter we'd have to catch them ourselves. fine, we said, and after much finagling with the owners of the (70% adult... you know what i mean) video store downstairs, we climbed up the rickety ladder to the roof, hauling a big box.

on the roof, we realized that this was a much bigger job that we thought. hungry, scared cats are not willingly going to crawl into a big box. having been schooled in the storybook tropes of firemen rescuing cats in trees, we figured the police might be able to help us. i gussied myself up and headed over to the local precinct to ask for help-if they could call animal services of NYC and get them to come rescue the cat. we'll do you one better lady, they said. we'll send over our buddy. elated, i returned home, confident that the cops would rescue the cats and take them to a shelter. not the case with the NYPD.

when the cop arrived, he was clearly pissed that this was not a shoot 'em up case. he was angry and rude. by this time, it was dark and while on the roof, he ran wildly from side to side, looking like a demented marshmallow man. even i was marginally scared by this ranting, mean cop, so naturally the cats were terrified. two of them took the risk and jumped the VERY long distance from the roof and the other secreted herself in the chimney. the cop was extremely pleased with himself and considered the job done. after multiple protests (some involving me questioning his ability to "be a man" and using curse words), he agreed to try and help the cat in the chimney BY STICKING HIS NIGHTSTICK in the chimney and waving it around, probably hitting the cat inside. she jumped out and then scurried up the fire escape to a higher roof. the cop was done. he left and grace and i, and the remaining cat, all cried ourselves to sleep that night, exhausted and depressed. you try and try to do the right thing and nothing changes. we were in the same situation we had been in at the beginning.

luckily someone told us about Slope Street Cats, a feral trap and rescue organization. since they have experience with trapping cats, they were able to bring over a trap, climb the roof again, smear the trap with tuna, and wait patiently for over two hours until the cat was caught. did i mention the person helping was a very pregnant woman? she was our cat super hero. once we trapped the cat, we took her home and put her in the bathroom. i, at first being scared of her, fell in love with her one evening when she promptly sat on my lap while i was reading. we were keeping her. i named her francie, after the little girl in "a tree grows in brooklyn".

shortly after, we took her to the vet, and found out she was pregnant. having already decided that having this cat was fate- she was perfect for us!- we knew we had to see this through. the night of our annual holiday party she decided to give birth to five tiny, rat-like, kittens.

six weeks later, they are running around our apartment, using the litter box, curling up with us on the bed at night, and breaking our hearts. the idea that we have to give them away is so difficult, and i find myself thinking about animals in a totally different way. i notice the cats at the bodegas, i pet other people's dogs, i love my cat in a way i didn't know was even possible.

p.s. a bout a week ago, one of the kittens got sick and we had to take turns force feeding her with a syringe every four hours. she pulled through and it looks like she's going to make it. however, a reminder to give every single mom out there major props for dealing with an even more needy baby.

Slope Street Cats
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