This, is what our life has come to.
Why yes, it is a roll of toilet paper inside a ziploc bag.
But why is it being stored like this?
Because of this.
Well more because of this,
who’s main goal in life, is to do evil and destruction (see that scowl? The planning?), hence the name (Evil Monkey).
Monkey, like the rest of the deranged, has an affinity for the most random.
Aluminum foil? Delicious.
Bottle caps? Nom nom nom.
Ok, the last I do appreciate.
But as of late toilet paper rolls have been her latest fascination/obsession. And we’ve tried everything to deter it. Hiding it in the back of the bathroom shelving, putting it on the towel rack up high; she conquered them all.
So, the other day when I walked into the bathroom (the bathroom door had been closed, but like a velociraptor, she’s learned how to open doors. PS did that movie scare the crap out of you when you were a kid? Traumatized.) there she was, on the bathroom shelf, batting the toilet paper in between her paws. She then looked up at me, and whacked it into the open toilet bowl. Yes, she knocked it into the toilet on purpose. (Roo just nodded along as I retold the story to him, my voice raising an octave with every sentence. He almost looked like he was going to pat me on the head. Almost.)
Needless to say, I lost it. I threatened to make her into a jacket as I grabbed another toilet paper roll out of the closet. I told her I was going to bring her back to the shelter because she had outlived her cost in toilet paper rolls (who am I?). But then, I took a deep breath, and came up an (insane) idea. I put it in a ziploc bag.
While Monkey hasn’t figured out yet how to conquer the ziploc bag, it does make for awkward conversation when we have guests over…
F: Hey, can I use your bathroom?
L: Yeah, um…just one thing. The toilet paper is in a ziploc bag.
F: Oh, ok?
L: Um, but what I don’t think you get is that it has to go back in the bag when you’re done. Anditneedstobesealed.
F: (look of questioning our friendship)
Yes, I’ve now become that person.
I’ve been joking with Roo for a while now that we need to get a dog to keep our cats in line. And with Christmas a month away, I’ve been upping the ante.
L: Hey, you know what would make a really great Christmas gift? Besides that super awesome printer you bought last year, that didn’t really show up till after New Year’s because you forgot to hit “submit” on Amazon? Yeah, that was great. But you know what else is great? A dog.
(Yes, suggestion with double-guilt as the gift was late and it was…a printer.)
L: Wouldn’t it be great for every couple in your family to have a dog? And then we’d all get together for Christmas, with our dogs, and maybe even take a photo? Those would be some great memories.
(This was just plain old crazy talk, as I can now only imagine how chaotic the scene would be. The “other dogs” in the family are: one overweight dachshund – his only flaw, he’s kind of awesome, a great dane that has the mentality of Lennie from Of Mice and Men, and another dachshund, who once peed in the mouth of Roo’s mom when he jumped up to greet her. True story.)
I realized I had to play dirty. And by dirty I mean I needed to bake a cake. Something that tasted like Christmas but not your typical, “hey it’s almost Christmas, let’s get a dog kind of cake.” Yes, those cakes exist (in my mind…and if you read that in a creepy Faye Dunaway/Joan Crawford’s Mommy Dearest voice, then you are far more awesome than I expected).
Cook This Now turned out to be the answer: Melissa Clark’s new cookbook that instructs the reader in what to make with produce that’s at its peak, in month-to-month chapters. For November, she had a recipe for sticky cranberry gingerbread, and I knew that was the cake.
What Roo could only describe as “like Christmas punching you in the face,” it was gooey, packed with firey ginger, smooth, rich molasses and sweet and tart cranberries, some folded in whole and the rest made into lovely sauce, swirled into the batter. It was an “in your face” kind of cake, but the texture was incredibly comforting, as I think rarely anyone would turn down something so sticky and gooey. It wasn’t like “Oh my god this taffy is preventing me from opening my mouth, gah!!!” kind of sticky, but that “I just sneaked a slice straight out of the oven, and nobody knows” kind of wonderful. But fully cooled. And even better the next day.
While Roo didn’t turn to me, absolutely hypnotized, rambling, “Must. Get. Dog,” I can say that the cake may have made him nod his head a little bit more when I again, suggested getting another family member. I guess we’ll have to see what Christmas brings.
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now
Makes one 9 inch cake
2 – 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (2 if you want just the cranberry sauce swirled in, 3 if you’d like extra, whole cranberries folded into the batter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of water
Half cup butter, like Earth Balance (I know it’s a bit of butter, but I significantly reduced the amount of sugar, so yay! Compromise!)
Half cup unsweetened unflavored almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
(an overflowing) Half cup of molasses
(an overflowing) Quarter cup of brown rice syrup (I think I have a poor hand to pour with, because in both cases my liquid syrups flowed over the measuring cups. Whoops.)
One and a half cups of white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Half teaspoon of baking powder
Quarter teaspoon of baking soda
Quarter teaspoon of fine sea salt
Quarter teaspoon of ground pepper
2 flax seed eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seed and 6 tablespoons of warm water, mixed and set aside for about ten minutes)
1 tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot (this makes the cake incredibly firey, which we absolutely loved the next day)
2 – 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the top, five minutes prior to taking out of the oven, for a lovely crunch (optional)
2 small sauce pans (can hold about 5 cups)
a medium sized mixing bowl
a large sized mixing bowl
a hand grater (for the freshly grated gingerroot)
a (square) nine inch cake pan (if you don’t have a square one, that’s ok)
a large spoon
Place the oven rack in the middle position in your oven. Preheat your oven to 350F.
Make your flax seed eggs and set aside.
In one of the small sauce pans, add 2 cups of the cranberries, granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Place the pan over a burner on medium heat. Stir the cranberry mixture occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved and a syrupy bubbling sauce forms. Some of the cranberries will retain their structure, while others will burst and ooze into the sauce (yum). This will take about ten minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
In your second sauce pan, add the butter (like Earth Balance), non-dairy milk, molasses and brown rice syrup. Place the pan over medium heat and stir occasionally, until the ingredients just start to simmer. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the white whole wheat flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. Whisk the ingredients until they are well combined and there are visually no more lumps.
In a large sized mixing bowl, add the butter and molasses mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the large sized mixing bowl, stirring the ingredients till combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as it’s quite a sticky batter. Add the flax seed eggs, stir till combined. Add the freshly ground ginger, stir till combined. Add the 1 extra cup of cranberries (if using), and fold them into the batter.
Scoop out the batter into your cake pan. With a large spoon, add the cranberry sauce to the top of the batter. You can just dollop the sauce out on top. Then, with a knife, swirl through the batter as if you’re making a marbled cake.
Bake the cake for about 45 – 55 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs. At the 35 minute mark, take the cake out of the oven, and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar, if using. At the 40 minute mark, take a cake tester (like a toothpick) and insert it into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, then it’s done. If not, put it back in the oven and keep checking it every five minutes.
When the cake is done, cool till room temperature before serving.
*Roo and I thought that this cake was far far better the next day. The ginger and cranberries were really able to meld together overnight, and what resulted, can be best described by Roo as, “like Christmas punching you in the face.” If you can wait overnight to eat this cake, I highly recommend it. Lastly, it sets up really nicely overnight as well. When you eat it out of the oven it’s gooey and all, but falls apart a bit. Next day = so. much. better.