It was a little over 10 years ago that I was sitting in my apartment on the Baltimore waterfront, feeling sad, lonely and confused. I knew I needed a change; something to brighten things up and bring some cheer to my daily existence. After sitting on an idea for years I finally decided to act on it. It was time. I wanted to adopt a cat.
I drove to the local pet store and picked up all of the necessities. With food, toys and a liter box in hand, I made my way to the Maryland SPCA, feeling both adrenaline and self doubt. Some days I felt like I could barely take care of myself. Would I be able to take proper care of another living creature?
A volunteer walked me into the kitten nursery where I was immediately overwhelmed with the sound of eager mews. Little cages were stacked long and high and kittens pawed through the holes, demanding attention. I felt overwhelmed and confused. They were all sweet, adorable and in need of a loving home. How was I supposed to pick one? I walked along, staring at the top row of kitchens, smiling at them, stalling for time. I could see kittens in every cage except for one near my feet. For some reason I decided to crouch down and peek inside the cage.
I was surprised to see that it wasn’t empty. A little grey cat was staring out at me with wide eyed curiosity from the back of the cage. We looked at each for a moment. “Can I play with this one?” I asked. The volunteer brought us into a small room where I sat down on the floor. The kitten stared at me for a moment and then walked over, head butted me in the knee and said “mew.” It felt like she was saying “I choose you.”
It was love at first head butt.
It wasn’t an easy first night. Once we got home I realized she had a bad cold. She pooped on my bed. That night I wound up taking her to a pet emergency room to make sure she was ok and to get medicine. But I never once doubted my decision from the moment I adopted. Sofi has brought so much joy into my life. She has been a sweet, fiercely loyal, sometimes irritating, often hilarious companion to me for these past 10 years. She’s a lap cat who demands cuddles every day. Years after adopting her I discovered I’m allergic to cats but having her in my life is worth the occasional inability to breath through my nose. She fills me with joy and has changed me for the better. Adopting a cat was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- splash of pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 6 egg yolks
- 5 ounces granulated sugar
- 2 cups roasted salted pistachios, shelled
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 11/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Add the milk, cream, and vanilla to a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the cardamom. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
- Vigorously whisk the yolks and sugar together in a bowl. When the cream is just starting to simmer (don't boil it), slowly pour some of the liquid into the yolks while whisking.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir in a figure 8 motion with a wood spoon or rubber spatula for several minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for several minutes, stirring periodically. Cover with plastic wrap that’s pressed directly against the liquid to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until very cold, preferably overnight.
- Prepare ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with baking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir in the pistachios, coating to evenly combine, and then pour them onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread them in an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool and crisp up on the baking sheet.
- Once cool, break the nuts apart or chop them coarsely.
I prefer serving the nuts on top of the ice cream but they can also be added directly to the ice cream machine toward the end of the churning process.
Candied pistachios recipe adapted from Elizabeth LaBau