Monday, April 19, 2010

I baked a loaf of bread to remember my Cat - We'll call it Eng's Bread

His name was Eng.

He was rescued from a farm.

We got him before he was 30 days old (according to the vet).  So small his sister and he could be held in the palm of one hand.

He slept at my feet in my bed most nights.

He would play, "Hide the Kitty" when we put fresh sheets on the bed.  That means he would let us cover him up and we would try to tickle him under the fresh sheets while he would chase our fingers.

He would "high five" me.

Except for the 29 days (estimate) when he lived on the farm, he was an indoor cat.  But he loved to come outside with me to set up my smoker or grill.  Sometimes it would take up to an hour to get the temps correct and start cooking.  He loved to play in the grass during that time.

In his later years, his sister would guard her basket (that is never get her lazy ass out of the thing), while Eng never lost his inquisitive kittyness.

He got a little bigger than he should have as the years went by... Haven't we all?

His sister never ever came to "help" me cook.  Eng ALWAYS was there.  Not sure what this party was for, but in the background is my "Mise en Place" party table.  Judging by everything that was there, Eng and I were getting ready for one of our big neighborhood parties.

This was his chair in the kitchen.  Marked with a layer of cat hair, and a great spot to watch me cook.

He really liked to watch me knead bread.  This was his spot to watch that, as my kneading station was just a little out of his view from his chair.  He would also drink a TBS of milk (2%, he was watching his weight) every night here.  I would pour the milk, and he wouldn't drink till after I had rubbed his head and scratched his back.

Eng passed away yesterday.  He was 11 years old, and at least for today I hate being away.  When we left, we knew this was a possibility.  He was left in the care of a wonderful family with children.  They report that he was the friendly one, who played with the kids (my wife's cat still is guarding her basket).  In fact, Yesterday he played a little outside (one of his favorite things), then came in and had a drink (another favorite).  He played, he was petted and cared for, and an hour later he was gone.

He did not suffer, and he was as active the day he passed as the day I left for St Thomas.  We humans tend to put human thoughts into the heads of pets.  I feel so guilty that his last thoughts could have been wondering where I was and why I left and why I wasn't there when he needed me most..  But, I am going to try to think that his last thoughts were of setting up my smoker, getting his head rubbed before he would drink his milk and our last loaf of bread we made together...

So, tonight I made bread.  It is the last new bread recipe Eng and I made before I left Kansas.  I was just starting to think about how to make something taste the way I wanted.  It is the first loaf of bread that I altered the recipe and it came out exactly as I wanted.  It is a simple French Bread, but I wanted to relive my college days and try to make my French bread recipe taste like a sweet loaf I used to eat in my youth.

You can find my original post by clicking HERE...

But, it had a different name,

Here's my recipe for
Makes one 2-pound loaf
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)
1 tablespoons granulated yeast
1  tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
3 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
2 TBS Sugar

1.In a large bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6.Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

It's not the same without just a bit of cat hair... but it is pretty good.  I dusted the top with just a bit of kosher salt and butter.

It is going to be a long time before I bake another loaf of bread without thinking of him.

Except for this photo, he had a pretty good life.


  1. Dave, I am so sorry for your loss! Losing a pet is really hard. But I know you gave Eng a good life and I'm sure that is what he was remembering during his last few minutes.

    This bread is a beautiful way to commemorate his life.

  2. Dave, I am so very sorry. I recently lost my little buddie Sammy. Yorkshire Terrier and my best little bud. It's been a huge blow that I feel I'll never get over. They bring such happiness to us, we give them wonderful homes and lives. It's just so hard when they leave. I'm so sorry this has happened while you are away. Hugs Dave.

  3. So soory to hear about your loss, Dave, but what a wonderful tribute. You really showed the role this little (big?) guy played in your day-to-day life. Of course you baked bread to remember him - fitting.

  4. Big hugs Dave - I feel for you.

  5. Oh, Dave, I am so sorry. My heart is heavy for your loss of your beloved friend.

  6. I feel for you as I too know the loss of a pet. They become family to the majority of pet lovers. It appears he knew he was loved while you had him with you. The bread is a nice tribute to your memory of him.

  7. We lost our beloved "Mason" two weeks ago. He was our 16 year old dog. How I miss him. My thoughts are with you. From Belton, Missouri

  8. So sorry for your loss Dave...pets are so special with all the love they give us. Everytime you posted a photo of Eng, I'd show my daughter because he looked just like our cat(heafty build and all), and he passed away a year ago.
    The bread was an awsome tribute to your furry sidekick.

  9. Oh I'm so sad now that I can't even THINK about bread!!! I'm a crazy animal lover so I've had a few that lived long long lives but it is never easy when they pass on. I'm sorry he wasn't with you but know you'll have great memories of him till you see him again! (My male cat does that with the sheets too!)

    So sorry for your loss. :(

  10. I'm so sorry for your loss., making bread is a great tribute. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go hug my cats.

  11. I'm so sorry. What a sweet tribute. It must be hard to be so far away. Pets become such a part of the family. Dickens turned 16 2 weeks ago and she's my muse so I think I'll go hug her and play awhile in honor of Eng.

  12. Dave, I'm sorry. Our pets become family and it is very hard to lose them. Hugs and blessings...Mary

  13. i never plan to cry when reading food blogs, this was so touching. i know how precious a cat can be, and i'm so sorry for your loss. i think your sweet kitty would have appreciated this!

  14. It's so hard to lose a pet. I'm so sorry.

  15. Sorry about your loss. Kitties can be heard on your heart sometimes. We've lost 3 over the years and I still miss them.

    Of our current pride of 4, 2 of them enjoy a good round of "hide the kitty."

    Great post.

  16. I am so sorry for you cat. I will miss mine dearly when he will go away. Take care.

  17. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that you lost your baby. Your post had me welling with tears. I miss my Hextall still so I know what you going through. And I think you are right, we put human thoughts into the heads of our pets. But I believe it’s true. Good tribute.

  18. My sincerest condolences for your loss. I've got my dog Daisy at my feet and don't want to think about the day she quits helping on the grill. We'll try that bread recipe and think of you and Eng.

  19. Dave - the loss of a loved one is never easy, but your recipe/tribute to Eng was wonderful. My childhood dog was a rescue dog and I still miss him to this day. My thoughts and prayers go to you and your family.

  20. Oh Dave... I'm feeling ya tonight. Damn that's gotta be hard for you guys. Take care there...

    And have a piece of bread for me will ya?
    *Handing you the 10 pound bag of Taters*

    Your Friend

  21. Oh my cher ami, I am so sorry about Eng. He was a beautiful cat and so sweet. This bread is a wonderful tribute to him. Hugs and thoughts, Mags

  22. You know what? I was debating about going to the gym after work... f it! I'm going home to play with my cat Martin! Seriously! Go Eng! Hope you feel better soon!

  23. My deepest sympathy.

    ~Jane~ and the menagerie
    - Vail (dog)
    - Alibi (horse)
    - Sabrina (cat)
    - Alexis (cat)
    - Clover (cat)
    - Salem (cat)
    - Lady Blakeney (guinea pig)
    - Lady Godiva (guinea pig)

  24. Sorry to hear it. My super-fat cat high-fives me too! That was so great to read in your post. Maybe they're kindred spirits! I lost my other cat in July. Miss him dearly but it gets easier to manage, for sure.

  25. Dave, I am sorry to hear about Eng, he was a very pretty kitty. He can play with my big Doberdog in heaven. Take care.......

  26. Dave, I just read this post - sorry I have been missing in action lately. I am so sorry about Eng. Your words were eloquent. I know you miss him. I can tell he was a special cat.

  27. I am so so sorry for your loss. Having had to say goodbye to two of my feline friends, I know the pain of having to say goodbye and the wondering that comes after. Hugs to you during this difficult time.

  28. I am behind on my blog reading. I am soooo soooo sorry. You just have to know that Eng had a wonderful life and cherish the memories that you two shared.

  29. Dave, I am sorry about your loss of Eng. We used to have a cat and I remember when it died. The sadness was overwhelming, at the time. She had been an integrap part of our lives.

    Your making the Eng bread is wonderful as is your consulation brownies.

  30. I am just catching up on your blog and am terribly, terribly sorry to hear about Eng. There is nothing comparable to the bond you have with pet you have lived with for years--it's truly unique. Please accept my sympathies. As a fellow animal lover, I am thinking of you.

    Hungry Dog

  31. Dave, I'm so sorry to hear about Eng's passing. When you spend that much time with a pet, there becomes a special bond, a true friendship. My first weimeraner died 10 years ago and I still miss her often. Only a pet owner can understand and I think we are all extending our thoughts to you and Eng.

  32. So sorry to hear about Eng. This post is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful kitty.