Missing: Spring Vegetable Cheese Dip

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

-Cheese: A wonderful way to deal with stress.- 

I unexpectedly found myself in dress pants, my gardening shirt, a hunting jacket, and sockless in my old kitchen clogs that were still stained from flour and sugar the weekend before walking southward on Calford Avenue screaming out my cat’s name – Cid – at 7:23 in the morning. I was only just showered and my hair still wet and tousled. Unready in the slightest to be seen by another person and barely sure what day it was still. Yet, regardless, and even without my usual jolt of caffeine, fear was enough to propel me through the cold drizzle.

Because my baby was missing.

All I could think of was last night - sitting in bed reading with Cid purring contently on my lap - could not be the last time I had him with me. The universe could not allow it to be this way. The universe and circumstance could not let my last interaction with Cid be me kicking him off at four in the morning because he insisted on sleeping over my knees and buckling them as a purr-crazy feline show of affection.

Cid, my companion of the last ten years who had seen me through break-ups and an engagement, college and grad school, who had listened quietly and intently to my ramblings, who creeped on to the couch to sit on my nap like a ninja so that I couldn't possibly see him coming in case I wasn’t in the mood, and who rode around on Fiance’s shoulder’s like a pirate’s parrot…

This could not be actually happening.

But it was.

-"Buckling your knees and sleeping on your face are how I show love. Causing you to panic is just for kicks."-

Roommate had accidentally left the garage door open and in the middle of the night a gust of wind blew open the door to the house (the door had never really closed properly). Cid, being a cat and therefore curious, simply walked out.

When I realized Cid was missing I roused Fiance and Roommate (whom with only one short sentence I verbally eviscerated stem to sternum and left it at that) and recruited them in the hunt. We checked under cars, in bushes, in trees, everywhere that seemed feasible. Feasible, of course, in this state, is a wary notion. Nothing and everything seems feasible from him hiding under an old tire to calling my old neighbors eight blocks down just in case he went to the old apartment that flooded. We searched for five hours with me taking only a short break to run to Kinko’s and make Missing Kitty fliers that were quickly secured to every windshield wiper and lamppost in a four block radius.

Then I went home and I broke down. Hard. Because after searching and calling for hours on end and not taking time to really dwell on the situation because that’ll only waste precious time and energy and you need to be out there DOING something not sitting there and worrying, well, what more can you do? What can you do but cry into a shoulder wondering about everything you didn't do and what you did do in the short amount of time in life you get to spend with another creature? We're told all the time to cherish every moment, but it's hard to do with careers and social lives and favorite television shows and all those other things that demand our time or that we give our time to. We nod in agreement, yes, I cherish my peoples and family, but do we really? We're people and we're silly and stupid and we DON'T appreciate those beings in our lives until they're gone and time is up. At that point all you really can do is cry. And even if you do live it up to the moment with your loved ones you'll always realize you could have done m.o.r.e.

I made my way to work and pulled a half day. I wasn’t very productive. If at all. I was hollow. Except for a few calls to shelters and the SPCA I tried to lose myself in a book and keep my mind and emotions preoccupied. Busy. Whathaveyou............

-Let's all guess how well that worked.-

Lucky, for me I had support. Roommate continued to comb the area in his car in an attempt to help but also to simply steer clear of me. (The sentence I had said earlier being: “I cannot talk to you right now,” cutting off his sincerest apology and attempting to, literally, crush his throat down into a crumpled mess like old tissue with my words. I don’t think I have ever sounded so angry and raw. I was taken aback at how ready I was to hurt him emotionally and how little I cared of the outcome.) Fiance trekked through the neighborhood and informed strangers to please keep an eye out. Friends and strangers on Facebook offered sympathies and advice and often stories of their own cats who had wandered off only to show up hungry and mewling for food days or even weeks later. All of this gave me confidence.

Still, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to What If’s, each one being darker than the one before. Nightmare tapestries weaved from facts and assumptions that hung on my thoughts.

There's not much more to say except over the next few days we kept up the search and fielded phone calls.

Two days later we did find Cid. He was camping in the backyard of a neighbor two houses over. Panicked, hungry, and hiding under the house. Eventually, hunger pulled him to the front door where Fiance – my hero – quickly snagged him. Cid was hungry and wet, but fine. In fact, he seemed to be totally unaware of the harried, near frantic state the rest of us were in and after a meal of his everyday kibble he quickly went to bed.

The little asshole.

-"Soon I will have new adventures when they forget to close the gate again!"-

Roommate is in the clear. I understand it was a mistake. A colossal mistake that could shadow all of Rhodes. We’re fine, though. We’ve placed a new lock on the garage door as well just in case.

It’s raining out and Cid is chilling out on the counter behind me as I make some molten hot veggie cheese dip. A perfect food for when it’s murky outside with one of those tediously dreary April rains; one that I'm glad Cid isn't suffering through.

The dip is warm. Salty. Bright. Cid may sniff it out and ask for a nip. He doesn’t like people food of any kind with the exception of milk and canned tuna, the opposite of Eat Beast who will destroy everything. However, a salty bit of melty cheese is sometimes a rare exception to his finicky palate.

When it’s done I’ll give him a fingerful even though I shouldn’t because he’s an old cat and it’s probably not so good for his health. But it’ll make him happy and that makes me happy, and at this exact moment I think that’s what matters most to either of us.

Cheese and Spring Vegetable Dip
Note: My oven died halfway through the cooking and so it cooked for about triple the time at a far lower heat. The very pretty top that is normally dotted with asparagus tips and browned bits of goat cheese had to be folded back in as it started to burn, killing the otherwise fashionable appearance of this dip. The extended cooking time also resulted in the duller color of the veggies. Still, some mustard florets saved it kinda-sorta. Either way, it's cooked cheese and veggies and is delicious anyways. This recipe is rather hard to botch. 

10 stalks of asparagus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale-green parts only)
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
5 ounces grated mild white cheddar
2 ounces blue cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 14-ounce can chopped artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 cup chopped mustard greens
1/4 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese

1. Chop the asparagus and set aside, reserving the tips. Preheat oven to 425F. In a sauce pot place the butter over medium-high heat. When melted add the leeks and cook for about 10 minutes or until the leeks are soft and take a bit of color. 

2. Add the flour and whisk together until the mixture turns a soft beige color. Whisk in the milk and cook, scraping the bottom occasionally, until the mixture has thickened - about 5-8 minutes. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper, chopped asparagus (reserve the tips) artichoke hearts, greens, peas, herbs, and lemon zest. 

3. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Dot the top with the goat cheese and asparagus tips. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve.


  1. I have done the hysterical search for the cat thing myself. In fact, my family knows the cats must be eyeballed before everyone turns in for the night. Usually if missing they are found locked in the closet where the dog food is or in the basement after following me down as ghosts. Always they seem unconcerned about the ruckus they have caused. Glad CID is safe and sound. And the cheese dip looks great!

  2. Oh, Garrett, I am SO GLAD that Cid turned out all right. We've had a cat for a year and a half, and although she's a 10 year old shithead, I don't even know what I would do with myself if she got lost. The dip sounds wonderful. I can't believe that after all of your recipe testing you are still willing to cook with cheese!

  3. I can't wait to try this dip; we're suffering through one of those dreary April rains as well and this recipe sounds like the perfect way to combat the weather. On a side note, I'm glad CID is home, safe and sound. I don't know what I would do if my cat ever got out. Other than worry and search frantically, of course.

  4. So glad you found Cid, he looks adorable! Growing up on a farm, occasionally our cats and dogs would go missing. It's funny how a dog will roam far afield and end up being found in the next county while the cat will be curled up asleep in the barn. Give Cid another big hug and a little more cheese dip, it looks amazing!

  5. Did you know I lock the cats in the bedroom with me every time there's a crazy storm that might have the potential to knock a tree into our house? Dan thinks I'm nuts, but I'd never be able to live with myself if something happened and they escaped. I'm so glad Cid is safe, sound, and unaffected by the incident.

  6. I'm so glad you got Cid back!

    I was the unfortunate person who let someone's cat out once. I was babysitting for a friend whose dog kept wanting to come in and out and since the baby was crying and I could just stand by the door waiting for the dog to decide I left the door open for a few minutes and her cat got out. In my defense, I didn't know her cats weren't allowed outside. She assumed I knew even though I hardly ever spent time at her house. I felt suitably horrible and was amazingly relieved when they found the cat the next day.

    That was pretty much the end of our friendship, actually.

    And now I want some cheese dip.

  7. My cat, Creamcheese, an indoor cat who's never been outside on her own, escaped one day when I had to prop the front door open because the smoke alarm went off because I was burning a pan (whew!) I frantically ran through the neighborhood, calling her name. Finally she was found, cowering, two hours away, under a canoe they had parked in the driveway. Whew!So glad you found your kitty.

  8. Hi Garrett, I'm glad that cid is home and safe. Btw, this recipe is perfect for a healthy dip that brings spring to the air.

  9. Glad Cid is home with you again. Dip sounds great as well. Here is a link to a site that describes displaced cat behavior, in case the little stinker gets out again.

  10. mmmm. dip. that sounds, and looks lovely. when i was 10, my cat went missing. my mean, fat, adored cat. we drove around my town, had my dad print up dozens of posters, stapled them around town and drove home. thirty seconds later our neighbor showed up with our cat who had hid in their basement. she probably just wanted to see us run around in circles pulling our hair out. glad your cat ended up at home as well.

  11. This story brought back memories of temporarily losing my cat, Pickle, as a kid. One time, she got stuck in a neighbor's shed for 2 weeks. We thought for sure she was gone, but eventually found her - poor, hungry little thing. On the other occasion, I think she must have been laughing at our panic, because it turned out that she was hiding out in my closet the whole time!

  12. Hi Garrett:
    Glad to hear that El Cid is safe and sound with you guys again.This sounds like a lovely recipe,(h/e,I
    can't stand bleu cheese)The other day, one of my cats, Bandit decided to take a big old snooze in our closet(one of her favorite hiding spots),and we weren't able to find her for hours.(which of course sent us into panic mode), running all over the place to look for her. Looked in the closet again,and made some noise and out she came:-)

  13. In college my cat lived with my boyfriend on his farm. My boyfriend was not terribly good at making sure the cat didn't get out, which was terrifying because all his neighbors had fox traps (those vile things). I still remember all the times we'd frantically be searching through ACRES of fields for Larry. One time in particular I was standing on the back grain door of the barn shouting into the field and Larry was actually springing up above the low wheat line to try and find me. It was like one of those moments in a movie where the couple runs at each other from opposite sides of the field.
    Oh the heart attacks that pets can induce.

  14. Normally, I really enjoy reading your blog. But this post did kind of annoy me. Come on, it is a CAT. It is not your child that went missing! I am sure you are afraid when your pet is gone, but don´t you think you are overdoing it a bit? I´m sorry, maybe it is because right now I am in a part of the world where people have bigger problems...But reading this just doesn´t feel right- sometimes it is good to look beyond one´s own backyard to put things in proportion!

  15. Anonymous: Wow, I'm also missing a self-righteous ass. Good thing you showed up. Now I can call off the search.

  16. Garrett,
    So glad you found Cid, he's quite striking! I know the panic I feel when I lose sight of my dog for a few minutes. I would be beyond beside myself if I woke up in the morning to find out she got out in the middle of the night.

    I enjoy your recipes, writing, and wit. Keep it up!

  17. Garrett,
    So glad you found Cid! He's quite striking. I know the panic I feel when I lose sight of my dog for a few minutes. I would be beyond beside myself if I woke up in the morning to find out she got out in the middle of the night. Very glad you found him.

    I think this might be my first or second comment, but I enjoy your recipes, writing, & wit and look forward to each new post. I'm glad this one had a happy ending!


  18. Yay, so glad you found Cid! And hopefully you lose the self-righteous asshole.

  19. I am glad that your search for CID only lasted 3 days. One time, a couple years ago, our cat wasn't coming back when we called her(she is an indoor and outdoor cat). And I had given up on finding her, and my heart was broken. But 6 weeks later, she showed up skin and bones, hungry, thirsty, and cold. There were other problems that had to be dealt with because of the amount of time without food or much water. So I am glad it was only a couple days for you!

    Also I was wondering what I might be able to substitute for the blue cheese. I am not a fan of it, BUT this recipe looks delish and I would love to try it. Thanks! :D

  20. Contrary to what the very-brave anonymous poster said above, I fully understand how our furry companions ARE like children to some of us. I can only imagine your panic and am very happy to hear that you found Cid. I love your description of his nonchallant return, as if he wasn't the least bit concerned and really just needed a nap!
    Lastly, the dip sounds deelish and looks great too.

  21. I'm so glad Cid found his way back to you! What a cute boy. I don't think you overreacted at all. Our pets are family members, who depend on us for the safety and well-being. I don't have a lot of respect for anyone who doesn't take that responsiblity seriously.

  22. I can't wait to try this Vegetable cheese dip and yea i love cats and am a owner of 2 cats :D


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