Now that the dust has more or less settled on Simba's injury, here's a recipe for an appetizer that I made for a Christmas party in early December. It's essentially a cheese spread shaped in a pine cone shape and decorated with toasted almonds, a cinnamon stick "twig", and dill for the pine fronds. Or, in our case, carrot greens for the fronds, since the store was out of fresh dill and the Huz diligently scoured the produce section for a substitute. The carrot greens were perfect!
I had some fun watching the expressions on people's faces when they saw the finished product. I think it took a moment to decide what it was supposed to be, so maybe I should have laid the almonds on a steeper angle. The most common guess among those who didn't get it right the first time was hedgehog. Ha! It was a hedgehog with a cranial injury resulting from insertion of a cinnamon stick in its head, causing green brain fronds to spill out, I guess. Oh, well. There were others who were awestruck at the presentation. So there.
This is one of those appetizers that you think you couldn't possibly make because of the time it takes to make it look pine-cone Christmasy, and it's true that it does take some time. But it's also true that you can make this a day or two ahead of time, or even do half one day and finish it the next. And if you're the sort to watch TV and keep your hands busy at the same time, then voila! It'll be done before you know it.
So, above is a closeup of how the almonds were stuck into the cheese spread. The finished product and full recipe can be seen here. Bear in mind that you really can make any favorite cheese spread, and decorate it this way, so if my version with shredded mozarella, red pepper, and feta (a Southern friend once exclaimed about feta, "That cheese is NASty!"), then substitute your favorite and decorate away!
P.S. No big news on Simba. Yesterday I could see he was dying to execute a big luxurious stretch from nose to tail, and was unable to, poor guy. Just stopped halfway through and gave up. But today he did a happy little prance with his rawhide chewie in his mouth, looking just like he used to. It was precious.