Posts tagged ‘dogs’
angel dog, devil dog
17 February 2014
about 16 years ago, we welcomed a new member into our family fold. soft and adorable, we instantly fell madly in love with her.
we created a cozy little area in our dining room, where she could hang out during the day with her toys or catch a nap in her crate. early one Sunday morning, i noticed she wasn’t in her designated space. me: hey, is Winnie with you? Tootie: no, you mean she isn’t with… i ran around the corner into the living room to find her chomping on my Stickley coffee table with her tiny, razor-sharp teeth. yeah, the ones that left puncture wounds like a rattlesnake’s. and so, our adventures with Winnie, the English bull terrier, began.
we carted Winnie off to obedience training, where the trainer threw up her arms and said, she’s completely untrainable. and sent us to the back of the classroom to work independently. she oozed charm (when she felt like it). looking up with her little, almond-shaped eyes, she could implore nearly anyone to open the pantry to get her a little treat. oh yeah, Winnie was a consummate manipulator who was training us to do her bidding. and, admittedly, we let her wrap us around her little paw.
feisty and fearless, she could tunnel through a few feet of snow, bound across a mountain meadow (with me flying behind on the other end of her lead) and leap into the air, performing a dare-devilish spin. when professional life dictated relocation, Winnie was confidently at-the-ready:
- do you have my bed? √
- food? √
- toys? √
- can i sleep on the bed at the hotel? √ √
sure, she enjoyed her downtime. like when she’d grab a little snooze under a big shade tree or on the chaise lounge on the back deck.
most often, you could find her flopped upside down—all four feet dangling in the air—in one of her many comfy beds. a dedicated volunteer, she often offered to wedge herself between me and the kitchen counter in case she could lend a hand when i dropped a tidbit during dinner prep. sometimes she’d even let me give her a big hug (if i asked nicely and promised a Wet Noses biscuit in return).
it’s been a year since Winnie’s passing. i still walk over to where her dish once sat to give her a much-anticipated meal (she knew to the seeming second when breakfast, lunch and dinner should be served). i look longingly at the spot where she’d take the long, dream-filled naps of older dogs. she was our lovable, high-spirited diva. that perfect balance of angel dog and devil dog. playful. stubborn. sweet. outrageously funny. compliant, with a ‘tude.
Tom Springfield said and The Seekers sung it best:
i could search the whole world over
until my life is through
but i know i’ll never find another you.
wait for me in front of that heavenly pantry, pumpkin. miss you, love you always.
whoopie – Winnie turns 98!
5 September 2011
today, Winnie the English bull terrier turns 98. that’s 14 in people years. she’s as spirited and demanding as she was at three months, when she first became a member of our family. yeah, sometimes she forgets things. like why she was walking down the hallway. but who doesn’t? she’d rather snatch a little nap before dinner, instead of gnawing on some rubbery-tasting toy. but who wouldn’t? and if she can look pitiful and manipulate someone into giving her part of his/her dinner, well, who could blame her?
Winnie spent the afternoon sunning on the deck and taking a spritely jaunt around the yard. tonight we’re serving her an appetizer of flax treats, followed by a course of organic dog chow sprinkled with pieces of organic flank steak. for dessert? a slurp of vanilla ice cream. only a slurp, so she can retain her girlish figure. she’ll be in bed by 7:00. but who wouldn’t, after such a glorious day?
the humans took their hats off to Winnie by baking and consuming a few too many whoopie pies; you’ll find the delightful recipe below.
many happy returns of the day, pumpkin! my life and cherry coffee table wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Mint Buttercream Filling
a variation on a recipe found in whoopie pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell
a really cool whoopie pie cookbook
makes about 40 2-inch cakes = 20 2-inch whoopie pies
for the cakes
1 2/3 cups organic all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (i use Scharffen Berger)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons organic butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons organic vegetable shortening (i use Spectrum)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
for the filling
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons organic butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
- preheat oven to 350F.
- line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- in a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined.
- increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
- add the egg and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes.
- add half the flour mixture and half the buttermilk to the batter in the work bowl and beat on low until incorporated.
- scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- add the remaining flour mixture and the last 1/2 cup of buttermilk, then beat until completely combined.
- using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the batter one tablespoon at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cakes at least 2 inches apart.
- bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently.
- remove from the oven, and let the cakes cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
- to make the filling, in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners’ sugar and the butter, beginning on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.
- add the heavy cream, vanilla, mint extract and salt.
- beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- to assemble the cakes, spread the filling onto the flat side of one of the cakes using a knife, spoon or pastry bag with a round tip to pipe the filling.
- top with another cake, flat-side down.
- repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.
24 November 2009
when my friend Paul asked me for Thanksgiving side-dish ideas, i began to think not about food, but about classic and cult television characters. go figure. Lucy and Ethel. Mary and Rhoda. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. for me, the combination of perfectly balanced personalities (comedic mastermind and straight gal; independent, midwestern career woman and artistic, husband-seeking New Yorker; cape-clad super-heroine teacher and student) and sometimes zany antics entertained and demonstrated that things are generally better when you have a trusted sidekick.
so, what side dishes best complement the Thanksgiving turkey? the pairings are clearly endless. i keep my holiday meals simple, but they have combinations of rich, spicy, wonderful flavors. i’ll share just some of the things i plan to make in the next few days. hope you’ll let me know what you’re creating.
beginning with dessert (of course), i’ve already prepared and frozen Kate’s Apple Pie, with Arkansas Black, Belle de Boskoop, Golden Russet and Waltana heirloom apples. i just need to bake it on the big day. tomorrow i’m going to try Tyler Florence’s pumpkin and banana pie (minus the meringue…ack), using Kate’s crust recipe. i’ll let you know how that turns out; i plan to top it with lots of whipped cream.
next, the carbs: Perfect Northwest Macaroni and Cheese, minus the King Crab, plus some crispy pancetta for the topping. mashed potatoes are a definite requirement, so some rose fingerlings, whipped with a good measure of butter, half-and-half and some Velveeta. did i really say that? yes, that’s how my dad made them, and that’s how everyone at my house likes them.
i do a pretty traditional whole-berry cranberry sauce. this New Englander cuts back on the sugar, so the sauce is more tangy. oh, and i’ve had a request for a butternut squash dish; i’ll bake and whip the squash, add some spices (like a little cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), then finish the dish by baking in a casserole with a mixture of pecans and my apple crisp topping. if i had a family-favorite to share, it would be this: my grandmother’s sweet potato and apple casserole. super easy to make, with that lovely balance of sweet and tart.
whatever your traditions, there can never be too many good sidekicks. i know i’m particularly grateful this year for my happy-go-lucky, laid-back sidekick, Elroy, who is continually glued to me. especially when there’s something cheesy in the kitchen, with his name monogrammed on it. wishing you and yours a happy holiday!
Ida’s Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole
3 medium-size fresh sweet potatoes (i use garnet yams)
2 – 3 tart apples (e.g., Granny Smith or Waltana)
1/2 stick organic butter, cut into small pieces, and more to butter the casserole dish
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus a little more for sprinkling
- peel the sweet potatoes and place in a large pot of cold water.
- boil the potatoes until they are cooked through, but are still firm; be careful not to overcook.
- drain the potatoes, and let cool.
- butter a covered casserole dish. (mine is 3 quarts)
- peel and core the apples, then slice into 1/4-thick pieces.
- preheat oven to 350F.
- cut the cooled sweet potatoes into a little slimmer than 1/2-inch slices.
- place a few pieces of the butter on the bottom of the casserole dish.
- put a layer of the sweet potatoes over the butter.
- place a layer of apples over the sweet potatoes.
- sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the apples (use more, if your taste dictates).
- sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon over the sugar.
- dot the apple layer with butter.
- repeat the process (the top layer should be sweet potatoes).
- bake covered for about 40 minutes, or until the apples are cooked.
- remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon.
i owe you more than a biscuit
30 August 2009
dogs are like people (my dogs would say that’s a myopic point of view). some are simply more perceptive. empathetic. able to put their own wants and needs aside to focus on the needs of others. and to uplift their objects of attention and devotion to a far, far better place.
tonight, our English bulldog Elroy sensed my heavy heart. as i sat on the edge of the bed, feet dangling, he stretched to rest his head on my knee. ears down and big brown eyes peering up, his attempt alone brought comfort. grateful—and because he was clearly too short to reach me—i jumped off the bed and rubbed his head with thanks. he returned the favor with a little bulldog snort. um, if you’re already down here, would you mind scratching my back??
Hannah, my beloved bloodhound, shared some of Elroy’s admirable qualities: there when i needed her, asleep if i didn’t. well, unless something piqued her delicate sense of smell. then i could expect to be completely abandoned. sweet and generous to a fault, she forgave me for all the times i came home late from work. one hundred twenty five pounds of loose skin and wrinkles, Hannah’s constancy got me through some of life’s most-challenging transitions. i treasure every bit of her slobber that remains on my furniture to this day.
in contrast, Winnie, the English bull terrier, is the center of her universe. excuse me, bark, it’s time for my breakfast (or lunch or dinner). helloooo, bark, i want to go out now. hey, bark, can you open the door to the deck, so i can go sun bathe? oh, bark, when you open the pantry door, don’t forget to give me my treat. but she’s as endearing as she is demanding. and if i hadn’t catered to her every whim for the last 12 years, she would have an entirely different attitude. or not. she is, after all, a terrier.
to all of them, thanks for being there for me. hope i’ve done the same for you.