Why Dogs and Food?

Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Three-Hour Pumpkin Pie

"Pumpkin pie if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy - while it lasts.....
The House Mother

Brian and I were headed to Green Valley Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with a couple of dear friends. I was to bring homemade dinner rolls and pumpkin pie. Easy enough. Wrong. When the bake control on my oven broke right before Thanksgiving, I had to come up with Plan B. Bringing a store-bought pie or rolls was out of the question. After all, I am the friend who loves to cook.

So I had an idea.

I would bake the pumpkin pie on the outdoor gas grill. Yes, that would work! I have made some wonderful roasts and skillet corn bread on the grill so why not pumpkin pie.

Working up until the day before Thanksgiving when we had a seven-hour drive ahead of us to get to Green Valley, I decided to cut corners and use store-bought dough for the pie crust. I sent Brian to the store with a list of ingredients, specifically listing the Pillsbury pie dough.

He brought home frozen pie crusts. Not what I wanted.

And when I saw the condition of the crusts – all hard and cracked and falling apart, I sent him back to the store to return them for the soft pie dough. By this time, it was late evening and my pie filling was prepared and ready to be poured in the dough. Brian kindly went back to the store, returned with a few other items but sans the pie dough! Oh, no! The store must have been out of pie dough!

"I returned the crusts and forgot to exchange them for the pie dough!" Brian confessed. I was too tired to make it from scratch since I was already making bread dough for the rolls. I opted to get up early the next morning to get the pie dough.

Next morning, as planned, off to the store I went for the dough. No problem. I got it. When I got home all I had to do was light the grill on one side, get the temperature to 350 degrees, roll out the dough into the pie plate and pour in the pumpkin filling. I placed the uncooked pie on the unlit side of the grill so as not to burn the crust and closed the lid.

An hour later, the pie was not even close to done. After an hour and half - still not done. Two hours later - same thing! At about noon - after two and half hours of baking time - I was losing patience. We still had the long drive ahead of us and we were supposed to get to Green Valley in time for dinner. I took the pie out and packed it up - done or not done. It had to do.

Meanwhile, I had made the dough for the dinner rolls, placed little raw dough balls into a cupcake pan and covered them with plastic wrap – to be cooked in Arizona.

Off we went to Arizona.

Forgetting that there is an hour time difference between California and Arizona, we arrived around 8:00 PM. With unbaked rolls in the back seat, all puffy because the dough had risen high during our trip, I started unpacking the car. Lo and behold, when I went to lift a couple bottle of wine out of the back seat, I dropped the wine on top of the rolls and just like that, they deflated. Oh, man. I had an under-baked pumpkin pie and a bunch of gooey, deflated, uncooked rolls. So much for the gourmet cook.

The next day on Thanksgiving, I tried to resurrect the rolls and baked them anyway. They were not very good. And the pie – well - the marathon pie had to be baked for about a half an hour more - this time in a regular oven.

Who would have guessed that everyone would love the pie! But I bet they would have enjoyed a store-bought pie just as much and it may have saved me a lot of anxiety.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Walty Wears a Sock

These are Walty's front paws with his sock on. Since Walter is camera shy, I had to hold him in place to keep him from fleeing and this is the best shot I could get.

Poor Walty. He has dealt with allergies since he was a baby pup. We have had the Vet do extensive allergy tests because we have noticed ear infections and itchy skin. Turns out, he is allergic to a lot of things.

Some are easy to fix. We only buy him organic, all natural food with very few ingredients because he is allergic to things like corn and eggs and barley which is abundant in many dog food brands. He is allergic to aspen trees (who knew!) and so many different plants and weeds that even the Vet didn’t know what half of them were. He is allergic to fleas (while in Colorado, he was not exposed to fleas) and last but not least, he is allergic to cats. And who likes to climb on Walter’s back and give him a daily massage but Mac, his feline brother. Oh, well, some things in life are hard to avoid and we have to make the best of it.

Walter will get an itchy patch on his front paw or the side of his head and he becomes obsessed with it. We have learned that these itchy patches are known as “Hot Spots”. He will scratch and chew and lick the Hot Spot until it gets raw and begins to ooze pus and bleed. It is like self-mutilation and is quite disturbing. So, from time to time if he gets one on his head, he has to wear the comfy cone to keep him from scratching and most recently, because he started chewing and licking his left front paw, he has to wear a sock.

He does okay with the sock on in the very beginning when he’s just hanging out and most likely to lick and chew but the sock eventually becomes a game to him. Eventually I find the sock on the front step, in his bed or out in the yard. Even though I tape it on, Walty figures out how to take it off. I feel bad for him because I am sure the hot spots are extremely irritating and I am sure he is not jazzed about wearing the sock. But I think he looks pretty cute in his sock.

Almost makes me want to put one on the other foot.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nine-Ten Again and Again

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."
~ Fernand Point

It was my birthday on October 12th. I usually love my birthday and all its fanfare. But this year, for some reason I was a little down when I woke up on October 12th. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a milestone birthday or anything exciting like that but I like to think that every birthday is a celebration of life and so I should be celebrating. So, I tried to lift up my chin and smile.

My coworkers wished me a happy birthday and sent emails and came by my desk to bestow their best wishes for a happy day. I so appreciate that. Then, I started getting a bunch of wonderful birthday wishes on my Facebook page and my spirits lifted a little more. My coworker and friend Erin, brought in breakfast AND took me to lunch at a nice little Thai restaurant. She made me feel special. Some of my dear friends called me and left happy birthday songs and loving birthday wishes on my voicemail. How fun this was and I can’t tell you how much it lifted me from my earlier funk.

When I got home from work, Brian had a lovely birthday present and several cards from Walter and Henry and Mac and we enjoyed some champagne on the patio. He had made reservations at the Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla – located in the Grande Colonial Hotel on Prospect Street.

The Nine-Ten is a small, cozy restaurant with a limited menu. That may be a problem for some if there is nothing on the menu of interest. But not for me. If the menu is too long, with tons of choices, it’s overwhelming and takes me forever to order. And so, I looked at 4 salad choices and the 6 or 8 dinner entrees and made my decision rather quickly. And for some reason, I knew it would be good. I just knew it. The pastry chef, I read, was a world-class chocolatier and even though I am not regularly a dessert eater, when I dine out, I will indulge. Especially if it is a specialty of the establishment.

The Nine-Ten has this wine-pairing option with all of their dinner choices. What this means is that the waitress will ask the diners their preference in wine and she will pair a complimenting wine with each of the courses. So, with your salad, you get a glass of wine; with your dinner - a glass of wine; and then even with your yummy chocolate dessert, you get a glass of wine or cordial. Each course has its own little ceremony. It is great fun and a great deal. And if you happen to get a good waitress who is spot on with the pairings, you are in for a fabulous dining experience!

And we did. To all of the above.

Brian ordered the Farmers Market Peach & La Quercia Prosciutto Salad that included arugula, burrata cheeses and Australian black truffle vinaigrette. I ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad which consisted of very tasty sliced heirloom tomatoes, a mixture of melon and plums and a rice wine vinaigrette. Delicious. Then for our entrees, Brian had the grilled Rib eye steak with chanterelle mushrooms and smoked paprika aioli and I had the Port Wine braised beef short ribs with sweet corn puree. These meat dishes were so tender and so well-prepared that they melted in our mouths. We were in heaven. Both the salads and the entrees were paired with some full-bodied and spicy Cabernet and Pinot Noir.

Our desserts just had to be of the chocolate kind since it was Pastry Chef Jack Fisher’s specialty. But they even have a list of tasty cheeses and fruit if you prefer. We ordered two to share: the half-baked chocolate cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream and another chocolate mousse with a crispy, crunchy topping. All I can say is they tasted as delectable as described! Another glass of red wine to compliment the chocolate and we were well fed and deliriously happy with our restaurant choice.

I wrote about our very expensive less-than-perfect dinner at the Marine Room in a previous blog entry. The Marine Room may have the ocean view down pat, but they can’t hold a candle to the Nine-Ten when it comes to service, food and value. In addition to paying only half of what we paid at the Marine Room, the food was better and we didn’t even have to valet park. We will go back again and again.

Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Do cats sometimes wish they were dogs?

"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." -- Alfred North Whitehead

I know this is a dog blog. But since my 18-year-old cat Mac lives in harmony with Walter and Henry, who came into the household long after Mac had established his “Top Dog” ranking in the family, I feel I have to throw in a few anecdotes that include him. And you will see why. Read on.

Mac is a funny little dude who survived under extraordinary circumstances and thrived over the past 18 and half years to say the least. He will not tolerate other cats (he wasn’t even that fond of his own brother Moukie, with whom he shared our affections for 12 years.) But once the dogs came into his life, it was a whole different story. It was as if he found another side of his inner self.

What I mean is that his behaviors changed. Instead of always walking the perimeter of the room or up on counters and the tops of chairs, he came down to the floor and walked among the dogs. Pretty soon he was sleeping among the dogs. He drinks from their water bowls and I have even caught him tasting their food. He stands in line with the dogs if table scraps are being handed out. He even let me put a collar and tag on him and that was never possible before. He comes to the front door and very loudly meows to greet me as if to outdo the other doggie welcomes. When visitors come, he runs out to greet them with his canine brothers as if not to miss out. He actually pays attention to guests when he used to ignore most humans. And finally, he now gives Brian some real attention - after all these years.

I find it fascinating to watch animal behavior. I received an early birthday present from my sister in the mail yesterday - a book titled “Inside of a Dog” by Alexandra Horowitz. Ms. Horowitz is a scientist who has devoted a lot of her life to studying animal behavior – particularly in dogs. She seems to have the inside scoop. She has a lot to say about what dogs do and how they do it and maybe even why they do it. It is quite remarkable and a perfect read for me since I am relentlessly trying to understand what my animals are trying to tell me and why they do the things they do. Now I have some help.

But why, after so many years of being a cat, has Mac decided to start behaving like a dog? Don’t get me wrong, he will always have enough feline qualities to keep him from being mistaken for a dog, but it seems to me he has this emerging canine sensibility. Perhaps he behaves the way he does just to take a little bit of the attention away from the dogs who demand so much of it. Remember those deceitful little Siamese cats in “Lady and the Tramp”? Mac will knock stuff off the counters and make a mess from time to time and I am sure he would love to see Walter or Henry get blamed for it!

But somewhere, inside that aloof and cunning little feline mind of his, does Mac envy and admire the dogs?

Nah! Who am I kidding?

He’s a cat!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer in the Fall and Henry Takes a Shower

"A dog is not "almost human" and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such." ~ John Holmes

After five straight months of cloud cover over La Jolla, we finally had some real summer weather! I was determined to get out into the sunshine and enjoy as much of it as I was able. And that is just what I did.

Saturday was spent with Brian and the boys down on the grassy bluffs overlooking the magnificent Pacific Ocean on Coast Blvd. We brought our little chairs, an umbrella, our books and plenty of water. Brian walked the boys down to Childrens Pool and I relaxed with my book. When they were ready for some more exercise, I walked them one at a time. This time we headed down the stairs to the beach where we walked on the sand and waded in the surf. Walter and I even climbed on the rocks and hiked up the steep side of the bluff to where Brian and Henry were waiting. We saw a wedding, lots of tourists with cameras and a woman who had set up a small living room on the grass. Lots of activity for all of us to enjoy! After a couple of hours we were ready to go home. It was a great day.

Sunday promised to be sunny and hot and my plan was to take the boys to Fiesta Island where they could swim. Because we woke up late and were moving a little slow, I changed the plans. Instead we walked through the neighborhood and ended up down on Marine Street Beach. Luckily, the lifeguards are scarce at this time of year and we didn’t get booted. We were sans umbrella today and the sun was hot so we didn't stay too long on the beach. It was refreshing, though, just to walk along the shore and get our feet wet. When we got home, I gave my very hot and pooped-out boys a Freezy Bone to help cool them off. Then, we all sat out on the backyard patio in the shade for the rest of the afternoon - while I read my Charlotte Perkins Gilman short stories and listened to the hoots and hollers from the very enthusiastic neighboring Charger fans. It was another really good day.

After dinner, I decided to take a shower. I often talk to Henry and Walter as if they are human companions. As I got up to head to the shower, I casually said to Henry: “Mommy is going to take a shower, do you want to join me?” (Henry likes to lie on the cool tile floor in the bathroom.) He followed behind me down the hall and into the bathroom and plopped himself down on the floor. Very soon after I stepped into the shower and turned on the water, Henry’s cute little face peeked around the curtain. Next thing I knew, he very nonchalantly stepped into the shower! (We have a big walk-in type of shower). Appearing to be very relaxed, he sat down and let the water soak him down. He hung out in there with me for the duration of my shower as if this was a natural and common event. He even waited until I toweled him off before he stepped out. I marveled at this because in the past when Brian and I have bathed the dogs in the shower, they have always tried to bolt the very first chance they got!

Perhaps Henry decided to take a shower because of the heat but I think he actually took me up on my invitation when I asked him if he would like to join me!

These glorious creatures never cease to both amuse and amaze me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How much is too much?

How much would you pay to dine by the sea?

"Numbers written on restaurant checks within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe." ~ Douglas Adams

How much money is a fine dining experience really worth? Should we pay double or triple the price to sit on the highest roof in the city or next to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the sea with a bird's view eye of the breakers at the shore?

Labor Day weekend was great because my dear friend Susan came for a visit. Although she got stuck in heavy traffic between L.A. and La Jolla and arrived almost 4 hours after her departure, it was so nice when she finally got here! We had dinner reservations at The Marine Room - a La Jolla restaurant by the sea. We were looking forward to a nice, relaxing dinner with delicious food.

When we arrived and handed over our car to the valet parkers, we entered the restaurant and were seated by a big window that provided us a great, up close and personal view of the ocean and the surf. It was lovely. Our waitress was a little over-solicitous but that seems to be the culture at this restaurant. I have eaten brunch here before with some girlfriends and our waiter literally stood by our table, hovering so much that we felt like inviting him to sit down. It didn’t allow us too much private conversation.

Anyway, back to the dinner. There were three of us – Susan, Brian and me. We decided to order a bottle of red wine and when we looked at the wine list, the least expensive bottle of wine was about $64. In reality, we knew it was about a $10 bottle of wine. Now we all know how much restaurants mark up the wine, but seriously - $64 for a bottle of $10 wine? Okay, now on to the salad. We ordered a Caesar salad made Gueridon style which we all agreed was one of the best Caesar salads we ever had and the man who prepared the salad at our tableside was delightful. Then, we ordered our entrees. Brian ordered the Sesame crusted Ruby Red Ahi Tuna served with Thai rice, mango daikon salad, crispy avocado and pomegranate hibiscus sauce. It was prepared very rare and was tasty but was not as spectacular as was anticipated with that fancy menu description. Susan ordered the Filet Mignon, medium rare which was served with hazelnut potato timbale, cremini mushrooms with a mustard seed garnacha reduction. I ordered the a leek-coated Halibut which was served over 3 very small fingerling potato wedges and topped with some prosciutto and a paper-thin slice of heirloom melon with a white port chervril emulsion. Susan and I each split our dish in half and shared. The presentation was beautiful - including the mini trees made from sprigs of rosemary and thyme. The food was good but again, was not as good as the menu descriptions. We ordered an after-dinner drink and even though Susan exchanged hers for another, they still charged us for the one she didn’t drink. Huh. That was not very accommodating. But then, they did give a slice of key lime pie au gratis in the end.

All told, the meal was $300. Outrageous? Maybe not for some. But for us – well, we were not that impressed with the dinner. And then we still had to leave the tip and the pay the valet parking charges.

Let’s just say that next time I want to take one of my guests to a dinner ala surf and sand, I will cook it myself or grab some yummy takeout and carry it down to the beach!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Massage Anyone?

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." -- English Proverb

Yes - that's Mac mounted atop Walter, performing his magic.

Most dogs love to be touched. They love to be patted on the rump, petted on their head and scratched behind the ears. They even love to be brushed. Well, at least my boys do. Whenever Walter or Henry are petted and stroked, they hum with pleasure and stretch their legs out or paw me for more when I stop.

The one thing Walter and Henry do not agree on when it comes to petting is the Cat Massage. Mac, our 18-year-old cat loves to climb up on the dogs’ backs and start kneading. Mac has tried it on Henry a couple of times and Henry gives him such a look of displeasure, he quickly realizes he is not welcome and looks for a more willing customer.

And he finds it in Walter.

Mac can climb up on Walter’s back, dig his soft, de-clawed little pads deep into Walter’s neck and back and meow for as long as his little heart desires. This sometimes goes on for half an hour. Walter submits every time. Mac seems to get as much pleasure being the masseur as Walter gets as the recipient of the massage. Quid Pro Quo.

Maybe Walter just doesn’t have the heart to knock Mac off or maybe he really does enjoy it. I tend to believe it is the latter. I think it is truly the ultimate massage and Henry just doesn’t realize what he is missing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not your Run-of-the-Mill Happy Hour

"And do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."
~ William Shakespeare

I work in the bio-tech region of San Diego located in a section of La Jolla known as University Towne Centre. It’s a great area to work – I can get there without having to battle the freeways and there are all kinds of hotels, shopping and great restaurants nearby.

From time to time, co-workers will get together to enjoy some down time after work doing what we all fondly refer to as “Happy Hour”. Now, there are happy hour places, crammed with people drinking draft beer and well drinks for half-price off during happy hour and eating buffet-style mediocre bar food at best. But not at Truluck’s - a wonderful steak and crab house in the Aventine Center right next the La Jolla Hyatt. They have a different kind of Happy Hour. Guests can sit in outside patio seating surrounded by those wonderful warm patio heaters and gas fire pits. Inside is a low-lighted, atmospheric restaurant infused with the smells of their famous crab dishes and other savory seafood selections.

Truluck's happy hour drinks include top shelf spirits such as Grey Goose Vodka Martinis and a wonderful selection of fine wines at half price. And their appetizers – well these are not your mediocre, run-of-the-mill bar-food variety. They offer dishes such as warm goat cheese with sweet chili and pecans served with crunchy French bread, hot crispy shrimp and seafood and crab or steak sliders that are truly out of this world. And all for such reasonable prices that I keep on waiting for them to change the menu or raise the prices now that they have lured in and netted their clientele. But they don’t. It’s the same fabulous food and prices every time we go there. And as a bonus, their wait staff is super friendly and accommodating.

Each time I visit Truluck’s after work, I always take a “to go” box and bring some food home to Brian so he won’t miss out. So, next time you want a not-so-ordinary upscale happy hour experience without the upscale prices, check out Truluck’s if you can locate one. They also have restaurants in Texas and Florida. It is a delicious and delightful experience.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dog Tails with Foxtails and Bumps on their Noodles!

These are NOT a few of my favorite things!

We like to take Walter and Henry to these dusty little bike trails in the nearby parks where they can go off leash and go exploring in the bushes and chase bunnies. It’s fun for them and it’s a nice, pleasant walk for us. It seems harmless enough to let the boys run free and wander around to sniff out the nooks and crannies of the park. But the truth is - a real danger lurks in the high, dry, wheat-like grass that grows in abundance in this part of the country. I am talking about "foxtails". They call them foxtails because of their resemblance to a real fox tail. They look soft and billowy and harmless as they sway in the summer breeze but the truth is, they are like fish hooks. Once they attach themselves to your dog, their little deadly barbs dig in and catch the skin and make it extremely difficult to remove them from your dog without the help from a Vet.

Henry got a couple embedded so deeply into his butt, they became infected and painful before we were able to have them removed. And the scariest part is, these deadly things can get into their eyes and their nose and their ears where they may not be detected until your poor dog is in terrible pain with infection.

Walter has frequent yeast infections in his ears because he is allergic to so many things. It is something we have become accustomed to and so we constantly clean his ears and give him ear drops. So, when he was scratching at his head near his ear, it was not that unusual. But one time he scratched so hard that a bloody lump started forming on his head near his ear, we took him to the Vet. Lo and behold, it was not the lump on Walty’s noodle that we had to worry about. The Vet looked in his ears and found a foxtail burrowed deep in his ear canal. Thankfully, she was able to reach in with tweezers and remove it without harm to Walter's eardrum.

So, after all this, we now do "foxtail checks" on our boys after they are exposed to areas that have this deadly grass growing. We also use the “furminator” to comb their coats and remove burrs and other debris from their fur. Keep an eye out for excessive sneezing or extremely teary eyes or infected looking bumps. It could be a foxtail making its way deeper and deeper into your beloved pooch.

We didn’t have foxtails in the mountain paths of Colorado, but then again, we had rattlesnakes. So, I guess all regions have their own hazards! We just have to learn what they are and try and keep our curious and carefree pups safe when they are out having fun.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

From Pizza to Sushi

Fifteen years ago, people were making jokes about sushi being bait, and now, in parts of L.A. -- not in Japanese neighborhoods at all, especially on the West side -- it seems like there's a little sushi bar in almost every mini-mall. ~ Russ Parsons

Brian and I are pretty traditional when it comes to food. I am the more daring of the two of us. He generally won’t venture into Middle Eastern, Indian or Thai cuisine so I usually have to find another dinner partner when I want to try a new restaurant.

Coming from Colorado, we did not have a huge selection of good seafood so we were pretty much stuck with beef and chicken and pasta or even buffalo or elk when we were adventurous. Now that we are in California, the choices of seafood are endless. I was an East Coaster so I grew up on seafood but Brian, who lived most of his life in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, just didn’t have much fish in his life until now. He has discovered that he loves salmon – something I could never get him to eat in Colorado. We live right around the corner from one of the best fish markets in San Diego – El Pescador on Pearl Street in La Jolla. They have a fabulous array of fresh seafood and clam chowder and also cook lunches and dinners on their inside grill to eat in their small restaurant or available for take out. So, because of the proximity of this fish market and Brian’s new-found love of fresh fish, we are regulars at El Pescador.

The one thing we really have never tried is Sushi. It’s that weird fear we have of the unknown. Raw fish? Are you kidding me? We just never tried it. Until recently. At first we just tried the “rolls” – California rolls, shrimp rolls, salmon rolls…….and then finally even ventured on to eel rolls! So far, so good. And then finally, one night, we totally surrendered and ordered the raw fish – salmon, tuna and white fish. And to our delight, we loved it all! There are at least seven Sushi restaurants in our little La Jolla village alone. And some of them are really fancy and expensive. But we have found a great Sushi place just down the street from our house called Fugu's – which not only has good food at reasonable prices, but they deliver, too – Saki and all!

Anyway, my point is, you have to try new stuff. It’s fun and it’s good for you! We know there are millions of people who have already climbed aboard the Sushi train a long time ago and that we are latecomers, but better late than never.

We used to order pizza every Friday night and now we get Sushi. Not that we will ever give up pizza entirely. That just won’t happen. But we feel a little bit healthier since we have made the switch. And it makes the pizza taste so good when we finally indulge again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ~ Charles Dickens

Whoever said "let sleeping dogs lie" didn't sleep with dogs. The first thing you discover when you bring a dog into your bed is the striking difference in weight between an alert, awake dog and a dog at rest.

We have a nice, roomy king-sized bed. And a good thing we do. With two 120-pound Golden Retrievers and an 8-pound cat, we need all the room we can get! Yes, there are times when all of us – Brian and me, Walter, Henry and Mac – are sleeping in the bed together. We even have a little stairway to help the boys climb up. It’s a bit crowded, to say the least, but we try our best to share the sleeping space until ultimately one of the boys gets too hot or crowded and jumps to the floor, providing a bit of relief and a patch of free space to stretch an arm or a leg.

Mac is usually on the pillow above my head, Henry scoots up between Brian and me and Walter…..well, Walter sprawls out across the bottom of the bed taking up so much room we find our feet all scrunched up just to accommodate him. And the worst part is, when Walter falls asleep, there is no waking him. It’s like he goes into a doggie coma and I don’t think even a 7.9 earthquake would rouse him from his slumber. It has gotten to the point where I am so uncomfortable at times that I have to try and move the 120-pound dead-weight, unconscious lug. Even if I try and lift him and reposition him, he remains deep in doggie dreamland. Doesn’t even open an eye! It’s one of the funny, little quirky things about our boy Walter. He gives a whole new meaning to the idiom Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies. ~ Gene Hill

Walter and Henry

We were living in Evergreen, Colorado when Jake, our 11-year old sweet and beautiful Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with kidney failure in the Spring of 2001. It was devastating news. We were told by the doctors that he only had about 6 or 7 months to live. We gave him medicine to help him be more comfortable and all the love he wanted and needed, which was certainly not hard. He was a love.

One day when the Cable guy was making a house call, I answered the door with Jake by my side and the man at the door reached down and petted Jake and told me he had a baby Golden Retriever out in his truck. I told him to bring him inside. From the moment this little 10-week old white puppy jumped out of the truck, I was smitten. I had never seen a white Golden Retriever before. I guess you could say I just had to have one. That is when I was introduced to Kyon Kennels in Canada.

Kyon breeds these Norwegian and Swedish white golden angels and sells their puppies. We wrote to them and began the process of adopting a beautiful baby Kyon True Cream Golden Retriever. Walter was born on June 7, 2002 and he was in our home 8 weeks later, flown to us from Canada to Colorado. We introduced Walter to Jake and although Walter seemed to fall instantly in love with Jake, I am not sure Jake was up to the challenge of a bouncing puppy. But they ended up being friends. I think Walter’s presence helped Jake stay around a little longer, but ultimately, Jake passed at the end of January, 2003. Walter took it hard. He would anxiously walk around looking for his big brother and sit by the back door and cry. It broke our hearts. So, there was only one thing to do – get him another brother.

With a call to Karin and Wally at Kyon Kennels, we inquired about the possibility of getting another puppy and we were in luck! Annie and Strummer (Henry’s mom and dad) were having a litter early February and the pups would be ready to sell end of March, early April. Henry was born on February 9, 2003 and 9 weeks later we made another trip to the Denver airport to pick up our second Kyon boy. The rest is history. Walter and Henry, 8 months apart, became fast friends and inseparable brothers. We couldn’t have asked for two sweeter, more beautiful and loving dogs. There is no replacement for our beloved Jake but these two boys sure helped us cope with our loss and find new joy. And now they are the loves of our lives. And yes, they do make our lives whole. We cannot imagine life without them.

Visit Kyon Kennels at http://www.kyonkennels.com/ for no other reason than to see all their beautiful dogs or link to FANS OF KYON KENNELS on Facebook by clicking on the Kyon Gang in the photo to your right.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Garlic Galore!

"There is no such thing as a little garlic." - Arthur Baer

I use garlic in practically everything I cook. It is a staple for me. If you like garlic as much as I do, keep reading - I am going to introduce you to a garlicky treat!

One of my favorite chefs and personalities is Ina Garten - The Barefoot Contessa. I love her story. She pursued what she loved and she made it happen. Ina Garten lives in East Hampton on Long Island, New York. I am very familiar with the area because I grew up on Long Island and we vacationed in the Hamptons during our summer break. It is a lovely backdrop for Ina to share her culinary creations. Ina has such a warm and inviting way about her. She is the kind of person you can imagine hanging out with. And she has the most fabulous recipes.

One of my favorite Ina Garten cookbooks is Barefoot in Paris. I must tell you, I think I was French in a past life. I love France. I have recurring dreams of France, and Paris in particular, and when I dream, I actually dream in French. It is like having an adventurous out-of-body experience. I love those dreams.

I have been to Paris twice and even the first time, I felt as if I had been there before. It is a wonderful city. And, of course, the food is beyond good. Ina Garten obviously loves Paris and it certainly shows in all of her recipes. They are all très bon!

Ina also has a knack for making the preparation of a fabulous meal look effortless and she can make a gourmet feast seem easy to prepare. I just love watching her!

In her Barefoot in Paris cookbook she has recipes that range from a Goat Cheese Tart to Boeuf Bourguignon to Profiteroles - and well, Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic!

As Ina says: "I know it sounds outrageous to cook chicken with forty cloves of garlic, but garlic becomes very sweet and tender when it's cooked for a long time. This is great to serve for a party with Moroccan Couscous (which is also in her Paris cookbook on page 158) because not only are they delicious together, but they can both be prepared a day ahead and reheated."

I am working my way through her cookbook and look forward to the experience of many more dishes as delectable as this chicken! I have served it to Brian and to my guests and it is always a huge hit. So, for all you garlic lovers out there, please try this recipe! See it in the Recipe section. And pick up a copy of Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris for more of her French creations.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is he a Girl or a Boy?

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too." - Samuel Butler

I buy Walter and Henry new collars for the different seasons of the year. They have their Winter collars that are deep and dark colors and their Christmas collars with trees and lights and they have their Summer collars in pastels and fun prints. Henry always wears some kind of a red collar and Walter wears blue. But when I ordered the Summer collars online, I found a nice pastel blue one with cute little crabs on it for Walter and the closest I could come to red was a coral one with shells on it for Henry. When they arrived, the coral collar was really more of a pink color than the deep coral I'd imagined. I didn't care, but Brian was not too thrilled that his male dog was wearing a girlie collar. He told me that Henry would be embarrassed to wear a pink collar. I told him he was being silly and that the collar was just fine and that Henry wouldn't care.

When we take the boys out for a walk, we always encounter people who want to meet these beautiful creatures and they always ask us a lot of questions. "What kind of dogs are they?" "How old are they?" "Are they related?" Stuff like that.

Well, on this particular day on a walk in the park with Walter and Henry donning their new Summer collars, a little boy, about 5 years old, came up to us and started petting the boys. He asked, "Are they a boy and a girl?" I told the little boy that no, they are both boys. And then he looked at them again and pointed at Henry and said, "Oh, I thought this one was a girl because he is wearing a pink collar!" Of course, I got the "I told you so" look from Brian.

Can you guess what happened next? Yep. When we got home, I took off Henry's collar and swapped it for a more manly one. His new Summer collar is black and red with palm trees. Sometimes, you just have to admit when you are wrong. And I swear Henry looked relieved, too, even though he would never admit it to me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not Your Typical Pot Luck Fare

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” - James Beard

We all have pot luck lunches at work from time to time. I love them. Everyone prepares all kinds of wonderful dishes – there is no theme – just the sharing of homemade delights. And it is fun. At the last potluck, I took the chance at making an unusual dish using ingredients from a Persian market and to my surprise, people loved it.

We have this wonderful Persian market a few doors down from our house in La Jolla. It is owned and run by a couple from Iran - Nancy is from the South of Iran and her husband from the North. They are lovely. She always has tips for me and when I shop there, I am there for a long time chatting away and learning about Persian cuisine. Brian and I buy a lot of produce, fruit, spices, cheeses and other delectable goodies from this market. Everything is fresh and delicious.

Recently, I have been experimenting with various Mediterranean dishes because of their fresh and healthful ingredients and the simplicity of the recipes. I recently discovered, thanks to Nancy at the Persian market, that I can use some really simple ingredients to make a refreshing summer sandwich using cucumbers, mint and Persian flat-bread. What a wonderful treat. Check out the recipe.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog."

"You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown

How much does it break our hearts when our pets don't feel well? It's awful. But they are the most amazing creatures. They get sick but do not complain. They take it and deal with it and face the pain with courage while they remain devoted to making sure we are still okay. I truly cannot think of a soul on this earth as unselfish or more devoted to us than our dogs.

Last Friday night after Walter and Henry came home from the groomer, we noticed that Henry was a little slower, lost his appetite and was just not his happy self. Henry has severe hip dysplasia and spinal arthritis so we thought that perhaps that was bothering him. But, alas, it was not his hips or his spine but rather some kind of a stomach virus. We took him to the Vet and he was prescribed antibiotics. In 24 hours, we could see that he was feeling better.

Then, all of a sudden Walter seemed to be sick, too. I thought to myself that it must be sympathy pains for Henry as they are so incredibly close. Walter is somewhat of an empath and seems to feel everyone’s pain. We took Walter to the Vet and he, too, had a stomach virus and was prescribed antibiotics. Within 24 hours he was feeling better, too!

I have to give them each 2 pills twice a day. Even though I know they don’t like to take pills and it is sometimes difficult for me to get them to swallow them, I do it because I love them. It is my job to take care of them, keep them safe and help make them feel better when they are sick. And they stand there like little soldiers and swallow the pills they hate because I am giving the pills to them - and because they trust me. They wag their tails and they smile because they want to please me. They know I am helping them. They know I love them. And they will do anything for me because of that. Anything.

How can we possibly not do everything in our power to be worthy of that kind of devotion? Be still my heart.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Paradise through a Dog's Eyes

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera

Brian and I took Walter and Henry for a walk down on Coast Blvd where the view of the ocean is spectacular with its majestic rock beaches and grassy bluffs. Walter and Henry love it down there as there is always a lot of activity with the locals and the tourists sprawling out on their blankets and the seals sunbathing on the stretch of sand on Casa Beach or as locals refer to it - Children's Pool.

There is an unusual amount of ground squirrels that live in tunnels above the beach there. These squirrels are everywhere, no doubt because of the abundance of food available from the picnickers. Henry just goes crazy when he sees these little guys. I have taken a few “spills” when he spots a few squirrels and decides to bolt after them, forgetting that I am the one walking him and not the other way around.

It was particularly crowded on this day and naturally the squirrels were scooting around the many blankets on the lawns – almost posing for the tourists. While Walter preferred to take in the people, Henry was in a frenzy trying to chase the squirrels but, alas, he was tethered to his mommy and unable to disappear down the cliff to their burrows. He did manage to find a hole in the ground – no doubt a squirrel abode – and stuck his nose in so far that I thought he would get stuck. With his butt sticking up in the air and his relentless pursuit of what was inside, it was one of those moments that I wished I had my camera. Next time. Anyway, he managed to get a lot of attention and laughs from the sunbathers and picnickers and when he finally emerged, even more laughter as his nose was brown with dirt. He didn’t even notice. He was in heaven without a worry in the world!

It never ceases to amaze me how little effort it takes to amuse my boys and to make their day blissful. When I see the pure joy on Henry's and Walter's faces just because they had a great walk, it reminds me to take time to appreciate the simplest of pleasures in my own life.

I truly think if everyone paid more attention to how dogs behave, we would all be better off. We would find ourselves able to easily forgive, always ready to love and have a blast just going for walk.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Food, Fun and the Fourth of July

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism." ~Erma Bombeck

I hope everyone had a safe and fun-filled July 4th weekend celebration! Brian, the boys and I had a really nice one. I was lucky enough to have both Friday and Monday off work for a long weekend and although the weather was not very summerish here in La Jolla, we made the best of it. It also happens to be Brian's birthday on July 5th so as one of my birthday presents to him, I cooked some of his favorite meals over the weekend. There was a "Jaws" marathon on TV so that kept me entertained while I was in the kitchen.

Despite the clouds, we did manage to get in some time at the beach where we picnicked and soaked up a little sun while it lasted. Walter and Henry got to go for a few really nice walks, a couple of rides in the car and a visit to the the park where they romped and chased bunnies which they love.

We made Margaritas on Sunday and we were able to watch the fireworks right from our front step! I don't think we realized we could see them so clearly from our own house but discovered that a lot of other folks must have known as there were crowds outside our front yard. All over the neighborhood we could hear people oohing and aahing, cheering and clapping at the display of lights in the sky. It was very festive!

Here are some of the dishes I made for Brian's birthday weekend:

 Eggs Benedict with pan roasted potatoes
 Rustic French Bread French Toast and oven-cooked bacon
 Tomato,green onion and white cheddar omelet
 Italian sub sandwich with turkey, ham, salami and provolone
 Scaloppini Pork with Mushrooms & Sherry over chive mashed potatoes
 Cheeseburgers with jalapeno sauce
 Grilled chicken with homemade mustard barbecue sauce
 Chicken enchiladas
 Tiramisu ice cream birthday cake

So, my friends, as you can see, I was quite busy cooking and we certainly overindulged this weekend but Brian had a great birthday weekend. So, it is back to reality tomorrow - eating salads and lighter fare! See my Scaloppini Pork recipe in the recipe section.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Southern Author, Southern Cook

The North think it knows how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it. - Mark Twain

Pat Conroy is one of my favorite American writers. Not only is he a talented and eloquent writer - the author of The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides and other fabulous books - he has also authored a cookbook filled with stories of his passion for cooking and good food and wonderful Southern recipes.

Brian and I love really good barbecue. We don't eat it often but when we are in the mood, we seek out good barbecue joints where the ribs are so tender that the meat falls off the bone and there are a variety of regional barbecue sauces.

I now make the barbecue. One of our favorites is slow-roasted pulled pork that I season with a sweet and spicy rub and cook on a low-heat grille over wood chips for about 5-6 hours - and finished with a homemade vinegar-based barbecue sauce.

And what goes better with barbecued pork than homemade cornbread?

I do not have my own recipe for cornbread (I am a Northerner, after all) and have tried numerous recipes. Although they have all been acceptable, I have not made one that can compare to Pat Conroy's Cornbread. I have cooked this in both the oven and on the gas grille outside and it comes out great either way! So, if you like REAL cornbread, check out the recipe.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to the BAM and POOP Hotel!

We give dogs love we can spare, time we can spare and room we can spare. In return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made. - Mary Focklam

This story is dedicated to my friend Minja as I know she will love it.

It was Valentine's Day weekend in 2003. Walter, our new Golden Retriever was not even a year old. My husband Brian surprised me with a romantic weekend getaway at the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. And to our delight, the hotel was pet-friendly so we could bring Walter with us! It was a typical crisp February day and the skies were bright blue and the trees were laced with snow. So, we packed up the Jeep, put the seats down in the back, loaded up Walter and began the beautiful drive from Evergreen to the home of The Shining.

Walter threw up about 5 times on the way to the hotel. We had to keep stopping to clean it up. Good thing we had blankets down in the back. We figured this was probably his longest car trip and he just had a little car-sickness.

In hindsight, it should have been our first clue.

When we arrived, we were offered a room in the Manor House which is adjacent to the Main Hotel. Walter, the 8-month old white Golden Retriever puppy was a big hit as we checked in at the main lobby desk. It was like being with a movie star - everyone stopped to pet him and ooh and ahh over how adorable he was. Our room was rather small but we didn't care - it was comfortable and it was fun to be in a hotel where The Shining plays 24/7 on every TV in every room. Besides, we planned to be outside hiking and enjoying the beauty of this special Rocky Mountain paradise. Despite the marathon vomiting on the way up, so far so good.

We had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant the first night and the evening was uneventful. Until we went to bed.

Now, the Stanley hotel was built in 1907 and opened in 1908. I think the radiators in the rooms were that old because when we went to bed we could hear the steam heat building up, hissing and ticking until the radiator would ultimately go "BAM!"

Well, Walter being the nervous little puppy that he was would jump up and dive into the bed between Brian and me, burying his face in the pillows every time that radiator reached the BAM! part of its routine. This went on for hours. Brian kept putting Walter back down on the floor and each time the radiator went BAM! Walter would jump back up and dive between us. Finally, we just let him stay in the bed with us and we all drifted off to sleep despite the hissing and ticking and BAMMING.

The next morning we inquired at the front desk if it was possible to move to a different room because of the radiator issue. The Stanley Hotel was extremely accommodating. Not only did they move us to a new room, they upgraded us to a very large suite-like room with a beautiful view. We were thrilled.

We headed out for the day, visited Brian's dad's grave sight which was surrounded by a gorgeous Aspen grove. We hiked around and Walter had a blast running through the woods and playing in the snow. We stopped for lunch at Nicky's, a cool little lodge, and headed back to The Stanley. It was a great day. Upon getting out of the car, Walter got spooked by something and jumped out of the back of the Jeep and took off running - retractable leash in tow - bouncing on the concrete behind him. I was horrified because I thought he was going to dart toward the highway. I called after him and he kept running like a crazy dog! And finally, he just came to a stop and sat down. I finally caught up to him, calmed him down and walked him back to the hotel.

As we were walking up the elegant center staircase to our "suite" a man was calling behind me to tell me that he thought that my dog was bleeding. I looked down to see bloody little paw prints leading from the front door all the way up the stairs and down the hall to our room. Uh-oh! I quickly pulled Walter into the room and checked his paws and yes, indeed, he had cut one of his pads - probably from his leap from the Jeep. Poor Walter - terrorized the night before from the BAMMING radiator and now a bloody foot. What next?

We decided to stay in the room with Walter for dinner that night and ordered a fantastic steak dinner a la room service. Since we had the suite, we relaxed on the sofa with a nice bottle of wine. Walter seemed content and pretty peaceful. Until we went to bed.

We were probably asleep for a couple of hours when something made me wake up. Maybe it was the sound or the smell - I can't remember which. In any case, it was enough to wake me up. Brian still slept.

I got up to a panting Walter, pacing the room nervously. The smell was overwhelming so I turned on the light to see what it was and lo and behold there were EIGHT diarrhea pies strategically placed on the Stanley Hotel room's carpet! I stood there in horror thinking to myself: "They say this hotel is haunted and all I know is that this is scarier than watching The Shining or running into one of their ghosts in the hallway! What the heck was I gonna do?

Well, I did the only thing I could at 1:30 in the morning in a very sleepy panic. I took all the WHITE hotel towels I had and started wiping up the poo. It was extremely ineffective. And I ran out of towels. Can you imagine this? Overwhelming can not even describe it. I was nearly in tears.

You are probably wondering how the heck Brian was sleeping through this but believe me, I was grateful because Brian is a man who simply cannot and will not deal with poo.

Then he woke up.

"What is that horrible smell?" he asked, only half-awake. And I knew this was only going to get worse. And it did. He sat up in the bed, took one look at the huge brown blobs on the carpet and began to gag. He then proceeded to jump out of the bed and try and make it to the bathroom but, alas, he did not. He projectile-vomited all over the floor leaving a trail along the way on his unsuccessful journey to the bathroom. Had we been in the smaller room, he may have had a good chance of making it! As if the massive quantities of dog poo was not enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone, I now had human vomit to deal with.

As I stood there in even more horror than before all I could think was - how can this be happening and how much is this going to cost us?!! We have just totally wrecked one of the nicer rooms in the Stanley Hotel!

Well, after composing himself, Brian actually stepped up to the plate and went down the hall and found one of those housekeeper rooms and came back with more towels and some cleaning liquid. I scrubbed and I cleaned and I rinsed out the towels the best I could but there were now eight big brown circles embedded in the hotel room carpet. But at least the poo was gone. We opened all the windows despite the cold February air and fell into bed, exhausted from the events of the night and managed to drift off to sleep.

With only a few hours of sleep behind me, I got up at 7:00 am to take Walter out to pee. (I hoped he was all pooped-out. ha ha) As I was hurriedly pulling on my clothes in the bathroom, trying not to wake Brian, I turned around only to see Walter squatting behind me on the bathroom floor peeing like there was no tomorrow! I could not believe what I was seeing. I had no towels left so all I could so was take the shower hose, pull it out and spray the floor with water. I was awake on a beautiful Winter morning with the sun shining on the glistening snow but the nightmare had not ended!

I took Walter down for a walk anyway just to get out of that room and get some fresh air. When we returned to the room, Brian was awake, sitting in a chair, drinking a cup of coffee with a very strange look on his face. I asked him if something was wrong (ha ha) and he just nodded toward the wall and told me to take a closer look. And then I saw it. Little brown spots splattered across the walls and mirrors. Despite all of his bowel problems the night before, Walty must have wagged his tail!

Well, there was nothing we could do at this point but go down, eat breakfast and fess up to the hotel front desk that our dog pretty much wrecked the Manor House with his bloody paw prints on the main staircase and the diarrhea-fest in our room. Brian did the honors.

They told us they would assess the damage and call us at home to tell us the cost of hiring professional cleaners. And so we checked out of what we now fondly refer to as the BAM and POOP Hotel.

Walter threw up about 6 more times in the car on the way home. Needless to say, it was the most memorable Valentine's Day weekend I have ever experienced. When we received the call from the Stanley Hotel, the bill for the clean-up was not as bad as we had anticipated. They were so gracious about all our troubles that they even invited us to return on another weekend at a discounted rate but told us that it might be a good idea to leave Walter at home next time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some fellow asked me the other day, “Paula, do you make any low calorie dishes?” I turned to him and said “Honey, I’m not your nurse – I’m your cook!” ~ Paula Deen

Then for good measure, she added some more butter!

C'mon, y'all, who doesn't like the taste of real butter? Buttered bread, buttered popcorn, buttery cookies and cakes and scrumptious, buttery French sauces. Oh, my! In this politically correct world where we are told what we should and should not eat, thank Goodness for the French and Paula Deen!

Oh, I've tried margarines and Smart Balance and I Can't Believe it's not Butter - but believe me, it is NOT butter!

So, for the not-so-faint-of-hearted, check out my recipe for Macademia-Crusted Halibut.

And as Linda Richman says: "it's like budduh."

Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all. ~ Harriet Van Horne

I think I first discovered my love for cooking when I was about 7 years old. I would take Play-Doh and shape it into tiny little make-believe hamburgers and french fries and cookies and coerce my father into actually taking a bite. Seriously. I did that. I loved my Easy-Bake Oven, too, but was constantly burning myself on that light-bulb cooking device.

Well, now I cook in a grown-up oven using real food and real fire. Sadly, I still burn myself on the oven and stove. I do it so often that I don't even feel it anymore so I guess you could say I am kind of like a super-hero in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago, I actually lit myself on fire - I kid you not.

You see, when the front and back doors are open at the same time in our house it provides for this lovely cross-breeze that moves from the back deck doors through the kitchen and into the living room. Because of this,we almost ALWAYS have the front and back doors open.

This one fine evening I happened to be cooking some delicious Filet Mignon steaks in a grill pan on a high-heat gas burner when that lovely breeze I mentioned before whooshed in through the back door with such finesse it grabbed hold of that flame under my steaks and attached it to the sleeve of my sweatshirt!

Now I am not a screamer, so I made a couple of ooh and ahh sounds which I guess were enough to alert Brian that something was wrong in the kitchen. He asked what was going on and I answered somewhat nonchalantly, "I lit myself on fire".

The next thing I knew, Brian was throwing a small blanket over me to extinguish the flames. He is MY super-hero! But the only thing going through my mind at the time was "Oh, crap, the blanket is going to burst into flames and this is going to suck big time!"

Well, like some love stories this one had a happy ending. Miraculously, the flames went out and I escaped unscathed save for a very charred special, fire-proof shirt I happened to have on underneath my sweatshirt. Good thing I keep that fire extinguisher handy next to the stove for situations like this! Ha ha.

Now, that is what I call cooking with abandon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive. ~ Gilda Radner

How great is it that when I come home every single day I am met at the front door with the same enthusiastic, tail-wagging, I-love-you-more-than-anything-in-the-world greeting from my beloved canine companions? I’ll tell you: It’s enough to melt away every single negative feeling in my mind and body – even for just a moment.

No matter what annoying or bad thing has happened during my day, my boys can turn my hectic and complicated world into bliss with just a look from their big brown eyes or a wag of their flag-like tails. It’s simply magic.

My husband Brian once said to me: “You love those dogs more than you love me! How come you kiss them first when you walk in the door?”

And I replied: Well, honey, if you come to the front door to greet me every night when I come home, wag your whole body like there’s no tomorrow and lick my face - I promise I will kiss you first!

Never underestimate the power of unconditional love. It can turn any sorrow into joy in a heartbeat.

Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? Right?

Well, maybe not for everyone.

So, for those of you who have never felt the glorious connection with our four-legged friends or have never been excited about a perfectly prepared piece of fish or pasta, this blog will probably not be your thing.

But if you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food.

I have my own "recipes" as I do a lot of cooking but the problem is, I usually wing it. I don't write anything down. So, I must ask for your patience as I try to pay attention to what I actually do when I create a fabulous meal so I can not only share my favorite food experiences but share some of my own creations as well.

As for my dogs - Walter and Henry - I have tons of wonderful stories that live in the vast terrain that is my mind. I also have a gift for recall (and maybe a little embellishment as time goes on) so I will dig into my mind's archives and share some of the ordinary and extraordinary adventures I have had the immense pleasure to experience with these white golden angels.

I hope all of you connoisseurs of canines and cuisine will enjoy these anecdotes of my personal encounters with good food and a couple of very special dogs. And perhaps I'll even convert some non-believers in the process.

Woof and Bon Appétit!