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, 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.