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, May 29, 2011

Mud! Glorious Mud!

All my dogs have been scamps and thieves and troublemakers and I've adored them all. ~ Helen Hayes

This boy a scamp? Nah! Look at that face!

Today - the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we took the boys down to Blackie’s Pasture where they can romp and roam free. It was a beautiful, sunny and warm Sunday afternoon and we were happy to be out and about with the boys after being stuck indoors with the heavy rain falling outside all day on Saturday.

We brought our usual doggie bags and treats (in case the boys decide to roam off in the wrong direction and I have to lure them back with cookies). I found out quickly enough that today was a day when not even cookies could keep our boys at bay.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, Blackie’s Pasture is on the Richardson Bay. We try and keep the boys away from the water because at low tide, it can get quite muddy by the shoreline. There is this little bridge that hovers over a ravine where the water is murky and filled with dark, sticky, gooey, black mud.

I am sure you can guess what comes next.

Walter and Henry were bouncing around, greeting families and other visiting doggies and having a nice clean, romp in the park like they usually do. It was fun.

That was until Walter decided to head for the ravine. Oh, dear.

Up and over the edge - he disappears before our very eyes. Brian yells to him to STOP! But, it is too late. He is over the bluff and already down the hill to the muddy waters below. I run over to see how far down he is and there he is, plopped down in the middle of the ravine, lying in the dirty water as if nothing was wrong, as if he is just cooling off. He looks up at me with a pant and a smile. Oh, Walty! I sigh.

I try to coax him out, knowing he is going to be black with mud as this is certainly not the first time Walty decided to take the plunge. I turn around to shake my head at Brian who is in the middle of the pasture, signaling that it’s too late; Walter is in.

That is when Henry comes bounding past me, down the grassy hill and jumps right into the ravine, too! Ohhhhhhh! I moan to myself, knowing how disgustingly muddy they will be when they emerge and that we will have to travel home with them in our newly cleaned and detailed Jeep. So much for a lovely Spring Day at the park.

I call to both of them to get out of the mucky water and surprisingly, Walter obliges, climbing up the hill as if he has just had enough cooling off. Bugger. He’s black as tar.

I look down to see if Henry is coming up and that’s when I notice that he is frantically trying to pull himself out of the water and up onto drier ground but he cannot do it. He claws at the edge of the ravine but cannot pull himself out. I realize that it is not just too steep for him but that he is really stuck in that thick mud.

I call out to Brian (who is still out in the pasture) that Henry is stuck and I have to go down and pull him out. Brian heads over to us. I slide down the side of the hill, carefully planting my feet in places that look safe from sinking into the muddy shore, knowing this is not going to be pretty. I have sneakers on and very quickly that mud sucks my feet down deep and I can barely move. I reach for Henry’s collar and try to pull him out. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I know if I don’t do this carefully I will end up in the drink with him. I tug and I tug and he is really stuck and I am really stuck. I feel like one of those Weebles that Wobble but they don’t fall down. Well, that is until I grab Henry’s collar, give it a yank and it slips from his neck. I go flying backwards and hit the ground, my feet still stuck in mud, sinking deeper and deeper - like being sucked into quicksand. I start to panic a little. Brian finally comes to the edge and looks down and very calmly says: "I will get him."

And he does. He goes down, grabs Henry by the scruff of his neck and plucks him from the thick, black mud. What a hero. Henry looked so relieved (albeit exhausted) and slowly climbs back up the little hill to flatter, drier, higher ground. I am relieved, too, as I pull out my muddy feet and the mud makes that slurping, sucking sound and I have to squeeze my toes tight so my shoes won't come off. I am finally free and I head up the hill myself, squishing all the way.

Walter is black, Henry is black and Mommy is black. What a mess. How are we going to get in the clean car with all this mud? So, we didn’t. Instead, we head over to the bay where we can walk in the somewhat cleaner water and attempt to wash off some of the mud. On the way over to the bay, we pass a lovely family enjoying a picnic. Two young boys sit on a blanket, eating their sandwiches while the mom and dad sit on a bench eating theirs. And do you think Walter and Henry could just pass these nice folks by with no fanfare?

Think again.

“Oh, boy! A nice, clean, family with two little boys! Let’s go over there! Food! Little Boys! Fun!” Oh, God.

I try to reach for Walter’s collar and once again, I am too late – he bounds over to the boys on the blanket and I think I am going to lose it. He is going to ruin this nice family picnic by traipsing black goo all over their blanket and their lunch. I sprint. I grab him just in the nick of time and yank him away from those little boys, who are giggling like crazy (Thank God). I apologized profusely to the parents, who were so gracious and said it was okay. As I pull Walter away, still apologizing, Henry decides to get in on the action and jumps right in between the parents and the kids. I am speechless. Henry is usually the obedient one. Henry rarely gets in trouble. And now, twice, today, he is following bad-boy Walter into the naughty abyss. I now grab Henry’s collar and pull him away before he slobbers all over this poor, unsuspecting family picnic. WTF? Could this visit to the park be any more fun?

Finally, we get them into the water where they swim around a little but still not enough to get rid of all the mud and by now we just want to go home. We head to the car.

Luckily, we have a car cover on the back seat and I have some extra plastic bags that I wrap around my muddy sneakers.

We head home. When we pull into our driveway, the boys know what comes next. The cold water of the garden hose. They have been here before. Brian heads over to the hose and I try and coax them out of the car but they won’t budge.

Here they are in the car, ignoring me:

I literally have to pull Walter out and drag him over to the hose. It is a struggle as I did not have time to put on his leash and he ends up bolting back to the car.

Walter gets hosed down:

Henry remains in the car and once again, I have to coax him out when it is his turn for a hose-down. Boy, are these guys being naughty today!

Henry gets the hose:

This mud is so sticky it does not come off easily. UGH!

Take a look at my lovely, muddy shoes:

How the heck did Brian walk away so unscathed? Hmmmmm.

The dogs are not perfectly clean by any means but we decide we are done. We head back to the house. I lay down some towels on the giant futon bed and the boys are told to lie down and stay. They are pretty wet but what can I do?

Henry is exhausted and is more than happy to obey:

Walter, on the other hand, thinks he is in trouble and heads out to the deck:

Now they are both sleeping and I am memorializing this Memorial Day weekend adventure.

I pour a glass of wine. Time to chill.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Man shall not live by bread alone."

I say serve it with Chicken and Pasta!

Finding the time cook great meals is harder now that I am working full time. But I do try and do it a few times a week. There are a lot of meals that can be made in not a lot of time and still look elegant and taste delicious. Chicken is always a staple in our home. There are so many ways to prepare it. We love Italian food and so I try and make it at least once a week whether it is a simple pasta dish or something more elaborate with meat or fish and garlic and cheese. This Chicken Marsala with pasta dish is flavorful and easy to make. Hope you enjoy it!

Make the Garlic Bread first so you can heat it in the oven while you are preparing the Chicken Marsala and Pasta

Ingredients for Bread:
Loaf of fresh Italian or French bread
2-4 TBS melted butter
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 whole scallions (green onions), finely chopped

Bread Preparation and Cooking:
Melt 2-4 tablespoons of butter over medium low heat (depending on how much bread you are making)
Add 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Add 2 scallions (green onions) chopped
Heat for about 5 minutes
Slice half loaf Italian Bread in half like a sandwich and pour butter mixture onto each side of the bread and spread with a pastry brush
Close the bread and slice down into about 6 pieces
Wrap in aluminum foil and bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes and begin making Chicken Marsala

Ingredients for Chicken Marsala and Pasta:
2 fresh boneless chicken breasts
2 whole lemons
¼ cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
A few dashes of black pepper
A few dashes of tarragon
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 2 TBS dried parsley)
2 TBS olive oil
4 TBS butter
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped, finely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/8-1/4 cup capers (to your fancy)
1/4=1/2 cup Marsala Wine (I have used Sherry for a different flavor twist on this)
1/8-1/4 cup Chicken Stock (depending on how much liquid you have)

Capellini (Angel Hair Pasta) – make according to package directions

Chicken and Pasta Preparation and Cooking:
2 fresh boneless chicken breasts, pounded between wax paper until thin (If the breasts are big this could feed more than two!)
Squeeze the juice of one lemon over breasts
Dust the chicken breasts in ¼ cup flour seasoned with salt, pepper, tarragon and paprika

In heavy skillet on medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of good olive oil and brown chicken on both sides – about 2-4 minutes each side until lightly browned (Remove and set aside
Once chicken is nicely browned, add about ¼ cup of Marsala wine (or you can add Sherry if you don’t have Marsala wine – that can be good, too!)
Turn heat down to medium-low and add about 2-4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and stir in

Then, add:
2- 3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1/8 cup of capers

Sauté the garlic, mushrooms and capers for a few minutes until soft
Then add fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 large or 1 small lemon) and about 1/8 cup of chicken stock and reduce heat to simmer
Add parsley to the pan
Add chicken back to the pan and let simmer in the liquid on low heat for about 5-10 minutes

In the meantime, boil some water and make enough Capellini (angel hair pasta) for two or four and when pasta is done, drain and serve chicken and mushroom/caper/Marsala sauce over pasta.
Top with freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Serve with the hot garlic/scallion bread

Adjust ingredients to the number of people you are serving.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sailing Home from Work

The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails. ~ Joshua Slocum

The Ferry Boat pulling into Tiburon

I take the ferry home every day from San Francisco to Tiburon. After I take my daily stroll through the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, I walk out on a small pier and wait in line with other commuters as we wait for the incoming passengers to disembark the small blue and gold ferry boat. I board the boat, find my seat and off we go - heading out on to the sometimes-choppy waters of San Francisco Bay. We sail past Alcatraz and Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge and the sun on the water makes it glisten. It's a 20-minute slice of heaven. I type in a ship-to-shore text message to Brian, who waits for me every day with Walter and Henry, on the grassy lawn by the ferry dock. He sends me a return text message when he spots the boat coming around Angel Island.

When I get off the ferry, my eyes scan the area in search of my two fluffy, white angels. When I spot them, I smile. Sometimes Henry is off-leash and bounds onto the wooden dock to greet me with his beaming smile and as a bonus, he receives smiles and pets from all the passers-by. Walter waits impatiently on his leash, hanging close to his dad and lets out a little bark when he spots me. I can't think of a better way to end my work day than to meet all my boys by the wharf at the edge of this beautiful little town.

Lucky me!