Hood Day

On this day in history: 2012 – we brought home our little idiot.

Here’s the back story on Hoodlum: In 2011 we had to put down our beautiful Siberian Husky because his cancer had spread. He was only six. He had a great life until his last week.

Fast forward about a year: I have a friend who works with a therapy dog training group. They breed dogs and train for a variety of needs and I know dogs can wash out from those programs and my friend had adopted a couple herself (Goldies), so before I went to lunch one day, I emailed to see if there were any pups available knowing that this usually takes weeks if not months. I didn’t even tell the MotH because it was so unlikely to have a result anytime soon.

Famous last words: I got back to the office and there was this photo:Hoodie Boy

He’s half Border Collie and half Labrador and was washing out because of a hip, or so I was told. It didn’t take long to realize that his hip is fine, it was his personality – he’s too stubborn by half.

The agency was looking to have the personality of a Lab with the intelligence of a Border Collie – oops. There were four in the litter; 3 males, 1 female. Met the males – Hood was far and away the best looking of the bunch, but all the brothers washed out. Imagine that.

Either way, we went to Daytona to pick him up – how could you refuse that face? And then the fun began …..

D&D_1504

 

Homemade Mascarpone

I’m just not sure how many dogs get to have some homemade mascarpone cheese. My guess, is it just mine. This could not be easier to make and it tastes amazing. I will do the cost / benefit thing to see if it makes sense, but in my head this is so simple with things I already have on hand that I’m pretty sure this is a good deal. And did I say it tastes really good, because it is not just the Hoodie boy that likes it. It is me too.

D&D_2726Makes about 2 cups

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Note – do use a thermometer for this recipe.

In a saucepan, slowly bring the heavy cream to a low simmer. The temperature should reach at 180° F and the goal is to try to keep it around there.

Let simmer at 180° F for 3 minutes then add in the lemon juice.

Simmer for another 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes.

Fill a small strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and set over a glass measuring cup.

Pour the cooled mascarpone mixture into the cheesecloth and stick the entire bowl in the fridge overnight, cover the whole thing in plastic wrap.

The next day, take it out, whip it up and use it however you would like. Keeps for a week in the fridge, if it lasts that long – in mine and Hood’s case, that is a no.

D&D_2728Source: Food52

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

This is an easy and flexible recipe. You can used canned pumpkin or canned sweet potato or just toss a sweet potato in the oven while you’re roasting something else. All-purpose or whole wheat flour will work.

D&D_2715I have to admit they smelled good, but I was concerned when Hood dropped the cookie from his mouth and sat there and sniffed it. But that didn’t last long – he likes them. I made in two sizes for him.

2/3 cup roasted sweet potato
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or more, as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together sweet potato, peanut butter and eggs until well combined. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, mixing just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet.

Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.D&D_2704

Source: damn delicious.net

Easy and fun and Hood – arbiter of taste that he is, loves them.

D&D_1827_Hood_MardiGras

Peanut Butter Fudge

I did not have an opportunity to make much in the way of candy this winter. It was just so humid. But this is a recipe that works, is simple, and tasty. My mom used to make peanut butter fudge but I never had the recipes, so when one of my friends brought in her grandmother’s recipe – it was just like my mom’s. I have tried other recipes but this one is the only one I make any more.

D&D_2716

Hood was asking for a piece, so ….

This is also a treat I can share with the dog – though in very small doses.

2 cups sugar
3 Tbs butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter

Prep an 8 x 8 glass pan with cooking spray.

Put sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to minimum and stir continuously until the mixture is caramel brown and the candy thermometer reaches 245 degrees (use the thermometer – no really, do it!)  Remove from heat, add vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until completely mixed. Place in a 8 x 8 glass pan and let firm up. Then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Amy’s grandmother

11 March 2018

Duke – The Best GSD Ever

DSC_0089I cannot reconcile myself of how to write this without sounding maudlin. Duke was the best German Shepherd Dog, and also the best dog period, um, ever.

Today is his birthday. And as much as that is so very important to me, it makes me sad because, even now, I still miss him so much. I want another German Shepherd Dog, but I go back and forth on the idea. There will never be another Duke, but the breed is so amazingly great. I guess, at some point in the future, I am just going to have to do it and promise the new GSD that I will not constantly compare him (always a him) to Duke. And do my best to keep that promise. Unfortunately, every dog we have had has always been compared to the Big Dog. I guess you just can not help it when you find your forever dog.

Yep, maudlin. Can not seem to help myself.

That said, here are some great stories about Duke and his totally goofy self.

We got Duke from a breeder in, of all places, Houma, Louisiana*. The breeder was a young guy that still lived with his mom and worked at the NOLA airport. Now, if you do not know the area, living in Houma and working at NOLA airport was better than living in NOLA and working at NOLA airport.  Houma was just closer. Either way, Jeff loved German Shepherd Dogs and we got a recommendation for him from here in town. He was just lovely and you could tell he cared about the dogs.

The litter was born on December 14, 2003 and we had to wait eight long weeks. We knew several dogs would be sold for confirmation, but there would be three males that would be available to be family dogs and that is what we wanted – a family dog. When we got there, after a very fun night in Houma … (see: Boudreau & Thibodeaus’s. A place we never would have gone without going to Houma. If you ever find yourself in Houma, just go, no really, just do it. There are many other little places in Louisiana we can suggest, but that is another post entirely.)

… [back to Duke] – we went on Saturday to see the pups. He wasn’t timid, but it took time for Duke to warm up. He was a black/tan which is what the MotH wanted and he was just so lovely. His mom, not so much. When she stood on her back legs, she was almost as tall as me. And she sure did not like having the Boy around. I thought about feeling bad for her, losing the pups and all, but then thought we might be doing Duke a favor. Rationalization, I know.

So we got him on a Saturday and drove home. The MotH held him, in a towel, all the way home from Houma. I was driving – through NOLA proper on I-10, not my best moments, especially since it was the MotH’s Jeep and I was not used to it.

There was this big bridge in NOLA on I-10 and I was not having a “happy” time driving on it, when I heard it: the little dog was puking on the towel. Poor thing. Poor MotH. Now, it’s funny, at the time, not so much. I also think we stopped at every rest stop on the way home, but he was only 8 weeks old.

*We heard this week that with the freaky winter weather that we had last week that Houma, Houma! of all places, got snow. Go figure.

More Duke stories to follow – and there are plenty of them.

Sweet Potato Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting 

So what do you do when you have extra roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving? Make anything that sounds good then feed the rest of the sweet potatoes to the dog. At least that is what we do at our house. Who knew dogs liked sweet potatoes? The things you learn. This is half the original recipe and makes 12 cupcakes.

D&D_23201 cup roughly chopped pecans – oops, forgot
1 cup sugar
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
juice of half a large lemon

2 tsp lemon juice powder
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans/walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes until fragrant.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, Grate nutmeg over the top of the mixture and whisk together.

Beat together sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated.

Whisk together sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until just blended; fold in pecans (again – oops).

Line cups of muffin pans with foil liners and spray with vegetable spray. Spoon batter into cups filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 – 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans and cool for 1 hour until completely cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon juice powder  – taste and adjust. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth). Frost cupcakes and top with chopped pecans if desired.

22 November 2017 – Thanksgiving

D&D_2316

Need cupcake carrier – this is just sad. 

New recipe

Okay without nuts, but would be better with – pecans or walnuts

Good without frosting too, we’ll just call it breakfast, yep. Not sure, but I think it is the orange juice that makes it. Will certainly be making these again. Think they will go over well at the office.

Cheesy Artichoke Rice

I hate the way when you look up “cheesy rice” and you get “minute rice” and non-cheese cheese slices. Ugh. That is just not right. And that is also not cheese either.  Who does this?  I ran out of orzo and thought to make a rice recipe that would work for my lunches at work. I prefer home-made lunch to restaurants, with some exceptions.  You know, things I just don’t make (Indian food) and that I know other people do a much better job than me. But pasta dishes, rice dishes, when lots of cheese or mushrooms are involved – I think I got this. No, I know I do. D&D_2081

So my thoughts on this are:

I need lunch for tomorrow.
I have no vegetable or chicken stock (unreal!) and I’m not going to the grocery store at 8:30pm. Nope.
I have lots of rice.
I have quite the variety of cheeses.
I have scallions that are mostly okay.~
Always have onions and garlic.
Lemon zest

With all that in mind, I’m going to figure out what to make tonight and here is what I did.
2 cups H2O
1 cup long grain rice
lots of salt

Cook like you always make rice – if you need a tutorial this is how it goes: Thank you The Kitchn.

Once you remove it from the heat, add 3 Tbs of unsalted butter while it steams on the back burner — important: lid on, heat off.

Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Small yellow onion, diced
3 good sized cloves of garlic, minced
artichoke hearts, drained & quartered (not marinated)
~ the scallions were past there “best buy” date at this point – too bad. But the onions and garlic made up for it.

In a saute pan, melt 2 Tbs unsalted butter and one small yellow onion diced and a good pinch of kosher salt. Saute on low-ish heat until soft. Then add three cloves (less or more as you prefer) minced and let them sit on the top of the onions  – you don’t want them to burn. Stir them in a bit and then remove from heat.

Now, here is where things get interesting – I opened a can of artichoke hearts and quartered them and added them to the onion mixture with a little glug of olive oil and let everything simmer until it was a cohesive mix of veg that was soft – that seems to be key.

D&D_iPhone_image1As mentioned – I have cheese options – so I pulled out all the cheese that had already been opened. Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego  – so the decision is which one or which combination to use. I used some Manchego because it is melty but it grates like a cheddar, but just a little softer and the Dog (Hood) really likes it. And then the Pecorino – for that salty flavor – a great sheep’s milk hard cheese. Not too different, really from Parmigiano, but not the same either. Manchego is another sheeps’ milk cheese from Spain – from the La Mancha region. So I guess this is the Spanish sheep milk cheese recipe.

I have to say cheese, for me, matters not if it from a cow, a goat, or a sheep. I just love cheese in a stupid sort of way. That is probably obvious by now.

But when I do it again, I will put some sharp cheddar in the mix. This time I added lemon zest at home and took that lemon to work for the juice for my lunch leftover hacks. Excellent.

I think that just might be the key to a great lunch hack at work. I always have a fresh lemon and a bit of grated Pecorino or Parmigiano in the fridge there – it really makes all the difference in the world. From boring leftovers to something special.

Bering – R.I.P.

There is a line in Emma that Mr. Knightley says something that seems to fit this experience.

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

That is how I feel about my little Ber.

As much as I love my Hoodie-boy, I still miss my little Ber.  He was always called little because he was smaller than the big dog (Duke). Honestly, I think he may have been a really heavy Husky, kind of barrel shaped, but he carried it well. And no matter what, that beautiful face is what charmed everyone anyway.

I always thought Duke was handsome – at least to me – but Ber was a bit unusual and people just flocked to him. I do miss my little Bering boy.  Yes, he was upside-down for this picture. I have not turned it. And do love the snow nose.

bering-1

Miss you my sweet boy.

 

R.I.P – My Big Dog

I am not sure this will ever get easier, but I do miss my big dog. I want another GSD, but I just do not think he will ever measure up to my Duke.

Duke was a strange combination of total laid-back dog and guard dog depending on the circumstance. I miss him every single day. And I will get another GSD – sooner rather than later.

He loved peanut butter, cottage cheese, sweet potatoes, any other kind of cheese, boiled eggs, ham, chicken, chicken water (what you boil the chicken in), turkey, more peanut butter and more sweet potatoes. So spoiled. But that is my job.

To my big boy – My Duke, big dog, puke (sorry, it was a nickname), brown, the best boy ever. And my very best guard dog.

Every single day I miss you.

IMG_0041