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 …..

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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

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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.

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.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

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

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious

My Big Dog’s Birthday

The best Dog in the world would have been 13 today – my Duke. I miss him every single day. No matter what other dogs I have they will not replace him – ever.DSCN0133

Is that wrong? I do not think so. There is only the one Dog you love more than all the others. You just cannot help it. I am not sure I will ever get over it. But, that being said, I do want another GSD. He will never be Duke, but I think he will make me happier than I am now.

Chicken Salad – one of my favorite things

I seem to get into a mood for chicken salad every so often. It really is kind of dead simple, but it takes, to my mind, a bit of finesse.

I poach the chicken breasts in just plain water. I could do it with salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf or so, but if I do that I cannot share the chicken water with the pups. I would never deny them one of their favorite things – chicken water. It is amazing how fast they (or I should say Hood) realize what I am up to. I think it takes about a nano-second. Top it off with hard boiling some eggs and dogs just about lose their minds. It is kind of fun. To make your dogs so happy, by doing something that makes you happy too. I will not wax on about how I want another German Shepherd Dog at this point, but I really really do want another. He would never be Duke, but …. yep, I will just stop right now.

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No GSD will ever be better than my Big Dog. I miss you.

Back to chicken salad. I know you can make it with rotisserie chicken, but I am old school and like a poached chicken in this application. That along with a couple of hard boiled eggs*, a shallot, and some (peeled) celery. Of course Duke’s mayonnaise – a requirement in the South, a good pinch of salt and some pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice, just to brighten things up a bit. Then all you need is some fresh white bread spread with a little more Duke’s mayonnaise, and maybe another pinch of salt. That is amazing lunch.

MotH’s mom makes chicken salad with grapes and nuts and I do so love her for that, but I know the MotH and the Boy would just boycott that, even though it would be great for me. And it usually is – we share chicken salad and boiled collards. The boys just do not get it.

* The easiest way to make an excellent hard boiled egg that is still lovely (read: not green around the edge), is this: Put eggs in a pot, cover with about an inch of water and bring to a rocking boil. Then remove them from the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let sit for 13 minutes and you really have just about the best boiled eggs there are – just cover with cold water and crack them a bit against the pot and then shell. There it is – just make sure you have at least a couple for your dogs.

National Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day, so I think I will begin operation Get Another Dog in earnest now. Up to this point, I have been casually dropping hints that the MotH* has consistently ignored, but I think I will put the spurs to it, as it were, and actively start looking for a dog that I want.

That raises the question – what kind of dog do I really want? My first knee-jerk reaction would immediately be a German Shepherd Dog, but I am wondering if that makes sense going forward. I would always compare any GSD to Duke and I just do not think it could possibly measure up. IMG_0041

And then there is Bering. The  Boy wanted two types of dogs, a GSD and a Siberian Husky. When our friends rescued a Husky right after Hurricane Katrina, I was not enthusiastic. It seemed that he was noisy. Guess I did not know anything about a Husky. The Boy picked the name, it was the Bering Sea. And lord help me, the Husky was beyond words beautiful. I miss my little puppy friend. It is a damn shame that cancer took him at six years despite all the efforts we made.

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Then we got the idiot. He was bred to be a service dog. The group thought that mixing a Border Collie and a Lab would make a good service dog. Funny, but I do not think this group will try to make that mix again, since 3 of the 4 of that litter totally washed out. But he is my little idiot and no one else can say that about my dumb little boy. He is my Hood. This the picture when I knew he was mine.

Hoodie Boy

*Man of the House

Egg Usage – by month – May 2016

17 May 2016 – 3 eggs – Yukon Gold Potato Salad

21 May 2016 – 3 eggs – Chicken Salad

 

Well, this was not the month for eggs. I had a slight serious thing for toffee and shortbread this month and neither involve eggs. So this month, my egg supply was used on some pretty amazing savory things.

Summer always has me thinking of potato salad. I did the same thing last year. I really need to get to the local farmers’ markets to find some local red new potatoes. The By-Pass Market in Milton is one of my favorite places because they have excellent, local, new red potatoes – and lots of other amazing local produce. I am always tempted to roast new potatoes because they become sweet (like candy) and we just eat them right off the roasting pan. They are so addictive. So they never seem to make it into potato salad.  I know what my future holds – a trip to the By-Pass Market.   Ce weekend.

I am a huge fan of chicken salad. I poach chicken breasts in water which I then save and serve to a totally underserving puppy – chicken water is an excellent thing for a pup. I usually make this simple – celery – peeled of course, shallots, Duke’s mayonnaise, a little Dijon mustard, parsley, and, of course, a few boiled eggs. Simple, but so very good.

Will have to do better in June in both the butter usage and egg usage, but I am not thinking it is going to go well. I am still a little off my game, but I will make up for that.

Yes. Yes, I will. You just have to work through things and to me cooking and baking makes me happy.