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Posts Tagged ‘bearded collie’

Full rack

I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do like to try new recipes. I’m constantly being bombarded by mouthwatering recipes, streaming over Facebook, or beckoning me from the pages of a magazine. And I succumb…

This invariably leads to me having to buy a new spice or condiment to make the new dish. If I were asked to name my greatest strength and my worst fault, I think the answers would be the same. I am organized. Not quite to the OCD level of organized, but maybe not so far off.

I like things to be arranged alphabetically whenever possible. And spices lend themselves to that very well. Except when you accumulate so many that they wind up all over the kitchen.

My very first spice rack was a gift from my dear Road Warrior, on our very first Christmas together, 40 years ago. It held 18 bottles of spice and it served me well for several years.

Old spice rack

Then I had a couple of racks that sat on the kitchen counter that held an additional 24 bottles. Plus there were two 2 tier lazy susans in the cupboard above the microwave that stored who knows how many more bottles. Each spice cabinet was alphabetically arranged, but I could never remember which cabinet was hiding the particular spice that I needed. And I always had to drag out the ladder to see what was lurking in the top cupboard.

I’ve been pondering on a better system for a couple of years. It seems like all the spice racks on the market assume that 12-18 spices is all you should ever need. (At present, I have a total of 63 bottles of different spices). I soon realized that I was going to have to be creative and come up with a design of my own. I scoured the internet for ideas, and took a bit here and a bit there and finally found all the pieces I needed to make my perfect spice system.

One thing I wanted to eliminate was the backup spice bottle. You know, you’ve got this spice rack with its own decorative bottles. So you’re getting low on cinnamon, you buy a jar and dump it in the decorative bottle, and you still have a quarter of a jar left in the ugly grocery store tin, so you put it in the cupboard till you need more. So you’ve now got duplicates on top of the 63 original spices.

Yikes!

So I found these wonderful 6 oz. bottles that will hold just the right amount. Actually, I first saw these bottles at Target. This is what they sell their own brand of spices in. After Googling awhile, I finally located them. They are called French Square Bottles.

4 bottles

The shelves are actually photo ledges. Google to the rescue again. And I used a clear glossy label and my own llama logo to create the name tags.
I actually have a little room for expansion, so for right now, there is just enough room to display photos of the real spices in my life….my pups…. Mayzie and Bayley.

photoSONY DSC

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Do you have a special place from your childhood, a place that you long to revisit in hopes of recapturing that perfect, carefree happiness of youth? For us it is the Grand Stand of coastal South Carolina. For as many years as we can remember, we have been making an annual pilgrimage to the beach. Autumn is our favorite time of the year. The weather is cooler and the kids are back in school. And if you roust yourself out of bed early enough, you can have the whole beach to yourself. Miles of white sand, interrupted only by the scurrying clusters of sandpipers.

Last week was our annual trek to the beach. It is as much a vacation for the doggies as it is for us. There is just something about splashing in the surf and dashing in the sand that turns all dogs into puppies. Bayley, the golden doodle, is very tentative about anything new. It took her a while to warm up to the breakers. Water in our pond isn’t nearly as aggressive!

wave jumping

There are several stores and restaurants in the area that allow dogs. One of our favorite stores is Orvis. Bayley wanted to try out the dog beds. It turns out she is a princess. Who knew? We had to stack three mattresses before she couldn’t feel the offending pea.

princess and the pea

Bayley wasn’t keen about making the acquaintance of the concrete cow in front of the ice-cream shop….

meeting cow

But the scary cow was soon forgotten…

ice cream lick

And there’s always time for a little horse’n’ around

horse'n around

The dogs loved doodling around the neighborhood in the rented golf cart. Here is a photo of Bayley “Driving Miss Mayzie”.

SONY DSC

But nothing topped the joy of a romp on the sand.

Beach Romp

splash

Ah, the beach…. Perfect serenity… An early morning stroll and the world is your oyster.

Dune

Hmmmm… An isolated set of steps… It must the the “Stairway to Heaven”

stairway to heaven

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soup

Ever just have the TV on for background noise? Our TV is on anytime one of us is in the house, but we rarely actually sit down to watch anything. Such was the case last week when my attention was captured by a chef showing us how to make gazpacho. So what’s so exciting about that? Gazpacho is gazpacho. But there, my friend, you are wrong. This was Watermelon Gazpacho, and it was weird enough that I stopped what I was doing to watch him toss the garden into a blender.

I was in the market for a new and refreshing lunch recipe, as a good friend of mine was coming over to give me a hand with doggie hygiene…..dental hygiene…..for dogs……

My friend is a retired dental hygienist (for people) who has been scaling her own dogs’ teeth for years. She offered to drive an hour and a half out to the farm to clean my two dogs’ choppers. She does this without anesthesia. Mayzie, the bearded collie, behaved like an angel. But I didn’t expect anything less of her. She is a perfect lady. Bayley, the year and an half golden doodle, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. But with Bayley on her side, and me laying fully stretched out on top of her, we were able to keep her still enough to finish the job. Both dogs were over and done with in less than half an hour and it saved me at least $600 over having the vet do it.

Bayley and Mayzie

So the least I could do was to make lunch. I served the Watermelon Gazpacho and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches. And the soup was DELICIOUS!

I checked out a dozen or more recipes online and combined bits and pieces of several recipes to come up with my own signature dish. I’m going to show you how I made it. It’s super easy.

Ingredients
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chunked
4 stalks of parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Extra basil leaves for garnish
3 cups of watermelon, cubed (I used a small, round, seedless melon)
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt and dash of pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

You can use a food processor, or a heavy duty blender. I used my Vitamix that we bought at a state fair back in the 80’s. It’s a work of art, don’t you think?

vitamix

First, assemble all of your ingredients. Remember, there is no substitute for the freshest and ripest veggies and fruits.

ingredients

Peel and seed the tomatoes. No cutting corners here. Peeling and seeding is not an option.

tomatoes

tomatoes

Peel and seed the cucumber. I like to use the long English cukes, because the seeds are really tiny. But particularly if you are using a regular cucumber, you need to remove the seeds. It’s easy. Just quarter the cucumber lengthwise, and cut the ridge off along with the seeds.

cucumber

Chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

chopped ingredients

melon

Throw the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley into the blender and blend until smooth.

in blender

Continue to blend and add the peaches.

Now toss in the watermelon. You have a choice here. Do you want it slightly chunky, or smooth? I wanted a little texture of the watermelon, so I only pulsed the machine a few times.

Then I stirred in the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper so as not to further mash the watermelon. Check it for seasoning according to your taste.

Place the soup in the fridge for at least 3 hours until it is chilled.

One of the recipes I found suggested sprinkling Feta cheese on top. Initially I was a little conflicted about the addition of the Feta, but I had some on hand, so I did a taste test with and without, and “with” won hands down. If fact, it totally “made” the soup.

soup

So take my word for it and give it a try. Just be sure to crumble the cheese up really fine and just sprinkle on a light dusting.

This is a recipe that begs for summer fresh ingredients, so try it now and enjoy before the season ends.

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Our peacock, Farina, miraculously returned home after being on the lam for 6 months and given up for dead. He had spent the first 3 years of his life safely ensconced in the aviary with his brother, Buckwheat, and was pampered with daily treats, a sunny perch for basking in the summer, and a heated house for snuggling in the winter.

2009 Peacock Christmas Card

Farina went missing early in January, after I foolishly opened the peahouse door to show him off to some friends. He got spooked, and flew the coop, so to speak. He flew up to the roof of the barn where he spent the night. By morning, he was gone, never to be seen again.

Farina on cupola

Winters here in northern Virginia can be harsh. This wasn’t the worst winter we’ve experienced, but there were weeks of below freezing temps, and many days of cold rain, sleet and snow, not to mention the days we had wind storms with gusts up to 60 mph. What was he going to find to eat with snow all over the ground? And all variety of predators, from the 4 legged variety: foxes, bobcats, and bears; to the sky borne great horned owls and red tail hawks that can grab a peacock in his sleep, high on his arboreal perch.

After 2 months, and no sign of Farina, we decided to get a companion for our remaining peacock, Buckwheat. We thought he might be happier with a girlfriend, so we brought home a young hen, whom we named Darla. It was love at first sight.

Buckwheat and Darla

How could we have been more surprised when we saw Farina back at the ‘Pea Pod’ last week? He looks great. And he has a beautiful full tail. I might have thought it would look a bit rag tagly after being drug though the underbrush for months. But he has apparently eaten well. I wish I knew where all he’d been.

Farina-on-fence

But the funny thing is, he has taken up with the llamas. The paddock behind the barn is just across the drive from the aviary, so he can be close to the other peas, and socialize at the same time with his new llama buddies. Almost any time of the day, he will be seen sitting on the fence rail next to the barn, or down in the paddock with the llamas, strutting his stuff and showing off his tail.

displaying-for-llamas

The llamas were a bit curious to see him at first, but now they just walk around him to get to their hay nibbles.

Llamas ignore peacock

We hope that he decides to stay here permanently. Maybe having the girl close by in the pen will give him incentive to stick around. At least, we know that he is a survivalist if he does get the wanderlust again.
Farina and Pea Pod

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To begin, start with one goldendoodle and add 20 inches of fresh, clean, new fallen snow.

Mix well for two minutes.

(Please accept my apologies for the orientation of this video. The Road Warrior left town with the camera, so I had to resort to my iphone for video. I held the phone wrong. Click on the little square at the bottom right of the video to view full screen, and hit escape to return.)

Enjoy

pupsicle

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plate of cookies

It’s not too late to make an extra special Christmas gift for your doggie friends. Bayley and Mayzie want to share the recipe for their favorite cookie.

Mayzie and Bayley dressed as "Sandy Paws"

Mayzie and Bayley dress as “Sandy Paws”

To make these treats, I press their paw into each cookie.

Paw Print Cookie

Just kidding. But they did serve as models for me to make the paw print press.

cookie press

cookie press 2

I used Sculpey Polymer clay to form the cookie press. This clay is available in any hobby store, easy to work with and then just hardens in your oven.

Dogs love these cookies. We made up several batches to give to all our doggie friends for Christmas presents. They do have wheat flour and corn meal in them, so if your dogs have any sensitivity to these ingredients, then you might want to use a different recipe.

THE RECIPE — Makes about 7 dozen

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast
½ cup dry milk powder
3 tsp beef bouillon granules
3 cups water

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine white flour, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, garlic powder, brewer’s yeast and instant milk. Stir in 2 cups water. Mix the ingredients well using your hands. The dough should be very stiff. Gradually mix in the remaining 1 cup water to make a bread-dough consistency.

3. Form dough into balls and press with the bottom of a drinking glass. or roll out to a ¼ to ½ inch thickness on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter. Place the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake the cookies 45 minutes, turn oven off completely but do not remove the biscuits. Let the biscuits sit in the oven overnight or for 8 hours. Store biscuits in an air-tight container.

So here we go. Let’s make some Paw Print Cookies.

These cookies cool in the oven overnight or for 8 hours, so it’s a good idea to start making these in the evening.

Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

dry ingredients

I found that when using the paw print press, the oatmeal gave too much texture to the dough and the pressed paw print wasn’t all that clear. So I ran the oatmeal through a food processor to grind it up a bit.

Whole oatmeal

Whole oatmeal

ground oatmeal

ground oatmeal

Don’t grind it as fine as flour. It should still have some texture to it.

As for the brewer’s yeast, you don’t have to add it if you don’t want to, but it is purported to have a lot of health benefits for dogs, from a shinier coat, less shedding, enhanced immune system, and a flea preventative. When I went to the health food store to buy it, it was only available in a huge tin, but the sales person showed me a product made just for dogs called “Pet Guard yeast and garlic powder”. I use 2 tablespoons of this powder rather that the 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast and 1 tablespoon garlic powder. And you can sprinkle this on the food everyday for added benefits.

PetGuard

Once you have all the dry ingredients in the bowl, stir them up well.

Now add the 2 cups of water and start squishing.

mixing dough

This is a great way to get out some of that holiday frustration that you’ve been holding in. The dough is very stiff and my hands get really tired before the dough is finally mixed. Start gradually adding the remaining cup of water until all the flour is incorporated.

Roll the dough into little balls, about the size of a walnut.

balled dough

These cookies are not going to spread or rise, so you can place them close together. Just allow enough room for pressing them flat.

I use the bottom of a glass to flatten the balls to a thickness between ¼ inch and ½ inch. Then I press each cookie with the paw print press.

flattened dough

If you don’t have a paw press, you can leave the cookies just like this. Or you can roll the dough out to the same thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. I have a 3½ inch dog bone cutter that I sometimes use.

bone cookie cutter

Put the cookies in the 300 degree oven and cook for 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cookies inside overnight. They will still be soft at the end of the baking time, but by morning, they will be hard and crunchy, just the way your pup will like them.
plate of cookies

R-R-R-Ruff Ruff (Yum Yum)

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Reindogs

“Oh, Geez, Mayzie. Here we go again with the dress up”

Reindogs 1

“What the heck is this thing on my head, anyway?”

reindogs 2

“Mayzie, you look ridiculous! Is that what I look like?”

Reindogs 3

“Well, the heck with this!”

reindogs 4

“Uhh, Bayley…I don’t think you were supposed to do that.”

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