Category Archives: Cats, dogs, chickens, and other critters

Defenders of the home front

Sometimes, you just can’t help yourself. You might start off small, never intending for things to escalate. and then, before you know it, you have a full-on episode.

Take the humble strawberry. Or, rather, take a humble strawberry. Like this one.

Simple enough. A test of chocolate dipping in a semisweet ganache. Nothing more. But then, quite suddenly, there are more.

And even more, lined up like soldiers.

The supporting troops arrive shortly thereafter.

It’s all fun and games until the chocolate takes over the world, isn’t it?

Super Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is a bona fide holiday around here: the championship game (which we always hope will be good and not a blowout) and also the true end of the football season (a sad thing indeed).

The broccoli gratin, having been eaten to the point of people scraping the last traces of cheese from the dish, had to be recreated for Sunday. Even with a smaller group, it didn’t last. Neither did the guacamole I’d made.

I also ordered some dashi and it arrived in time for Sunday’s bash.

This made a world of difference in the tempura dipping sauce, which was spot on. I made a lot of tempura, and by the end of the night, only a lonely green bean remained, having hidden itself under a tray.

A few hours before the game, I had gone to the store to pick up a few things, and decided that there was time for some braised short ribs. Got them browned, then sauteed some onions and garlic in the same pan, added some red wine, beef broth, spices, and a couple teaspoons of tomato paste, threw the ribs back in, and about two and a half hours later, had this.

Boy, were those good. I’ve been eating the couple that were left over for the past two days, with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. It’s just as good now as it was Sunday, but I’m down to the last of it. Might be time to make more.

Football haze

There is no better way – in my humble opinion – to start off the year than to have an entire day full of football bowl games, even if you are like me and have no particular favorite college team. Work is fairly slow (unless a server’s hard drive is in imminent danger of death, as one is today), and it’s usually a good day to do a little of this or that. For me, between working and moving accounts around, that means baking some bread for the carb fiends around this place. It also means making another batch of the maple-cornmeal biscuits to go with the traditional southern new year’s meal of black-eyed peas this evening.

My sister, lucky girl that she is, had the opportunity to go to the Gator Bowl in person, sit in one of the terrace suites, and be waited on while watching what turned out to be an exciting game. The rest of us had to be content with watching on television, which worked out well: we all got a lot of work done, watched a bunch of different football games, played with the dogs, packed some more holiday stuff to be stowed away until later this year, and in general had a day that wasn’t particularly frenetic but wasn’t so slow as to put you in a coma. And my mom made small meatloaves.

My mom loves hamburger: extra-lean, lean, chuck, round, whatever. If it’s from a cow and can be formed into a patty, fried, perhaps with some sauteed mushrooms and onions on the side, and maybe a pan gravy by yours truly, she’s happy as – well, happy as a pig in poop, I suppose, or as happy as one of those cows in the California cheese ads.

She has a recipe she sort of follows to make meatloaf these days, that is more meat than loaf, if you get what I mean. Make a few extra, toss them in the freezer, and it’s an instant fix for the beef-addicted.

We had meatloaf tonight, along with rice (with shallots and parm), black-eyed peas, maple-cornbread biscuits, and corn on the cob.

And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee for me today. Mom also fed the dogs Cheetos, because she’s a sucker for a cute face.

Right now, the cinnamon-raisin loaves have just gone into the oven. I’m not pleased with the feel the dough had as I rolled it, and I would not be at all surprised if there were gaps in the bread, because for some reason the dough just felt extra sticky and wet. Wet = steam = bad oven spring = gaps. Still, it will taste fine, and the fam will down it even if it isn’t perfect, but this tells me I need to work on this recipe a bit. I’m also going to try my hand at this no-knead bread that apparently everyone in the world knew about but me until today. Instead of kneading the bread, the gluten develops through an extra long rising period of about 18 hours. It would be rather handy to toss everything together and forget about it, instead of fussing with dough every couple hours – although that is part of the fun. Some days are meant for a hands-off approach.

Ramblings

It’s the annual mega hunting and gathering fest otherwise known as Christmas. I’m not really feeling the mood. Still, there are things that need to be done for the holiday, and my aunt has requested that I make some of my cranberry-apple compote for the dinner she’s having Monday (noon, for those interested in joining in). Off we went to Costco to find a huge bag of cranberries. We didn’t find any. Instead, we found something else, which we brought home and steamed to warm.

King crab, at ten bucks a pound, is a great deal if you can find it. Some of the legs were almost as long as my arm. I still wonder just who had the bright idea that these ugly creatures (and lobsters) were suitable for noshing. I’m glad they did, though I couldn’t really taste the crab at all. That’s a bummer, because I always did love it. Everyone else enjoyed it, and there were leftovers that will be turned into something – salad, fritters, cakes, something.

Newton says hello.

Water, please!

My protectors.

Mickey better hope Newton doesn’t let one loose. These dogs and their gas can bring a tear to your eye.