Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maggie on Monday

      Sweet Maggie.  What a great companion she has become! In a mere two weeks she has made so many improvements.  We're almost to the point that she sees cats as tolerable, chickens and turkeys bearable, the horses scary, and the sheep - they still look like a lot of fun to chase.  What progress! What a neat dog! What a glowing tale could be told this week!
     Well, that was two days ago.  With sunrise today, Maggie fell off the wagon so to speak.  Sleeping just a little later than normal, I awoke to a phone call and Maggie ripping into her super strong bed for super strong chewers.  The zipper was off and she was starting to unstuff it.
     A dog whisperer would say that when something is wrong in Maggie's world she just starts to rip and chew.  She must need to go out. So with coffee cup in hand and Maggie's empty stomach, we went out.  Everything was going well, she more or less left the cats alone.  With all animals out it was time to clean stalls. 
     Now a farm and animals have their own routine and the sounds that go along with them.  The continuous pitch of the gobbling turkeys sounded an alarm. Sure enough, there was Maggie with a rooster pinned to the ground.  Where were the other chickens to help their com padre? Not a single peep out of them. They hightailed it out of there; after all, they are chicken.  Scolding Maggie and rescuing the rooster was my immediate mission. Fearing the worst, I watched to see what, if anything the chicken could do next.  Up and running, the rooster joined the others while proudly crowing. The winner of the battle! Who would have thought?
     Maybe next time I'll feed Maggie before I go out. 
     The rest of the day was shaky at best as everything, to include a scrub brush, seemed to taste better than her bone.  Apparently cleaning for Thanksgiving was just not giving her enough attention. However, her eyes tell me there is still hope.  I don't always have to clean that much. : ) She is still staying.

An OMG recipe - Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart
             FOR THE CRUST
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
14 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ lb unsalted butter, melted
½ cup half-and-half
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
 2  Tbs sugar
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Orange zest (optional)
1. Oven 350
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in
a bowl and mix well.
3. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly
into the sides and bottom.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, cool to room temperature.
5.  Heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt,
cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water
until hot, about 5 minutes.
6. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into
the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the
double boiler and stir well.
7. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes,
until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat.
8. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin,
banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to
9. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to beat until
firm peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin
mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
10. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar
and vanilla and continue to beat until firm peaks form. Pipe or spoon
the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with
orange zest. Serve chilled.
11. This tart can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated. Decorate
it with whipped cream an hour or two before serving.
Cooking Tip: Use a defrosted banana from freezer - it mashes more easily.
Cooking Tip: Grate zest early and allow to dry - it sprinkles on cream more
easily.  Used fine and medium microplane.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mondays with Maggie

Maggie made it through her first week with us, or we made it through our first week with Maggie.
Of course, because Maggie is an older puppy, we could escape all the trials and tribulations that a younger puppy brings to a new home. Well, throw that thought out. : )
We are now less one cell phone charger cord, one less riding boot, one less dog toy made with super strong fire hose material, two less leash leads, one plus hole in a people blanket, various pillows with dog slobber, but no holes, a super strong bacon flavored plastic type bone that she lost interest in and lost, a Kong chew toy that she lost interest in, a Kong bone toy that she lost interest in, a Kong tennis ball that she loved - so much that she has lost it in the house somewhere, and finally one hole and two ripped corners in a Kong bed made of super strong material for super strong chewers. 

"What have I done?"  I chose a puppy that needed a home and humans who believed in trying to make her positive qualities prevail.  She doesn't jump up on people, doesn't bite when you need to take things away from her (cords, boots, toys, blankets, papers, and many other etc.) doesn't growl when you put your hand near her food or near and in her mouth to remove forbidden objects, loves to be scratched, doesn't jump on little kids or lick them, puts her head on a little girl's lap to be petted and be called my dog, walks quietly on a leash, sits and lies down when told, and watches out the glass window door to warn of predators - real or imagined.  Maggie has the sweetest face and eyes - irresistible.  That's why she is staying.

These cookies - so good, so easy. 
Special Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp   baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream or sour cream (used sour cream)
3 Tbs cornstarch
3 cups all-purpose flour
 1. Beat the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and almond extract until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well.  Add half the cream, all of the cornstarch, and half the flour; beat well.  Add the remaining cream and flour, mixing just until all of the
ingredients are well incorporated.
2. Divide the dough in half, flatten into rounds, and wrap well.
Refrigerate for 1 hour or more, to facilitate rolling.
3. Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two
baking sheets.
4. Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured(use confectioners’ sugar) work surface and place a piece of plastic wrap over it while you roll it our to keep it from sticking
to the rolling pin.  Roll the dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut it into
the shapes.  
5. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they're set but not browned.
Remove them from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet
before transferring to a rack.   

Cooking Tips: Roll out on a surface sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.
 The dough is also sturdy enough to be cut into fanciful shapes and decorated.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Friday, November 11, 2011

Maggie, Day Three

     Our animal farm story continues with the arrival of Maggie. Her picture was posted on the internet site for St. Hubert's.  Something about her look kept me going back.  It could have been the color, or the eyes, or the expression on her face, or the desire to find another Shiloh.
     Off to St. Hubert's to take a closer look at Maggie.  There she lay on her bed as I walked through the kennel area.  It reminded me of Shiloh 4 years ago, lying patiently while all the other dogs jumped and barked.  She did get up on my return trip down the aisle.  I asked to see her.
     In the outside enclosure she was moderately interested in me, but more interested in the smells of the cage.   Hooked pretty much at first sight, paperwork was processed, fee paid, and Maggie left St. Hubert's. Should I have cared more that the previous two matches did not work out? After listening carefully to the details of her history, I thought that I had the situation figured out, and it would be a successful match.

Is that a smile?
     She was wonderful in the car. She was wonderful in the house (cross this off, that was only the first three hours of the first night).  She didn't jump up on people and liked to be petted. She was wonderful until poor Gizmo kitty, who did not know to let sleeping dogs lie, decided to go close and sniff Maggie's nose while she was sleeping by me.   Too late to stop the interaction,  Maggie opened her eyes, saw the cat, growled and took off.  Now there is a reason for the expression scaredy cat.  That is Giz even on her best day.  She took off and couldn't be found for hours - the next day actually.  She wanted no part of this dog.  This home invasion by a new creature was not a Shiloh.
     Now what?  I couldn't fall back asleep and I knew I wasn't dozing because I was beginning to see the entire nightly rerun of an evening's worth of Fox programs.
     What was I going to do if Maggie considered cats a food group?  There were three more in the barn outside. The mixed breeds in this dog need to be outside and able to run.  This might be trouble.        
     Not having kids to keep me awake at night, now it was a dog.  The Carrie Underwood song kept playing over and over in my mind, "It started out hey, cutie, where'd you come from, then it turned into oh, no, what have I done?"  Sixty plus pounds of dog and still a puppy? What had I done?
      Luckily with the morning light and some sleep more rational thought prevailed. So, the facts as known -she likes to chew - anything, likes to run - everywhere, forget about trying to catch her on a tear around, likes to counter surf - note to self, keep food back from the edge, but she has the sweetest face and she still has a puppy brain. A puppy brain, cope with it, outsmart it, after all you are a human, the superior species higher up on the brain chain.
      Here she'll have her forever home, but she'll never know that if it weren't for Shiloh being such a great companion, she might have ended up in someone else's home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Are Who/What You Think You Are

Can you see Chicken Little?  A bit of confusion here, maybe?  Watching animal behavior can unlock some thoughts about human behavior.  Chicken Little is a temporary guest on our farm.  The four young chickens, slightly larger than he, would have no part of him sharing anything - not food and least of all, their space.  They pecked and chased him until he flew out of their reach.  But, he landed in the turkey pen with an empty stomach.  Promptly hopping into the dish of turkey grain he pecked at any turkey beak that wanted food.  They pretty much left the little squirt to have his way. 
     Climbing in with the turkeys to catch the little guy each night to put him safely away was added to the routine.  Each new day brought the pecking at him from the chickens and then back into the turkey pen he flew.  This went on for days until one day, when locking the turkeys up in the dark there was no Chicken Little to be found.  Could the turkeys have finally decided to push their weight around? Was it his demise?  But no -  the next morning he came hopping out the door with the turkeys.  Now at night he is usually the first in and  can be found right in there with the turkeys, roosting after dark. The moral of the story, according to Chicken Little, is that if you eat like a turkey with turkeys, act like a turkey, and roost like a turkey, well then, no argument, you are a turkey.

     So it is that Chicken Little found a place with the big guys.  And if only people would realize that sometimes those who are just a little bigger just try to boss others around.  Just get with the real big guys and there's no threat.  Those with big hearts, big minds, and/or big bodies just don't have to go after others to prove a point.

Tis the season for an easy great fall cider drink.

                         Mulled Apple Cider with Orange and Ginger 5*
8 cups unpasteurized apple cider
          A 3-inch cinnamon stick
10       whole cloves
 1        navel orange, peeled and        
          sliced crosswise
         A 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger,-- cut into 6 slices
      Combine the cider, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange and the ginger and simmer   for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a heat-proof pitcher and serve warm.
Adapted from  Gourmet | October 1991