Guest Blogger–Belle: A Short Discourse Upon Walls

 

BellWall1

One of my favorite parts of a walk (aside from the obvious—cats and squirrels) is walls. There’s something so comforting about scootching your shoulder and flank against a good wall and sliding along it. It protects you, it supports you, and it can be like a gently scratching massage. Like someone petting you or lightly brushing your coat. They are my outdoor spas.

There are three things to consider when judging a wall: Duration, Texture, and Accessibility.

Let’s start with Duration. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a good, long wall. The longer the wall, the better the experience. A good stretch of wall can put me in my zone—and keep me there.

Texture. Perfect texture is important. It has to be just rough enough to give me that grooming feel, but not so rough as to slow me down or scratch me. Contractors in Southern California, take note: The newer, smoother stucco textures are far inferior to the old-fashioned, nubbly ones. Think twice before using them. You will be giving some wall-seeking dog an inferior experience

Finally, we come to accessibility. You have to be able to get to the wall. Unnecessary ornamentation, shrubs, or foundation plantings will totally ruin what could have been a perfectly good wall.

Now, let’s rate some walls.

GoodWall

This wall gets an A-. Length—excellent. It extends even farther than the picture shows. Accessibility—excellent. Nothing to obstruct a long clean run. Texture—here is the only problem. Too smooth. I need a little more friction to get the perfect wall experience. But nice try.

ShortWall

This wall gets a C. Texture is fine, accessibility is good. Where it falls down is duration– much too short to give a good experience.

 

BadWall

The above wall gets a D+. It has excellent texture and good duration. But the accessibility—tsk, tsk. Those vertical faux buttresses, or pilasters, or whatever you want to call them, are a disaster. Not satisfying to skim along at all. And it’s all the more disappointing because without them, this wall would get an A+. Get your act together, people.

BelleFoundationPlnt

This wall gets an F for its lack of accessibility. Just look at those bushes. Why, you can’t even get to the wall. I’m so disgusted that I can’t even look at it. That’s the price you pay for foundation plantings. F. Every time. You are warned.

BelleNoWall

As you can see in the photo above, this all applies only to walls on my left side. Only the left side feels good and safe and protective. Walls on my right side are dead to me. Dead. To. Me. They are useless. I don’t see why people even bother to put them up.

BelleonWall

Addenda: One final note. Some walls have an added benefit. If they’re just the right height, I can hop up onto them. And then I’m taller than my packmate Blitz. Who thinks he’s so special just because he can rest his chin on my shoulders. Well, I’m cute, Blitz. I don’t need to be tall. So, there! But when I am taller than you, then neener, neener. So there, again!

 Ta for now,

Belle

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Glazed Potato Ring w/Burnished Carrots

Glazed Potato Ring w:carrots

 

This is a great cold-weather dish. It goes well with any roast poultry or hearty braised meat. Takes extra time to prepare, but it wows people when you bring it to the table.

Glazed Potato Ring

1 C coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 C well-seasoned mashed potatoes (do not add milk or butter
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450º. Heavily butter 2 QT ring mold. Fold cheese into mashed potatoes to give marbled effect Turn into mold and brush with 1 T butter. Bake 25 mins or til top is golden. Unmold onto heat proof serving platter. Preheat broiler. Brush top of mold with remaining butter and run under broiler 3-5 mins, til crisp and browned. Fill with Burnished Carrots. Garnish w/ parsley sprigs and serve immediately.

Burnished Carrots
1 pound carrots, approximately 7 medium, peeled and cut on the bias 1/4-inch thick
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Heavy pinch kosher salt
1 cup good-quality ginger ale
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
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In a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat, combine the carrots, butter, salt and ginger ale. Cover and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove the lid, stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cover again and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, add the chili powder and increase the heat to high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the ginger ale is reduced to a glaze, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

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Guest Blogger–Belle

Belle-Stairs

Hello,

My name is Belle. I’m the leader of the pack that Harry and Susan feed. I’ve decided to guest Blog occasionally on Harry’s site. You may ask why I don’t have my own page on Facebook. We’ll, a girl can’t be too careful these days–especially one as attractive as me.

Above is a picture of me in the Supervisor’s office. This is my Step of Power, where I can monitor everything that’s going on downstairs.

Many people tell me that I’m very cute. In all modesty, they’re right. Below is a picture of my buddy Blitz. He’s in my pack, too. We have a pretty good pack,. But it could use some improvements. Take walking, for example. We need to do it every day. Every. Day. Five times a week is NOT enough. And that whole leashes thing—we don’t need them. Just open the door and let us go. I can’t tell you all the cats and squirrels that have escaped because of those stupid leashes. Priorities, people!

Blitz1 copy

Blitz has been in my pack ever since he joined as a puppy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s picture of us playing together years ago. He used to be a lot of fun. But lately all he wants to do is sniff my butt–and my pee.

Memo to Blitz–get a hobby. I’m tired of you.

Memo to Harry: Breakfast was seventeen minutes late today. We both noticed. I love you very much, but as leader, it is my responsibility to maintain high standards for our pack This will come up on your performance review.

Ta for now,

Belle

 

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Christmas Cookies

Xmas Cookies&Candies

Susan and I love Christmas and all the cooking and baking we do. Even though it’s now well after New Years, just thinking about this sort of thing still makes me smile. Here’s our recipe for the Christmas cookies we give out to everyone who helped us during the year–our local firemen, dog boarding kennel staff, veterinarians, various doctors who keep us patched together, and so on. It just a simple sugar cookie recipe. But the frosting makes them very festive. We frost the first layer with a knife, and let them dry. Then we put colored frostings with squeeze bottles and decorate on top of the base coat.

3 C flour

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 C sugar

 

1 C butter

2 eggs

4 T milk

1 t flavoring

 

Sift first 4 ingredients together and cut in the shortening as for pie crust. Mix eggs, milk and flavoring. Add to the first mixture. Dought may be chilled any length of time

 

Roll out, (sprinkle with sugar— unless you plan to fros.t) Cut and bake 8 to 10 minutes in a 400° oven. If you use a dish with granulated sugar to diop your cookie cutter, it will not stick.

 

For frosting: mix powdered sugar with just enough milk to make a dough-like consistency. Add colorings.

Frosted Christmas Cookies

3 C flour

2 t baking powder1

t baking soda

1 C sugar

1 C butter

2 eggs

4 T milk

1 t flavoring

 

Sift first 4 ingredients together and cut in the shortening as for pie crust. Mix eggs, milk and flavoring. Add to the first mixture. Dought may be chilled any length of time

Roll out, (sprinkle with sugar— unless you plan to fros.t) Cut and bake 8 to 10 minutes in a 400° oven. If you use a dish with granulated sugar to diop your cookie cutter, it will not stick.

For frosting: mix powdered sugar with just enough milk to make a dough-like consistency. Add colorings.

 

 

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Christmas Goose

“I myself favor a goose for Christmas”

Sherlock Holmes in the story The Blue Carbuncle

Christmas Goose

This is a tradition at our house. We like to get all Victorian at Christmas. So here’s our recipe for roast goose.

Rub inside and out with lemon halves, spinkle cavity and outside with salt. Place the goose on a rack in a large roasting pan. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° degrees F and flip the bird over so it’s breast side down. Cook for an hour.

Flip bird over so it’s breast side up and pour 1/3 cup of hot chicken stock over the breast and legs of the goose. Continue to roast the goose for another 30 minutes.

Open the oven door, and pour another 1/3 cup of hot stock over the breast and legs of the goose. Close the oven and cook the goose another 30 minutes. Check thigh termperature with instant read thermometer

 Pour a final 1/3 cup of hot stock over the goose to help the fat render from the bird.

When instant read thermometer reads 140°, start spooning on on the glaze. Cook the bird until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh of the goose (without touching the bone) reads 165 degrees F. Remove the goose from the oven, cover, and allow to rest 20 minutes while making gravy.

 

30 minutes before done paint with glaze.

Lemon Currant Glaze

Juice of  l lemon

1/2 C red current jelly

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Arctic Char with Israeli Cous Cous

Seat Trout with Tangerine Glaze and Seafood Broth.

Seat Trout with Tangerine Glaze and Seafood Broth.

This meal is special. It’s arctic char sautéed (or baked) with a reduced tangerine and habenero glaze. It’s served in a seafood broth with Israeli couscous.

If you haven’t had a chance to use arctic char, it’s a fish with a delicate taste and a light orange color. I couldn’t find it, but my fish guy had seat trout. Same color and even better flavor.

This is a Bobby Flay recipe from the food network site. Here’s the link to it:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/arctic-char-with-tangerine-habanero-glaze-and-meyer-lemon-couscous-broth-recipe.html

Salmon works in this recipe, as well. And orange juice can be subbed if tangerines aren’t in season.

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What’s for Dinner

A now and again offering of my culinary adventures.

Last night–Tortilla soup with various condiments.

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Love the richness of the broth. It’s equal amounts of home-made salsa ranchera and chicken stock. Add your favorite condiments: I use chopped cilantro, cheese, tortilla chips, fried pasilla chili rings, and lime wedges.

The ranchera sauce is easy too: here’s the recipe:

4 T olive oil
4 whole green peppers, thinly sliced
8 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 large white onions,thinly sliced

4 T chopped fresh oregano
6 bay leaves
6 T Chix boullion

salt and pepper

Place peppers, tomatoes, and onions in lg skillet w/oil and sauté til cooked. Add seasonings and bouillon and cook half an hour. Turn regularly with spatchula.

I make a huge batch and freeze portions for later.

This recipe is from the wonderful book Cooking with Baja Magic

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Check back soon for posts from Harry!

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