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Pet Peeve … Craigslist ad to Rehome v Shelter

I am going to address a pet peeve of mine. I see so many ads on our local yardsale groups and sites like CraigsList that say “I don’t want to take him to the shelter but need to rehome for (insert reason here).” Here’s what I have observed.

Most of the folks that get the dogs from a shelter are getting the known facts from the shelter who go based on what they observe rather than what they are told. They have observed the dog in multiple situations with different types of people. They work with the adopters to find the right fit and to make the adoption a success. Then we see them in our classes, in private sessions and in the group walks we host. We take the phone calls and provide problem solving suggestions or set up evaluations and treatment plans.

When we see a dog “rehomed” in order to avoid the shelter we often see the same dog advertised multiple times in a period of months. Each advertisement is usually a variation of “don’t have time, not fair to dog and don’t want to take to the shelter”. Then this dog goes to a new home with high hopes that are quickly dashed when the new owner has no knowledge of his or her non-housetrained, barking, nipping, digging, jumping, chewing behavior that becomes worse with each rehoming as the dog’s anxiety levels grow. Because the dog is rehomed with little vetting of the new family the dog is a bad fit and is quickly rehomed again with another version of the “don’t have time, not fair to dog, don’t want to take to the shelter” ad.

I have seen the same husky rehomed at least 5 times on the same site. I’ve seen the same dog advertised one site after another. And sadly, the more the dog is rehomed with the same lack of vetting and lack of honestly in the dog’s situation, the chances for success are slim to none.

If you have made the decision to rehome a dog you owe it the best chance possible. This is with a shelter that has a caring staff that would prefer to see the dog sooner, with fewer issues that need to be worked with, than later when they dog is older, less marketable and has a lot more baggage. Each dog that comes in captures their heart and they try their best in order to get that dog the right home the first time.

Week in Review

Dixie and Desi enjoying the warm weather.


The weather has been warmer than usual, with highs close to 90. Even for the desert this is unusual.

At work we’ve been working for over a year on a project near Joshua Tree National Park. To this point it has been all paperwork shuffling with a lot of misdirections from the government. It looks like we are finally nearing the permit stage and we went up to look around. Found this little hummingbird on the ground, obviously stunned, after hitting a window. Poor guy! The homeowner moved him to a safe location to recover and I managed to get a some pretty cool shots showing off his colors.

Recovering Hummingbird


Recovering Humming bird


Recovered and back into the trees.

On the dog training front we were at the shelter again this week, leash training with basic obedience thrown in for good measure, along with evaluating new intakes. This guy is Skitch. A little skittish to start but he warms up fast. It was good to see that several of the dogs we have been working with have found homes.

Skitch

But the BIG news for this week is that we started corning the corned beef for St Patrick’s Day. I’ve blogged about this before, and it is a favorite subject. I cannot state emphatically enough that homemade corned beef is a gazillion times better than the chemical laden package you buy at the grocery store. Julia Child rocked the original recipe and, with a few minor tweaks, it has yet to fail me.

Start with assembling the seasonings: 1 1/3 c coarse (Kosher) salt
1 T cracked peppercorns (pound whole corns to crack them)
1 t ground black pepper
1 T cracked allspice
2 t thyme
2 t paprika,
2 crumbled bay leafs

Assembled spices


Blend the seasonings.

Put the meat (brisket, tri tip, rump roast) into a 2 gallon ziploc bag and rub the seasoning into the meat, evenly distributing.

Rub seasoning onto the meat.

Make sure all excess air is pushed out, zipper close the bag and then massage the meat thru the plastic.

Massaging the meat before it goes in the fridge.

Now it goes into the fridge, laying flat, with a heavy weight over it. (We previously used 12 packs of soda but this year we have 2 cast iron skillets with a garden brick on top.) Every day for two weeks the meat needs massaged and turned. You will see a nice red liquid by the first turn.

After at least two weeks (we’ve gone 4) remove it from the bag and soak in cold water, changing it out at least 3 times, for 24-48 hours. This desalting will make the meat perishable so it should be cooked ASAP. We do ours in the slowcooker on low for 8 hours with a can of beer, slices of onion and garlic, red potatoes and then at about half an hour to go sliced cabbage.

Ciabatta (Slipper Bread)

ciabatta and dipping oil

I love a good flat bread, crusty on the outside and full of air pockets on the inside. Ciabatta is a simple one to make and it helps that the sponge is done the night before, then a few moments to mix the sponge and the rest of the ingredients in the morning and it can hang out in the fridge all day and be ready to shape and bake with dinner.

This recipe makes 2 10″ flat breads.

Sponge
1/8 Tsp Dry Yeast
2 Tbsp Warm Water
1/3 C Water — Room Temp
1 C All-purpose Flour

The Ciabatta does require a simple sponge but it takes only a few minutes to put together the day before making the bread. Though the dough for Ciabatta is very wet and sticky, resist the temptation to add more flour.

To make the sponge:
In a small bowl proof the yeast and warm water; let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, room-temperature water, and flour and stir 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

Sponge

IMG_20130722_060834_947

Bread
1/2 Tsp Dry Yeast
2 Tbsp Warm Milk
2/3 C Water — Room Temp
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt

Make bread:
In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened and beat dough at medium speed 3 minutes. Add salt and beat 4 minutes more. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.)

Have ready 2 rimless cookie sheets covered with well-floured and cornmealed sheets of parchment paper. Turn dough (**this is a VERY wet and sticky dough and should be handled as little as possible when shaping; flour your hands well or you will wear the dough out**) onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval (thier name comes from their shape, that of a slipper) about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking, put a baking stone or 4 to 6 unglazed “quarry” tiles arranged close together on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425° F.

Uncover the loaves and slide gently (parchment and all) onto the stone or tiles. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. With a large spatula transfer loaves to a cooling rack to cool. To serve, tear off individual pieces.

Notes: Drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt or poke 12 kalamata olives into the dough prior to baking and then top with basil, garlic and or toasted onion. They also go well dipped into a roasted garlic-olive oil or an olive oil-seed-nut mix.

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IMG_20130722_165140_077

Beef Wellington? Really?

We joke that we have a mixed marriage when it comes too food. Hubby had grown up trying and liking most foods. Foods that I won’t go near. Seafood, calf brains, fresh vegetables, mushrooms to name but a few. I am very much meat and potatoes, although I am doing better at trying new foods and even eating some foods that I used to avoid, such as broccoli. When our son arrived 23 years ago we made a conscious effort to expand his culinary horizons.

I started this by making all of his baby food from scratch, no jars allowed. It also meant that I wasn’t allowed to show just how picky I am, at least not until he was older, and as he grew older we did the ‘three taste’ rule. He had to taste a new food three times before he was allowed to say he didn’t like it.

How did this work? Very well. At two we went to an all you can eat crab leg night with his grandparents and they could not shuck the legs fast enough for him. At one point we looked over and he had a crab claw danging from his mouth. Grilled portabella is just as likely to be ordered as a hamburger. Before he turned ten he was reading Bon Appetit magazine and picked out what he wanted for his birthday dinner, Crab and Cremini Bisque. (Seafood and mushrooms, neither of which I eat so I’ve always enjoyed a PB&J.) This had been the staple until this year…

This year, a couple of months before his birthday, he said “Mom, I would like Beef Wellington for my birthday dinner.” Huh? Beef Wellington? That thing that Gordon Ramsay screams at chefs because they all screw it up? And he wants ME to make it? Ok. I’m up to the challenge and being married to a retired sailor and working in construction I should have a enough swear words in my vocabulary to go toe to toe with Gordon Ramsay on this.

First on the agenda, the recipe. First look up is Gordon’s recipe. Being British it was all in metric but looked easy enough. Then someone suggested I look at Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Wellington recipe. Very similar but not in metric. Ok, recipe is checked off the list.

Next on the agenda, the grocery list, $45 beef tenderloin at the top. Yikes. Beef has really gone up on price lately. Good thing this isn’t an every day meal. Next on the agenda was to ask all my foodie friends if they have any tips for me. “Start early”. So I started early in the day. Good thing I did as it was an all day adventure. No step was difficult, but every step was time consuming and there were points where it needed to rest. I actually had it ready to go except for the puff pastry about 2 so it was in the fridge and I could time it just so. The recipe called for 45 minutes but we like our beef very rare so I took it out at 35 and it was perfect.

Served with a cognac sauce, roasted asparagus, and roasted garlic potatoes. I had two men telling me it was amazing and asking me to make it again. I went to bed.

Andie’s Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

My friend Andie, who has her blog at Cafe 305, shared this recipe with me a few years ago. We make sure it’s on the menu at least once every Christmas season. Tomorrow we are having friends for dinner and to watch the mid-season finale of Walking Dead and this will be our dessert.

Eggnog Pound Cake

3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 c unsalted butter — room temperature
2 c sugar
3 whole eggs
1 c eggnog
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp dark rum

2 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp water
1/4 c sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan.

Cake:
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl twice. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg. Scrape the bowl down again. On low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the eggnog mixture. End with dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove. Brush on glaze while cake is warm.

Glaze:
In a small bowl, blend rum, water and sugar. Warm on low heat until mixture thickens. Brush on with a pastry brush.

Serve topped with vanilla whipped cream and fresh grated nutmeg.

eggnog cake

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies
A cinnamon sugar covered bar cookie, very similar to the cookie. Soft, chewy, sweet, perfect.

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Sifted dry

Sifted dry ingredients

What is left behind

What is left behind.


This is why I always lightly sift, even a recipe doesn’t call for it. The large white chunks are baking powder. They will usually break up while mixing, but if one doesn’t and you are the lucky one to bite down on it, eeeeeeeeeeew. It sucks all moisture from your mouth and ruins the dessert experience.

Butter and Sugar

Butter and Sugar

Beat until fluffy

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy

Two Eggs and Good Vanilla

Two eggs and good vanilla

Incorporate dry into butter mixture

Incorporate dry into butter mixture

Pat into pan

Pat into pan

25 to 30 minutes

Baked

OMG...


Now comes the hard part. You have to wait for it to completely cool before cutting into it. Time will slow down, almost coming to a stop, at this point.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

24 Blondies
350° for 25 to 30 minutes

2 2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, lightly spray with cooking spray.

Using a colander, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside. Discard anything left in the colander.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on low to combine, then on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, adding vanilla with the second egg. Beat, scraping the sides, until thoroughly combined. Gradually fold in the flour mixture until combined, making sure all of the flour is incorporated.

Pat the blondie dough evenly into the parchment lined pan. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the blondie dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when lightly pressed. Cool blondies completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Spy Work

Today was one of those busy days that, in the end, doesn’t have much to show for it. I started off at physical therapy where Julio twisted me into a pretzel. His reasoning? “Must stretch it out!” Then he worked it out of me. Tied my feet with bands and told me to walk. I stood on a board with a rounded base and was told to bounce a ball. This is supposed to help my coordination and core muscles. I was also on a shuttle and told to launch myself. Not sure where I was to launch to, but I finally finished. Whew.

Then I headed 20 miles west so that I could run a few errands in Yucca, including picking up a 40 pound bag of dog food from Pets Plus. When you are feeding 4 Great Danes a 40 pound bag does not go far. On a positive note, I can now pick up that 40 pound bag of food myself. When my son saw me coming out of the store with it, he said a few cuss words (at almost 22 he’s too old for me to wash his mouth out and, in truth, he learned the words from me). Then he tried to grab the bag from me and I tried to hold on. (I’m very proud that I can carry it…it’s been a long time depending on others to carry it.) This poor man walking by us thought I was being mugged for the dog food! A couple of other stops and I dropped him off at his place, then decided to try out the new store in town, Save A Lot.

Save A Lot is a big deal in our little city. It has gone into the old Desert Ranch Market (known as “Desert Rat Market” to the locals). That store had gone down hill, with non-working refrigeration equipment and expired food. When the news a new store was opening up it was met with joy. The nearest grocer from there is several miles up the highway, making it hard for those without reliable transportation to shop. Save A Lot opened last week to huge crowds, so I waited a week to let that die down.


As I pulled into the parking lot my friend Paige called. She was raised in Two Nine, but a military spouse moved her away several years ago. She was curious about what the new store looked like and asked me to be her spy. On went my hat and out came my camera!

Heading down the aisles, I tried to be sneaky :)


You do have to bag your own and it’s three cents for every bag you buy from them, but for their grand opening celebration they are giving a free, reusable bag for every $10 spent. I spent $15 on a few things that were cheaper than the local grocery store. Their fruits and vegetables were reasonable and looked good. Better than our local commissary, that’s for sure.

Food Truck Festival

Saturday in the desert was GORGEOUS. So we hopped in the truck and headed out.

The Spa Casino Resort in downtown Palm Springs was hosting a Food Truck Festival.
Up to 70 Roach Coaches were expected to attend, with all kinds of different foods. They included Italian Ice, Vegan, lots of bacon themed foods, countries from 5 of the 7 continents and tons of desserts.

There was no way we could eat at every truck, although most were tempting. So we each picked out a must have and we shared. This sandwich truck had some exotic sandwiches, but it was the Butter Poached Lobster that won over the guys.


The Sushi truck was also on the must try list.

I picked out the Argentinian truck and went for the 2 for $5 pulled pork sliders.

We had to wait for our food, as the Health Department was doing an inspection. We weren’t the only ones waiting. This poor guy was about to dissolve into a puddle of drool while he waited for his share.

He was rewarded for his wait before we were.
Finally, we received ours. And they were well worth the wait.

We had to make a visit to the truck with the spiciest menu.

The Habanero Chocolate Orange Chicken actually turned out to be the only clunker of the day, resonating with burnt chocolate. There was no kick, no after burn, no warmth. Just burnt chocolate.

Korea was our next to last stop.
I’ve never had Korean BBQ before, and was delighted with the Korean Short Rib Tacos. These were awesome and I’m definitely going to try duplicating. The slaw helped keep it from being too heavy.
And, of course, we grabbed Garlic Fries to munch on our way out.

From the looks of this line as we left, arriving as they opened had been a good idea. It hadn’t been too warm and the lines at the trucks weren’t too bad. These folks, I bet, had a completely different experience.

Parked a few blocks away, we enjoyed the warm sunshine and the Palm Springs atmosphere. We were a tad startled to see this, tho. Someone has a sense of humor.

We meandered by a classic car lot. We tried not to leave any drool spots.Can you pick out our car amidst all these beauties?