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Friday, February 22, 2013

Cheating on Winter Pea Soup - FFwD

This French Friday's with Dorie was a very easy soup to make, and that had me a little worried.  Generally, I enjoy a soup that takes some time to come together.

I started off by sauteing some bacon for the garnish.  Then, because it was there,  I sauteed onion in the bacon fat.  I added chicken broth and frozen peas.  I added romaine lettuce that I had chopped in order to avoid any immersion blender issues.  I should say right now that I really enjoy my immersion blender, hard working, fast and easy to clean.  When I read in P&Q section for the recipe that the lettuce was causing issues frankly I was surprised because usually lettuce is so well behaved.  But to assure that everyone continued to work well together, I veered away from sliced lettuce toward chopped lettuce.  Everything simmered happily away.

Then I pureed it, seasoned it with S&P and served it.  So I should have payed more attention to the P&Q section and used less liquid.  This was a bright green soup, I think that the color is dependent on the influence of the the broth.  I kept on thinking about Wicked, the musical.  My soup could have been used for the Green Elixir. 

My husband liked it.  It is fun to come in from the freezing cold to a nice, bright, bowl of soup.  I thought that it was too thin and will use less broth next time. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good bye old friend

 Here is Scout, man's best friends

She has been with us for almost 11 years.

Almost two and a half years ago our delightful yellow Labrador, had some swelling on the top of her head.

At first, I thought she had gotten stung by bee while exploring her backyard.  It didn't get any better.  When I took her to the Vet, he said that she had a tumor in her skull.  He thought that it was the worst of three possible types and she would probably be dead within the month.  A fellow lab owner, he seemed really saddened and concerned.  Then he called to see how she was doing, and he called again.  Eventually, I asked him not to call, every call was a reminder that the end was coming.  I told him that I would let him know if there were any changes.

All of us except for Scout were crushed.  Scout did not seem to know that she was on death's doorstep.  She continued to be her delightful self. Ready to head off at a moment's notice for an adventure.

Ready to do battle with squirrels, all kinds.

Ready to play with all of her puppies, her humans.

Ready to keep anyone company.
 Ready to help with relaxing.

The next year, our Vet was surprised but happy to see us when we showed up for a yearly exam.  The next time, he was even more surprised.  By this point half of Scout's skull was grotesquely swollen.  We told him that we were moving from Texas to Pennsylvania, he asked if we would let him know how things went.

Things went alright, it seemed.  Scout survived the drive from Texas to Pennsylvania.  She took over the back seat.

 She didn't enjoy hotels, moving from place to place unnerved her.  When we reached our new home, she was a bit chagrined to learn that #1 son had a new puppy, Murphy.

She was even more surprised when #1 son and #2 son's lease expired and they and Murphy moved into our new house's attic so I could help with the puppy while #1 son was at grad school and #2 son was at work.  She wasn't sure that she wanted to share.

Scout's closest mate, #1 daughter went away to college.

Scout worked at adapting to the new house.  Murphy worked hard at annoying Scout just enough to make her play with her.  The two of them settled into a routine, a brisk walk around the neighborhood, some tug-of-war, a long nap.  Longer for Scout.

She failed to be impressed by the snow.  

Last weekend, my husband and I were taking the dogs on our normal loop when Scout had a large, long seizure on the sidewalk.  As a nurse, I should tell you that I hate seizures, in humans and apparently in dogs as well.  We got her home and she perked up but I made an appointment with a Vet who comes to your house to euthanize your dog.  On Tuesday, he came by and was amazed at the size of the growth.  He said that once they have seizures, they quickly go down hill.  It was a little hard to believe him, because Scout was a lot better from the day of the seizure and because he was new to Scout.  He said that she had to be in pain, all the time, one continuous migraine.  This saddened me, Scout never showed pain but was starting to have difficulty sleeping.

I spoke with the children and my husband and made an appointment for him to come on Monday to euthanize Scout.  I figured if she was on the road to recovery, maybe years between incidents, I could cancel the appointment. 

Unfortunately, the Vet was right.  Scout rapidly declined.  She appeared disoriented at time, walking around in circles.  She had difficulty getting comfortable.  She couldn't get onto the bed, where we were finally letting her, without help or get down the stairs.  Murphy kept her company as she stayed on our bed. She did perk up whenever anyone said  walk.

 It was time.

#1 daughter caught the Megabus back home to say goodbye to her dog.  The two of them grew up together.  Scout always assumed that protecting #1daughter was her responsibility, no armadillos would attack when Scout was on duty.  They were inseparable.  I am so glad that she could come home for the end.  The vet came to the house and gently helped Scout go to sleep, surrounded by her family except for husband who said his goodbyes to our blessing before heading off to work.

What place does this have on a blog about cooking?  Would you be surprised to learn that Scout considered herself my sous chef?  She preferred to remain in the background, helping most when I wasn't looking.  She was superb taster.  She once checked an entire loaf of pumpkin bread for flaws.  She has eaten uncooked fresh pasta so there would be no waste.  She lapped out the insides of a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, she was concerned about how long it had been on the counter.  When my husband smoked pork, she patiently stayed by his side, making sure that the temperature stays constant.  Ready and willing to dispose of anything that didn't make the cut.

I will miss her ever hopeful eyes when I am in the kitchen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coeur à la Crème - French Fridays with Dorie

The pregame talk at French Fridays with Dorie had me a little nervous about this dish.  Luckily it turned out.  Friday's challenge made a wonderful Valentine's Day dessert.

Coeur à la Crème, or heart of cream, is a deliciously light, rich dessert made with cream cheese, sugar and cream.  Cream cheese is combined with confectioners' sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.  Heavy cream is beaten and folded into the mixture.  It is pored into a heart shape mold that has small drain holes, and allowed to solidify.  It spends some time in the refrigerator and is unmolded and served with your choice of sauce.

We enjoy panna cotta in my house.  It is a chilled mixture of cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and gelatin.   The desserts have very similar ingredients,   I was interested in seeing which one was preferred by my family.  We typically serve the panna cotta with a berry coulis, I thought that I would do the same with this dessert.

I have no wonderful porcelain heart mold, nor do I want one at this point in my life.  We are trying to downsize.  I look at the collection of corningware that I have had since before I got married in 1986 and I contemplate giving them away.   Do I really need them all?  Soon it will be just the two of us for most meals.  I'd like to think that I could make do with less.

Anyway, I used the colander.   I lined it with coffee filters that had been moistened.   Poured the whole delicious mixture into it and let it drain into a bowl.  I put it in the refrigerator for 12 hours.  Put a plate on the mixture and flipped it over.  It lacked in visual appeal, a rounded blob complete with wrinkled from the coffee filters.

I sliced it up and covered it with the berry coulis.  That helped a little. 

Everyone enjoyed it.   I enjoy the simplicity of the panna cotta more, fail safe easy dessert.  I put one of the couers aside for my daughter who will be taking the megabus home from college to say goodbye to her beautiful yellow lab.  Broken hearts are in all of our futures.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Back in the Saddle with Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin

Well, renovating the house is proceeding.  I had hoped that rebuilding the kitchen would move as quickly as demolishing it, but not so.  We have moved down stairs into the old first floor apartment.  I am using the new kitchen, but it needs to be painted and some more trim work.  I have decided to start posting again, although I cannot find the cable that easily connect my camera to my computer.  Moving and putting half of our things in storage has been challenging.

Last night I served the fresh orange pork tenderloin for French Fridays with Dorie.  I almost didn't make it.  I am quite happily married to a man who will eat no fruit combined with meat.  While pork and apples make me gleeful, he doesn't understand it.  I was pretty sure that he wouldn't enjoy this.  It was easy meal.  Pork tenderloin was browned and simmered in a sauce of onions, oranges and cardamon.  I served it with rice and green beans.  Everyone enjoyed it.  Even my husband.  It isn't a meal that I will make again but it was fun to be back in the saddle.  I'm going to do some catching up.