Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Small Town Reuben

This will be my first savoury post and hopefully not the only one....

So living in a small town, with less than spectacular restaurants, it's a good thing my husband and I can cook up the things we crave with pretty good results.

Lately, I've been craving my most favourite sandwich in the world - The Reuben! Dark rye bread, with smoked meat, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and delicious Russian dressing all toasty and melty. I've had a few Reubens in town, and they've been greasy disappointments and so have had to make my own and since they're easy, peasy it's not such a hardship.

First, you gather the ingredients, but can't get the authentic ingredients because you live in a small town:

so you modify them to what you can find:

light rye instead of dark

pastrami instead of smoked meat

and Kraft Thousand Island instead of Russian, but to be honest, we should have made our own to be more authentic...

Then you pull out your panini press so you avoid the afore mentioned greasiness.

Build your sandwich. In my opinion, you NEED one slice of cheese for each piece of bread because it holds everything together.

Grill til melted.

Cut in half - exposing delicious melted cheese.


We had these sandwiches 2 weeks ago, but as I was uploading the pics yesterday, I got my craving all over again and we had them for dinner again last night. All hail the power of the Reuben!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flourless Honey Almond cake

So now that Maizee seems to have made a full recovery, life is returning to "normal" and I have some baking to share.

We had a very special guest over for dinner last night. Lynn is who we got Maizee from and we are forever in her debt as far as I'm concerned. Lynn went to school with Doug and is the only friend he maintains contact with because she's so great. I wish Lynn lived closer, but she lives in Oshawa, which isn't so far, but an hour to come for dinner is a bit of a haul. We all still seem willing to travel to maintain our friendship, so it's all good!

I love having Lynn over not only for her company, but because she challenges me in the food making department. You see, Lynn is Celiac, which means she cannot tolerate wheat gluten in any way shape or form. All that label reading that doesn't get done when you don't have to, is now vitally important when someone's health is at risk. Did you know that there is wheat in soy sauce, malt vinegar and tucked into God knows what else? It is a difficult condition to have because it's hard to cut out the gluten that is hidden in so many prepared foods. So part of the answer is to cut out prepared foods, but when you're a single homeowner getting no help making your dinner, sometimes prepared food would come in handy, but for the most part it's off limits.

When Lynn comes, I try to make something fabulous and include a great dessert, because she has a bit of a sweet tooth (don't we all?). Secretly though I want her to ask for the recipe, because then I know it was a true hit. Lynn is a very talented baker and cook in her own right, so I love it when I can make her happy.

For the main course, we had T-bones on the grill with garlic roasted potatoes and carrots and roasted asparagus. Sorry, no pictures, we were hungry and it all went too quickly.

For dessert we had a flourless honey almond cake from this months' Eating Well magazine. I know I kind of ruined the spirit of the recipe, by serving it with home made ice cream, but since I was coming at it from a gluten-free perspective, I figured it was OK. Seriously, I can rationalize just about anything....

Recipe adapted from Eating Well, April 2009 magazine:

1 3/4 cups toasted ground almonds
4 large eggs, room temp., separated
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Oven 350 F, coat a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. ( I baked mine in silicone molds, for individual presentation, the baking time was only slightly less than baking it in a large round)

Whisk together 4 yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl, until well combined. Stir in the toasted ground almonds until combined.

On a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer, beat the 4 egg whites on medium speed until very foamy, doubled in volume but not stiff enough to hold peaks. 1-2 minutes depending on which kind of mixer you're using.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk/almond mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the rest of the whites, until just combined.

Scrape into pan.

Bake until golden brown and skewer inserted comes out clean - about 28 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 min, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Cool completely.

Vanilla Ice Cream - Philadelphia style (taken from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)

3 C 35% cream
3/4 C sugar
pinch of salt
1T vanilla bean paste

Take 1C cream and all the sugar and the salt into a small sauce pan. Heat and stir constantly only until sugar melts. Take off the heat and add to the 2 C of cold cream. Add the vanilla bean paste and set in fridge to cool down completely. When cold, add to ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

To serve the cakes, I melted about 2T ice cream on the plates, then place the cake on top, added a small scoop of ice cream and berries and you're done! The honey cake adds texture to the dessert, not only with the cakey feel, but also the almonds add a bit of a granular dimension to the softness of the ice cream. It would also be delicious with a sorbet, because the cake is kind of neutral and could go with many different accents.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Face of Trigeminal Neuritis

Ummm, yeah - saliva is a bit of a problem.......

We have a diagnosis and I was right, it is Trigeminal Neuritis, or drop jaw. I posted a link on yesterday's update for a more in depth article, but it's basically a neurological disorder that can come out of the blue, or can result from injury or trauma. In Maizee's case it's out of the blue. It's a wait and see type thing and should go away in anywhere from two to 4 weeks. YAY! There's a slight chance it could be permanent, but it tends to be rare - so now we wait and see. Thankfully our vet is open to suggestion and wasn't at all bothered that I had shared the info I found with him - he wanted to check further and got back to me today and agreed that this is what we're dealing with.

So with my new found diagnostic capabilities I'm sure he'll be offering me a job in the clinic sometime soon.....Kidding, just kidding.

Thanks for all of you who got back to me with suggestions, and special thanks to Susan, who found the same article and called just when I was posting yesterday. I counted her as a second opinion, and she'll be joining me at the clinic too....God I kill myself - so damn funny.

The drama ends for another day and now it's off to watch Coronation Street - yeah, that's right Corrie.


Today is November 3, 2009 and I thought I would update this entry. I thank everyone for their comments and hope everyone's dog has made a complete recovery.

Maizee's TN lasted about 3 weeks until she was able to begin eating on her own. I found there were residual effects in terms of her energy and zest for life - that just took longer (about a month), to get back to her "old self". I will never know what triggered the problem, but given what happened next, I am wondering if her system was just so compromised that it made the TN possible. Maizee had a few diagnosed health issues, Pannus and a Hemangiopericytoma on her left front leg. We had made the decision to amputate her leg this July as she would be cancer free without it. Hemangiopericytoma is a soft tissue, non life threatening, slow growing cancer that tends to return after removal, but tends not to spread, and usually affects the limbs, so amputation tends to be the answer when it comes to getting rid of it. Because she was part whippet/greyhound and continued to love to run, we chose to manage it with homeopathy, Rife treatments, supplements, a raw diet and keeping in constant contact with our holistic vet (Dr. Sharon Kopinak - the best vet in the world, in my estimation).

What we didn't know however, was that Maizee had a secondary cancer brewing on her spleen. It was a hemangiosarcoma. This is an insidious, fast growing/spreading cancer that usually kills within 2-4 months of starting. It was on Saturday, June 27th, we had brought Maizee with us to do grocery shopping. Leaving her in the car with windows rolled down and in the shade, it was no warmer than 17C and we were gone for 10 minutes. When we came back she seemed not quite right. My first thought was that someone had fed her something through the window, but we went home had supper, which she ate with her usual gusto, but still not very spry. Maizee had rallied by morning and we had a great walk, breakfast, then she laid down and spent most of the day sleeping. By evening she didn't want dinner, wasn't drinking and was lethargic. We called the vet and met him at the clinic. Maizee's belly was full of blood and we made the agonizing decision to help her cross over. Our in town vet, Dr. Morris (also a fabulous vet), figured it was an hemangiosarcoma that had probably burst resulting in the internal bleeding. He said that most of the cases he is seeing are at this stage, when it's too late. He has caught this earlier, been able to remove the tumor and spleen, had a look at the liver which was perfect, closed the dog up, but within a month the dog had died. When he has done the autopsy, the liver was covered in tumors - just shocking. We spoke to another vet and he had said basically the same thing, he had removed the original tumor, brought the dog in on a Tuesday to remove the surgical staples, but by Friday he had to euthanize the dog because it had spread so rapidly.

I don't know what role TN had in Maizee's life. We just took the illness on it's own and got through it, but was it a flag that something else was going on? Who knows? Had we caught the other cancer, by other accounts, we couldn't have prolonged her life for much longer anyway. I guess I could go on and on beating myself up and second guessing everything, but what it comes down to is, it was her time to go. I miss Maizee everyday and continue on the long path of grief, missing all 4 of the animals we lost this summer - Moses, Tessa, Maizee and Pippitt. I thought things were supposed to happen in 3's what the hell happened???? They must be having one heck of a party somewhere - I hope...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Hey All - we got the blood test results and Maizee is one healthy pooch that can't close her mouth. Our vet went ahead and ordered the thyroid panel and we'll wait 'til Thursday to get the results. In the meantime I found something on the net that seems to fit Maizee's symptoms here.

The other theory I have is that since her tumor has grown back, is it possible that it's grown around a nerve that reaches up to Maizee's head?

I don't know, but I passed this on to my vet and hopefully he won't be too insulted that I'm telling him what to do....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Help Us, Help Maizee

Hey guys and gals, I really, really need your help right now.

Our girl, Maizee, has an unusual problem that her vet has no idea what's going on and I was wondering if any of you have any ideas or experience with this problem.

A Bit of History

About a week ago, Maizee seemed off. Nothing I could put my finger on, she seemed to be a little lethargic, but appetite was good, just not her usual bright spark of a girl. She went on walks all week, but stayed close to us and didn't run around at top speed like she usually does. I was thinking it was her cancer bothering her as the tumor is back and bigger than it was initially. When I touched it lightly, she winced a bit, but she isn't limping or anything. (for the record, she has a hemangiopericytoma that was removed a year ago. It's a slow-growing, non-metastatic type of cancer and leg removal will cure it. no doubt it will, but we chose to keep her leg until it returns, and now it has, so now we have to revisit that decision...at a later time). For the time being, I'm pretty sure this isn't cancer related.

On to the problem at hand: Maizee can't seem to close her mouth. This started Friday night, with her just holding her mouth a little ajar, like she was sniffing something. By Sunday, her mouth was about an inch open. She is able to close it if she's resting her chin on something, but otherwise her mouth is open. If she's sleeping on her side, her mouth is open. Eating is becoming a problem as she has difficulty keeping the food in, even if we hand feed her small amounts. (she is on a raw diet, so not a lot of crunch there) Drinking water is becoming more of a problem because the water just runs out before she swallows. I've been holding the dish right under her mouth and I think she gets some, but don't really know how much.

We had a vet appointment today and he's stumped. He spent a half hour manipulating her jaw, palpating, poking and Maizee took it all without protest. She doesn't seem to be in pain...

Her jaw has good mobility, so it's not dislocated. There doesn't seem to be anything in her mouth or jaw that's preventing her from closing, because she can close it, just not on her own. It doesn't seem to hurt if it's opened, or closed by the vet, but she just can't hold it closed. We even turned her on her back to see if gravity could close it, which it did and it can remain shut, but as we righted her, it opened again.

There doesn't seem to be any obvious trauma that's causing it.

What the vet did find though is a certain amount of atrophy of the main muscle that runs from the top of her head to her jaw. He found this surprising and could not think of why it would be happening. Atrophy suggests something happening over time, so what could it be? He drew some blood and we'll have the results tomorrow morning. He was thinking Addison's, or some type of thyroid problem perhaps, but it's really quite a mystery. Her temp was the low end of normal, but her heart rate was slow - unusual for her as she is quite the athlete and has always had a good strong heartbeat.

I am hoping to get this post out to as many people as I know in the hope that someone might have and idea or opinion on what might be going on with Maizee. Please feel free to post this link to as many people as you can think of who might be able to help.
(Here's Maizee with her favourite bone a few months ago, so she's used to working her jaw muscles quite a bit as we always have large bones for the girls to chew on...)

Our girl is a 9 year old, spayed, Greyhound/English Pointer cross. She was hit by a car about a year and a half before we got her (we've had her coming up on 4 years this fall) and so far that accident hasn't had an impact on her health. Maizee also has Pannus, a condition of the eyes where for some reason, usually an injury, the body starts rejecting the corneas and begins to grow capillaries across it, eventually causing blindness.

I'm wondering if this jaw thing is some form of a Bell's palsy type thing, or something like it, where you get a weird neurological thing that comes out of the blue, runs it's course, and moves on???

Really - any thoughts would be appreciated.

You can leave a comment here or email me - bakinganddogs@gmail.com
facebook me - Jen Arnold


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rebel, rebel

Thank you to anyone and everyone who voted for me and my cupcake -I really appreciate it. I didn't win any prizes, but it was fun anyway. March's creation has to involve nuts and or seeds, so I'm thinking of lots of possibilities....

So it's Sunday afternoon and I'm getting ready to prepare my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, when I decide to check the site and see what suggestions are coming from those who have already made the custard chosen for this week. When lo and behold -I'VE BEEN KICKED OUT OF THE GROUP!

I didn't post last week, which makes 2 weeks in a row, which makes me a Dorie loser, and gets me kicked out of the group. HA HA HA. The shame! Oh the terrible shame!
Oh well I'm over it and soon I'll find a group, a better group, a more forgiving group that realizes that sometimes life gets in the way of preparing a freakin' dessert.... So long Tuesdays with Dorie - nice knowing you.

(Some chocolate cakes I've made recently.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Hey everyone - the polls are now open for the Feb. Iron Cupcake challenge until Friday, March 6th, so please, please,please vote for my entry here.

All of this month's competitors are listed, with pictures and descriptions. There are some fabulous looking cuppies and fierce competition, but you get to pick 3, so vote often and please include my cuppie in your top 3.

Just put a check in the box beside Baking and Dogs - which is the 2nd entry from the top of the list.