Monday, May 31, 2010

A Salad - For Dinner!

Even though it's only the last day of May, we are already into summer weather. The lilacs are done, the lavender is close to blooming and the humidity has already begun. Ugh, the humidity! Some people love the hot sticky, I do not. I get stupid and slow like molasses. Oh yeah, and cranky too, just ask Mr. Sweet Kitchen. Some people can't eat when it's really hot, I can. I only wish I wouldn't get hungry, but I do. Sigh, my appetite knows no limits. But who wants to turn the oven on - certainly not me - but I'm hungry. Enter the dinner salad. Thinking of this salad makes my mouth water I love it so much. The recipe is based on the "Louisiana Black-eyed Pea Salad" from the Moosewood Daily Specials cookbook and it rocks, well now it rocks with all the changes we've made.

Louisiana Black-eyed Pea Salad

serves 4 - 6

1 19oz can black eyed peas
5 oz dry whole wheat macaroni

3 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t Tabasco, or more to taste
1 T sugar
1/4 t liquid smoke
1 T pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
1 T Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1/4 to 1/2 t ground cloves
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C BBQ sauce (any of the Diana's brand are good and they are preservative free)

1 C small dice celery
1 C small dice red pepper
1/2 C small dice red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz aged Cheddar small dice
salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni to al dente stage. Please don't cook it until it's soft because it won't hold it's shape when you start mixing it all together and the texture of soft pasta is just awful, so don't do it. Drain and cool in fridge. Drain canned peas and tip into large bowl. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and taste, adjust seasonings if need be and set dressing aside. In my opinion a small dice on the veggies is what gives this salad it's appeal. You get bursts of flavour and a bit of crunch and it all works so well together. Go ahead and dice the veggies, garlic and cheese and add to the peas in the large bowl. Add the cooled macaroni and now add the dressing. Toss to mix well, adjust seasoning and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.
This salad is flexible - feel free to add cherry tomatoes, or use all beans and skip the macaroni, or use smoked Gouda instead of the cheddar - it's all good!
If you have a side burner on your BBQ, use it to cook your macaroni instead of your stove to keep the kitchen cooler.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I am a bad, bad blogger!

So it's been almost a year since my last post. Holy crap, that's not good, but you probably know that already. I had started this blog for me and my dogs, Tessa and Maizie. Then they both died 9 days apart and I had a hard time returning here. It didn't feel right to me. 2009 was a hard, hard year in terms of loss. We lost our beloved girls, but we also lost our two ancient cats too. Pippit and Moses left us after 18 years on this mortal coil and compounded with losing our two girls, it was a lot to get through. Blogging took a back seat to drowning in work and working through grief. It's funny the decisions you make in grief. For some it is unthinkable to get new pets because, somehow, it doesn't respect the memory of the departed. For others, the need to love is so strong and the hole so big, it must be filled and as soon as possible. I am in the latter group. When I last left you, we had welcomed Bella into our home. We hadn't chosen Bella for us, no, no, we had chosen her for Maizie. Maizie had been inconsolable after Tessa'a death and had wandered the house looking for her, crying, waiting for her, completely lost without her. We chose Bella for Maizie, to help her through this rough time, not realizing that Maizie had decided life was not worth living without Tessa. Maizie died the night we brought Bella home. Sometimes life kicks you in the teeth...
So then we had Bella. A dog who had come from a home with so many other dogs, we knew she must be missing them. She was sad. We were sad.
Bella was being retired from the breeding programme at the breeders place and

Jethro was one of the pups from her last litter.

And then there was a photo of Jethro.

How could you look at this picture and not open your home to this face? And so Jethro joined our family.

We've never had a puppy. We've never had a high energy puppy. We were completely unprepared. WOW! Jethro! When we went to pick him up, Bella sat in the back seat opposite to me so she could stare daggers at me the whole way home. She was not happy, to say the least. She had gotten used to having two people all to herself and she kind of liked it, now she had this puppy she thought she had said goodbye to 3 weeks before and here he was again. W T F ????

Jethro's favourite thing to do was hang off Bella's neck. He was part lamprey, I'm sure. But on walks, Bella got her revenge...we literally thought she was going to kill him. She would just fly at him, biting low on the legs, pushing him in the grass, flattening him, barking at him. She was lightening around him. He was the eye of the storm and she the tornado. A few frantic emails to the breeder reassured us that Bella was tough with her kids but she wouldn't go to the point of hurting them, it just looked that way. And through it all Jethro would beg for more. No hard feelings, Mom, lets go again! We couldn't believe it.

Jethro loves everyone and Bella mostly loves everyone. Bella is a little more guarded of the two, but it doesn't take much convincing for her to warm up to you. These two dogs have been a lifeline for me. When I could've stayed in bed forever after losing our girls, they had to be walked. They brought us back to the world and made us hold on when sometimes we didn't want to. They have made us laugh.

They have made it easy to love them because of who they are.

They're not Maizee and Tessa,

they're Bella and Jethro and that's a good thing.