Sage advice from Mom…

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My mother always told me… “never order spaghetti when out on a date.”

She claimed it was too hard to eat, too difficult not to slurp, and some of the sauce will always land on your “shelf”.  She might as well of sent me to purgatory!  Perhaps that’s why my dates were few and far between.  I knew I had found my soul mate when Malcolm (my hero!) served me pasta in bed!

I love pasta!

Pasta and butter.

Pasta and butter and cheese.

Pasta and butter and cheese and bacon.

Pasta and butter and cheese and bacon and shrimp.

Add some garlic,  a splash of olive oil, a little white wine, throw in some fresh sourdough bread and I am in heaven.  I don’t even need a plate, I will enjoy my meal straight from the pasta pot.  It’s best when I don’t have to share it with Malcolm.  Forget the soup when I’m sick, I’d rather slurp noodles.  Rain or shine, hot or cold, pasta is my nirvana.

I will say, as I’ve matured, so has my pasta pickiness.  I don’t eat just any pasta.  Nor, do I eat at just any Italian restaurant.  I do have some standards when it comes to pasta.  The noodles need to be cooked just right, the sauce needs to light and teaming with flavor.  The restaurant can’t be a chain, franchise or serve processed pre-packaged portions.

When cooking pasta, proper attention to your pasta pot needs to be given – a built-in strainer is convenient.  Correct utensils are needed.  Pasta bowls  should be purchased, along with over sized spoons.  Timing is everything.  Under done noodles or overcooked pasta doesn’t cut it.  Invest in a pasta timer!  An apron is appropriate attire when standing over the watched pot.  Pavarotti should be softly playing on Pandora in the background.

And most important, ALL DOGS SHOULD BE BANNED FROM THE KITCHEN.  DOG HAIR IS NOT ALLOWED OR TOLERATED ANYWHERE NEAR THE PASTA POT!

 

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 pound Macaroni noodles (elbow, shells or ziti)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1-2 minced jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 12 tbsp. coarse grain mustard
  • 3 cups extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • sourdough bread crumbs (seasoned to taste), finely chopped

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain off the water and put noodles back in the pot, set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add jalapeno peppers and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add flour and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring continuously.  Whisk in  the milk and continue stirring until the mixture starts to boil.  Add the Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese and mustard.  Stir until smooth.

Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni, add bacon crumbles and toss.  Place in a casserole dish and garnish with the bread crumbs.  Heat in the oven until hot in the center and bread crumbs are toasted, about 15-20 minutes.

Curfew

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Prior to Tiamo, we had Thugs.  A cat.  A big cat.  A big cat with black tuffs on his ears and beautiful green eyes.  He had gray, white and black swirls on his sides and strips on his tail.  He was a cat that was king of his domain and by gawd,  he knew it.  He was unusual and unique.  Born into a barn cat litter, Thugs was the “bully” of the bunch.  He was a little Thug in the true sense of the word.  As a kitten, he would pounce on his litter mates, playing rough and acting tough.  As an adult cat, he would sit on his perch and give us a look of pure disdain.  Thugs was a great mouser and lizard chaser.  We would find remnants of his hunt on our front door step.  He tolerated being picked up but loved being petted, He mellowed as he aged, he loved to sit on Malcolm’s firm six-pack abs (hee hee) as Malcolm read the New York Times on the couch.  Cold mornings would find him curled up on our down pillows next to us, basking the comfort of the blanket’s warmth, evenings he would follow us from room to room waiting for us to go to bed.

He was 14 years old when we moved to New Mexico, land of bobcats, coyotes, snakes,  and cactus.  Most felines in New Mexico don’t live much longer than a few years, especially if they sneak outdoors when the back-door gets opened.  Thugs had already outlived his life expectancy for New Mexico by many, many years and now he was now on the bottom tier of the food chain.  But he was savvy and smart and stayed safe and he had a curfew.  We incorporated the 10 and 4 rule.  Thugs could only be outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Luckily, he usually stayed close to the house or napped on the portal.

Thugs wasn’t too happy with us when we brought Tiamo into the family.  He let Tiamo know real quick who was the boss with sharp claws to Tiamo’s curious nose within 5 minutes of being introduced.  Tiamo learned to keep her distance and in the beginning wouldn’t come into the room if Thugs was already there.  Tiamo would sit in the doorway, waiting for Thugs to move far enough away for her to enter.  If Thugs was on the couch, Tiamo would give him a wide berth around, eyeing the distance between cat claws and her nose.  Once Thugs trapped Tiamo in the utility room.  Laying down in the middle of the entryway, Thugs calmly cleaned himself, while Tiamo was nervously trying to figure out how to get around him and out of the room.  Within three months, they were inseparable.  Where Thugs went, Tiamo followed.  At five months, Thugs was strolling underneath Tiamo’s belly and at 9 months we would find them curled up together, Thugs gently purring, Tiamo emitting soft snores as she lay sleeping.  When they both were on the bed, Thugs would knead Tiamo until one of them would tired of the motion and jump off the bed.

At 17, Thugs was still going strong, abet slower, he had some hearing loss, and his vision was less clear.  Tiamo became his protector.  If Thugs was outside, Tiamo was his shadow, following Thugs through the junipers and chamiso, keeping tabs on his whereabouts.  When Thug’s 4 o’clock curfew hit, we would call Tiamo to “go get Thugs”.  Tiamo would round-up Thugs and herd him into the house.  “Find Thugs” was one of Tiamo’s favorite games.  Come close to curfew time and Tiamo would be sitting by the door, tail wagging, eagerly waiting to go “Find Thugs”.

When Thugs was 19 years old, he was too old to be let out.  He slept most of the time but could still jump up on the bed and knead Tiamo.  At 21 years, our little bully was aged and tired.  Eating less, losing weight, Thug’s curfew was up.  He lived to the ripe ol’ age of 21, almost 22 years of age. Twenty-one years!  Amazing!

Thugs was an amazing cat.  Tiamo and Thugs had an amazing friendship.  We should be so fortunate to have a companion to knead.

 

 

 

Snooze button

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The nose knows!

!UGH!  A cold wet nose is thrust upon my early morning dreams.  I look at the clock and try to focus on the blue digital numbers.  4:05 a.m.  There is still forty-five minutes before the alarm sounds off.  I try to ignore the persistent nose nudging under my elbow, desperately wanting and needing my 45 minutes of sleep.  Eyes closed, I feel  another nudge, this time on my hand that is dangling over the edge of the bed.  UGH! Dog slobber.   All over my hand.  I open my eyes just enough to check the time.  Dolce and Amore, with their twin noses within inches of my face, are eyeing me intently.  Two sets of eyes, shining brightly, eagerly waiting for me to get up and start the day.  My eyes raise to the alarm clock.  4:10 a.m. – 40 minutes left. It’s only been five minutes.  I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep.

Whack!  A sand-crusted paw hits the bed, just missing my nose.  I am assaulted with dog-paw odor.  “Off”! I whisper, not wanting to wake up Malcolm.  Amore doesn’t listen and doesn’t care.  Another paw joins the first,  more sand.  I look up, Amore is peering down on me, happy dog drool dripping onto my cheek and neck.  UGH!  I go to wipe off the wet drops and smear wet sand all over me.  UGH! 4:20 a.m.  A half-hour nap is  my only hope.  Amore licks my face, a more persistent dog you’ll never see.  She.  Wants.  Me.  Up.  NOW!  I roll over, implementing the “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” rule, feeling the rough sand  throughout the sheets.  UGH!  Amore’s  determination runs deep, she paws the bed covers, pulling my warm blankets inch by coveted inch off the bed into a soft mass on the floor.  4:37 a.m.  I am now freezing, dog-slobbered, sand-covered and wide-awake.  Malcolm is softly snoring, oblivious to my wake-up call.

Just then, Dolce leaps up on the bed, clears a sleeping Malcolm, and lands on me.  Phoof!  The oxygen is squished out of my lungs.  I gasp for breath, simultaneously pushing Dolce off me.  I manage to turn her around, only to have her victorious wagging tail in my face.  UGH!  Visions of sleeping extra minutes vanished along with all the air from my lungs.  4:43 a.m.  Not to be out done, Amore jumps onto the mattress, her paws digging into Malcolm’s legs for balance.  “W.T.F.!”  Malcolm is rudely awaken.

4:45 a.m. Five minutes til “Wake-Up with Wally” blasts out the top ten hits on FM 107.9.  I shut off the alarm with Wally and crawl out of bed, crawl being the optimal word.  The dogs are ecstatic they have early morning company.  Malcolm is grumpy from being woken up.  I am a snooze button away from being sane.

Just remember, there is no snooze button for a dog who wants breakfast!