Sunday tradition

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Monday through Friday, I am the one to feed the girls their morning meal. Early.  5:00 a.m. early.  Our dogs are conditioned to enjoy their breakfast at the crack of dawn, when it’s still dark and cold out.  Once their bellies’ are full, they settle back down on their huge dog pillows for a little morning shut-eye as I sip my coffee and read the paper before I leave for work.

Come the weekend, my wonderful, sweet hubby gets up early to feed Amore and Dolce, allowing me to sleep a couple more hours before I start the day.  For some perverse reason, on the weekends, the girls start scrambling for their breakfast  around 4:00 a.m.  They’ll come around to the side of the bed, checking to see if one of us is up yet, being sure to whack their tail several times for good measure.  On a good day, they might wait until 4:30 a.m. before starting their wake-up antics.  If need be, Amore will jump up on the bed and sit on one of us in her attempt to get fed.  It’s about this time, I’m kicking Malc in the back, “it’s your turn to feed’em!” I mumble.

Blurry eyed, and three-quarters still asleep, he stumbles out to the dark kitchen, tripping over 200 excited pounds of two hungry dogs in their mad bid for their kibbles.  From the other room, I hear several choice words spewing loudly from his lips as his bare feet and legs are clawed by dog paws in their eagerness to be fed. I hear the clank and clatter from their metal dog bowls being pushed around the hard floor as they devour their food.  Then quiet. Blissful quiet.  Wonderful-fall-back-to-sleep quiet.  While the girls are still chowing down their food, Malc will crawl back into the still warm bed, staking out his territory on the mattress.  He has about 2 minutes to fluff his pillows and get comfortable before the girls search us out, climbing up on the bed to snuggle in for a few more hours.  A half hour later, Gordita joins the family snugglefest, stepping over fur and bodies to curl up on a down pillow.

By the time, I’m ready to rise, I have two dogs stretched out on each side of me and a cat up on my pillow loudly purring in my ear, a black cat tail draped across my face. I can’t move.  I look over at Malcolm and see a slight smile peaking through the covers.  “Psst! You awake?”, I persist in waking him.  One visible eye opens, we share a contented, loving look as we view our menagerie nestled on the bed.  Our family.  It brings a warm hug to our hearts.

Sunday morning is our special day of the week to laze around, read the paper, drink our coffee, share breakfast.  It’s turned into tradition, having our girls curled up around us as we read the comics, the OpEd page, the local news, sipping hot coffee, being careful not to spill any on the covers.  Breakfast turns into brunch, but who cares, it’s our lazy day to enjoy our family.

RASPBERRY PANCAKES

Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings, these cakes are light and fluffy – the secret is taking the time to beat the egg whites separately.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup non-fat milk (may use buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2 large egg whites (save extra egg yolk for your canine friends)
  • 3/4 cup sliced bananas
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (heated in microwave)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolk and zest.  Set aside.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks forms.  Stir milk mixture little by little into the flour mixture.  Carefully fold in egg whites and then add the sliced bananas.

Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large non-stick skillet or griddle and warm over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto hot griddle using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter, making a hotcake.  Repeat until griddle is full.  Cook until bottom is set and golden brown, about two minutes.  Flip and cook until firm, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside and cover to keep warm until you’ve cooked all the hotcakes.

Serve hotcakes topped with warm raspberry jam and vanilla yogurt and raspberries.

Houdini

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Berners are the type of dog that want to be with you – – – always.  Where you goeth, they goeth.  If you step outside, they want to be outside with you.  If you need to run to the store, they need to go along with you, riding shotgun in the passenger seat.  They will be out the door and in the car before you’ve begun to search for your car keys.  If you need to use the restroom, they want to follow you.  Walk into the kitchen and paws pitter-patter beside you.  Two perpetual furry shadows, dogging your step.  Shutting the door on their noses only produces sniffing and scratching, amplified by two.

On occasion we elect to keep the girls home.   In the summer, the temperatures are too hot for them to be left in the car without air conditioning and other times, our errands run longer than we want to keep them cooped up in the SUV.    They’ve learned when they may join us for a car ride and when they are staying put, depending on the time of day, the clothes and shoes worn, and if they hear a certain jingle of the car keys.

Early mornings they recognize its “me leaving for work” time.  They follow me into the bathroom and hang while I am getting ready for work.  They walk with me to get the morning paper and follow me around as I pour my “must-have” coffee.  By the time I grab my car keys to drive into town for work, they are already sprawled out napping from their busy morning.  I scratch their ears good-bye as they lift their heads, watching me walk out the door, back asleep before I’ve pulled out of the garage.   They have become skilled at learning the difference between a “slide your foot into a heel” shoe and a “bend over to tie the laces of your hiking boot” shoe.  With the heel, they are accepting of their fate.  Knowing they will be staying home with Gordita, our cat, they have already gone back to what they were doing.  The boot means “WALK”, “RIDE”, or “BOTH”.  Any of which creates pandemonium.   A jingle of the car keys will bring a concerto of joyous high-pitched barking that continues through the process of loading them into the vehicle.

To our dismay, we have discovered there are times when Dolce and Amore have attempted to follow us, ignoring our command to stay.   On one such time, I drove home from work to find Dolce and Amore in the front portal, the front door wide open.   I just assumed Malcolm had opened the door for fresh air.  In reality, Malcolm had walked next door to deliver some misplaced mail.  The girls did not like the idea of being left alone at home, listening to the crunch of gravel as Malcolm walked up the driveway.  Dolce had pawed the dead bolt, unlocking it,  and on the down-swing, her paws hit the handicapped handle, swinging the door wide open.  Freedom.  Thankfully, the half-walls of the portal are too high for them to escape.

Dolce has turned her clever door-opening talent to other doors throughout the house. Back doors, garage doors, closet doors, even shower doors, she opens and shuts doors like a cat-burglar pro.  She stands on her hind legs and uses her front paws to turn the lock.  She then uses her weight to push in the door, gaining entry into the next room.  Should the door shut on her, she repeats the process, and with a descending slide, she hooks her paws on the handle lever and pulls open the door to come back through.  We caution our over-night guests to lock their bedroom door or they might have a four-legged visitor during the night.  Her special ability has forced us take stronger measures against future door openings.  We’ve installed additional hardware, slide locks and hooks, key locks and more dead-bolts, all designed to keep our Houdini dog where she belongs.

Scratch marks and all

Scratch mark evidence

Added hardware

Added hardware

I am thankful this proficiency isn’t genetic and Amore isn’t that smart!  But then, maybe she is – Dolce is the one opening the door for her.

Drooling for DIN-DIN

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drooling for dinner

drooling for din din!

Like clockwork, come 5:00 p.m. the pooches are in pursuit of prying Malcolm away from watching the news to feed them their chow.  They arrive first for a gentle rub, a few scratches around the ear, a pat on the belly.  A sweet, loving reminder to be fed.  If they timed it right, it will be a commercial break, a good time to fill their dog bowls.  If that doesn’t work, they try nudging Malcolm’s elbow, hoping to displace some prized Coke-a-cola poured over shaved ice onto his pants, forcing him to arise to clean up the spilled sticky mess.  Once up, it’s usually a given they’ll be served dinner….

Hopefully.

If the spill-the-coke-on-pants trick doesn’t get a surge out of Malcolm, they move into their next plan-of-attack:  sumo wrestling.  Body slams, shoulder pins, ear grabs, all played within close range of the china cabinet.  You can hear the crystal rattle as the dogs roll under the dining room table, often hitting the cabinet leg.  Uncaring that family heirlooms might break, they tackle each other in their quest to win dominance over the other.  At this point, Malcolm is speeding through the house to halt any further damage and put some food in their bellies to calm the battle…

Usually.

As last resort, and Malcolm still needs prompting, Amore does her race through the house routine, landing on all fours, she slides on the hall rug, getting a free ride into the living room.  Weeeeee, look at meeeee!  Crash!  She resembles a surfer dude riding a big wave.  Dolce has now entered into the melee, barking at Amore, she scares Gordita, our fat cat, into using Malcolm’s leg as a spring-board, claws digging into his thigh to gain purchase as she continues to leap over his shoulder towards a safe haven.  Yep, this will get them their kibbles….

Finally!

Malcolm has 5 minutes to hide the destruction before I arrive home from work.  Dinner just might be late….

Naturally.

PORK & PORT

Try this sauce with beef tenderloin as well!

  • 2 boneless pork  tenderloin, approximately 1 lb. each
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 oz. Stilton cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add pork, browning on all sides.  Transfer pork to a covered roasting pan.

Deglaze skillet with port and reduce by half.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Pour over pork and bake at 450 degrees until done, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove pork and keep warm.  Reduce liquid by half and slowly stir in cream.  Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens.  Add Stilton cheese and stir until blended.

Spoon sauce over sliced tenderloin.

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.