Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dog-Gone Days

Hey there! Luc's the name, exploring is my game. Welcome to my world. Follow me, You'll like where I go. Pretty exciting... well some of the time it's exciting, like when I treed a family of raccoons and kept them up there. To tell you the truth, I sleep a lot during the day. But you should share my dreams. Wow, are they great. The kind where your eyes twitch and your paws do the phantom run.

It's my yard and I'll pee if I want to. This postage stamp yard isn't much, but just the right size for me. I patrol it all the time. Sniffing out any smells that don't belong there. You know, like raccoons, deer, dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels, cats, fox and...errr, maybe bear or mountain lion. Sort of scared of those last two smells.

Hey get off my rocks, or I'll, I'll, I'll.... take that hose and spray you! 

That an Ebert Squirrel I'm watching. In just a minute, I'll growl, jump and bark. He'll scatter away so fast and I'll roll over laughing so hard. Come on back. I want to do it again.

It's the red fox. I just know that he's my distant relative. Other dogs might originate from the Wolf, but Chihuahuas are special You knew that, right? We originated from the Fox.

Gidget widget is my good friend. She belongs to the Nugent Family —  Dawn's daughter Diane. That Gidget is a fiesty one. We get into a scrap or two, but I stand my ground. We do play together, too. It's not all bad. Well yeah, sometimes, she drives me crazy. She goes camping with me.

Camping tonight, camping tonight! I'm a really dirty dog! Heh, heh, heh.

You. You Mr. Moose. Yes, You. What are YOU looking at? I can TAKE YOU Moose. You're pretty dang big but I'm not afraid of You.... well, maybe a little.

I can't go any further. Snow is up to my neck.

 I found a spot on this snow wall to pee....ahhhhh.
I'm watching....where is she? When is she ever coming back. Maybe never. Oh, I'm so worried. Please, Please come home Dawn.

Is it, is it, is it? YES, SHE'S BACK!

I'm going to jump down and wiggle with joy, tongue out, prancing, just plain being cute. It's my job. "Too cute Luc" that's me.

Now I can eat, I'm so hungry, so hungry... Hurry Dawn, feed me, feed me!

Yep, it's ready for me now. Kibble Bowl on the ground. Got to go. See you later. Woof!

Hawaiian Guava, just try it

Running up and down the grocery aisles yesterday, can't even tell you which aisle, my eye  wandered to a can of... Guava Juice....

A flood of wonderful Hawaiian memories came over me as I reached for a can and lovingly put it in my cart. Ever tried Guava?

Guava is a tropical fruit. Easy to recognize, the guava tree has smooth, thin, copper-colored bark that flakes off, showing the greenish layer underneath. The fruit is a light yellow-green with an occasional rosy blush. Inside, the pulp has either a rose or off-white flesh and a center full of seeds. Usually you peel the skin, cut it in half and scoop out the seedy center. Eat it like an apple or puree the flesh. It is a little grainy somewhat like a pear. The flavor hints of a PiƱa Colada drink (although guava is not an ingredient). It is an addicting refreshing drink.

When I lived in Hawaii, all things guava were at the top of my list. Better than orange juice for breakfast; bake up a wonderful chiffon guava cake; add it to your favorite fruit or cream pie; top anything with a shiny rose guava gel, and experience a myriad of mixed drinks.

Surprisingly healthy, research from the Guardian Health Guardian, January 19th, 2010, the article about super foods: "100 grams of guava gives you more than twice potassium as compared to apples, four times more vitamin C than oranges for the same amount and yet, it is not considered a super star fruit. Strange, isn’t it?"

It doesn't appears in Hawaii until the early 1800's. Now it occurs throughout the Pacific islands. No one knows for sure where the Guava tree originated, most speculate Mexico or Central America. Today it grows in both tropical and sub-tropical regions all over the world. India has many plantations, so does Thailand and Spain. It is grown in Florida and in Hawaii. As long as it doesn't freeze, for Guava trees die in a freeze although sometimes the Guava trees have been know to grow up again from the roots.

My daughter, Diane, gave me a recipe for mini-cheesecakes made in a muffin tin and vanilla wafers. Here's my spin on her mini-cheesecake with Guava.

Diane Nugent's Mini-Cheese Cakes with my Guava Addition

In a muffin pan with paper-cup liners place one vanilla wafer cookie in each space. Option: I like to put a bunch of vanilla wafers in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin, crush the 'Nilla Wafers'. Put a loaded Tablespoon in the bottom of each liner, then tap it down with a juice glass.
          1/2 cup sugar
          2 packages 8 oz cream cheese
          2 eggs
          1 teaspoon vanilla
          1 teaspoon lemon juice
          1 Tablespoon Guava Juice
Fill Muffin cups almost to the top.
Bake at 375° for 18 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the oven door open and let the little cakes cool completely.

Guava Gel Glaze:
2 C Guava juice
1/2 C Sugar
1 Tablespoon Grenadine
1/4 C Cornstarch

Bring the juice and sugar to a boil. Take off heat. 
Make a paste from cornstarch, Grenadine and a little water. 
Stir the paste into juice pan. Return to heat, boil for one minute or until thick.

Spoon on each mini-cheese cake in the muffin pan. Cool cheesecake in the muffin pan in refrigerator until ready to serve. Freezes well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Zuppa e Fagioli/Patate

"Too Salty, just didn't like it. I even washed it with water first." That was yesterday at work, complaining about a Air Dried Salt Cured Country Ham I bought on the Internet from a famous Restaurant in Georgia.

What could I do with it besides throw it out? My friend Scott Goeringer, an executive chef, gave me a great suggestion. Beans and potatoes would soak up the salt and leave that smoky flavor. He also suggested leeks. 

Today is my day off and I am inspired to run with Scott's suggestion. I didn't have leeks in my refrigerator, but I did have an onion. Maybe it was the can of Cannelini Beans in my cupboard, but Italy memories started swarming through my mind. On one of my Italy trips, I saw a cook, throw a good jigger of red wine into her soup. Checking my liquor cabinet, right there in front was a great bottle of Porto wine. Port is a little sweet with still the robust flavor of red wine. Going with an Italian theme, garlic, tomato, basil leaves and a tiny bit of dried rosemary floated through my mind. 

Since I don't measure anything, I'm guessing these measurements are about right. 

Note: Don't add the wine, basil and rosemary until you are just about to serve the soup. You soup will stay fresh and the flavors won't be lost. 

Keep that spoon handy and taste often! Enjoy, I sure did. Thanks, Scott.

Zuppa e fagioli/patate
Inspired by Scott Goeringer
1/2 medium Onion diced
1/2 Red Pepper diced
1 cove of Garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
A couple of pieces of Smoky Ham or Bacon
Saute until onion is translucent

1 Red Potato, peeled and diced
1 Tomato skinned and diced
1 can drained Cannellini Beans
1/2 teaspoon of "Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base"
Water to cover ingredients.
When potatoes are cooked, remove ham or bacon and throw away.
1 oz Porto Wine
Chiffonade a about a dozen Basil leaves
tiny bit of dried Rosemary

Monday, May 10, 2010

The beginning of the dream.....

I was three year old when I first talked about having horses. It was my first obsession. Mother would tell me how she would buy all these beautiful dolls, but I wouldn't play with them. Instead I'd sit in a corner with her wooden clothes pins and imagine they were my horses. In Southern California in the mid-50s, as soon as you got your drivers license, you'd be driving to the beach. Not me. As soon as I got my license, I started my secret life. There was a Buffalo Ranch in the area where Irvine, CA has grown up now. Back then they had stables, gave riding lessons, and also did trail rides. I worked odd jobs, one at a jewelry store, and of course babysitting, saved my money and took riding lessons. I'd hang around and help clean stalls, feed, and just take in the smells of the hay, the grain, the horse. Listening to their munching, their nickering, the swishing sound their hooves made in the straw or looking deep into their liquid eyes, watching them twitch their tails at a fly or shake their beautiful necks or paw at the ground was better than the Symphonic Orchestra playing great composers. It was music to me and I could be part of it. Just to touch that soft, warm muzzle and hug their neck, snuggling my nose into their scent was the most intoxicating part of my teen years. 

After college, I worked at a Dude Ranch. Heaven! I was with horses every single day for hours on end. I really believed I married because he promised me a ranch with cows and horses. It never happened with him, and even after two children, I never gave up on my dream. Probably I married money the second time and I did buy my first horse, then later my Arabians. Guess I shouldn't be surprised that marriage didn't make it either. But my dream of having a horse ranch never died. At age 38, I did buy my horse ranch.

The first horse born on our ranch, was Darq Sirroco, a black colt out of my Palomino Half Arab/Saddlebred, Penny. The kids and I were so excited about the upcoming birth, we strewed straw around in the large stall, put up a 8x8 tent in the stall next door, put in cots, a battery operated light — we didn't want to miss the big event.

Penny started circling around and around and finally went down late in the afternoon. Just then, our neighbors from North Plains came down to the barn. They were old time farmers, and I was relieved that they were there. We whispered back and forth — me asking what I should do next; he with a grin answering to just let the mare do her thing!  It wasn't much after that conversation the two hooves came out covered inside the bag and very fast, bloop, out slipped the baby. Nosing and thrashing, out of the bag a shinny wet thing gasped its first air. Nudging me to rub down the baby with the towel I had in my hands, and telling me to bond right away. Gingerly, I approached the little one, down on my knees, rubbing it dry and talking low and soft to both the baby and the mare. It was a colt, a boy! Wobbling up, sideways, down again. One leg up, three legs down, now back legs up, front legs down. So funny and amazing at the same time. With knickers of encouragement from the mare, finally up on all fours and looking for the milk. Well after a suck or two on the mare's front legs, he finely got around to the right section. Don't know how he could miss it, with milk streaming down. With a huge sigh of relief from me and the mare, she (the mare not me) starts to nibble at the hay while her baby nurses.

We named him, Darq Sirroco. His name, Sirooco, a wild desert wind. He grew up to be a Region II, IV, V Champion. Winning Futurities at 1, 2 and 3. He won in almost every show he entered. Eventually he won a Reserve National Championship!

My horse ranch became more of a reality than I ever dreamed it to be. And a great source of memories now!

Zapped by an Electric Fence

Once upon a time and long ago, my children, Diane age 13 and Jeremy age 10 and I bought acreage with a small house and a couple of barns. It was the beginning of our horse farm. The five plus acres had already been fenced with barbless wire, but with babies on the way (horses not me) I felt I needed more protection for them than just wire. Ribbon wire was the in thing back in the 70s and 80s and it was easy to install, if the foals did break through, it was safe and would not tangle around their legs like wire might. Oregon dirt is easy to dig in and not a hard job for me to put up fencing.
Back in Oregon, one sunny day, kids in school, it was perfect for putting in an electric fence paddock outside the large birthing stall. Gathering all my tools in a box and "ho ho, ho ho and off to work I go." As the day progressed, it was getting hotter and hotter, that is if Oregon hot means the same as Arizona hot. Nothing could  deter me. Onward in my mission to complete the job. I am rather one track when it comes to staying on task. Whew, finally I finished, looked out with pride at the electric corral I had completed, flipped the switch and checked it with my little plastic fence checker. Yep, it was working. 

Picking up the tools scattered about and putting them back into the tool box, I bent over to pick up the hammer and backed right into the "hot" electric fence. The bolt got me good. I jumped about a yard or two then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw me do such a stupid thing. Now I'm telling you my nearest neighbor couldn't have seen me even with binoculars. "What are you looking at?" I hurl words at my dog, panting, tongue lagging out. I swear she was laughing at me!

Photo above: Half Arab/Saddlebred, Penny and Wind Dancer her little filly.

Wind Dancer prancing away. From the day she was born, this little filly just flat out ran, pranced, jumped and raced with the wind. She absolutely loved life! Isn't she a beauty?

Photo right: Wind Dancer just a few weeks old.