Life with Dog.

Anyone who has met our dog learns very quickly that she is a perfect mix of Lab friendlieness and Pitbull playfulness.  It has never occured to her that she might be unwelcome anywhere and she is the class clown where ever she goes.

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Another thing we learned early is that her energy level requires exercise to keep her from getting bored an becoming destructive.    Lots of excercise.  In our case, a younger Alexa needed so much excersice that we took up running!    We are all healthier and happier for it, and normally, I look forward to our morning runs or walks.  But, a restless night left me  feeling a tad lazy this morning, and since it wasn’t a running day, I decided on a very short walk to the neighbours, justifying my laziness because I do like to check on things in their absence.

I have grown accustomed to letting Alexa off of her leash at their house as the yard is fully fenced.  This gives her a chance to run around like an idiot for a few minutes while I do the house check.

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This morning, I didn’t notice that their back gate was not latched. (sigh)  The back gate leads right into a mangrove forest on the edge the canal, which of course contains crocodiles.  I love my dog very much, but I was not about to leave the safety of the yard to go looking for her in THAT!

 

I called and called . . . nothing but silence.  Not even rustling in the underbrush.  I was sure that if a croc had gotten her, I would have heard some commotion.   Except for a crazy woman calling for her dog, the morning was as tranquil as it always is here.

I heard barking down the street, and headed to the front of the yard.  Maybe she didn’t go to the canal, maybe, somehow, she got onto the street instead.

The Mexican father and son standing in the driveway across the street said they had not seen any dogs.  Around and around the house I went for probably 20 minutes, calling and searching.  I even went back in the house, incase she was hiding in there.

I finally decided to go home, hoping that she would follow later on.  The Mexican man was smiling as he pointed into the neighbouring yard.  Yup.  There she was.  In the neighbours yard, looking quite pleased with herself.

She was trying to befriend the Pitbull who actually lives in the yard and who  was, understandably,  quite distressed by Alexas’ uninvited ingress into his yard while he was doing his best to guard it.

With no one home at the house, and Alexa unwilling or unable to find her way out of the yard she had just gotten herself into, I saw no other option but to leave her there for the day.

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The Mexican man and his son were polite enough not to laugh out loud as I stomped back home, but they were grinning from ear to ear.

I knew Alexa would eventually win the Pitbull over, but I was worried about the reaction of the human inhabitants when they came home to find a strange dog in their yard.

Angry as I was with her, I still wanted to protect her from any potential danger so, I put my jeans on, grabbed a machete and marched back to the neighbours.  If Alexa got in thru the canal, I knew I could get her out, but I would have to slash my way over to their back fence while keeping my eyes peeled for all the dangers (real and imagined)  of the canal.  Right about then, I was wishing I had not felt so lazy earlier.

Anyway, as I approached the house, I noticed a new vehicle parked on the street, and my heart jumped.  YES!!   Someone had come home!!

WTF is the only description I have for the look on his face with Alexa standing in front of him, wagging her tail and giving him her friendliest look.

Fortunately for me, AND Alexa, they were very nice people and didn’t mind too much that she had broken into their yard.  They even let me pet their dog who, as predicted had been won over by Alexas’ exuberant nature.

As for Alexa, she knew I was mad at her, but she had had so much fun she could hardly begin to feel sorry for the trouble she caused.

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Cottage Cheese

It happened again last week.  The milk in our fridge went sour, waiting in vain for its delicious goodness to be poured over cereal or into a big glass and enjoyed.  Nope, we ignored that poor sad bottle of milk until it was well past its expiry date.  It happens a lot with just Kevin and I in the house, and since our favourite brand is only sold in 2 litre bottles, is almost unavoidable.

Throwing out (what was once) good food always makes me crazy so I checked the internet for ideas on how to put our inevitable supply of sour milk to good use.  Aside from the usual pancakes, and baked goods (some of which I will share with you later on),  I was  happy to discover I could turn larger amounts of sour milk into Cottage Cheese.   OOOOHHH!  Alchemy right in my own kitchen!!  That intrigued me and I had to give it a try.

After trying many versions of the same basic principle, and suffering a few failures in the process, this is the technique that I have found to work best for me.   Now that I have a useful solution for all that sour milk I don’t mind so much the discovery that once again, the milk in our fridge has gone sour.  Unless of course, I have already poured it on my cereal.

I do hope you try this.   It is simple to do, and the results are so good, I am sure you will be happy you did.

 

COTTAGE CHEESE

2 litres whole milk, soured

3 Tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 tsp salt ( more or less, to suit your taste)

3  Tablespoons milk (or cream), not sour

Heat milk over medium low heat to 185F, stirring occasionally to prevent milk from scorching.

Do not allow milk to boil!
Do not allow milk to boil!

Remove from heat, and gently stir in vinegar. Let stand 5 minutes to allow curds to form and separate from.

 

IMG_1620Line a colander or large strainer with double layer of cheesecloth and place over a bowl.  Pour curds into strainer, allow whey to drain, discard whey.

Rinse curds under cool running water, then gently squeeze cheesecloth to remove excess water. Curds will be quite dry at this point.

If you want dry curd cottage cheese, skip adding the milk and sue as is.
If you want dry curd cottage cheese, skip adding the milk and sue as is.

Transfer curds to bowl, add salt to taste, stir in milk.  If you like it creamier, just add more milk until it is the consistency you like.

Enjoy.  Oh, and yes, you can feel a little smug about your latest culinary feat!

 

Classic Bruschetta

The tomatoes in the gardens are starting to ripen and this is a great way to enjoy all that tomato-ey goodness. Use the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find and a good quality olive oil.  Chances are  you will hear the same thing I overheard at the last gathering I took this to:  “This tomato thing is awesome!”

Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic.
Just a few ingredients.

4 ripe tomatoes (I use Roma, but any variety will do)

2 cloves garlic

4 sprigs of basil, leaves only

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

Dice tomatoes and place in medium size mixing bowl.

Mince the garlic, then sprinkle it with a little salt and continue working with the back of your knife until a smooth paste forms.  Add to the tomatoes.

Stack the basil leaves, roll them up a bit, and then thinly slice crosswise. (This is called ‘chiffonade’). Add to tomatoes and garlic.

Mix in the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to combine.

Transfer to serving bowl and serve with Crostini.

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Can be made 2 hours ahead. Best if not refrigerated before serving.