Happy Birthday Grandmaw B!

Mama L. was really excited about her new body lotion until we kept following her around trying to lick it off her legs. We can’t help it! She smells like a coconut cream pie!

But that’s not why we are writing this post. The Mamas said that today is your birthday and we just want to tell you we love you!!!


Celebrity Interview: Ruffles!!!

I needed a short vacation since I’ve been working so hard at these celebrity interviews. I am now rested and refreshed, and ready to go at it again! Recently, I got a chance to catch up with Ruffles – a real-life celebrity – whose Mommy and Mama L. used to work together. Here is his story!

Don’t Shop, Adopt

Hello Madeleine,

My mommy helped me write up responses to your questions; it’s so hard to get on the computer with these huge paws of mine. I think that you make an excellent journalist. Mommy and I read your blog all the time and we love the probing questions that you keep asking. 🙂 We really want to come out and meet you in person sometime soon. Maybe we can even skype sometime.

We’ve attached some cool photos. Hope you enjoy them. I sent one from summer camp last summer and then another of me right after I got groomed and I was looking especially handsome, one of the time when cousin Anne Magaret caught me hiding between the pillows on mommy’s bed (while she was at work, although I knew I wasn’t allowed in the bed), and another of the bumper sticker on mommy’s car. She’s so happy that she adopted me, although it feels like I adopted her. I love my forever home here in Annapolis, so I sent a picture that we took when we went out for brunch this weekend.

Ruffles Sleeping On Forbidden Bed

Madeleine Bartel: Ruffles, for the record, can you please tell us how old you are? Do you know when your birthday is? How do you celebrate?

Ruffles Larson: I’m 6 and three quarters, I’m going to be 7 on November 7th. Everyone says that I look great for my age because I’m so full of energy. I’m also the fastest dog at the doggie park. I run circles around the other little guys. Mommy always gets me my favorite treats and takes me to Brusters for a doggie sundae for my birthday.

Camping Ruff

MB: Now, what are you exactly? My BFF looks like a cocker spaniel but her Mama said she’s a Cavalier.

RL: My vet says that I’m a Lhasa Apso Terrier mix. The terrier part of me gives me my long legs and makes me super fast so the other doggies at the park can’t keep up with me.

Clean Ruff

MB: How often do you get groomed? Do you like it or is the whole ordeal pretty traumatic?

RL: I get groomed every three months or so. Mommy has Dave the groomer come to the house and he trims me in the kitchen then washes me in the tub. It’s really not that traumatic and I love being pampered. And whenever I get groomed all the girls pay attention to me when we go to the doggie park. I love the ladies. 🙂

Guarding Christmas Presents

MB: I understand you made headline news recently. Are you enjoying your stardom? Has it gone to your head yet?

RL: I’m a simple, humble guy so I’m dealing really well with the fame. Muddy Paws dog wash where Mommy takes me sometimes put a copy of the newspaper article up on the bulletin board and they even gave me a free wash the last time that we went in. I’m so glad that Mommy got something out of my fame (I know that I’m a little expensive). 🙂

New Life Jacket

MB: How do you feel about your Mama naming you after a potato chip?

RL: I love my new name, the people at the shelter called me Rendari but I didn’t know what it meant or where it came from and it just confused me a lot. I love when Mommy calls me Ruff, it makes me feel all grown up and it makes the big doggies respect me. I love potato chips and I love my new name too. 🙂

Ruffles Out Sailing

MB: Do you have any advice for dogs like us who want to try their paws at boating?

RL: I have to be honest Madeleine, I was very nervous about getting in the canoe but Mommy stayed close to me and helped me to feel safe. Plus with my new life jacket I knew that I’d stay afloat if I fell overboard. I think that every doggie should give boating a chance, your Mommy will love it as well, I promise you.

Tired After Agility Course

By the way I have my own email address so feel free to email me direcly if you have any follow up questions. Have a great night!

Mum’s Everyday Red Lentils

(Recipe source: Food Network, Aarti Sequeira, 2010)

Maybe it’s the changing weather, but we’ve been craving soups and stews and nice bowls of something hot and hearty. Then I discovered we had several bags of Bob’s Red Mill Red Lentils in the cupboard. I googled for recipes and the following one looked particularly good. I made it on Monday and Michelle asked for it AGAIN this week! Most of the following are from the original recipe, however, I increased the seasonings and added a little more heat. I also wanted a heartier version of dal (more like stew rather than soup), so I added half a bag of Trader Joe’s kale. This one is a keeper!

Lentils (Dal):

1 cup masoor dal red lentils, picked through for stones
2 cups water
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 bunch of kale, chopped (bigger stems removed)
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1 teaspoon chile flakes

Tempering oil (bagaar):

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lemon wedges


Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. DO NOT ADD SALT YET; it will toughen the lentils, thereby lengthening their cooking time. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

Tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine the spice powders. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!

In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover so you don’t get covered in spluttering oil and seeds! Add the spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little – that’s the blooming and it’s exactly what you want. (I have never bloomed anything before, so this was a learning experience.) Don’t let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don’t get hurt when the mixture splutters again. Stir to combine. Transfer the lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Modified from the original recipe, which you can find here, along with nutritional information. This recipe is super easy to make – total prep time is about 35 minutes, total cook time is about 40 minutes. Serves 4.

Doggone Tired!

Dear Grandpaw Dwight,

ginger nappingThe weather has started to change, and we are now noticing how much sooner it starts to get dark outside. There’s a bit of a chill in the air the last few days. We can almost smell autumn coming. Mama L. had to unpack her sweaters that she had just put away. This morning she put on sweat pants instead of her usual shorts to take us outside — you know she is not too happy about that. There’s been talk of moving to some place called The Tropics.

the gang at the glass houseWe apologize for not having written sooner. The truth is we have been so doggone tired from all the activities that have been happening since August, and there is no sign of them slowing down. Mama L. said that our social calendar is completely booked through the middle of November. They have been going from one bridal shower or birthday party or wedding or a brunch to the next. This weekend we are all heading up to Truckee to celebrate Auntie Julie’s birthday!

glass house hikeThis all started off with the Mamas’ anniversary mid August, and Mama L’s birthday at the end of the month. They had decided that we would go back to the Glass House for a long weekend. We had been there before and we loved it (except for when the Mamas tried to drown us in the lake). Charissa and Chip and Lisa and Charlie came too, along with Madeleine’s BFF Tara. We all had a really terrific time! We still went for those really long hikes, but this time the Mamas knew better than to force us to learn how to swim.

Then there was Mama M’s 40th big birthday celebration, and Grandmaw and Grandpaw B.ocean beach, san francisco were here, along with Uncle Dennis Jr and his girlfriend Jen. We only got to hang out with the Gramps for the first day because right after that we got shuffled off to the kennel. The Mamas said there were going to be drinking and dancing and swimming and too many people around. Plus, dogs aren’t allowed in the house they were staying in. We think that was a bunch of baloney — why would you want to stay in a place with no dogs — but decided that we needed a vacation of our own. We really like Citizen Canine a lot. They take such good care of us there, and there are always new friends to be made.

After Grandmaw and Grandpaw B. left, Mama M picked us up from the kennel and boy, didgolden gate bridge we give her an earful! But that was alright since the next few days were a lot of fun since JR and Jen came back to the house and stayed with us. They gave us lots of attention.

Mama L. has been trying to design a website for her work, so we don’t really get to blog as much these days. But we would love to hear from you! Mama said you might be coming down to visit us soon. If you are, you’d better give us a call so we can fit you into their very busy calendar! We want to make sure we get to see you!

JB’s Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters (Photo credit: AlyssssylA)

Yield: About 10 2 1/2 inch fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying
JB addition: I’d add 1/4 cup parmesan

To serve (optional):

1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. The latter is my favorite as I’m convinced it creates the coarsest and most rope-like strands and frankly, I like my fritters to look like mops.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. You’ll be shocked (I was!) by the amount of liquid you’ll lose, but this is a good thing as it will save the fritters from sogginess.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet — cast iron is dreamy here — heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. I like to make sure that the fritters have at least 10 minutes in the oven to finish setting and getting extra crisp.

For the topping, if using, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving. These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fried egg on top, trust me.

Do ahead: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.