New kitchen favorites

Not so new as much as re-discovered.

The Nespresso espresso maker. I use this machine every morning. It makes the most perfect espresso. Nespresso has about, oh, 15 to 18 different types of coffee, each packed into individual capsules in an array of pretty colors. The colors are (sort of) indicative of

Nespresso, what else ? ;-)

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their intensities (not necessarily caffeine content). Black, the darkest one, has an intensity of 10. Purple is 9; green is 5.  The “brewing” time is different for each pod (black is slowest; yellows are pretty fast), and so is the crema on top. Each capsule is 55 cents, unless you get one of the new fancy blends from some exotic spots — those are 62 cents. Even at two shots, it’s still cheaper than getting a cup of coffee (that was my justification). We got this machine at Williams-Sonoma while shopping for a new coffee maker, but we were sold on it (there was a deal too! more justification!) when the sales associate said something about having the biggest thermal block of all of them. We decided on the spot that, of course, biggest means best.

 My second favorite equipment (not in any order) is the FoodSaver. It had gotten to the point where all I would do is cook dinner every night in order to make lunch for the next day. The concept of making extra food isn’t a bad one. But if I should miss dinner one night, that means no lunch the next day. I know lots of folks eat out, but after a while, you get tired of the same old stuff. Plus, it’s pretty expensive downtown. So, with a little pre-planning, and a lot of cooking one weekend day, we can have lunches for the whole week. The machine came with a roll of double-sided plastic (although you can also purchase pouches). You cut the roll to the size you want, seal one end, put the food in, and then vacuum and seal the other end. It is much more compact than Tupperware, so you can put a lot of them in the freezer. The bags are apparently microwaveable and boilable, although I haven’t tried that. I usually cut the bag open and put the content in a bowl at work, before microwaving it. Anyway, this machine has saved me a lot of work. There are other brands on the market, but since this is my first one — it will be a while before I can give a comparative rating. It’s working fine right now.

My last new favorite kitchen equipment really is a rediscovery. One year Juniper gave me a pressure cooker for my birthday (because I asked for it, not because she couldn’t think of something more creative). I tinkered with it a little bit, but then put it away because the menu seemed a little limited. What I have rediscovered, since we are now proud dog keepers, is that a pressure cooker makes a mean chicken broth, amongst other things. It retains all the flavor and cut the cooking time down by, like, a tenth. OK, maybe a small exaggeration, but it is incredible how tidy this little gadget is. One day, I decided to make chicken stew for the dogs. Since we usually get whole chickens, that means there is usually a lot of “carcass” left. I stuck the whole thing in the cooker and cooked it for about an hour, because I wanted the bones to be soft enough for them to eat without worrying about splintering. The most surprising thing is that after an hour, the bones are mush, easily crumbled between my fingers and yet the meat, while soft, still retains its texture and shape. I then would throw in whole zucchinis, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, or whatever vegetables, and pressure cook that in with the chicken for another 10 minutes. It is so delicious that I was afraid the girls would never go back to eating “dog” food again. Actually, I am having a hard time with Madeleine (Gingersnap! would pretty much eat anything she perceives as food.) Madeleine absolutely refuses most commercial dog food now, even the higher-end stuff. I am down to just one:  Wellness Stews.

Michelle just got me a huge dehydrator to replace the old plastic one I have. I’ll have to report in on that later — after we figure out where to put the thing. It is massive!

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Dear Baron von R.,

I’m glad that at least one of us is honest. You needn’t have confessed to not coining “ROUSE”, since I’ve never heard of the Princess Bride. But if you say there were no dogs, then it couldn’t possibly have been a very good movie.

Grandpaw, you know me so well!! My most favoritest thing in the world is rolling in anything with a sublime aromatic odor! I would visit the snack bar (kitty box) more often for almond rocas (kitty poop covered in kitty litter) if it weren’t for the Mamas yelling at me, like, ALL THE TIME. For whatever reason, they would keep their distances from me after such visits. Actually, they sound almost disgusted, if you can believe it!

Please do come and stay over with us! It would be so nice to cuddle up to you in bed. I think the Mamas want to play poker with you, though. Mama L. said she lost a lot of money the last y’all played.

Grandpaw, I mean, Baron, I am only abstaining from big game because Mama L. takes really super duper good care of us. She makes us extravagant meals and spoils us nearly silly.  But, I should also mention that Mama M. got Mama L. a gigornimous industrial-strength dehydrator. I don’t know what she has planned, but with something that big, I sure hope there’s something in it for us. I have never seen deer, elk or buffalo, but if you should stumble across one in your back yard, could you please bring it down? I am sure Mama L. would make us some spectacular jerky!

All my poopy love,

Madeleine

Dear Baron Rousemuncher,

Do you like it — this clever little moniker for you? Auntie Juniper said you coined the term “ROUSE” for rodents of unusual sizes. Doctor Ross told Mama L. who then told me that some people eat rodents, especially the bigger ones like rabbits (she made a rabbit rillette once) — so I hope you don’t mind the inference.

I am so happy that you’re coming down soon just to see ME!!! Will you take me for a walk? You don’t have to bring me any treats, not even salmon jerky, if you take me for a long walk. Maybe you can take me on a long walk along that Alameda shoreline trail you took Mama L.  She loved it, and I am sure I will too. Will you be staying here with us??

I told Gingersnap! that if she doesn’t shape up the Mamas will put teeny weeny diapers on her like you suggested. She said you should go tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree.

Dear Journal,

It has been raining everyday for the past week, which means a looooong time to a dog like me. It’s cold and gray and damp in the house. Little Sis and I cuddle up in the daytime to keep warm and catch a snooze. There is nothing else to do. We haven’t been to the Dog Park in a gazillion years.

I am bored beyond belief! I would search for something to destroy, but I think the Mamas are on to me. Especially after the earphone incident, and Little G! pointed out that I have a thing for electronics. The Mamas look at me suspiciously now, whenever they put something down within my reach. I could try to pass the blame on to Beatrice, but she is mysteriously absent during such events. In a recent attempt to amuse myself, I tried to nibble on Annabelle’s ears, but she squealed on me and the Mamas came running.

What to do. What to do. Mama M. is getting her nails done and Mama L. is working. Little G! is fast asleep and wouldn’t wake up when I nudged at her. Beatrice showed me her claws, again, when I tried to play with her. She snagged my nose the other day and it kinda smarted.

I guess I’ll just go chew on the couch for a while. My only hope is to hang tough until it’s Laser Light time tonight….

Dear Diary,

Boy, no matter what I did this past week, they were all the wrong things and I kept getting in trouble.  The Mamas were pretty mad at me, especially Mama L. But it wasn’t all my fault. Madeleine was behind it all!

First it started on Saturday with Mama L.’s headphones. They were her favorites, and apparently very expensive — not that I know what that means.  It was Madeleine who yanked them out of Mama’s backpack and chewed them up. When the Mamas came home, Big Sis made a big show of how happy she was to see them that she playfully tossed them up in the air and wagged her butt from side to side. But I bet the Mamas thought it was me, because when Mama M. looked at me and asked “Did you do that?”, I peed right on the spot! I do that when I get nervous. I can’t help it. I have no bladder control when I’m nervous.

At least Mama M. thought it might have been Madeleine, because she has a thing for electronics. She chewed on Mama M.’s cell phone once. She chewed on lots of electrical cords and cables and stuff. The Mamas said they had to buy some bitter apple spray to keep her from electrocuting herself. I think Beatrice went through that too.

I have no bowel control either, when I chewed on too many bones, because that happened Monday morning before Mama L. left for work. Even though I had already gone outside, I guess I wasn’t quite finished. So when Madeleine attacked me in bed, a little bit came out. Well, ok, maybe more than a little bit. But it was all dry and crumbly, so I don’t know why Mama L. got so upset. She started to yell at me but soon she stopped because I started to pee because I got so nervous. But she was still mad, I can tell, because she locked me out of the bedroom after that.

When Mama L. finally got home that night, I tried to tell her how much I love her and that I really am a good dog and I just want to please. So I was jumping up and down to give her kisses when I knocked her in the head really really hard, and now she has a big bruise on her left eyebrow. She said she’s going to have to start wearing football helmets when she’s around me because I’m a bull in a china shop.

I just can’t do nothing right.