Friday, February 29, 2008

Field day

I try to go to the dog park during the week; the weekends are too crowded. You risk reaching a critical mass of dogs where one crabby dog can turn it into a free-for-all, and I find there are more people who have less control over their animals.
On a weekday, though, there's lots of open space to explore without distractions. Mysterious pipes!
And sandy banks for leaping over!
Lost something? You might find it here. A missing collar ...
Or maybe a tennis ball!
The river is running pretty low today (they're doing some work on the spillways).
Squirrel? What squirrel?
There were a few other dogs there: a hound with a funny face, and a leaping pug.

We also met another big boy poodle named Cody, who wears his Halti all the time because he likes to nip butts (!).
Sophie says, "Ooooooh! I just looooooove the park!"

Going to the park again

Big mouth

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Waitin' at the DMV

Eleven - no, nine - people ahead of me. Line's moving fast!

P.S. OK, that whole visit took about 5 minutes. Bing-bang-boom to renew my plates.

Pigeon pursuit

There's a colony of pigeons that likes to hang out on the wires across the street to the south of my house. I took this photo of them from my dining room window in October.

Unlike then, today is sunny with a beautiful blue sky. I was on the front porch when suddenly a pigeon came hurtling over the front of it, swooped across the street to the schoolyard and slammed into the chain-link fence, recovered and flapped off again at high speed.

"What the ... ?!?" I just had time to think, before a peregrine falcon came hurtling after it in hot pursuit. The falcon turned neatly before it got to the fence, and they disappeared over some houses, the falcon only a few feet behind the pigeon.

Sorry pigeon, it looks like this will be your fate. (Don't click if you're squeamish.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Park portraits

The days are warming up! I go to the park in all kinds of weather, but it's nice when I don't have to bundle up quite so much. Today was a no-hat no-gloves day. Sophie will need to be sheared soon so she's not quite so Dog of the Wilderness.
After wading in the river, Lannie has flood pants. She looks goofy because I caught her just at the tail end of shaking off. Her front legs have the shaved sections because she recently had surgery and that's where the catheters were. I should've asked the groomer to even them out a bit so it doesn't just look like a bad attempt at frou-frou.

Leo found some ducks, but they refused to come when he called.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Red skies at night

It's supposed to snow tonight, but mostly we've just gotten drizzle. Might have a dusting by morning.

February is heart disease awareness month, so the City and County Building is lit up in red.

Second chance

I love it when my amaryllis blooms twice. This one last bloomed two months ago.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The end of the rainbow: Pots de crème

Weeks ago I read Orangette's post about making butterscotch pots de creme. They sounded delicious, and so easy, she says, you can make them while on the phone. The recipe calls for dark muscovado sugar and demerera, which I picked up on my trip to the Berkeley Bowl.
Certainly the ingredients are simple: Heavy cream (nearly a pint), sugar, egg yolks, a pinch of salt (not shown), and vanilla extract. Except I opted to use one of my many vanilla beans instead, and tossed a split half in with the cream while it cooked.

Simple, yes, but my goodness, you end up dirtying a lot of dishes for this. Two saucepans, a bowl, two measuring cups, a dish for the egg whites, measuring spoons, a sieve, spatulas and a whisk. Plus four ramekins and a pan to bake them in (which at least won't need to be washed).

I won't show you all the dirty dishes. Yes, you could make this while on the phone, but I don't recommend it for the first time. You heat the cream and muscovado in one pan. Cook water and demerera in another. Combine the two, then whisk the mixture into the egg yolks (make sure that phone has a headset!) in another bowl. Pour that mixture through a sieve. Skim the foam (except, I didn't). Pour into ramekins, set in a pan lined with a dish towel, put the pan in the oven and add hot water to it. Bake for 40 minutes or more until set. Chill.

(I'm chilling right now while they bake, having already licked out all the dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher. This recipe certainly tastes good before being cooked.)

And here it is!
I ended up refrigerating it overnight (really shouldn't start cooking at 10 p.m.). Wow, it's tasty. And very very sweet. If you have a huge sweet tooth, you will love this. I think the flavor is terrific, but even this little serving is too much rich sweetness for me (it's solid whipping cream, after all).

I will stash this recipe away as a good dinner-party option to be made in demitasse cups (the oven temp is low enough that you can do that) to serve six or eight, rather than four. Served with espresso, I think it would be stellar.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Susan tagged me for an eight random things meme. Though they're not really random, since I'm following a set format.

1. I was born in… Milwaukee, at Columbia Hospital. I grew up in Whitefish Bay, just a few blocks west of Lake Michigan. I miss the lake, though the mountains west of Denver are a decent substitute as a geographical reference point and recreational opportunity.

2. I absolutely HATE… the feeling of cardboard. I'll touch it if I have to, but I try not to. Susan also mentioned visiting the dentist. I concur. I also hate it when people are inconsiderate of others. Come on, neighbors, shovel your damn sidewalk.

3. When I was a little girl… I read a lot and was a very picky eater.

4. All I need in life to be happy is… good books, good food, a good dog and enough time to enjoy them. Probably some other things, too. But I'm pretty happy with my life, so I could just say "what I have now."

5. I like taking naps. Just had a good one.

6. I looooove spring. And it's coming soon!

7. I am not organized enough.

8. I have several mottos… "When buns is passed, take buns." "If you're feeling down, wait a day." "Write what you really really think, and then delete it."

And this one, which just makes me laugh: "Just because I'm crabby doesn't mean you're not irritating."

And speaking of irritating, Blogger photos and HTML lists do not play well together.

If you'd like to try your hand at this meme, please do! It's easier than some, being fill-in-the-blank. And good for a post when you've done nothing else all day worth blogging about. (Let's see ... I walked the dogs, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, took a nap ... a good day, all in all.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's all about the poodles

Tired of poodle pictures yet?

They look so good fresh from the groomer. Tuckered out, too.

Sophie will stay shaggy for a while yet.

It just keeps getting better:
Red-pepper gruyère rolls

I was thinking I'd do a poblano-and-cheddar variation, but I accidentally pulled out a package of roasted red peppers instead of roasted chiles (note to self: take the time to label).

I was on the phone with Mom, who said that among parmesan, gruyère and cheddar, gruyère would go best. (I had some left over from my gougères goof-up.)
Mom, you probably don't hear, "You're right" often enough from me. But I will say it here, loudly and in public: "Good call, Mom!" These are super-tasty rolls, with cheesy goodness and the soft sweetness of the red pepper bits, and a nice crumb and crust.

Here's a close-up of a quarter of a roll, with my hand to show the size:
To make these, I pulled out a fist-sized piece of dough, flattened it in my hand, sprinkled chopped peppers and shredded cheese on, then folded the edges in. More cheese on top. Baked in a large dutch oven for about 25 minutes at 450, with the lid on for the first 15.

I was imagining dinner rolls, but these are bit larger than that. Next time I'll see if I can make them smaller. In the meantime, please tell me not to eat all three tonight in lieu of dinner.

Gettin' gussied

Lannie and Leo are spending the day at the beauty parlor.

For Beeb

I was talking on the landline while shooting this with my cellphone and was asked, "What's that noise?" "It's the camera."
I thought Beeb would like a glimpse of Miss Lannie being hand-fed. Lannie and Sophie are both somewhat indifferent to food, so sometimes I will hand-feed them to make sure they're eating enough. I think that sense of competition whets their appetite, knowing they're getting something special that the other dogs aren't, at least for that brief moment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm glad that's out of the way

Yes, that's my mouth and yes, I took the photo. Didn't even have to crop it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No-knead bread with parmesan

As I mentioned in my last no-knead bread post, I would be experimenting with shapes and fillings. I made this batch of dough on Saturday night, and it's enough for three or four small loaves. Supposedly if you leave it in the fridge longer (up to two weeks!) it develops a deeper flavor, like sourdough.
So I pulled out a hunk and folded it over with shredded parmesan, trying not to handle it too much in the process, and sprinkled it liberally with more, mashing it a little to make it stick. I baked it in a Le Creuset terrine.
Oh yes, this is very very good. I handed out a few slices at work (still warm!) to rave reviews, but I confess, I ate about two-thirds of it myself.

Fresh air

Here's that extra exercise I was talking about.

When you tell Sophie to jump, she asks, "How high?"

Lannie smiles ...

While Leo floats like a butterfly. Sort of.

Sophie's happy, too:

The park is the best place for noses!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Good eats

Sophie says, "This just ain't right."

Lannie (Miss Picky Eater) says, "Oh, it's very, very right."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A different kind of no-knead bread

Kris posted on her blog about "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," with the recipe for the basic dough, as opposed to the sweet brioche dough I already used to make caramel pecan rollsand chocolate almond challah. (She also has videos in her later posts.)
You mix up the dough (6.5 cups flour, 1.5 Tbs yeast, 1.5 Tbs salt, 3 cups water), let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours, then refrigerate. I did that last night.
Today I cut off a hunk of dough, shaped it and let it sit for 40 minutes, then topped it with wheat bran, spicy sesame mix and salt. The recipe doesn't call for toppings other than flour, but I wanted to see how it would taste compared with the no-knead bread I'm used to making.

Also, the recipe says to put the dough on a pizza peel with cornmeal, then slide it onto a heated pizza stone and put a broiler pan in the oven with water in it. I don't have any of those things. But really, the whole dutch oven technique is supposed to duplicate the moist heat of a bread oven, so I just did that instead, cooking it at 450 degrees for 20 minutes with the lid on and another 10 uncovered.
Hey look! It's a nice, crusty loaf! This is indeed more convenient than the other method, since you can make a big batch of dough days in advance, and then make several loaves as needed throughout the next week or two.

I'll experiment with the next ones in shape and possibly fillings. Thanks, Kris! And thanks, too, to "Artisan Bread" authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.

P.S. My parmesan long loaf variation came out great. And the red-pepper gruyère rolls? Stellar! And then there's the Nutella bread. Ohhhh my.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Extra poodles

I'll be getting some extra exercise. (And cleaning the floors more.)


Yes, the road really did look like this! Lots and lots of lovely snow looming over us on the way to Arapahoe Basin, about an hour and 10 minutes from home. While in town, the little snow we have is rapidly melting and it feels almost springlike. Good to have the snow in the mountains where it belongs, to ski on and to provide lots of water come summer.

It wasn't too crowded, though the lifts were running full in the newly opened Montezuma Bowl on the backside of A-Basin.
Our liftmate obliged us with a portrait.