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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Suzie and Rainbow Bridge

Last year, I wrote a blog about my dog Suzie.  At the time, she was nearing the age of 10 and starting to slow down. If you never had the chance to read that post, here is the link.

Tuesday, Suzie died very suddenly.  I wasn’t there to hold her or comfort her when she collapsed.  Luckily, she died at her day care, so she was surrounded by people she knew and loved.

I am heartbroken.  My poor puppy, my little petite golden who brought so much into my life and Cathy’s life is now gone.

I’d like to think that right now, she is playing at Rainbow Bridge, free of her knee issues.  She is hanging out with Brady, Wendy, Alex, Dominique, and of course my first dog that I had when I was seven, Brownie.  (She was an Irish Setter, who are of course red, but I am a bit color blind…and quite frankly, I was a weird little kid.)  I am sure she is howling right now at Brady because he is playing keep away with a tennis ball.  And I’m sure the cats are thinking, “Holy Cow, that dog is loud!”

The thing about pets is that they bring you lots of joy, but you must understand that you are going to outlive them.  I know that.  I can intellectualize that.  But it doesn’t make my sadness go away.

So every time I get sad, I try to imagine her telling me “It’s ok, I’m ok, I miss you too, don’t feel guilty, and I’ll see you someday on Rainbow Bridge, and we’ll all be together.  Don’t cry.”

“Oh, one other thing.  When you get here, don’t forget to bring some cheese, ok?”

I won’t forget you Suzie…or the cheese.  Promise.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Think Like A Chef - What I Learned

A follower who has been extremely helpful to me suggested I write a blog talking about all of the things that I learned during my “Think Like A Chef” journey.  Sounds like a good idea to me, so:

I learned – perhaps most importantly – that I am able to cook without a recipe.  This was actually the intention of the whole “Think Like A Chef” thing in the first place.  Start with one ingredient – a vegetable most likely – and let the idea grow into something larger.  Or, look in the fridge, see what you have, and go for it!

I learned you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a great meal.  Colicchio does an entire chapter about focusing on three ingredients.  Oddly enough, he gave that challenge to some “Last Chance Kitchen” “cheftestants” on Top Chef recently.

I learned there is a tradeoff between really good ingredients and convenience.  I learned this when I made my own chicken stocks…going from a white chicken stock to a brown chicken stock vs. using a high quality “stock in a box.”  I think you really can tell a difference making fresh stock, but the convenience of using box stock – particularly when you don’t have a great deal of room in the fridge – is ok with me.  I will make stock in the future for special occasions, but for everyday life, box stock works for me.

I learned plating.  This is still a bit of a struggle for me.  However, I am slowly getting better at it, and have actually looked up some plating articles on the internet.  So I hope in the future you will see some beautiful plating from me.

I learned although making up your own recipe can be fun and fulfilling, cooking using a recipe is ok as well.  I am making Christmas dinner this year.  I found a recipe by Bobby Flay which uses a pomegranate molasses.  I think this recipe sounds fantastic, and I don’t think there is a way I can make that recipe my own, so I will cook it as instructed. (The sides, on the other hand…)

Finally, on a more humorous note, I learned that those kids on Master Chef Junior are light years ahead of me.  How did they get so good so quick?  I’m a little jealous, to be honest…

So there you go.  I am already thinking about my Christmas dinner…I was thinking of perhaps mashed potato using a compound butter, and then maybe a salad with pomegranate seeds to tie in some flavors…I’m not quite sure yet.  But it will be interesting, fun, and a continued learning experience.