Category Archives: dog

What We Don’t Eat


It’s always been hard to judge Bromley’s misery properly, because she’s been a miserable, hateful sort of creature since the beginning. She’s almost never affectionate, and pouts constantly, and whines if she smells food but doesn’t get to eat it (which, in my line of work, happens often). She hates rain and children and men with beards, and feet without shoes on them, and people touching her feet, or her head. She’s the cranky neighbor and the crazy lady on the corner and the mean librarian, all rolled into an aging, stinky, always-hungry beast. As we talked about putting her down, my husband and I stared guiltily at each other, each thinking our own version of the times we’d wished aloud that she’d just hurry up and die already, so we didn’t have to clean up the remnants of the individually-packaged kids’ juice boxes she’d opened with her big maw and strewn across the living room rug, or wonder how she’d gotten to the shoulder-height bag of cat food. Thinking about how different she was from the dog we thought we were getting, almost 13 years ago.

Bromley comes from good eaters. When we arrived to pick her up for the very first time, her mother was counter surfing. We should have known then.

“SYRI,” bellowed Syringa’s owner, before Siri became a terrible name for a dog. The red bell pepper Syri had claimed from the cutting board dropped to the floor. Innocent eyes begged forgiveness.


From the moment we got Bromley home, she was the same kind of scavenger, ripping open entire bags of sugar, stealing donuts off the counter, sneaking bites of steak directly from a hot grill, and generally failing to understand that the kitchen counters weren’t dog domain. She learned to stand in the center of the kitchen and not move, ever, interrupting the so-called kitchen triangle so effectively that we could never get from the refrigerator to the stove or the stove to the sink without running into her unmoving bulk. When we scolded her, she looked up at us with what we soon came to call “filet eyes.” She knew she was beautiful from a very young age, which didn’t help.

Outside the kitchen, she was cold and loveless. She refused to be petted. She hated being touched. She generally hated other dogs, too. No matter how much time and money we spent training her, she only paid attention to us if we had food in hand or if she was seated on some sort of couch. For years, we joked about giving her away.


But about two months ago, our big Rhodesian Ridgeback plum stopped eating. We’d taken her in to have her various old lady lumps inspected, but until then, while she was partially deaf and blind and starting to lose her barking voice, there hadn’t been anything actually wrong with her. Not eating seemed like a giant red flag.

That same week, she fell up the stairs. She was ambling up them after eating her breakfast in the laundry room downstairs, and her back paws slipped out behind her on the polished wood, just a stair or two from the top. I heard a yelp and a thunk, as all 85 pounds of her hit the floor, and ran to find her stuck, chest and front paws prostrate on the top landing, with the back paws pads-up behind her. I had to lift up her backside so she could gain enough traction to finish the job. She was very embarrassed.

“I’d say 90 percent of our clients let their dogs live too long,” said the admin at Bromley’s vet, when I called to ask how one knows when it’s time to put her dog down. “We see a lot of dogs that suffer for way too long. And not eating is generally not a good sign.”

I dropped my phone, collapsed into the bed beside my snoring hound, and sobbed into her fur until she wiggled away, grossed out by my storm of affection. That afternoon, I brought her in for a check-up, but again, there wasn’t a single definable something wrong. The vet insisted it was our choice, but made sad little nods and pursed her lips a lot.

And so we went into discussions, round and around, trying to decide whether it’s better to wait until a dog shows definite signs of the end-of-life kind of aging before putting her out of her misery, or to have her anesthetized before anything tragic happens, and save her the pain. I bought her lovely hunks of beef leg bones to chew and thought about what we’d do, if we gave her a day of her favorite things before it was all over. We’d take her to the beach, of course. I started planning a steak dinner goodbye party in my head.

Because she’s the dog we got, we have loved her. And because we were heading out of town, and because a few days after seeing the vet she simply started eating again, we didn’t put her down.

Instead, we gave Bromley to my husband’s parents for two weeks, and left for our spring break road trip, hoping she’d be there when we returned, and that no one else would have to do what we hadn’t been ready to do ourselves. And the first day they had her, they wound up in the emergency room.

It was an abscess in her foot that had clearly been there for a long time, said the ER vet, and, later, our own vet. Weeks, maybe, or longer. It was likely the sign of bone cancer or a deep bone infection, they thought, but just in case, they’d treat it like a random foot infection. They cleaned it and drained it, and put in stitches, which fell out as the wound worsened, and put in staples, which fell out also, and put in more staples. My in-laws shepherded her through multiple rounds of pain medications and antibiotics, and Bromley became famous with all the vet techs. When we returned, my in-laws had had the patient in their home for two full weeks. They’d covered their rugs with puppy training pads to prevent the blood from Bromley’s wound from staining everything. The injured leg was wrapped in a big purple bandage more appropriate for a 12-year-old girl than a 12-year-old dog.

And when we came home, Bromley seemed upbeat. She was eating normally. She seemed happy to see us, even. We took her in to get her staples out, three weeks after the ER visit, and the vet leveled us with her steady, sweet gaze.

“There is a chance that it could just be a tissue infection,” she said defensively. “But honestly, I’d say I’m 99 percent certain it’s either a cancer or a deeper bone infection.” She recommended an X-ray, which would tell us which it was. The cancer could theoretically be treated with amputation, and a bone infection would require a month or so of IV antibiotics.

Jim and I looked at each other. We knew we couldn’t amputate one back leg of a dog who could no longer reliably stand on two. And since every vet visit left her shaking and bereft, sending her to a dog hospital for a month would be devastating to her. We told the vet we didn’t need the X-ray and left, chewing on her warning that sometimes, bone cancers can take over in a matter of weeks.


At home, we spoiled her rotten. I bought fat, fresh spot prawns for grilling, and we ate them, but saved all the shells for her dinner bowl. I let her eat corn straight off the cob, in little bites. I fed her the crusts from Graham’s lunchtime sandwiches. We committed to buying canned dog food, which is outrageously expensive, and smells not unlike excellent pâté.

A few days later, my husband left on a business trip. I took Bromley in for her final foot check-up, and the vet declared it healed—healed better, in fact, than she had thought it might. Bromley wove her bumpy body between my legs as well as she could, like a toddler burying her head in her mother’s legs to hide. It was as if faced with her final moments, she’d decided she did actually have some love to share. As I was leaving, I suddenly decided I should ask to have the foot X-rayed. Off went Bromley, shaking terribly, with the perennially peppy vet, who seemed to pity me because I was about to learn the method nature had chosen for my dog’s execution.

But the vet came back with a funny look on her face.

“I’m happy to tell you that I think I was wrong,” she said. “I can’t find anything. Her foot looks completely normal.”

“Normal?” I asked, surprised and almost crestfallen. “Let me see.”

I couldn’t believe that there could still be nothing wrong, but as far as my amateur eyes could see, the dog’s injured paw looked the same as the normal paw, which the vet had X-rayed for reference. How many lives does this dog have? I thought to myself.

Bromley has never been easy to love, so with the good news came relief, but also an enormous wave of shame. I know my job is to love this animal as long as she lives, but part of me hoped—honestly, guiltily hoped—that something was finally really wrong with her.

And somehow, Bromley knew. When we got home, she became strangely sweet. She started following me around the house, like she had something interesting to say but kept forgetting. She sat next to me if I was sitting on the floor—close enough that I could pet her, which wasn’t something she let us (or anyone else) do regularly. She didn’t stop drooling or snoring or peeing in the wrong places at the wrong times, but instead of the mean, reclusive cat we’d likened her to her whole life, she finally became a dog.


In return, we’ve started treating her like one. We’ve started petting her, because finally, she’ll let us. Last weekend, when Graham passed out in the middle of the living room floor, she took a nap next to him. And I actually cuddled with her. It took her five whole minutes to realize something unusual was happening and she stomped away.

And in the kitchen, we’ve simply kept spoiling her, because if a large dog can live almost 13 years eating all the human food dogs are supposed to avoid, a few more scraps on top of her pâté certainly won’t kill her.


Last night, we had spot prawns again, heaping piles of messy garlic- and chili-studded creatures on a platter for our own dinner. We sucked the sweet meat out of their shells, and heaped the tails and legs into a big metal bowl, which we passed on to Bromley on the back porch. She looked up at us in lucky disbelief, as if wondering whether perhaps they might be poisoned. We nodded and pushed the bowl closer. My husband and I hugged each other, somehow deciding, after 12-plus years, that we’d simply love Bromley the way she wanted to be loved. Because sometimes the sweetest thing you make isn’t what you eat, but what you don’t.


Spot Prawns with Garlic, Chilies, and Lemon

If you’re really going to do it right, eating spot prawns should be done with an apron on. That way, you can snap the tails off the creatures right as they come off the grill, slurp the juices off their legs (and out of their heads, if you’re so inclined), peel the shells off before dredging the tender, sweet meat in any lemony butter that remains on the plate, then wipe your hands on your front with reckless abandon.

In a pinch, whole fresh shrimp are a good substitute, but nothing beats the sweetness of spot prawns from the Pacific Northwest.

Serves 2 to 4.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (or to taste)

1 medium lemon

1 pound fresh spot prawns

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill over medium-high heat (about 425 degrees F).

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, stir in the garlic and chili flakes. Zest the lemon and add that to the mixture, then slice what remains of the lemon into wedges and set aside.

Put the spot prawns in a large bowl and drizzle the butter mixture over the shellfish. Using your hands, scrape the leg side of the prawns against the bottom of the bowl, so each creature gathers up as much garlic as possible.

Grill the prawns for 1 minute per side, with the lid closed as much as possible, or until the prawns turn a deeper shade of pink and curl. (You want them cooked, but just barely.) Transfer the hot prawns to a platter, and serve piping hot, with the lemons for squeezing over them.



Filed under Buddies, commentary, dog, gluten-free, husband, recipe, shellfish

The Best Pork Stew You’ll Never Make

If I were to give you the perfect recipe for a Mexican-inspired pork and black bean stew, it would look like this:

Wilbur 1

1. Find some friends willing to buy an entire pig, haul it six hours from home to a remote cabin without electricity or hot water, and cook it in a homemade “Cuban microwave” for hours and hours, until swarms of toddlers are melting under the pressure of a hard day’s play in the wild, the keg is kicked, the sun is finally going down, and the pig’s skin is crisp. Make sure the friends are food literate, but not food snobs. (Some make a point to only eat animals that have read Virgil, but I think too much enlightenment makes for tough meat.)

carving the pig at curlew

2. When the pig is roasted, volunteer to carve it in the dying light, even if you’ve never done it before. A 37-pound animal is large, but still only has two cheeks, which means that if you want to dig the fatty, tender cheek meat out with your fingers, you’ll want to be the one hovering near the head. (The whiskers, by the way, become quite sharp when roasted.) As you slice into it – surely with a knife you’re completely unfamiliar with, wearing giant barbecuing gloves that make you feel as awkward as Edward Scissorhands and only slightly more coordinated – combine just the right amounts of selfishness and laziness. You should cut enough meat off the bones to fill plate after plate with steaming flesh and satisfy any nearby vultures, but not so much as to strip the bones naked. (The meat left on them will be critical to your stew.) Pack obscene amounts of leftover meat and bones into coolers, neatly divided into “meaty,” “fatty,” “bones,” and “Neanderthal” containers, regularly offering diners feet or a snout from the last category, lest they miss what might be their only opportunity to munch on a pig’s toenail. Leave the coolers outside in the sun, with questionable amounts of ice, until the next morning.

Stock on the curlew stove

3. Make pork stock: Combine the meatiest pork bones, chopped onions (with the skins), and (unfiltered, from-a-real-spring) spring water in a large, unwashed roasting pan. Straddle the pan over two burners on an ancient stove, pausing to appreciate first that you know how to light your own stove at home, and second, that you weren’t the one to haul the propane tank currently responsible for cooking your stock up to the cabin on cross-country skis last winter. Bring the stock to a strong simmer, turn the burners off, cover the stock, and go to a rodeo.

rodeo queen at the chesaw rodeo

4. Here, to make the stew taste better, you should eat at least half of a corn dog, or possibly try the 68th Annual Chesaw Fourth of July Rodeo’s version of taco salad: one snack-sized bag of nacho-flavored Doritos, crushed, opened, and topped with taco meat of unclear provenance, shredded cheese and lettuce, and an unconscionable quantity of sour cream. (They do make it in small bags for little buckaroos, in case you were wondering.)

high class husband at the chesaw rodeo

5. Drink Budweiser in the sun while you watch toddlers chase chickens, small boys get stomped on by small (but still quite large) calves, teenage girls race horses around barrels, and grown men make their best attempt at roping and milking wild cows. Drink a little more; you need to sate your immediate hunger but open your palate to the possibility of a great deal of stew.

Boys playing on porch in Curlew

6. Get back to the cabin, bring the stock back to a simmer, and feed and entertain all children in the immediate vicinity. Snoop around the premises for anything that might make for a good stew – onions, garlic, carrots, and celery would be a fortunate start – and chop the vegetables, taking note as you work next to another person that it is neither the size of a kitchen nor its fanciness that makes it functional. (A kitchen qualifies as “good” if the space is well used, of course, with plenty of chopping room near the stove, but also if those working therein are happy bumping elbows without apologizing, and comfortable injecting cooking questions into unrelated conversation without losing one’s place in either the chopping or the conversation.)

Curlew kitchen 1

7. In a large (preferably tippy) soup pot, sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in (possibly) three-year-old olive oil, then season heavily with cumin, chili powder, dried oregano leftover from seasoning the pig, salt, pepper, a pinch of ground cloves, and a little bit of luck. Add the remaining salsa from two separate, open-but-unrefrigerated jars of salsa (their spiciness will have a lot to do with how your stew turns out), three cans of black beans (along with their liquid), and enough stock to let all the ingredients swim around freely. Simmer until the carrots are soft, roughly one hour, bossing anyone near the stove into giving it a quick stir so you can appreciate just being where you are.

dogs begging for pork stew

8. Meanwhile, clip most of the cilantro from the newly planted herb garden just off your porch. (If you can arrange for your dog to fall off the porch while avoiding a curious tot and land directly on the cilantro plant, do so, as the cilantro will be easier to cut that way.) Grate cheese and find some sour cream. Intend to slice the avocado in the fruit bowl, then promptly forget about it.

Curlew cabin front

9. Ask someone else to chop a good deal of what’s probably tenderloin and shoulder from the “meaty” bowl of pork in the cooler, and add it to the stew. Simmer another 10 minutes or so, so the pork fat melts into the broth. Season to taste again with salt and pepper, and serve hot, in mismatched bowls with shredded cheese, sour cream, and spoons that make you feel like you’re Goldilocks, minus the part where she finds the spoon that’s just right. (Feel free to continue forgetting the avocado.) In your mind, call it Curlew Stew, if you’re into that sort of thing. Pretend you aren’t surprised when it seems like the best stew you’ve ever tasted, and make a mental promise to make pork stock again someday soon. When it’s cooler.

dividing pig meat

10. Mop the last of the soup up with plain sliced sandwich bread. Commence a conversation about recipes – why and how we use them, how some people must cook from them while others simply can’t, where we record them, etc. Remember some recipes, like Hannah’s grandmother’s Goat Curry for Fifty, whose re-creation is so entirely unlikely that you might as well call it impossible. Think first, to yourself, that you wished you’d written the stew recipe down in some way, or snapped a photo before the last carrots were scraped from the bottom of the pot and fed to your child (who, with his first tooth, now seems to be able to eat cooked carrots). Then reconsider, and note that perhaps anyone interested in recreating Curlew Stew should probably not be relying too heavily on a recipe in the first place.

That’s it. That’s the whole recipe. Just ten quick steps.

If you live in the United States, chances are very good that you have recently suffered, are currently suffering, or will soon suffer an unbearable heat wave. (The definition of “unbearable” may differ from region to region; 90-degree heat broke records in Seattle a couple days ago. Likewise, the definition of “suffer” may be flexible; I was forced to make cold iced tea and wear a dress yesterday. It was awful.)

I thought that perhaps this heat thing, combined with the likelihood that you have a cooler filled with roasted pig parts on your porch, might make Curlew Stew an unconvincing proposition for your dinner this evening. But I promise: It’s the best pork stew you’ll never make.

But if you really want to taste Curlew Stew, I know a guy who makes a mean Cuban microwave; he says he’s willing to lend his to me when I’m ready to roast a pig. Swing by my driveway sometime around Christmas, because I now know I’ll be going whole hog, as they say, for our next holiday party. I’m sure there will be pork leftover.

Tonight, you should just make skirt steak kebabs.

Spicy Skirt Steak Kebabs 2

Spicy Skirt Steak Kebabs (PDF)

Marinated in a mixture of lime juice, garlic, fresh oregano, and red pepper flakes, these skirt steak kebabs pack a punch, but don’t take much time to prepare or grill. Instead of tomatoes and zucchini, feel free to substitute other vegetables—broccoli florets or crimini mushrooms would also be great.

Be sure to soak the skewers for the kebabs in a pan of water for a good 30 minutes (or longer) before you thread the meat and vegetables on.

TIME: 15 minutes prep time
MAKES: 4 servings

Juice of 3 limes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (the fresher, the better)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound skirt steak, cut into 1” cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 3/4” rounds
2 dozen large cherry tomatoes
12 wooden skewers (12” long), soaked

Blend the lime juice, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, oil, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Add the steak, stir until all the steak is coated with the marinade, then add the zucchini and tomatoes. Refrigerate, covered, about 1 hour.

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat, about 450 to 550 degrees. Thread the ingredients onto the skewers, alternating ingredients, piercing zucchini horizontally (through the skin on both sides) so that all the ingredients lie in a flat plane.

Grill the kebabs for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until the zucchini is marked, the tomatoes are beginning to burst, and the steak is cooked through. Serve hot.

Spicy Skirt Steak Kebabs 1


Filed under Beef, dog, gluten-free, husband, kitchen adventure, pork, recipe, travel, vegetables

A dating game

Bromley's Black Bean Birthday Cake 2

My brain likes dates. It’s convenient when it comes to things like birthdays and anniversaries – today, for example, is my friend Jessica’s birthday, the 4th wedding anniversary of some friends from Idaho, and also our dog’s 4th birthday. Yesterday was my friend Amy’s birthday, and also her son’s first birthday.

These things just come to me when I wake up and realize it’s (Month) (Day). It’s convenient when it comes to friends and family members, but the constant swirl of dates can also fog up my brain a bit. Even though they’re the part of the Worry Board that I don’t have to really worry about, I’m always sifting through them. And I’m so used to having a discreet number automatically attached to certain events that holidays that jump around (like Thanksgiving) totally throw me off.

On Tuesday, it occurred to me that Thanksgiving would fall on Bromley’s birthday, and that we’d be here in San Francisco. We’ve never celebrated her birthday before (really, she is a dog), but the two dates’ coincidence inspired me to mark it somehow.

So I baked my dog a cake.

The ingredients are random, for sure – I just threw in whatever I could find, whatever needed to go, keeping in mind that Scout, the neighbor’s dog, who I assumed would be the only other birthday cake participant, is on a diet. I started with the egg whites leftover from making the eggnog, and threw in a can of black refried beans, thinking their color would make the cake look a little chocolaty. I decided I’d leaven it with baking powder, but needed some sort of acid, so in went the last of the cottage cheese.

Then, stirring, whirring, spreading, baking, cooling. The cake came out looking like . . . a cake, and before I knew it, I’d cut a slice and was sitting on the floor, sharing it with my dog. One bite for you, one bite for me. It wasn’t bad. It sort of tastes like black bean bread, only not as crusty. And she certainly didn’t complain.

Bromley & birthday cake

Bromley’s Black Bean Birthday Cake (PDF)
Recipe 326 of 365

If you’re the pathetic sap that celebrates your pets’ birthdays, try this. Top the cake with a smear of peanut butter, or perhaps a layer of puffy mashed potatoes, and serve on whatever nice china your pooch prefers.

TIME: 15 minutes active time
MAKES: A birthday cake for your dog. Mine would eat it alone, but I’m going to try to give her just a little each day and ignore the way she whines insistently below the counter where I’m keeping it. Do beans do to dogs what they do to humans?

Vegetable oil spray
1 (16-ounce) can refried black beans (I used the vegetarian kind)
6 large egg whites
1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups flour
Creamy peanut butter, for “frosting” (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8” cake pan with the vegetable oil, and set aside.

In the work bowl of a food processor, whirl the beans, egg whites, cottage cheese, salt, and baking powder until uniform and smooth. Add the flour a cup at a time, pulsing between additions until incorporated. When all the flour has been mixed in (the batter will be thick), scoop it into the cake pan. Smooth down the top, and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and . . .cake-like.

Cool cake ten minutes in the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve as is, or frosted with peanut butter.

Bromley's Black Bean Birthday Cake with cat

(Bromley wasn’t the only interested party . . .)


Filed under Cakes, dog, recipe

Hottie Biscotti

WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti 1

My friend Michaela is a wordsmith, in the most literal way: she makes everything up. A regular dictionary just doesn’t apply to her vocabulary. When her cat does that mystical cat thing, sleeping in a corner with both eyes closed but still completely conscious of everything going on around her, she calls it speeping – a cross between sleeping and spying. Proscuitto is pronounced pros-kah-TOOT-y. And everything – yes, everything – can rhyme with something nonsensical. Herego, in KaelaSpeak, a nice pair of shoes is not cute, they’re cutie patootie. A job is a yobsicle. And her vocabulary is highly contagious, which means I call my own cat Kitzen McBitzen and my dog roo roo, and Tito is my husbie and at 3 p.m. I eat snackycakes.

Which brings me to hottie biscotti. My term, actually, but her fault.

I buy biscotti when I need just a bite, typically when I’m having coffee with someone else, and feel I’ll be giving my espresso drink the love and attention it deserves, rather than shoving it behind my laptop, to be consumed only when thirst overrides my interest in whatever I’m writing at that moment.

Since I’ve been adding real, whole grains to much of my baked goods, it seems silly not to make biscotti with something – protein, nutrition, anything – that will actually give me more than just a sugar high. The dip in dark chocolate is for health purposes only.

Chocolate-Covered WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti 5

The plumbing project continues – today we had no water, which meant I baked these and left all the dishes in the sink all night long. (Of course, today had to be the day I dropped an egg on the floor.) Tomorrow I’ll give Bo and Jason a few of these when they show up (although you can bet I won’t be mentioning the whole grains), and I’ll take the rest to my neighborhood hardware store, to say thanks to Marty, Willow, Mike, Luna, and Jennifer, the folks who regularly stuff my dog with treats and bent over backwards last weekend to help us locate the last cans of the proper paint base in Seattle.

I recently heard a treatise (on NPR) on the physics behind the best way to dip a cookie into a liquid – you know, for maximum milk retention given a stable, holdable cookie. But now, of course, I can’t find it. Let me know if you heard it.

WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti 2

Whole Wheat Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti (PDF)
Recipe 249 of 365

Based loosely on the recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Pistachio-Orange Biscotti in Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, these are traditional biscotti – cookies baked twice, first in a loaf, then sliced and baked individually – with some not-so-traditional mix-ins.

TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: About 30 biscotti

2 cups walnuts or walnut pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for forming biscotti
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons raw quinoa (red or white)
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons oat bran
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted when biscotti is cool (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, add the walnuts in a single layer, and toast on the middle rack for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool, coarsely chop if whole, and set aside. Return parchment paper to baking sheet and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the flours, quinoa, wheat germ, oat bran, flax seed meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to blend. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla, and milk together until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix until well combined, and stir in the toasted walnuts and cranberries. (The dough will be slightly wet.)

Flour a large work area, dump the dough onto the flour, and dust the top with more flour. Using floured hands, divide the dough into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, form into two flat logs about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long, adding flour as needed to prevent your hands from sticking to the dough and the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer both logs carefully to the parchment-covered baking sheet, about 3 inches apart, and bake for 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch and just beginning to brown.

uncooked WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti

Remove the biscotti from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees. When the biscotti are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board and use a serrated bread knife to cut them into 3/4″ wide slices on a diagonal.

WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti cooked once

Transfer the biscotti back to the baking sheet, cut side up, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, turning the biscotti over halfway through baking, or until browned on both sides and quite firm. Cool completely on wire racks. If desired, dip half of each biscotti into the melted chocolate, and let dry on waxed paper until chocolate is firm. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Choc-Cov WW Walnut-Cran Biscotti 2


Filed under Cookies, dessert, dog, recipe

That sneaky beast

Bromley's spatual

This, from my neighbor, via email, regarding our dog:

I came over to see you tonight and you had left. Saw B standing in the hallway with a spatula in her mouth. Got my key and went inside and she was sitting innocently on her dog bed – no spatula. Found some shredded saran on the floor and put it in the garbage. Not tattling, just wanted you to know in case you are missing something! V

So that’s what happened to the last piece of pie. Found the spatula nestled behind her dog bed. She hid all the evidence.


Filed under dog


Have you seen Cookthink? Genius. I entered ITALIAN and BACON and got Avocado with Bacon Vinaigrette. Um, yum, yes please.

I just hope they get the kinks out. I entered GINGER and POULTRY and CONSOLING and got Poached Soy-Ginger Salmon.

The weird thing was, even though it wasn’t  poultry, it was totally what I was going for.


Filed under dog, media

What they’ll never know

Sometimes I wish editors required an extraneous fact sheet. Writers would have to include any random information encountered in their research, just for shits and giggles.

I just turned in a bread recipe (after twelve rounds of testing), and it makes me so sad that telling the editor my animal stories would be inappropriate. She’ll never know that my cat hopped onto the floured board and splashed little white pawprints all over the counter like a kid with fingerpaints on his feet when I wasn’t looking. The art director will never see how many times my dog licked the side of the loaf while I was taking its picture at hip height, where the best light was. (Anyone who says animals don’t know when they’re doing something wrong is lying.) No, four million people don’t need to make the mental connection between whole grain bread and Bromley’s tongue, but it was definitely part of the process.

I did get to turn in a photo of Bromley recently, though, because she was part of the story. She’s on the contributors’ page of Seattle Metropolitan‘s August issue, wearing a t-shirt, for chrissake. Now here’s a misunderstanding: whoever looks at this page might think I dress my dog up on a regular basis. It happened once. That one time. I promise.

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Filed under commentary, dog, media

The chairs are done

Adirondack chairs

Tito’s latest project is finished, and just in time for summer. They’re wonderful; every time I sit down in one, it swallows me whole. Anyone know where I can get good red cushions for them that are at least a little waterproof? And preferably for $10?

Before the glue had finished drying on the arms, we celebrated with a strawberry crostata. Bromley got to lick the whipped cream bowl.

If you have a strong inclination toward rhubarbification, as my friend Beth does, by all means substitute a pound of chopped rhubarb for half the berries, and increase the sugar to 3 tablespoons.

Strawberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust

Recipe for Strawberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust
Recipe 183 of 365

A crostata is a country-style Italian fruit tart, usually high on the flavor-to-effort ratio. Don’t be a perfectionist about the crust; the whole point is for it to look rugged. Just squish it up around the fruit however you have the urge to do it the first time.

Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream.

TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 servings

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons full fat sour cream
1/4 cup cold water
Raw or turbinado sugar, for decoration (optional)

For the filling:
2 pounds small strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pulse the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together in the food processor until blended. Add the butter, and pulse 20 times, or until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the sour cream, and pulse a few times to incorporate. Turn the machine on, and add most of the water in a slow, steady stream, stopping when the dough begins to come together – you may not need all the water if the atmosphere is humid. The dough is moist enough when a handful of the dough stays together when you press it into a clump in your hand.

Dump the dough onto a large piece of wax paper, gather into a ball, press into a disc shape, wrap, and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheets with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.

For the filling, place the berries in a large mixing bowl. Then mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to about 12” in diameter. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Sprinkle two tablespoons of the dry flour/sugar mixture over the center 8” of the dough, and mix the rest of the dry ingredients in with the berries. Pile the berries in the center of the dough, leaving a 2” border all the way around.

Preparing strawberry crostata

Using your hands, fold the edges of the dough up and over the berries a little at a time, overlapping the dough over the previous fold each time. (If the dough doesn’t readily stick together, dribble a little water on your fingers and brush it between the layers of dough to encourage it to stick.) If using the turbinado sugar, brush the crust with water or milk, and sprinkle it generously with the sugar, patting it into the crust a bit to make it stick.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust has browned and the filling is thick and bubbling. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until the juice solidify, then transfer to a platter and serve.

(Hint: To keep the tart intact, it may be easier to slide the tart directly from the baking sheet onto a large cutting board and serve it on that.)


Filed under Breakfast, dessert, dog, fruit, husband, recipe

Oatmeal cookies for dogs

I’d like to say I wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing, or even I’ve never done this before, but we all know I’d be lying.


Dog begging for her cookie

Recipe for Oatmeal Cookies for Dogs
Recipe 162 of 365

Inspired by a book called Real Food for Dogs, this is my first self-directed foray into the canine culinary world. They’re easy, and although I didn’t like them so much myself, according to Bromley and Scout, they’re quite tasty. Mmm, lowfat chicken-flavored pie crust.

TIME: 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes baking time
MAKES: 5 to 6 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole oats
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat, and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), stir the dry ingredients just to blend. Whisk the eggs, oil, and broth in a small bowl to blend, then add to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until completely combined. The mixture should have roughly the texture of cookie dough.

Dump the dough onto a large cutting board (or wooden counter), gather it together with your hands into a big ball, and roll it out to about 1/2” thick. (The dough may seem crumbly, but like pie crust, this is okay.) Use a pizza slicer to cut it into 3/4” squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheet, leaving about 1/4”- 1/2” between each square (they won’t spread much), and bake for 15 minutes, or until hard and beginning to brown.

Cool completely, and seal in an airtight container.

Oatmeal cookies for Dogs in jar


Filed under dog, recipe

“Dogs need to breathe, too.”

Yesterday I struck out with my husband, sis, sister’s boyfriend, and his sis, on a lovely springtime hike. We didn’t leave Seattle until about 3:30, but thought a May weekday might be an appropriate time to introduce ourselves to Mount Si (or at least the first half of it), that Seattle cliche of a hike that everyone complains about being overcrowded.

Well, it was lovely, and not so crowded yet, and the people we met along the way were quite pleasant. Afterwards, we decided to head over to Snoqualmie Falls, where we hopped out for a quick trip to the loo and a peek at the falls. When we returned to our car, we found a most nasty note tucked under the windshield wipers:

Can you believe this?

Now, really. I understand that leaving my animal in a hot car for hours at a time is irresponsible and unsafe. But seriously. At 57 degrees and raining, and for a trip to look at the falls (which, I’m guessing, rarely takes more than 20 minutes, and in our case took about 15), is it crucial to leave the windows open?

Am I a dog abuser, or was this really quite unnecessary? Talk about uptight Seattleite.

Just wish they could have said it to our face, so they’d have heard my husband’s scientific calculation (based on scuba diving experience) of exactly HOW long a dog could survive on the oxygen provided by our wagon.


Filed under commentary, dog

A Very Bad Girl

Bromley gets a talking-to

That delicious artichoke and fennel salad at The Four Swallows and Lara’s gorgeous artichoke photos inspired me to stock up when I saw artichokes on sale at Ballard Market. I wanted to recreate the salad, with its flirtatious hint of truffle oil, but one glance at the price of fennel this week sent me scurrying in the other direction.

Last night I made a gorgeous garlicky aioli for our grilled artichokes and asparagus, tinted it with a little truffle oil, put some of it in a ramekin, piled the rest onto a plate to serve with dinner, and stepped outside to join my husband on the porch next to the grill.

Truffled Garlic Aioli

Silence from the kitchen. Then one newly cone-free dog came wagging toward the porch door, obviously very, very proud of something. Long story short: our dog really likes aioli.

Grilled veggies with aioli

Recipe for Truffled Garlic Aioli
Recipe 118 of 365

Aioli is just a way of saying “homemade mayonnaise” without making people nervous – but that’s what it is; it’s the real thing, typically flavored with garlic. I make mine with a good organic egg from the farmer’s market, since it means eating the yolk raw, and typically I use a combination of olive oil and another oil – in this case, an olive oil infused with the black truffle oil I found at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find a similar blend, just use all olive oil, and replace a teaspoon to a tablespoon of the olive oil with pure truffle oil, if you can.

Aioli makes a great dip for fresh, steamed, or grilled vegetables, or grilled fish.

TIME: 10 minutes
MAKES: 1/2 cup

1 large egg yolk
1 clove garlic, chopped to a paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil infused with truffle oil

Place the yolk in the bottom of a small mixing bowl and whisk until light – it will seem like all the yolk clings to the sides of the bowl, but enough whisking will thicken and lighten it. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil, and whisk to blend well. Whisking with one hand and pouring with the other, add a tiny bit of the olive oil at a time, whisking to create an emulsion between the yolks and the oil – you’ll really be adding about 1/2 teaspoon of oil at a time. Continue whisking until all the oil has been added (the aioli should be pale yellow and quite thick), and serve immediately.

NOTE: If at any point the mixture seems to be refusing the oil (and you can’t seem to get the oil to mix in), try adding just a teaspoon of cold water. Whisk that in, then continue adding the oil.

Keep any leftover aioli in the refrigerator, covered, and use with in a day or two.

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Filed under dog, recipe, vegetables

Hunger strike

I’m back from Chicago, and very excited about the prospect of eating normally again. It’s amazing what these conferences can do to a person’s appetite; vascillating between gorging on Thanksgiving-sized meals and declaring temporary self-starvation can’t be good for anyone. When I got off the plane in Seattle I was ready for a week-long hunger strike, but I soon found out my dog was doing it for me.

See, my husband took her backcountry skiing yesterday. All was well and good until he skied around a corner and into a random pack of 50 first-time mountaineers. He slammed on the brakes and the dog crashed into him, slicing one of her front legs on his ski’s edge, so their thrilling afternoon adventure was somewhat eclipsed by a five-hour visit/stitching project at the pet ER, this dog’s second ER trip since we moved to Seattle last fall.

And now (because of the painkillers?) she won’t eat, which, if you know her, is major drama – she’s always hungry. So we’re just feeling bad for her.

Injured Doggo

This morning I woke up sick, which is no big surprise. On slow weekend mornings my husband likes to make what we call Eggs Carlos, a tribute to how our Chilean friend from Woods Hole makes eggs. They’re the perfect compromise in that schizophrenic moment when you can’t decide between fried and scrambled (I think my husband likes them mostly because he’s a yolk breaker), and we believe diner waitresses everwhere would get a little thrill if they could offer their customers this option. We usually make them in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil and throw in some cheddar cheese at the end, but at IACP I picked up some avocado oil, which was new to me:

Avocado Oil

Neil, my new avocado oil buddy from the conference, tells me that it has a smoke point of around 500 degrees. That’s nice, but I don’t really care – I’ll never use it to fry because I can already tell I’m going to be quite stingy with it. It tastes like liquid avocado, which I sort of, um, expected, but it also leaves that same velvety vegetal mouthfeel an avocado has; it lingers like a great fatty kiss.

I’d seen avocado oil for sale at Shaw’s in Massachusetts, but I don’t think it’s available in Washington yet . . . look for it. I can tell it’s the beginning of a personal obsession.

Anyway, I did use it for the eggs this morning, first to grease the pan, then as a little drizzle for the toast I put them on.

Here’s how you make Eggs Carlos (Recipe 105 of 365):

1. Cook a few eggs in an (avocado-) oiled skillet, per usual.

Starting Eggs Carlos

2. Wait until the whites are mostly set, as above. Mess ’em all up with a spatula.

the fun part

3. Just when the yolks begin to set, add cheese of some sort (today my husband chose goat cheese, which was delicious). You want some of the yolky bits to remain a little gooey; the whole allure of cooking eggs this way is that you get a little yolky goodness in each bite.

Adding Goat cheese to Eggs Carlos

4. Pile them on toast, if you want.

Eggs Carlos on Toast

Thanks, Carlos!


Filed under Breakfast, dog, products, recipe

The Canlis Experience

As I veered off Aurora into the driveway at Canlis, Seattle’s most venerable eating establishment and one of the very few places in this town where jeans are not acceptable, my 1984 Saab loaner’s engine made a serious fallingapart noise. It wasn’t until I’d wrestled the car up to the door that I realized that valet parking is not optional at Canlis, but de rigueur, and that I was about to give the impeccably mannered valet a car whose engine sounds like a prop plane and whose front seat was at the time occupied by one extremely wet, muddy, and slightly smelly dog. To his credit, he brushed aside my excuses as easily as I brushed the heating vent right out of the droopy dashboard and onto the floor of the car with my purse, and off they went, the valet and the broken heating vent and my dog.

Canlis has been operating for more than 50 years, and it shows. In a good way. The bar and main dining room ooze Eating Institution, in the same way I imagine Manhattan dining rooms like Le Bernardin and Peter Luger do. I had a fabulous glass of pinot noir (how passé of me). From the small bites menu, we passed around the semolina-crusted calamari (fried spot-on and well seasoned), a mango, prawn, and avocado salad (perfect portion, bright flavors), some tenderloin kebabs with a sticky, unctuous teriyaki sauce, and a poke that was fresh and tender enough to remind me that I have to return to Hawaii, soon.

But this isn’t about the food. I was eating with an employee, so of course the food was perfect, and I expected nothing short of utter deliciousness. It’s about the service. Eloise would have been quite impressed.

As we said our good-byes, the hostess magically appeared with my coat . . . okay, it was a fleece (you can take a girl out of Idaho . . .), but anyway, sure enough, the jalopy came coughing around the corner and into the driveway the second I looked at the exit door. The car was warm, which in this case means they must have anticipated my departure by at least five minutes, and the door was open so I didn’t have to spend more than a millisecond traveling from the door to my seat. I think they even dried the dog off.

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Filed under dog