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best-laid plans

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Recipe: grand marnier soufflé

Several weeks before Neva came home with us, we began getting the whole house in order, reading our puppy and dog training books (different methods than when we trained Kaweah), and trying to get a jump on our workloads. Let me tell you – since she came home: the entire house looks like a giant puppy playpen, we feel as if we’ve forgotten everything we read in the training books, and it seems that we are already falling well behind in work. It’s no doubt that part of the existence of Puppy Vortex is because I’m still sick – with bronchitis and no voice. Clearly, recovery is but a pipe dream on four hours of sleep a night.

Neva was getting plenty of sleep and plenty of playtime. However, Wednesday morning she had an episode of trembling and lethargy that was sudden and extremely uncharacteristic. Even worse? She refused food. My stomach dropped. There was only one time ever that Kaweah refused food, and that was the morning we said good-bye to her. I fought back tears and asked Jeremy to call the vet for an appointment. Neva was running a low fever and our vet prescribed some meds and asked us to call him in the morning for a status report. Almost as quickly as she had gone downhill, she bounced back within hours to her normal puppy self – biting everything in sight, romping around clumsily, and wanting to explore the whole world.

Despite the setback, we’ve been introducing Neva to new things. She loves the vet’s office as well as my neighbor’s daughter. She completely goes bananas for plain yogurt and peanut butter. And she loves snow. Since we still have lots of snow in the high country, we took her for her first introduction this week.


sitting for her treat from jeremy

happily munching on said treat

fearless bounding across the slushy slopes

having a blast digging pits in the snow

my sweet baby girl



Despite feeling truly crappy right now, I don’t want to get into the habit of punting each post by tossing up a bunch of puppy pics and calling it good. You good people deserve a recipe, and this one is awesome. It comes from my friend, John of Food Wishes, and I was inspired to make it after ordering a Grand Marnier soufflé at a French restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. I served mine with a Grand Marnier crème anglaise (also from John’s site). I just don’t see how it can get any better! If you decide to serve the soufflés with a side of crème anglaise sauce, you should start the sauce a few hours earlier than the soufflés to give it time to cool.

the crème anglaise: cream, vanilla extract, grand marnier, sugar, salt, eggs (yolks)

heat the cream, sugar, and salt

whisk some of the hot cream into the egg yolks

cook and then strain the custard

stir in the grand marnier and vanilla extract



**Jump for more butter**

pup prep

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Recipe: gin oysters

“We need to get a puppy collar and a puppy leash,” I informed Jeremy.
“What happened to Kaweah’s old puppy collar?” he asked sifting through the pile of dog towels.
“She ate it.”
“What happened to her old leash?”
“Um, she ate that, too.”

Even though Kaweah was not a large dog as labs go, all of her beds and toys and blankets look huge compared to the little puppy we visited two weeks ago. We don’t want to buy too many puppy-sized things because they won’t be needed after a month or two. So we’ve been re-engineering the crates and beds to create nice and cozy smaller spaces for puppy. I sifted through our basket of Kaweah’s toys this week and pulled out three plush fish – a pink one, a blue one, and a green one. They were otherwise identical in every way including the hole at the top of each of their heads where Kaweah had systematically pulled out the squeakers and chewed them to bits.

“Do you think puppy will be a destructo-dog like Kaweah?” I wondered aloud while sorting the salvageable toys from the heavily loved ones. To be fair, Kaweah only destroyed her toys and left everything else in the house alone. She was a good bad dog. I’m in the process of sewing up the old plushies for puppy’s crate so she can hopefully feel comforted by the smell of Kaweah and the contact with other soft bodies to mimic her littermates. But we still picked up some new puppy-appropriate toys.


for play, for teething, for mental stimulation



It looks as if this cold weather pattern will hold for another week or two. I’m ecstatic! Not just for the skiing, but because we’ll be able to introduce the pup to skis. One might think it’s no big deal, but most of the dogs I know have interesting reactions to skis. Back in the day, Kaweah didn’t realize that they were attached to our feet, and thought it was a really fun game to pounce on the tips as they protruded through the snow. Other dogs think ski poles are totally awesome “sticks” to grab hold of. When the snow is deep, Banjo likes to walk on the back ends of Erin’s skis for extra floatation and to stay close. Thankfully, most dogs figure it out eventually. Of course, puppy won’t be able to travel far at the start, so we got out into the backcountry to get our pre-puppy ski fix.

cloudy, foggy, sunny, snowy – we got it all in one afternoon

jeremy does a quick rip of the skins

getting a few laps in before heading out



But not everything around here is all puppy all the time. Not yet, anyway! Jeremy finally kicked his Man Cold this week. I decided we should celebrate with some appetizers and dinner while watching the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I made the appetizers for Jeremy more than for myself, because they were made of a few of his favorite things.

barcat oysters, wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe), a local gin, and lime



**Jump for more butter**

out with the old

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate budino

I am routinely guilty of tackling my “spring cleaning” in October – after the fall shoot is done, but before ski season kicks into high gear. And well, if ski season gets an early start, then we boot spring cleaning until next fall. Except this year we undertook a spring purge. Call it the decadal cleaning, because it’s time to puppy proof our house. We never had to do this for Kaweah because she was already 6 years old when we moved in and so good about leaving things alone like trash, compost, food that wasn’t hers, plants – everything.

But puppy… puppy will have to learn. And while we’re puppy proofing, why not go through all of our closets, cabinets, drawers, files, and basement? Oh, and let’s rearrange the furniture, too. It snowballed into a multi-day project in which most of the house was sorted for reorganization, recycling, donation, or trash. I’m happy to report that the smallest category was trash. Our car is loaded with old retired electronics and generations of computing equipment to be recycled responsibly at CHaRM in Boulder.


jeremy replaced our uv decals on the windows so birds won’t crash into our house



I’m glad to finally get this cleaning out of the way. For the past several days the weather has toggled between rain, snow, graupel, and hail. We’ve also had some mighty fine thunderstorms roll through in the afternoons and at night. The high country is getting snow – and that is a truly marvelous thing. Perhaps if the stars align, I’ll get to ski one more time before puppy comes home. The best part about this winter holdout is that she won’t have to wait until autumn to get her first taste of proper Rocky Mountain snow.

mist and snow up valley

storm front approaching

graupel falling on our deck



Even though I don’t do requests on this blog, when I last posted about Bacchanale, people had asked me if I’d recreate the recipe for their chocolate budino. I must admit that the thought had crossed my mind, but I didn’t put it into action until we had our neighbors over for dinner last month. I spent some time recipe testing (and I loathe recipe testing) to get it right, and I think we have a winner. I started the crust with a cookie crumb base because it is just the right crumbly, sandy texture to go with a super rich, thick, creamy pudding.

vanilla, sugar, butter, salt, chocolate sandwich cookies

melted butter, cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, vanilla

mix it all together



**Jump for more butter**