white russian ice cream tuna melt bourbon bacon cacao nib brittle miso peanut butter dip


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let the summer of puppy commence

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Recipe: tuna melt

Oh man. Summer is REAL, people. The furnace blast arrived with a vengeance last week and like the true heat wimps that we are – we retreated to higher elevations and sunrise/sunset activities. Neva is now almost 20 pounds and has been with us for a month. Recalling the first 24 hours with her (and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into), she has come a long way in her training and development – and so have we! Part of her progress is simply growing up and gaining more coordination, strength, and speed. She no longer has to sniff and put every new plant, rock, stick, pine cone, or speck of dirt in her mouth. Neva is learning silly tricks now on top of the important commands. She let’s us know when she needs to go out to potty, she’s really good in her crate, and she is sleeping through the night (HALLELUJAH!). That last one was a serious game changer for the humans.


tossing her toy in the air and (sort of) catching it

moar swimming in icy cold lakes!!

neva gets at least one hike a day

she’s so mellow she sometimes falls asleep like this

running down the stairs with a toy



Neva is becoming a free range puppy, by which I mean, she roams parts of the house while we’re around and we don’t have to chase after her for fear of accidents or drive-by chewings on inappropriate things (like furniture, power cords, the compost bucket). She overcame her fear of the stairs in a matter of days – up was easy, down took a little coaxing. I can trim and file her nails while she sleeps (amazing!). We have her hiking up to 3 miles now and just this morning she did the rockiest, steepest hike yet – all on leash and behaving like a good dog should. Best of all, she likes to lie nearby while we are working and just nap or happily chew her toys. We still have plenty of work to do, but the stage of feeling hopeless was quite short-lived for us. I think Neva is becoming a Good Dog.

thimbleberry blossoms

the rare neva bloom amidst a potpourri of wildflowers

that’s my pack

shooting stars in a sea of summer green



Neva’s hiking progress has been of particular interest to me because I’d like to bring her with us when Erin, Banjo, and I hike and forage huckleberries. All signs point to Neva becoming a strong hiker and I think with some good long hikes together, she’ll learn to be a good companion to Banjo instead of a total pill (she seems to jump on his head less these days – that’s improvement).

As you can imagine, with all of the effort we’re putting into puppy training, I haven’t cooked anything elaborate in a while. In fact, I lost 8 pounds in the first 2 weeks of getting Neva because I was too tired to eat, let alone cook. We’ve been keeping things pretty simple out of necessity – mostly salads and sandwiches with the occasional ghetto pizza bread. One of those sandwiches is a tuna melt, which Jeremy loves and I like to pair with a bowl of tomato soup. I think of the tuna melt as an upgraded version of a tuna fish sandwich. If you really want to get 1970s throwback with it, stuff some jalapeño potato chips into the sandwich before eating (mmmm – so good!).


tuna fish, bread, lemon, mayonnaise, butter, pickles, salt, cheese, celery (not pictured: black pepper)

chop the pickles and celery

ready to roll



**Jump for more butter**

splash and dash

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Recipe: miso peanut butter vegetable dip

We now have a 10 week old puppy who consistently sits to ask for things like food, water, toys, to be let out of her crate, to have a ball tossed, to be let back inside, to be petted. You may wonder why she has to request water – why we don’t have a bowl lying around for her to take drinks as needed… After Neva takes a big drink, she loves to place her paw on the side of the dish and tip the whole thing over. It was funny the first time and not as funny the next 10 times. But she’s a lab and true to her breed, she loves the water. We wanted to get her swimming, but right now our lakes are cold with snow melt and she hasn’t received her leptospirosis vaccinations yet (they start in a couple of weeks). So we’re taking baby steps starting with Kaweah’s old baby pool. Kaweah never cared much for it (she was a hardcore girl – she wanted her frozen mountain lakes), but it’s perfect for Neva at this stage on a hot, sunny day.


jeremy introduces her to ankle-deep water

she warmed up to it when we tossed in her spiky ball

really getting into the fun with a flying leap



Everything was great until Neva fetched the ball, dropped the ball, and promptly squatted to relieve herself in the pool. We are still getting to know Neva’s bladder schedule, which is to say, we still have occasional accidents. But it’s all a big learning curve – which food works best for her digestion, what time of day is best for training, when she needs naps and when she needs play. It’s hard to believe we have only had Neva for two weeks because it feels like months.

running her brains out in a field

tired and plopped down in the middle of the trail



Jeremy and I are trying our best to do right by the puppy’s training as well as live our lives (sleep, eat, get work done). It feels as if we aren’t succeeding at any of it. For the first week, I wore the same clothes for days in a row because I couldn’t see the point of putting something clean on only to get dogged up again. But you can’t let a puppy put the kibosh on everything. Over the weekend, a good childhood friend came into town for a conference – so we had her and two other close mutual childhood friends over for dinner. I even showered and wore clean clothes! I figured, if I could manage to put dinner on the table, then we could declare the night a victory. I missed out on half of the conversations because Jeremy and I tag-teamed supervising the puppy, but it was wonderful to spend time catching up, especially since I hadn’t seen the out-of-town friend in over 20 years.

a toast to reunions



Summer is when entertaining at our house really gets underway. The only folks who visit in winter are the ones who truly love winter and the ones who don’t know any better. Our short mountain summers are green and pleasant, which make for great dinner parties, grilling, and views from the deck. Typically, I like to experiment with different recipes, but lately – because of the puppy vortex and in the interest of my own sanity – I’m sticking with super simple menus. One thing I love to serve when the weather turns warm is crudités with dip, but sometimes I tire of sour cream or mayonnaise dips. A few weeks ago I tried a couple of miso-based dips and really fell in love with this miso peanut butter dip. It’s just the right salty and sweet to go with a variety of fresh vegetables. And it’s easy.

peanut butter, white miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, sake, honey



**Jump for more butter**

the disappearing puppy

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Recipe: the mediterranean pizza

Where did that little bundle of puppy go?

It would seem that all of those kibbles went into making Neva’s legs and body longer over the last week. She’s gaining weight at a good pace according to the vet. But when we look at her growing body, her head looks as if it is the same size as the day we got her. “When is your little face going to catch up to the rest of you?” I ask Neva each morning. She just tilts her velvety head trying to puzzle out if that string of mumbo jumbo from my mouth means food is coming or we’re going outside to play.

Some people say to enjoy puppyhood because it’s over in a flash. Truth be told, it wasn’t the puppy I wanted, but the dog she’s going to become. That isn’t to say that I dislike puppies – I love my little girl – it’s just that puppies are a lot of work. I suspect this is why so many people abandon dogs when they discover how hard it is to raise a puppy or wind up with a less than ideal companion. Honestly, people are such idiots. Dogs aren’t small kitchen appliances to be tossed on the street for curbside pickup (even small kitchen appliances should be recycled responsibly!), they are living creatures.

Neva’s training is coming along – not as quickly as we would like, but I think our expectations are a bit unrealistic. She’s a puppy after all, and we’ve been keeping her busy with all sorts of new activities. It’s important to introduce Neva to the things she will be doing for the rest of her doggy days: road trips around Colorado, riding bumpy mountain roads, snow, trails, spending time in wild places. We took her to Crested Butte over the weekend, because it’s doggy paradise and her second home.


lots of snow on cottonwood pass

neva on the continental divide

the view from the taylor reservoir



Folks have been asking what books we are using to train Neva. We read Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right and How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, both books by Dr. Sophia Yin. Of course, as soon as Neva arrived, we haven’t had a moment (or maybe it’s the energy) to reference the books. I’m hoping to tackle that now that The Crud has begun to leave my lungs. What we like about Dr. Yin’s approach is how training is based on positive experiences rather than punishment and fear. Some methods have worked really well so far and others not as much, but I believe each dog will react differently to situations. We just use the books as guides and fill in the rest with experience, empathy, and our own observations.

glacier lilies

neva on her first real hike!

relaxing among the dandelions and larkspur blossoms

so happy to see wildflowers again



Not everything has gone smoothly. Neva has had her share of accidents in the house which can be attributed almost entirely to human error – we misread her behavior or we weren’t paying attention. She’s doing much better on the leash, but right now every trail is new to her and full of distractions. Heck, EVERYTHING is new to her, she’s just a puppy. Neva is scared of bikes and cars when they are coming toward her (she sits or hides behind our legs), but then she wants to romp after them when they pass. We have learned how to calm her down when she’s overstimulated during play – something we didn’t understand or learn to recognize in Kaweah when she was a puppy. Overall, I think Neva is doing really well. She likes us and we love her. We are pouring a lot of effort and love into this little lady so she can have a really happy life.

walking through spring aspens

tired puppy in the land of beautiful mountains

sunlit aspens just starting to leaf out

spring green stands under the watchful eye of crested butte mountain

neva’s second playdate with banjo – she’s tuckered out!



And summer has finally arrived around here. Warm, sunny days punctuated with moody afternoon thunderstorms have been the norm this week. Naturally, my semi-lucid thoughts have turned to outdoor grilling and entertaining friends. Everything points to “simple” right now because the Puppy Vortex demands payment in time – lots of time. An easy vegetarian pizza we used to order from our local pizza joint in Nederland is the Nediterranean. I say “used to order” because we make it at home now and it’s way better.

olive oil, black pepper, mozzarella, pizza dough, olives, feta, pesto, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, salt, garlic

prepped toppings



**Jump for more butter**