Thursday, January 24, 2013

Puppy, It's Cold Outside!

      Even if you live in a place that's traditionally warm in the winter, you may be experiencing some very cold weather this week.  Here, in upstate New York, we're in the single digits. Brrrr!  One of our two dogs, Cody, has almost no fur, and even with a coat, he can barely stand a one-block walk in this weather before begging to go home and sleep on his favorite heating vent.  However, Cody has the energy of a Jack Russell.  I was at my wit's end during the frigid winter after we adopted him, until a friend suggested I use a flirt pole.  

     If you've never heard of this miraculous toy before, you're in for a treat, as is your pup!  A flirt pole is, basically, a long pole with a toy attached via a long string or rope, as seen in the photo at left.  But how does this strange contraption actually help exhaust an energetic dog like Cody?

     Here's how it works: you swing, dangle, and toss the toy just out of your dog's reach and he or she exhausts tons of energy jumping, leaping, and racing after it. Eventually he or she grabs the toy (or you make it easier to catch), and they have the satisfaction of chewing it a bit.  After a few minutes, you tell them to "drop it" (or, if they haven't learned that command yet, this is a great time to teach it: try bribing them with a treat while saying the command, and praise when they let go of the toy), and the fun starts again!

You can see what I mean by watching this video:  
     While you can certainly use a flirt pole outside, what I love about it is that it's equally useful in the house, especially during weather as cold as this.  I can thoroughly exhaust Cody without the danger of frostbite (to either of us!). 

    So, how do you get your own flirt pole?  You can either make it yourself, as I did, or buy one. I used this tutorial on eHow to make mine, but I think this tutorial from "notes from a dog walker" is really good.  The 1" PVC I used for my flirt pole is very sturdy, but it's a little heavy for me to hold for long periods.  The 3/4" pipe that "notes from a dog walker" recommends seems like a better option.  I tied one of Cody's favorite squeaky toys on the end of the rope.  When he catches it, I praise him and let him squeak it a couple times.  Then we're off again!

     I hope you find the flirt pole as useful as our family has.  I'd love to hear about your adventures and even see photos, if you want to share.  Just post them below!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gingered Apple-Cheddar Slaw

Apple season is upon us!  I live in upstate New York, where many apple varieties were "born" (Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Jonagold and Jonamac, just to name a few), so I always try to take advantage of the abundance of local apples available at this time of year. 

Tonight, I made the Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples from Cooking Light: it uses apples, apple cider, shallots (which we have from our CSA), and thyme (which we have in the garden).  Although the weather has been much cooler lately, and I've been craving warm, homey food, I decided the side dish would be a recipe I picked up at the NY State Fair last year and have really been wanting to try: Gingered Apple-Cheddar Slaw. This recipe, which was provided by Cabot Cheese, appealed to me, but I felt it needed some changes.  

Rainbow salad in a bag
For one thing, I was surprised when I realized that this "slaw" doesn't actually include any vegetables.  It's just, basically, apples and cheese, unless you count cilantro as a veggie. So, to increase the nutritional content (and the crunch factor), I added in a bag of "rainbow slaw" (also called "rainbow salad") from my local grocery store (this is the pre-cut mix that includes broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage).  I use this stuff all the time; it's so easy to add a handful to a salad or a wrap!

Since the volume that the dressing had to cover was now much greater, I decided to increase the mayonaise, rice vinegar, and ginger.  I also added some spice to the dressing to give it more flavor. 

Although I was a little afraid that cheese might be weird in this slaw, I was amazed at how perfectly the flavors complimented each other. This recipe is unique and really good.  I think it'd made a really fun dish to bring to a picnic.  For now, I'm just glad that my husband is out of town so I don't have to share. 

Gingered Apple-Cheddar Slaw
Adapted from a recipe by the same name from Cabot Cheese 
Serves 6

Ingredients for Dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise (can use low-fat Greek yogurt for some/all of this, if desired)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Roasted Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon of Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic

Ingredients for Slaw:
1 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apple
4 ounces Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger (if you can find some local ginger, use it. The taste difference is amazing!)
1 package of rainbow slaw (or rainbow salad)

1. Put the ingredients for the dressing in a Ball canning jar. Screw on the lid and shake until combined. 

2. Cut apple into quarters and cut away core. Cut quarters into thin slices, then stack several slices and cut into matchsticks. Place in medium bowl.

3. Add cheese, ginger, and rainbow slaw to bowl.

4. Add dressing and toss gently to combine.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Crisp And Satisfying: Rosemary Flatbread

Rosemary Flatbread: cooling. Almost ready for nibbling!
   Found this recipe on Pinterest, from the Smitten Kitchen blog and thought it would go well with the summer salads we're having, using lettuce from our CSA and summer fruit from local farmer's markets. 

   Since it requires an oven temp of 450*, I decided to make them at night, when it's cooler. Here's the recipe (Smitten Kitchen says it's from the July 2008 Gourmet magazine): 

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
  • Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.
  2. Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.
  3. Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).
  4. Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.
  5. Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
The flatbread, rolled out and ready to go in the oven.
    I found that it took some doing to incorporate all the flour.  I had to get my hands in there and separate the dough so the sticky insides showed, then knead in the last bits before it was fully incorporated.  Otherwise, the recipe worked well.  I added a tiny bit of garlic powder for flavor.  Next time, I think I'd add some fresh ground pepper, too.

That sparkling salt tastes so good!

    I used a really coarse grind on my Darling Buds salt grinder, and think that the coarseness really added to the flatbread taste.  I love salt, but I think anyone would appreciate the crunchy deliciousness of the big crystals here.

    Although I ate more than my share of this with my salad last night, it still made more than enough for 6-8 people. I'll definitely make this one again.  Next time, maybe I'll try some of the thyme in my garden!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Google's Recipe Search: Wow!

     Have you done a search on Google for a recipe lately?  Having been a longtime user of (a metasearch site), I'm pretty new to using Google for regular searching, so maybe I missed it before, but when I  did a search today for a strawberry rhubarb crisp recipe, I actually looked at the information on the left-hand side and was surprised to see how detailed it was!

     Check out the screen shot below.  See how you can limit your search to ingredients, cook time, the number of calories included, and more?  I had no idea that they offered these options.  Have you used this?  Did it work well? 

     I'd love to have the ability to limit the search results to just those from blogs, and I think it'd be really helpful to have the option to search for just vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and/or dairy-free recipes.  What would you like to see included?