Mom is a really good cook but I bet you already guessed that by the way she gushes on about food every week. She is often in the kitchen which is why I like spending time in there. I’m not actually in the kitchen so much as at the edge of the kitchen. I have a special spot that I sit atop; a little orange carpet square. There are a few reasons for this. I am less likely to get stepped on (like Buddy does), I am less likely to piss Mom off and thus am more often fed treats. I also have a better vantage point from there than I would if I were just under foot all the time (being under foot some of the time does have benefits though, when strategically timed).
Sometimes, I don’t even bother getting off the back of the couch, my perch as it were. It is not because I’m lazy but rather because I like to see how often I can get Mom to come over to the couch to feed me. She is very hospitable and it makes me feel special when she goes out of her way to cross the room for my discerning opinion (I like to feel special, and doted upon, don’t you?). I figured out long ago that she likes to feed us and we don’t even have to exert much energy to get her to do so. There is a particular pillow in the corner of the couch that I have, over many years, molded to my form perfectly. It gets fluffed all the time but I keep putting it back to the way I like. From there, I have established my seniority over Buddy and am also able to survey my domaine, inside and out. I like to think of it as my throne. My pal from across the street calls me Princess, so I must be royalty. Then again, he is always in awe that I get to eat better salmon than he does. It suits.
Some nights we spend less time in the kitchen than most. On the simple nights, Mom is tired. She starts out more slowly and I come down off the back of the couch to cuddle next to her. She instinctively begins rubbing my back and I repay her by putting my head on her lap and letting out a deep, full-chested, straight from the diaphragm sigh. This lets her know that I am completely relaxed and content. I like doing that because I can hear her smile and feel her body release some of it’s tension.
There has been a lot of energy in the kitchen lately which does come and go in spurts. The house has been very aromatic and heavy with meat (which I have happily helped eat). Recently though the odor from the oven became so intense that I felt like taking myself out for a brisk walk. They won’t let me go by myself – I have been known to do that and cause great distress. Instead, Daddy asks to go with and if I just stand there, he just leaves the back door open a bit to let me breathe in some fresh air.
Perhaps the oven needs cleaned because it smells burnt. I saw Mom take a charred piece of foil from way in the back. She burnt the top of her hand again as she reached in to retrieve it thinking that would make the smell go away. The burnt essence is still present though when the oven gets turned on high. Humans have such a poor sense of smell and somehow this dangerous odor has alluded them. It is up to me to act unusual and pretend that I am going to run away so that they understand that the oven needs cleaned. With this type of charade, I am helping to keep us all safe.
Thursday was one of those simple nights. The kitchen remained quiet until late into the evening. I guess that makes sense since they didn’t come home until just after seven, even though Buddy and I were waiting patiently by the end of the couch, starring at the door every time we saw headlights flash by. I knew I would like dinner that night when they walked in the door. I could see a small, neatly wrapped package in Mom’s hand that I knew came from the fish market. I could also smell salmon. I am particularity fond of salmon. It is what I request every year on my birthday just like Mom used to request lamb for hers.
It wasn’t my birthday but I got salmon that night and more time in Mom’s lap than on my little orange square. Buddy and I always get our salmon wrapped in foil and cooked for 5 minutes in the oven which leaves it tender and moist. Mom puts seasoning on hers and Daddy’s and cooks it in the metal pan that gets really hot from the flames underneath. Scary. I could lick butter off the floor when it pops out of the pan but she doesn’t like that so I let Buddy get in trouble instead. The only thing that got heated was the fish. The rest were raw sliced veggie’s which I only got a few bites of because they were the type that Daddy thinks makes me poot. The purple stuff is good (I like veggies that are crunchy) but that white stuff, while crunchy, was weird, so I spit it out and let Buddy think I was giving him a treat.
Here’s what Mommy and Daddy had…
SALMON OVER SHAVED CELERY ROOT AND CABBAGE
INGREDIENTS for two humans (and two small pups)
(Mommy helped with most of this because I just care about the outcome; I edited tho ‘cuz I’m funnier)
1/2 small head red (or napa) cabbage, shaved thinly
1/2 small celery root, peeled of skin and shaved thinly, with shavings cut into strips
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (she prefers Meyer)
Small pinch sea salt and 4-5 grinds fresh black peppercorns
Quick drizzle of olive oil (1 tsp)
3/4 to 1 lb fresh (Alaskan) king salmon fillet – skin removed (‘cuz it can be fishy, not in a good way)
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Pinch of natural sugar
Olive oil to cook with
Small pat of butter (I like butter)
Lemon wedges (Meyer again)
This is more of a process than a recipe. Winter salmon is smaller than summer salmon but don’t let that fool you, it is super tasty!
FOR THE VEG
Put the cabbage and those celery root shavings (I’m not so crazy about personally) in a bowl and squeeze in the lemon juice, toss in the seasonings and drizzle in the olive oil. Rub it all together and let it sit by itself until the salmon is cooked.
FOR THE SALMON
Always pat out the water from the fish (Mom says this makes it turn brown which she and especially Daddy think is good).
Using your paws er, fingers, take a pinch of salt out of the salt drawer (I can’t reach) and sprinkle it over the fish. Mom moves her thumb back and forth as she waves her hand up and down the length of the fish.
Next, grind some black flakes from the steel tube that makes noise as it grinds. Sprinkle the sweet sugar over just like the salt, only less. Mom says you won’t taste the sugar but that it also helps make it browny. One of her friends told her she was weird to do this but then told her it tasted good. I like mine better plain but I never turn down bites from their plate when they offer.
Put the metal pan over the flame and then add some oil. Right before the fish goes on top of the oil, throw in a pad of butter (if it starts to bubble and smoke, turn down the flame and make sure the noisy, sucky thing is on overhead). Add the salmon and let it sit still, untouched, which is tricky. You should hover over it though (like Mom does). Sometimes I begin to bark randomly; she starts talking back so I keep barking. It’s kind of fun. Buddy starts pacing back and forth, licking the floor. Mom never seems too amused.
After the salmon has sat for a few minutes without moving, Mom says it is brown so she turns it over. A minute later she takes the pan off the heat and moves the fish to a flat tin plate (that she uses for little pizza too), puts it into the oven (which must be about 375 degrees based on the smell). A few minutes later, it is pulled out of the oven and the fish is put over a mound of the veggie’s that have been divided onto each plate. Put a lemon wedge on top so that it can be squeezed over with as much or as little of the tart juice that you want.
While their dinner cooks, ours is cooling. We get to eat first so we can help with their plates. This is my kind of dinner, more lap time, less begging, plus two meals.
Thank you for reading my story. I can use my words better than Buddy but he is right about one thing (if little else) typing is hard. That’s why I have my super secret assistant Miss Prissybones help me out. Don’t tell Mom