Driving in the other morning on our long, long, l o o o o o n g trek to take Buddy and Ginger for their scheduled “spa” day, Buddy sat in his little bed/car seat in the back seat, hoodie on, shaking. Ginger had her own bed/seat on the opposite side but was clearly un-phased.
The rain was pelting down and almost washed us away during their regularly scheduled outdoor potty break before departure. Afterwards, Buddy took refuge in his “dingy” (the name given to his bed in our master bath/dressing area), perhaps building up courage before taking the “raft” for a spin (code name for Ginger’s beds, one located in the living room and one in our bedroom). Very comfy small beds with bolster sides for resting chins on or just snuggling in like a tortellini. Looking back at him now, he seems like he is trying to stand up on a surfboard, legs splayed, a little unsure but excited and hopeful.
Buddy has always been a shaker in the car, letting out little whines and whispers until he is finally allowed to come sit on my lap in the front seat. I prefer to keep him safely strapped in on his bed, but sometimes I give in and wrap him up in my arms. Tom got a different seat belt strap for those instances but today it must have been in the other car. Fortunately, he stopped shaking and was quiet for the bulk of the journey. I was not sure if he had figured out where we were headed but even though it used to be a place of great resistance, I recently noticed the two of them are a little more agreeable to these sessions.
I have been taking Ginger to the same groomers since she was born and Buffy went to them for 10 of her sixteen years before that. This has been a longtime relationship that when I stop to consider the enormity of how long I have trusted them, and only them, it is impressive indeed. Especially considering we live nowhere near the shop, just in the same region. I haven’t even had my groomer half as long as that (although he is a keeper too).
The day Buddy joined Ginger for his first appointment, he had been through a lot and was still getting his bearings on how to adjust to our scheduled life. Needless to say, Ginger, who had been an only child, did not help him with this adjustment; instead she asserted her feminine wilds (sic) on more than one occasion. Perhaps that was the reason for his hesitation (skepticism) in hanging out too closely with her. So when I picked them up that evening, I was surprised to see that they had been sharing the same pen all day. Victoria collected them as nonchalantly as if they were the best of friends. Little had she known that just that morning, Ginger had growled…no, snarled, with teeth, at Buddy just for trying to eat his own food.
As a (non-imposed) rule, during the day, Ginger hangs out in one room while Buddy claims another. We like to think it is to protect each half of our little home. They tend to sleep on opposite sides of the bed, and if given a choice, they would never have to share the same couch; this is what they’d like us to think. The truth is, over the three years they have been together now, a bond has definitely formed.
Where they used to pick opposite directions when let outside, they now stride out happily, side by side, bumping and jockeying for the best spot on the same part of the yard. When one of them cries out, whether for happiness or sad, the other comes running to join in the craziness or console. Most recently though, I have awaken, on more than one occasion, plastered with the fur of two pups sleepily snuggled together. So as we drove in that morning, I couldn’t help but recall that today they would be “pen” pals which means they can unabashedly share each others warmth, comfort and friendship without practicing how to be aloof.
Sauerkraut and white wine braised beef short ribs
We usually go out to dinner in Ballard after the pups have their spa day since there are so many good places to eat and we live on quite the opposite end of town (or rather, another town entirely). This time, however, due to rain and schedules, we went home and ate leftover beef ribs instead. It was not a hardship, I assure you. These ribs are meltingly tender and take on a distinctive flavor from the cabbage; the combination is rather addictive, to me. I meant to add about 1/4 cream to the cooker during the second heating but was out. It wasn’t really necessary but I stirred in the sour cream as an afterthought at the end. The idea for this preparation came from Doris Cappadona, my brother’s Mother-in-law. About, what seems like a decade ago, she described throwing sauerkraut, Riesling, grapes and cream into a pot with beef and slow cooking it until tender. I always thought it had sounded delicious so with my leftover sweet and sour cabbage, I decided to give it a try. I used Chardonnay rather than Riesling and no grapes. This is probably a completely different dish than the one that she described but it is a keeper none the less.
INGREDIENTS (for the ribs)
2 lbs boneless beef short ribs (about 4 large)
Salt and pepper to season (I use my “seasoning” that I make with roasted salt, pepper and coriander)
A slight dusting of flour for the ribs
Olive (or canola) oil for browning
1/2 bottle white wine
1 cup thickly sliced crimini mushrooms
1 cup sliced leek (1 medium)
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 medium yellow potatoes cut into quarters
2 large carrots cut in half lengthwise
1 cup sauerkraut (or homemade sweet and sour red cabbage as I used since I had some leftover from a previous meal – recipe to follow)
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 TB sour cream
COOK (the ribs)
Rinse and pat dry the beef; season and dust with flour.
In a large sauté pan, brown on both sides in olive or canola oil. Remove from pan and set aside.
Deglaze the pan with a good hit of white wine, scraping up the burnt/brown bits. Pour this over the beef.
Wipe the pan clean and in a little more oil, sauté the mushrooms, leeks, onion and garlic for about 10 minutes until slightly softened. Add in the cider vinegar and cook to combine.
Transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl of a pressure cooker (I use an electric cooker). Add in the potatoes and sauerkraut (or cabbage) and top with the beef then the rest of the wine.
Close the pot and turn to high heat set on 10 minutes. When the lid is released, add the full carrots and turn set the time for 6 minutes more. When the lid releases, stir in the sour cream.
In hot, shallow bowls, dish a little mushroom and potato (that will be coated in a lovely, melted cabbage and onion sauce) into each bowl, add a sliver or two of carrot and dust over some grated pecorino Romano. Garnish with an soft herb such as basil or sorrel.
All said, dinner to the table in an hour or less with possible leftovers for a wayward night out.
INGREDIENTS (for the cabbage)
Olive oil for sautéing
1 medium-sized red onion – peeled and sliced, slices cut in half
1 head (approx 2 lbs) sliced red cabbage, core removed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 TB (approx) sugar
1 1/2 tsp (approx) salt
2 TB butter
COOK (the cabbage)
Heat a low-sided Dutch oven and add olive oil, just enough to coat the pan, 1 TB or so. When it is hot enough to move freely when tilting the pan, add the onion and cabbage. Stir a few minutes to soften the vegetables then add the vinegar and wine, then sprinkle with sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer, add dots of butter scattered on top then cover and transfer to a preheated 300 degree oven. Cook for approximately 1 hour. Check in now-and-again to stir. When the cabbage begins to be meltingly tender, remove the lid and cook until the liquid has all evaporated. It won’t hurt to cook longer than needed so err on the side of more is better to get a succulent result.