I woke up this morning going about my usual routine; a long, full body stretch, followed by a down dog (that’s me), then an up dog (me again) and a loud snarf. The morning was cool but the sheets were warm and as I jumped from the bed, I rolled to and fro, feet up in the air, letting out a signal that I wanted to be rubbed. When that didn’t work, I went on to scratch myself, hard and fast, under the arm. Before I could move into biting at my back, I was hit in the head with a flying panda bear; pretty sure Buddy sent Panda my way, probably to get me to stop making such a racquet.
I just can’t seem to get over this itch though! I know I have my allergies and some days they bother me more than others but lately, it has been a REAL _itch. The kind of itch that makes me go into a scratching fit for real relief rather than just for attention (more acupuncture please).
This time of year is always a little crazy in that there are Holidays going on (well there were holidays going on). Santa Claus came several weeks ago and the time leading up to his visit was a little hectic and varied from the usual order of business. For instance, a few days before Santa came, Buddy’s and my usual morning routine was diverted from that leading into a peaceful day of relaxation and calm sprinkled in with squirrel watching and biting my tail (cuz it really does itch now). Did I mention I’m allergic to pine (aka Christmas) trees? Oh, but I love them so. Ahhhh, but it was our spa day. On spa days, instead of longingly watching Mom and Dad leave for work, tails down in something they call “Snuffleupagus mode”, Buddy and I get bundled up in our coats and harnesses and carried by Mom to the car. Buddy starts to shake. I’m not sure if he is cold or just thinks we are going to see Doc, but I feel invigorated because I know we are going to see Victoria (I love Victoria and Buddy does too). Victoria cuts our hair (and has all of the time we have ever been with Mommy & Daddy). She does more than that though, she spoils us with her sweet, friendly charm and her patience for our shenanigans (especially Buddy’s). She is nice to everyone but we always feel extra special and secretly know that she would do anything for us. We get plenty of water and walks and love, even though there are many other dogs that are vying for her attention.
I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time that I hated going to that place. When I was a puppy, I was afraid of the water and thought the brush was a monster with big spiky fangs….yikes! Going to see Victoria (and Sue) meant being dipped in water and scrubbed. It meant being dried with a machine that blows air on us that is loud, and it meant getting rid of all the braids that formed in the time between visits. It also meant leaving feeling pretty and dainty when all I wanted to do was romp around in the leaves and the dirt, chewing on twigs. But now, being the Princess that I am, I like to feel pretty and Victoria always makes me feel pretty (and the product she uses leaves us smelling good).
Since I have been going there for so many years, Victoria also knows what I/we like. For instance, she knows that Buddy and I have sensitive ears and so she puts cotton balls gently inside them during bath time and drapes a hood over our head to protect them from the noise of that crazy air machine. She knows we like to be put front and center so we can see all the action coming and going through the front door and out on the street. She knows we like to sit together (Buddy and I), even though we used to pretend not to like each other when Buddy first became my brother. We also like Victoria to talk to us and tell us how wonderful we are.
So, you can imagine my surprise when, as we were about to leave, she told us she was going to miss us. I asked her to explain and as she did, her eyes teared up and her voice cracked a little. Funny though, cuz as she told us about her new adventure, I could tell it was something she looked forward to doing.
From here (Looking Good Grooming) though, it was time to for her to retire, from this. I have been around the block a time or two. I know good from bad. I know right from wrong. Most of all, I know friend from foe. Victoria is our friend and no matter where she goes, it will never be just good bye, but rather, so long…until we meet again, when I can say “hello”.
Monkfish Medallions with pan drippings and sautéed kale (with mushrooms and cipollini onions)
For Victoria, we present monkfish, because monkfish is actually “angel fish” and Victoria has been our angel. Also, monkish is a delicious, delicate white fish that is firm in texture but soft on taste. Mom always cooks a chunk for us, wrapped in foil to keep it moist and soft but without the salt and pepper they put on theirs. There are many sauces that would work with this but keeping it simple is just as good and much less fuss. Mashed potatoes or polenta is also a nice accompaniment to complement the texture of the fish.
1 lb monkfish – trimmed of cartilage (ask your fishmonger to do this. You are looking to have a nice, clean log (isn) of fish.
Salt and pepper to season
Flour for dusting
Olive oil and butter to sauté
A splash of white wine
1/2 head kale cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 Crimini mushrooms, stem removed and sliced
1 large or several small cipollini onions, cut into wedges
PREPARE & COOK MONKFISH
1. Slice the monkfish into 3/4-inch thick medallions.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper then dust with flour.
3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan until hot, but not smoking. Add the fish medallions and let brown on the first side, without touching (approximately 3 minutes). Turn and cook 2-3 minutes more.
4. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and let simmer until it is mostly evaporated.
5. Add 2 pats of butter and let melt. Swish around the pan to coat the bottom of the fish and add a splash of white wine. Let simmer slightly until warm and remove from heat to plate.
MEANWHILE, LET’S COOK THE KALE:
1.Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and cippolini onions. Saute for 5 minutes or until just soft.
2. Add the kale to the pan (I like to massage the kale first in olive oil, lemon and a pinch of salt just to loosen).
3. This should cook over medium-low heat while cooking the fish. Stir or toss periodically.
Plate the medallions of fish with a small pile of kale and a small pile of either mashed potato or polenta (red potato mash is pictured). Drizzle the pan drippings around the medallions of fish and squeeze over more lemon if desired.