When Buddy came to visit us with his Foster Mom, Michelle, three years ago, he walked right in as if he had always lived here. He came in the door, alongside Sophie (a shitzu who was also sadly looking for a home), said his proper hello then proceeded to make a beeline straight to the living room where he confidently climbed into Gingers “raft” (code name for her living room bed). Ginger, had no reaction. This was a strong indication that he may, in fact, be here to stay.
To give a little context to the significance of this move, I need to let you know that Ginger was not on board with our decision to provide her with a little brother. In fact, she had no idea that this was a real consideration. Ginger was ten years old at the time and had always been the center of attention. Ginger is far more interested in the people we meet than their dogs and through her actions around the other dogs, she was very clear about her desire to be an only child. Ginger is a little territorial. She also doesn’t like to share.
So when Buddy made himself at home in her very special bed, Tom and I both looked at each other with wide eyes and took a deep breath. Then… nothing happened. We were elated and at the same time, quite surprised.
Our next step, as Michelle suggested, was to take them for a walk together. Buddy plowed forward like a bull dog, hind feet propelling so fast I thought he might do a summersault. Ginger competitively tried to get ahead but they both ended up strolling together, side-by-side. They tromped through the wet grass at the park and sniffed everything along the way, including each other. It was still wet out from the rain and the mud coated their little paws making patterns on the sidewalk as they marched onward.
When we returned home, Tom took Buddy and I took Ginger, into our arms and carried them to the back door to wipe their feet with the paw towel. Michelle was puzzled by this and said, “Oh, they have to wipe their feet?”, as if this might break the deal.
We don’t have many rules in this house, but one that we make everyone abide by is, “please remove your shoes”. We even provide guest slippers in a bin next to our door, yet they rarely ever get worn. Most people don’t have a problem with this rule, but it is obvious that not all people have this one. Buddy doesn’t like the rule. He likes everything about living here but continues to try and wear his dirty shoes in the house. When I open the door from the backyard to let him in, he sheepishly looks up at me and hesitates when he sees the towel in my hand. I can see his eyes darting to and fro, looking for an alternate route. He usually takes two steps back and requires a little coaxing to come inside (screen door practically shutting closed and thwacking him on the butt).
I take his tiny paws, one at a time and gently brush the towel back and forth to remove the dirt then give a little squeeze to dry the moisture. The second I release his fourth paw, he catapults out of my hands as if he were a wind-up toy, heading toward the treat jar.
Balanced nutrition and healthy foods are a key to building a stronger body. The first time I took Buddy’s little paws in my hands, they were so thin and frail, I feared I would snap them in two. Just this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that his feet felt big and his legs felt sturdy. The little twigs that used to be in their place have grown strong and healthy and a diet rich in nutrients, devoid of chemicals and fillers have played a big part.
Needless to say, he did stay and even Ginger thinks he is kind of swell (although won’t admit it). So with a spring in their step and all shoes removed, Buddy and Ginger join us at the table for our family dinner, halibut tonight.
Crisp halibut over raw beet, apple, cabbage & blue cheese slaw with mint aioli
Serves 2 plus enough for two small pups
As usual, Buddy and Ginger get their fish cooked in foil, sans seasoning and they take their slaw undressed, minus onion. You can use any dense white fish, or even salmon, instead of halibut. I like using golden beets in the Springtime and red beets closer to Fall.
INGREDIENTS (for slaw)
2 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 small or 1 medium golden beet, cleaned & peeled
1/2 red apple, cored, sliced and julienned (squeeze lemon juice over to keep them from turning color)
2 green onions, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 TB mint aioli (recipe to follow)
1 oz. good quality blue cheese, crumbled (I used Rogue Creamery Reserve)
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
PREPARE (the slaw)
Parboil the peeled beet. Slice the beet very thin (helps to use a mandolin). Set aside six slices for garnish.
Mix together the cabbage, beets and onion in a medium bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle over a pinch or two of sea salt
Toss in the aioli and mix well. Add the blue cheese, carefully mixing it in.
Season to taste and let rest at room temperature as you cook the fish.
INGREDIENTS (for the mint aioli)
1 TB rice wine vinegar
1 TB lime juice
1/2 tsp Thai hot sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 TB chopped shallot
1 egg yolk
6 TB peanut oil
1 TB hazelnut oil
1/4 cup packed fresh mint
Process the the vinegar, lime juice, hot sauce, sugar, shallot and yolk in a food processor. Slowly add in the oil until emulsified. Add the fresh mint and process until smooth.
INGREDIENTS (for the fish)
3/4 – 1 lb fresh halibut fillet, skin removed and cut into 2 pieces
Sea salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 egg, lightly beaten (or spanked ever-so slightly)
1/2 cup panko
COOK (the fish)
I don’t typically measure out the flour or panko, so don’t get too hung up on the quantities listed above.
In addition to lightly seasoning the halibut with salt & pepper, I also lightly season the flour with the addition of smoked paprika.
Rinse and pat dry the fish (friendly-like). If you have a small dog(s), consider trimming the ends of the fish off to cook in foil for them (trust me, they will love you even more if that’s possible).
Dust the fish (no feathers necessary) with the seasoned flour then dip it into the egg letting the excess drip off. Press the fish into the panko on each side.
Heat a pan until hot and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the fish and let cook, undisturbed until it has formed a nice brown crust. Flip it over and cook through a few minutes more, depending on it’s thickness. If you like, you can transfer the pan to a 375 degree oven once it is flipped and continue cooking it in the oven.
Put three beet slices down on each plate. Put a mound of slaw in the center and top with a fillet of halibut. Serve with a small bowl of aioli alongside. Alternately, you could drizzle some sauce on the plate before you put down the beets. A sprig of mint makes a nice garnish.