Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Night of the Barking Dog(s)

I would have written about this yesterday, but due to lack of sleep and a busy week at work, decided to take a brief hiatus from the internet.

Thursday night we went to bed, same as usual. Around 12:30 AM Sophie started barking. These barks were "don't you dare come a step further, or I will eat you" kind of barks. Not something we were expecting to wake up to.

Unsure of what she was barking at, Daniel went to investigate. He checked all of the rooms and made sure everything was locked up. Sophie has never acted like this before, so we were a bit shaken up, but decided everything was OK and went back to bed.

I slept off and on until 5:30 AM when Sophie started with the barking again. We both sat up in bed immediately and Daniel went to see if he could find what she was barking at. When he came back, he said he had heard something small scurrying in the basement.

I tried to go back to sleep, but then our neighbor's dog started barking and wouldn't let up. An hour later it was time for me to get up to get ready for work. Before leaving, I decided to eat a quick bowl of cereal. When I opened the pantry, I noticed that one of the boxes of cereal had a hole that had been chewed in the top of it.

Case solved: It would appear that Sophie had been protecting us from a mouse that was having a midnight snack in our pantry.

Follow up: Last night Daniel set a trap in the pantry and baited it with some of the cereal. We went to bed and within 30 minutes heard some noises. Daniel got up to check it out and we had caught a mouse. Hopefully we will have no more issues with Sophie barking at mice in the night.

Even though I didn't get enough sleep, I am glad Sophie responded so aggressively to an abnormal situation. I hope that if we ever have a real intruder, she will respond in kind.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant is a compilation of essays that offer a glimpse into the eccentric tendencies of individuals when left to prepare a meal for themselves. To be eaten alone. I read this book a couple of months ago and truly enjoyed it. Though I have never had great success with cooking eggplants I do love the brilliant color. The taste just doesn't do it for me.

Tonight I am alone. Normally this would mean a quick stop at Chik-fil-a on the way home from work. For me, the thought of cooking a meal for one makes the experience seem more lonely. However, inspired by the book, I decided to make the effort to cook something that I enjoy, something that I know Daniel doesn't particularly care for. For tonight's meal, I decided on Sunny-Side-Up Eggs cooked in Baked Tomatoes and Red Peppers.

With this plan in mind, I came home to an extremely-excited dog. It seems that she was more interested in 1) being fed and 2) going outside, than letting me start my own dinner. So I frantically sliced up a red pepper and threw it, along with two cloves of crushed garlic, into a skillet of heated olive oil.

Sophie finished eating and starting dancing around, whining to go out, so I dashed downstairs, opened the door, ran out on to the deck with her, then tried to sneak back upstairs to finish my cooking.

No dice. She followed me up the stairs and continued to whine, even though the door was still open for her. We really need to work on her learning to be outside (ALONE).

By this time, my peppers were starting to get soft, so I added a can of diced tomatoes to the pan, turned the burner on low and covered with a lid. I left this concoction to simmer for 30 minutes while I went back outside to throw the ball with Sophie. I must admit that I get great joy out of watching Sophie chase a tennis ball - she seems so content, ears flapping in the wind, happy to just run and fetch and repeat.

Though she eventually got bored and we came back inside and I still had 8 minutes of simmering left, so I cut myself a slice of leftover pumpkin spice cake (remember I am eating alone, so eating dessert first is completely appropriate).

With a few minutes to go, I loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher, then I uncovered the food and cracked two fresh eggs on top of the mixture. I added some cracked pepper and sea salt, then covered again to let the eggs cook until the whites were set and the yolk was still runny (this is the main reason this dish is best for me to eat alone, Daniel wants his eggs, chicken, fish, steak, whatever, DONE).

Once the eggs had cooked. I poured the food into a bowl, sprinkled on some feta cheese, then downed it all with a glass of milk. As usual, I ate too fast and have a slightly burned tongue to show for it. Other than that, it was delicious.

During dinner, Sophie continued to whine. Not sure if she is missing Daniel or if she just wanted to go for a walk. I gave in and we took a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood.

If I hadn't been in such a rush to meet Sophie's needs, I probably would have taken the time to put on some jazz music and really enjoy the moment of cooking. Life doesn't always let us have those moments. Sometimes life is crazy and you have to run around and meet other needs and responsibilities. Even with the craziness, I still enjoyed my meal and am thankful I took the time to make myself something tasty and healthy, instead of relying on fast food as my eat-alone staple.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...