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Trying New Approaches

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Saturday, June 06, 2020

Yesterday I called our vet's office to leave a message for her: that we had taken her advice, bought Henry the recommended Easy Walk harness, and that it has made a real difference.

The vet tech who took the message was just about in tears. She says they aren't getting much thanks these days for anything. It's awkward for them setting appointments for curbside care of dogs: wearing full PPE (which can be pretty hot); coming out to the client's car to get the dog; taking the dog inside for whatever check up or examination is needed; bringing the dog back out to the car; and getting payment on the point of sale machine. Many of the dog owners are annoyed by the delays, annoyed if the vet tech requests that the dog wear a muzzle or a restraint leash to cope with the pet -- who isn't used to this routine either -- ; and in general not happy about the service.

I had observed all of that at Henry's check up for his heart worm medication at neigbouring cars as \we awaited our turn . . . part of the reason I called. And oh my. I'm nothing but grateful for the dedicated service. These are the people who've been taking care of our dogs faithfully for over 40 years. And of course I said just that . . .

How I wish the new front ring harness had been available when we had dear saint Charlie, since one of his few failings was the difficulty walking him on a leash . . . but I see (checking on line) that it was invented only about 15 years ago: and yes, by a vet behaviourist!!

This morning's grocery run at the 7 am seniors' hour: smooth sailing!! The staff has worked out the wrinkles with respect to directing and assisting with the social distancing. Most people are masked and sanitizing.

Never used to prepare a list because essentially it did not matter if I "forgot" something -- I could pick it up mid week on the way to or from work, at the grocery store or elsewhere. Now I'm much more careful to write 'er down, especially if it's something I only buy occasionally! It's typically my only outing of the week. And certainly I'm getting used to this new approach too!!

By the time I got home, DH had left for his Saturday golf game with the guys. After putting everything away, I got a bit of kitchen experimenting done while the day was still cool.

A raspberry and peach pie!! There were a few peaches that needed to be used up, and I thought that would be a nice "Melba" type combo. It smells really good.

While I had the oven on, thought I might also try a new approach to the potatoes dauphinoise I've been making occasionally -- essentially a variation on a gratin or scalloped theme. But the Martha Stewart recipe I'd been using was kinda fussy and time consuming and made a LOT of mess.

Peeling the potatoes. Slicing them thin and then soaking them in ice water (one big bowl). Then pre-cooking the sliced potatoes on top of the stove in cream with 1 clove garlic (a big pot, and the cream cooks onto the pot and is hard to clean). Layering the sliced potatoes in the buttered pan with Emmental cheese and nutmeg, salt and pepper . . . and baking ( a casserole). Result: quite delicious but a bit soupy and frankly I thought could use more flavour . . . .a small portion is plenty because it's a rich dish but slightly bland.

So: I checked out some alternative approaches. And having read multiple recipes, decided: no need to peel the potatoes. (Time consuming, fiddly. The peels have potassium and Vitamin C and I hate to waste them). No need to soak the potatoes in ice water: the starch would help thicken the sauce. No need to pre cook. But: lots of recipes used a bit more garlic. And: also fresh grated nutmeg (so I bought some this morning at the store).

Today's version: the potatoes, thinly sliced on the box grater (I'm not safe with a mandolin) , layered raw in the buttered casserole with two large minced cloves of garlic and the salt and pepper, the nutmeg (smells so much more aromatic fresh ground), the shredded cheese -- and then just pouring the cream over top in sufficient quantity to fill all the spaces! But the key step in this new approach: baking in advance and then reheating when ready to eat . ..

All that and yes, faster, fewer prep dishes, result golden brown, more "solid" and smelling terrific!! I think this will be a winner!!

The dauphinoise approach was inspired by the Alexander McCall Smith Sunday Philosophy Club series which I have been rereading: his main character, Isabel Dalhousie, is quite frequently served potatoes dauphinoise prepared for her by her (much younger) partner Jamie!! I never really liked the "scalloped" potatoes my mum prepared, with a traditional white sauce thickened with flour and butter . . . and a considerable quantity of onion. This is more subtle and my own DH loves it.

Do you ever experiment with a new recipe because you've read about it in a novel or memoir? Proust's madeleines are probably the classic example of "literary" food inspiration, I suppose: and although often referenced, I don't know many folks who've actually read all of In Remembrance of Things Past or even all of Swann's Way . . . I've tried multiple times and never been able to slog my way right through it!! Whereas reading anything by Alexander McCall Smith is pure pleasure.

With pie and potatoes baking away, sitting on the front verandah with Henry and scanning the morning paper and sipping my coffee: I noticed a remarkably tall and quite light-coloured fox sauntering silently across the front lawn: completely unconcerned. Have not seen this particular fox before . . . Isabel Dalhousie also has a recurrent fox in her garden, but apparently always the same one.

I have to assume the fox must have seen and smelled Henry: but he did not hurry. And Henry, if he saw or smelled the fox, was completely "live and let live". Just as he had been yesterday: when two large rabbits (perhaps hares?) had made their appearance. Not so sure that the fox would have been so insouciant with hares!!

So peaceful!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BJAEGER307
    That sure is a lot of loving work you did to make potatoes. It reminds me way too much scallop potatoes so being honest it's not something I would make cause I don't like scalloped potatoes. But I told hubby and he said it sounds absolutely delicious! emoticon emoticon Now the pie yummy for hubby, cause also I'm not a pie eater. Never did like pie, but then again hubby says he would come to your house to have pie. He wants to know should he bring ice cream? emoticon

    Usually when Spark people share recipes I run it by him and he gives me his opinion as I am always looking for new recipes to try.

    Thanking the vet how super of you to think of them. I agree they mostly don't get an appreciation in their profession. An act of kindness goes along way! I'm sure that person felt good for the entire day!
    31 days ago
    I am just so emoticon FILLED for my amazing life, I gush to anyone who is the least bit nice to me! THX for offering to mail frozen watermelon! We get fresh here, almost all year long! You are such a sweetheart!!!! emoticon

    emoticon 6-7-2020 Yesterday, I walked a virtual 5K, emoticon for the World emoticon Wildlife Fund at our little nature preserve. I walked about 4 miles, 85 degrees & wind of 25-30 MPH! emoticon I staid dry because of it, emoticon It was a wonderful time, I got a lot of exercise & played in our beautiful nature land!

    emoticon Have a GREAT day, try to be happy & keep to your goals! (my small goal for this week, is NOT to over react & share joy, where ever I can! SP team SMALL GOALS COMMITMENT CHALLENGE) & I will too! emoticon

    31 days ago
    Thank you for expressing gratitude at the veterinarian office; as the mom of a vet I can tell you that gratitude is not something they regularly see. They are taken for granted, they are maligned for the invoices they present, they are expected to perform miracles upon animals that have been mistreated or ignored by their owners, they work ungodly hours...the list goes on. Somehow it is forgotten that at least eight and often more years are spent studying, that business overhead is huge as owners demand all the bells and whistles like MRI machines, that their staff deserve a living wage that they the vet pays, that they are on the hook for paying for all the drugs and supplies and that for many they begin or join a practice with close to $300,000 of student debt. Your thank you means the world to them!
    BTW the potatoes should utterly delicious and so does the pie, yum! emoticon
    31 days ago
  • NANCY-
    I'm not safe with a box grater. So glad you found a recipe you like. Most books I read are non-fiction and usually do not mention food. My inspiration comes from other media and my desire to recreate a recipe from my childhood. So I cobble together something from various recipes on the web to ultimately make it my own.
    It is indeed wonderful that you found something that works for Henry.
    WTG on taking time out to thank the thankless. It does make a world of difference to be appreciated. I try to remind myself to take a moment to give thanks.
    31 days ago
    Sounds like a great day!
    31 days ago
    I wrote our vet a heart felt note after putting one of our beloved German Shepherds down. She framed it! It takes so little to just be kind and thoughtful.
    31 days ago
    31 days ago
    Isn't it great to have technology ? I was watching Martha make just that on TV recently and thought it was time consuming and a waste of that lovely potato goodness :) so glad you are able to find such recipes and enjoy them :)

    Henry is amazing leaving that Fox alone :) at peace with himself and those around him :)
    31 days ago
    My husband wishes I would make more pie. Yours sounds good.
    31 days ago
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    32 days ago
    Mmm potatoes.
    I've been experimenting with baking a bunch first and then using them for various meals as needed. They may do well in a scalloped or cheesy recipe.

    I made DH baked whole wheat blueberry doughnuts yesterday. The recipe made only 6!
    A perfect amount. Not too many and enough he felt special!
    32 days ago
    So kind of you to thank the vets office. I wish some people would be kinder. Cant understand why some of us are so rude & unpleasant. Loved the recipe & in one step thank you.
    32 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I shall save that recipe....sounds great! We all learn so much from you I can't thank you enough!!! emoticon
    32 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Patience is thin these days but that doesn't give an automatic green light to take it out on others.

    I stopped peeling potatoes many years ago as my arthritic hands got worse plus having read "Potatoes, Not Prozac" which presented potatoes in a healthy light.

    Tried the pound cake recipe that the Delany sisters baked in multiples and always had one in the freezer should guests arrive. Been a few years since I made this but did get rave reviews. "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" by Amy Hill Hearth, Annie Elizabeth Delany, and Sarah Louise Delany.

    I had friends who had a three-legged hare that adopted them and that was loved by their collie. They were sweet to watch together.

    Raspberry and peach pie -- emoticon
    32 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    32 days ago
    Your recipe sounds delicious!

    Sooo nice that you took the time to express gratitude. I don't imagine the vet nor the techs are too thrilled with the new routines, but . . . have to be safe! That's wonderful they care enough to be safe!

    32 days ago
    I don't think I have the patience to make that recipe,however,when I get home from Montana I may give that a try! Henry must have a love for wild life! 🤔
    32 days ago
    I don't think I have the patience to make that recipe,however,when I get home from Montana I may give that a try! Henry must have a love for wild life! 🤔
    32 days ago
    Good for you thanking the vet and tech! It sure makes a difference... Gratitude elevates the attitude. I can only imagine all of the impatient folks grumping about what's taking so long. Hey...do you wanna stay healthy with your critter or not?! Okay, 'nuff said.

    DH makes the meals and I do occasionalbakingd. I look to SP to give me the lighter versions!
    32 days ago
  • THOMS1
    Recipe sounds good although while my sister is away for the summer there is only me who would eat them. My husband is very fussy and would not try them I am sure. Our dinners and lunches are very simple I'm afraid usually seperate meals. Have a wonderful day and wonderful that Henry likes his new walking harness; emoticon
    32 days ago
    I read cookbooks like they were novels ... love, love recipes.

    We are doing our best to thank each and every person we come in contact during this very, very difficult time ... virus and unsettled feelings.

    We had a deer in the back yard "drinking" from our hummingbird feeder. Murphy the wonder dog just stared.
    32 days ago
    I admit to sometimes trying something out because I read about it! This morning I was doing "ice box cleanout" ragout for brunch. And a single potato provided the starch, diced and added to the onion, mushroom, spinach and tomato mixture. Nummy, for sure!

    32 days ago
    Oh, oh, the potatoes and the pie both sound delicious -- especially the potatoes, and I agree with you on the nutmeg. The potato slicing is fast and easy for me since I can use the slicer disc that came with my Cuisinart food processor (wedding present 40 years ago and still going strong) -- it also works great when I want thin cucumber slices for Viennese cucumber salad.

    It sounds as if your "thank you" to the vet tech was exactly what she (and the rest of the staff) needed to hear about now. One would think that people would be grateful to still have access to pet care during this time, and appreciate that access in light of the safety restrictions. So much for hoping that people are gaining some awareness and kindness during this time....
    32 days ago
    I have been making my dear man a small baking container ofPotatoes Gratin...sounds exactly the same...what’s the difference?
    I heat the cream with the garlic, reduce a bit, put potatoes And onions in to get cooking a bit, layer in buttered pan to bake...I often forget any cheese.
    He adores them...usually put it in the oven for the last hour of our weekly while chicken.
    I read a lot of recipes then do whatever I want.
    We have themed food and drinks at my book club...if it was a feature in the book.
    I have thanked my cashiers for coming to work in every store I go to.
    We only get a takeout meal delivered every other week or so and he gets a big fat tip!
    32 days ago
    Thunder is booming in the background as I type. We need this rain, none has fallen in the last 10 days or so and the gardens are desperate for it. I like the idea behind your potato casserole. I'll have to experiment some myself after my grocery shop tomorrow morning.....
    32 days ago
    32 days ago
    Wow, a whole lot of work for spuds! I am mainly into sweet potato, simply baked. Sounds incredible though, your DH should be happy with them and the pie.
    Good on Henry! Daisy will not let anything walk by casually, especially cats..
    I do feel for all workers trying to make a go of these times. As if they are not stressed enough.
    Cold, wet and rainy here today, not much moving.
    32 days ago
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