Trying New Approaches
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!!