The Pressure Is On!

Or off, depending on your point of view.

For Christmas this year I asked for and received 

Imagea pressure cooker from my family.  Last night, Wonderful Guy and I broke it in with both this Paprika Chicken from allrecipes.com – only TWELVE MINUTES cooking time although I was slightly bummed that getting everything chopped, put into the cooker and getting the cooker up to pressure temperature took a good 20 minutes all on its own.  The chicken though was perfectly cooked!  Moist, tender and delicious and that sauce is amazing.
 
We then cleaned out the pressure cooker and made Seven Minute Risotto which we deemed delicious but not as creamy as real risotto. Although I think some of that is that WG just really likes the mushroom risotto I made with the Better Than Bouillon paste a few months ago which made for an incredibly rich, creamy risotto.
 
I know this has turned into a cooking blog rather than my little, life adventures but the pressure cooker steaming and rocking was a bit on the adventurous side and it is frankly too cold for outdoor adventures for me this time of year and indoor adventures are too private for a blog ;-)
 
Tonight we are going to pressure cook a big batch of lentil soup and try to make some of Heidi’s Gougeres which we can do as leftovers tomorrow with the munchkins plus our standby Greek Salad.

I only love him for his dutch oven!

I have been a very absent blogger and I am disappointed with myself since I simply wanted to record the adventures in my life for my own reflection.

The biggest change in my life recently was becoming a member of Pinterest with which I have become sightly obsessed.  Wonderful Guy and the kids are great.  Paddling hasn’t been an option for months now and I cannot wait to get back to it this spring but we have done some minor hikes.  One was at a friend of WG’s property near Stanton, another was at a local park with a crazy network of fairly random trails through the woods created by people playing disc golf and last weekend we took The Coyote and her friend Squeakers, The Big Brown Possum with us to Red River Gorge where the steps so exhausted my legs/knees that we wound up hiking back to the car not quite in the dark which was definitely adventurous! Both children are forever picking up sticks and rocks they want to carry home with them so I made them each an Altoid Tin container for treasures found on the hike.  I couldn’t get the cardboard to fit in correctly to create the blocks so the rule was they could only keep things which would fit into the tin.  Except for the kindergartner dropping his tin near the steps of despair, which his father fortunately found although did not reveal until we were back in the car, we had a pretty great time.

WG once again indulged my obsession with Heidi Swanson’s Split Pea Potstickers and I even have a batch of them in his freezer to cook up when a new craving for them hits!  As far as new foods we have played with we’ve done a fair amount of cooking with grains like quinoa and barley but last night WG took over the kitchen and made an absolute feast!

Yesterday, Adam over on Amateur Gourmet posted a recipe for chopped liver which I love so I quickly sent the link to WG who made a fantastic batch of it for me last night but apparently he already had a dinner idea going.  Ever since I read Smitten Kitchen’s description of carnitas I have been dying to try them.  Last week we took the kids to see The Muppets and got a bite to eat afterwards at a local Mexican place which had carnitas on the menu.  Imagine my delight only to be served huge globs of roasted pork fat with no tortillas.  I was most unimpressed and WG was then nervous about making them for me despite my saying that I was positive I would love his.  He went out on that limb last night and without a doubt, cooked the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!  That includes Reese’s Minis ;-)

Adventures in Cooking

Wonderful Guy, the rugrats and I did nothing but cook…and eat…all weekend I think.

We had an adults only Friday night with steak, baked potatoes and these amazing stuffed peppers.  We went 50/50 on the wonderful banana peppers he gets straight from his parents’ garden and jalapenos from the boring old grocery store.  They were incredibly yummy but stuffing and wrapping food before you can even cook it, much less eat it is a bit on the fussy side to me.  Kind of like the idea that life is too short to stuff mushrooms which Yahoo attributes to Rochelle Moore, I had heard attributed to Julia Child although I just found her very own stuffed mushroom recipe and google found a mention of it as a Joan Collins quote so who knows who actually said it.  So the stufffed mushooms to me are generally a why bother and without WG to do the bulk of the work I doubt I would mess with the stuffed peppers but I certainly did enjoy the fruits of his labor!

After dinner, WG helped me with a batch of the NYT 3 day chocolate chip cookies which I made him clear room for in his freezer to speed the process of the butter absorbing into the flour.

First thing Saturday morning, I whipped up a double batch of dough for Saturday’s dinner of grilled pizza which is always a hit with both kids and adults which gave us most of the day Saturday to hang out, let the kids ride their bikes at the park – first time for the kindergartener with no training wheels! – while WG and I threw frisbees for The Circus Dog and her friend The Big Brown Possum.

Sunday was the culinary achievement of the weekend though!  Last week I read about Bacon Jam and immediately had to learn how we could make some of this ambrosia for ourselves!  That ex-con with a talk/cooking/craft show had a recipe but it required a slow cooker.  Fortunately, another blogger had already detailed a way to make this substance with just a dutch oven!

My intent was to be at WG’s house around 9am on Sunday to begin the jam making but I am always running late and the rugrats had him up at 7 so I arrived after the cooked bacon had been added to the cooked onions (which I had chopped on Saturday so I DID do something to assist!) While the jam was reducing, we got the kids started with Gnome Bowling as I had printed out the gnomes for them to color and simply taped the paper to the 10 two liter bottles WG had saved for this purpose.

I don’t think they really loved the lawn bowling game but since by 1pm we were noshing on home made biscuits slathered in bacon jam I don’t think anyone really cares :-)

Note about the jam: It is at least twice as good as you think it will be but it is VERY concentrated bacon so a very little goes a long way!

An Interlude

Remember how Wonderful Guy refers to my dogs as The Coyote and The Circus Dog?  The Coyote needs a new home.  I love her.  Very much.  But this is not working.  I am stressed all the time dealing with the two of them fighting.  Yes, I am a dog trainer.  No, in the two years I have been trying I have not been able to resolve this issue.

I started putting out feelers on finding The Coyote a new home over the weekend and even posted to that evil face page thing about her yesterday which means that all the other dog trainers I know now know that I have failed in my quest to resolve the issues.

I had to do a lesson with my Brazilian bikini model client last night who lives not too far from Wonderful Guy.  The bikini model client is a little bit of a drag since she doesn’t do her weekly work with her dog so we constantly have to go back and redo lessons.  For which she inevitably wears stilettos of course.

I stopped by WG’s house after the lesson and he was waiting for me with not only grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches but also frozen samosas from Fresh Market!

You see why I call him Wonderful Guy?

The Why

A couple of years ago I went to a Susan Garrett seminar and listened to her speak about one of the reasons she believes her dogs live such long, healthy lives: every day she makes sure each dog gets a big adventure.

As a professional dog trainer, my dogs are very important to me and an integral part of my life but for the last few months, since I began dating the most wonderful guy, I have felt like my own life and by default my dogs’ lives are one adventure (big and small) after another.

Case in point: yesterday, after returning from a most adventurous weekend in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, we were hanging in his backyard with my Jack Russell Terrier, Brit and his had-to-stay-home-sick (which is why Wonderful Guy was home at all) kindergartener.  We were about to go back into the house for a rousing game of Connect Four when Brit managed to chase down and kill a rabbit.

You would think the story would end there but I have been wanting a rabbit skin for the last couple of months to work with a client’s dog who loses all ability to think and thus keep a loose leash when he spots a bunny on a walk.  Between a post Bob Bailey wrote on a dog training email list and some Susan Garrett ideas I am fairly sure I can use a clicker, extra-good treats, the impulse control foundation already laid out in previous lessons for this dog (dubbed Sir Bites A Lot by said Wonderful Guy) and most importantly a genuine rabbit skin possibly on a remote control vehicle to teach the dog to control himself when he sees or smells bunnies.

Wonderful Guy comes from a family of hunters (I am more of a gatherer but we will cover that on down the road) so I was dearly hoping that someone would simply do the deed on the killing, skinning and prepping of this rabbit skin for me.  I even looked up rabbit season in Kentucky which doesn’t open until October so I was prepared to wait a while to get this skin.

The killing of the bunny was Brit’s Big Adventure yesterday.  Mine came afterwards when WG offered, in his suburban backyard on a Wednesday afternoon, to skin and butcher the bunny for me!  The kindergartener was intrigued but finally dubbed this adventure sad and gross which it totally was (although I made a case for this being a hero bunny who died so that other bunnies would not go down to Sir Bites A Lot)  so he went inside to watch cartoons while I held Mr. Bunny’s paws and tried not to see WG skinning him. Paws and ears were set aside to be dried as treats for Brit – seriously you can buy Aunt Jeni’s dried bunny feet for your pup although apparently not right now – and WG made sure all the meat was cut off for future training treats.  I just kind of pretended it wasn’t happening and said thank you a lot.

I very proudly emailed Sir Bites A Lot’s owner to tell her that Brit and WG had managed to obtain a rabbit skin for us finally and she promptly emailed me back asking if Brit was unaware that rabbit season didn’t open in Kentucky until October.