Sunday, November 27, 2011

65 Things I Will Remember About Lola

  1. The way she would flop to the ground and sigh heavily when she laid down on the hardwood floor.
  2. The squeaking noises she made when James came home every night - and the way she stood up on the counter to see his car through the kitchen window.
  3. All her little snorty sounds.
  4. The sound of her beating on the dog door, trying to get in.
  5. The sound of her working the dog run gate back and forth trying to get it open.
  6. That terrible, braying bark.
  7. The snuffling sound of her hoovering the kitchen floor for tidbits.
  8. The way she crossed her paws daintily when she laid down.
  9. Her lady-like, soulful brown eyes.
  10. Her refusal to come until promised a treat or a meal.
  11. Her spinning happy dance as you set the bowl down at feeding time.
  12. The sound of her tags hitting the bowls and her knocking the food bowls around on the tile as she licked them both clean hours after feeding time.
  13. The way she would slide her nose under your arm if you hung it over the side of a chair, then walk your hand out to the point where she wanted to be scratched.
  14. Her licking. Always with the licking.
  15. The way she would lean full force into you with her rear and look over her shoulder pleading for a butt scritch.
  16. The way she would lean back into your hand with all her might if you pushed on her.
  17. Her terrible fishy breath.
  18. Her soft, floppy ears.
  19. The way she always beat me to the garden gate.
  20. The way she jumped back in bed with me when I would sleep in.
  21. The pawing when she got impatient while begging for food.
  22. IMG_8980
  23. The way she used to lay on the back patio and watch the birds.  
  24. The bowing, barking and romping as we got ready to go for a walk.
  25. The jumping. Always with the jumping.
  26. The way she never seemed to sleep at night. 
  27. The way she would start pawing at the gate at regular intervals at dawn.
  28. The spinning happy dance she would do when you came to get her in the morning.
  29. The way she would paw impatiently at the door on the way out for a walk.
  30. The way she and Bart (our other dog) nibbled each other constantly.
  31. The way she would come and lay next to you on the sofa or in bed and just gaze up at you adoringly.
  32. The way she would sneak over to Bart’s bowl and speed-eat any leftover food, hoping she could get it all down before we took it away.
  33. The way she always insisted on walking right next to me on my right side on walks.
  34. The way she adored Bart and would not let him out of her sight – even sitting next to the pen when he was locked up at doggie day care.
  35. The way she liked to be kissed right between her eyebrows.
  36. Her snuffling sighs.
  37. Her farts. Yes, even those were charming.
  38. Her ridiculous crotch licking.
  39. The way she and Bart would spoon on the couch.  
  40. The way she liked to have her blanket pulled out to lay on at night.
  41. The way she would almost take your finger off if you gave her a treat she really liked, but if you scolded her, she’d take the next one nicely.
  42. The pig-like snorting as she took a treat or bite of food from your hand.
  43. Bart and Lola 030
  44. The way she sat for treats on day one.
  45. The way she would jam her nose into your armpit at the breakfast table to beg for bacon.
  46. All the times we caught her up on the counter (or just heard her paws hit the floor.)
  47. The distinctive sound of her walk – created by her always too-long nails and ambling gait.
  48. The way she would try to stealth lick babies from behind, even though she was afraid of them.
  49. Her one pink toe.
  50. Her soft pink belly.
  51. Her long "handsy" paws.
  52. Her little peanut head. 
  53. The way she hated it at first when I blew raspberries on her stomach, but eventually learned to tolerate it.
  54. Her pretty girl silhouette with her long eyelashes.
  55. The rolls she would get behind her collar when she got too fat.
  56. The way her fur was always shiny, even though she had terrible dandruff.
  57. The way she would lay on the middle of the sofa, in the pillows, until she heard me coming and would then slink off.
  58. The sound of her slinking off the sofa, one back leg at a time.
  59. The way she backed up onto the sofa to turn around near the coffee table.
  60. Her Disneyland bear-cave snoring. 
  61. The sound of her pawing at the door to the garage when I came home.
  62. The way she would run circles around it if I came home in James' car, because she thought he was supposed to be in there.
  63. The long period of time when she absolutely refused to get in the car.  
  64. The way her little tail stub twitched back and forth constantly.
  65. The way she would startle if you gave her a little puff of air - the only disciplinary tool that worked.
  66. The way she would scrounge up every last bit of food on the floor and jump up on the counter to snatch the little stray bits at feeding time.
  67. The way she always smelled good, no matter how dirty she was.
RIP sweet girl.  We miss you like crazy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Indian Princess Party

Juju contemplates her cake.
As I mentioned last week, I made the cake for a friend's four year old's birthday this weekend.  The party  was at the Rare Hare Art Studio in Normal Heights, a super-cool space for art classes and parties for kids and grownups alike.  I'll let Jora tell you more about it, but I thought I'd share a few shots, and of course, let you know how the cake turned out!
Party guests - appropriately attired. :)
The birthday girl had requested vanilla cake, and I went searching for a new recipe since up until now, I haven't really found one I like all that well.  This one from Bakerella fit the bill.  I didn't have White Lily flour, which she said she had used, so I used a combination of two cups regular self rising flour and one cup of cake flour with one teaspoon of baking powder mixed in.  The cake was tender but rich, and I really liked the flavor.  I made my usual cream cheese frosting and tinted it pink, since  I wanted it to look just like it does in her picture.  :)  I also upped the recipe by half so that I could fill three 9 inch cake pans.
Indian Princess Party
There can never be too much pink on a four year old's birthday cake.  At least that was my theory. :)
The decorations are fondant - that was the fun part.  I had a grid mat and a little rolling pin, and cut them out with an exacto knife, pizza cutter and piping tip (the large end.)  Funny thing - while I was making the decorations in the kitchen, James and my nieces were watching Romeo + Juliet in the living room - the modern version with Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes.  Everytime I look at those teepees on the side of the cake I hear Shakespearean dialogue in my head.
Indian Princess Party
The gifts from myself and the girlies - I could have happily kept them myself! 
I picked up these gifts at the store at their school - the Snake and Lily.  Are they the cutest or what??  I had wanted to get her a little Indian girl, but she already had one - so I contemplated whether to get the brave, or a mama with a papoose - luckily, she got the mama and papoose from someone else - so she has the whole set now.  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Chicken {A Recipe}

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
I just ate a bite of this straight from the fridge, and it was so good I was prompted to come sit down and write down the recipe right this minute, so I can do it exactly the same way next time - and of course, share it with you.  This has always been one of my favorite dishes to eat, but it took me a few tries to get the formula down for my ideal crust, and even longer to remember to measure everything out!
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
For some reason, I had a hard time figuring out the right amount of salt.  It takes more than you would think, and it really makes a huge difference.  I use both flour and crumbs to form a nice crisp coating that won't slide off the chicken, and I like to add just enough cayenne or chile powder to wake it up a little.

I made this batch the other night as a special treat for James, who just ran his first half marathon on Sunday!   We ate it with a simple salad of arugula and tomato dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.  It's a little bit of a project, with the assembly line and the frying and all (another reason it's an every-once-in-a-while thing!)  But it's pretty well worth it - especially if you make enough for leftovers.  Which, by the way - did I mention? - are fantastic cold.  :)
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Parmesan Crusted Chicken

3-4 pounds of boneless and skinless chicken pieces (I used 2 thighs, 4 breasts + 4 tenderloins)

dry mix:
2 cups fine breadcrumbs
2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt or kosher salt
1 cup (loosely packed) finely shredded fresh parmesan cheese
1 tsp cayenne or hot chile powder
a few grinds of pepper
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

wet mix:
4-5 eggs
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
a splash of milk

2 cups vegetable oil for frying*

cut lemon for squeezing and more salt for sprinkling

Place dry ingredients in a medium-sized shallow bowl and toss with a fork to blend.

Crack eggs into a large bowl and add mustard and a splash of milk - blend with a whisk or hand blender to thoroughly incorporate the mustard.

Set up a work area with a plastic cutting board, a 2 foot long piece of saran wrap and whatever you use to pound meat. If you don't have a special tool, a flat bottomed heavy glass or small saucepan will work. (I use this and I absolutely love it, it's also great for cracking spices and smashing garlic cloves, etc.)  Cut your breast meat into halves off center, since they are thicker on one end.  Lay each piece in the middle of the saran wrap and fold the wrap over with a generous overlap (one piece should last you the whole batch.)  Lightly pound each cutlet from the center outward just a couple of times in each direction - until each piece is uniformly just a little less than 1/2 inch thick.  (Be gentle with the tenderloins, they will probably just need one very light tap.)  As you finish pounding the cutlets, put them in the bowl with the egg/mustard mixture to marinate.  They can stay there for an hour or so at room temperature and even longer in the fridge.

When you are ready to fry, pour vegetable oil to about half an inch deep in a large heavy frying pan or cast iron skillet.  Heat frying pan over medium-high heat and line a baking sheet or large platter with a double layer of paper towels.  If you plan to hold the cutlets before serving, turn the oven on to 250 degrees.

Set up your work station like an assembly line - with the bowl of cutlets and egg on one end, the crumb mixture next, then they frying pan, and the paper towel lined tray on the opposite side.  Place your cut lemon and a little dish of salt by the tray.

To fry, pluck your first piece of chicken out of the egg mixture with one hand and lay it in the crumb mixture. Using the OTHER hand, toss crumbs and flour over the chicken to coat, and flip and pat it couple of times to get the coating to stick. (If you use the same hand for both, your fingers will soon have more coating on them than the cutlets.)  Lift the first cutlet by one end and dip a tiny corner into the oil.  If it sizzles, lay it down gently in the oil.  If it doesn't - put it back in the flour and wait a couple more minutes until it does.  Dip and coat two or three more pieces, as many as will comfortably fit, and set them gently in the oil too, making sure it sizzles but isn't burning or smoking.   Let the pieces get nice and brown around the edges before flipping - they should cook quite a bit longer on the first side than the second.  Using tongs, gently flip them once. When they are well browned on all sides, lay them on the paper towels to drain.  Squirt with a little lemon juice and sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt.

Turn the oven down to 200, and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Serves about six - or fewer, with leftovers.  :)

* optimally, if you are going to fry more than 3 batches, you should really change your oil - it will get lots of burnt bits in it and start to taste funny after that.  I pushed it and did four, but that was definitely the limit.