Over the past week or so I’ve been bad about my eating habits, in particular not stopping for lunch. Today I had a piece of leftover baked catfish and some rich lemon broccoli in the fridge that convinced me to take a break. Switching on the TV, I found myself in the middle of a court case involving a pet owner and a dog breeder. The pampered pooch in question was a hybrid breed, a peka-schnau or a snicker-doodle (oh, that’s a candy bar) or some such thing. Call her what you will, she was cute as a bug. The owner, an older woman, placed her small furry bundle on the table in front of her to show off the animal’s confirmation as well as showcase the dog’s designer outfit which included a tutu type skirt, an elastic headband, a matching tank and slippers. Really? I don’t dress that well. In all fairness, I guess if you’re showing up for court a dog needs to look her best.
I have several friends with small dogs who have purchased entire wardrobes for their diminutive pals, including outfits suitable for all holidays and occasions as well as play and party wear. One even has an extensive selection of footwear. These outfits go for a sizable price as well, and although cute I can’t help wonder if the animal is as enthusiastic about being dressed accordingly or is it more their humans needs that it satisfies.
This brings to mind an experience I had when I was in high school. For my thirteenth birthday I was gifted a small bundle of energy who I named Mandy. Mandy was a Pomeranian by breed, and very well-bred as it turned out with papers bearing regal sounding names like Dunchess Chi-Chi Uahua, Bubba Louie Chewie and his mother, Dame Frinkle Tinkle.
It was love at first sight for us, and soon unless in school, like Tonto and the Lone Ranger one didn’t ride far without the other. As Mandy was a rather expensive gift, my mother and step father entertained the thought of breeding her and recouping their outlay before we had her neutered. Nothing, however, came of this until Mandy was in her second year. While walking in the neighborhood park with my dog next to me on her leash, a woman in her sixties (I would guess, at that age I thought thirty was ready for the bone yard) stopped me and was petting and admiring the appreciative dog who was now spinning in excitement at all the attention and would have been grinning if she knew what that meant.
After exchanging words for a few minutes she allowed as she was a breeder of Pomeranians and had a young male that had not yet earned his stripes, if you will, and she was interested in breeding him with a well papered female. Not being sure about all this I accepted her card and took it home to my mother, who, at first reprimanded me for talking to strange people in the park.
On further examination of the card she found it looked like this lady was, in fact, a legitimate breeder and consulting with my stepfather decided to give her a call. Over the length of the conversation an appointment was made for us to take Mandy to visit the lady and her sister and discuss this in further detail. Now, I was young and at the time green as a gourd (I’ve ripened considerably since then), so for me this was kind of an uncomfortable undertaking but didn’t want to send Mandy in without someone guarding her back and all the rest of her equipment.
The following Saturday we piled in the car and located the correct address. A different female face came to the door although somewhat familiar, that we determined to be the woman’s sister. Ushered inside, the smell of a house with inside dogs became instantly noticeable as well as other tells with various dishes, a myriad of toys and several small beings of the furry genre scurrying to and fro.
In thinking back I can recall the room was very flowery with an overstuffed couch with a white background and what looked like red cabbage sized flowers strewn across the fabric. Knickknacks were everywhere. Small spoons hung from a display rack, decorated plates were arranged in rows along the wall and there were two or three massive china cabinets in dark wood brimming over with every manner of clowns, as I remember, and an estate sale’s supply of glassware and china. It made me instantly claustrophobic.
The lady I’d gotten the card from in the park entered the room with a tray with cookies and tea. Sitting around in a circle small dogs hopped up and down like on bungee cords and Mandy was starting to get a bit squirmy. As it turned out if the dogs liked each other (I didn’t realize that this was a prerequisite in canine unions, but I guess she thought it was) and things went on schedule, she would get the pick of the litter for providing the stud. Whew, this was way too grown up of a conversation for me, so I loaded up the excellent cookies and tried not to feel overwhelmed by the room.
All was going well until she brought out the wedding album. I’m not lying here. It was a large padded album with “Our Wedding” engraved in gold on the front. When opened there were a number of professional wedding pictures in which the bride was dressed in a lovely white dress and veil and the groom wore black tie and tails (tails being the operative word here, as both members of the wedding party were sporting them, as well as wet noses). She then suggested to my mother that Mandy would be required to consent to nuptials with her intended in order to proceed with the program and wondered which photographer would be be using, as she had a number she might suggest.
The look on my mother’s face I can still see in my mind’s eye. Having just taken another bite of cookie I was whisked out the front door in a swirl of cookie dust suddenly being late for an imaginary appointment quicker than Kim Kardashian signed her divorce papers.
In the end Mandy apparently “got along” with my stepbrother’s dog who was a complete mutt, but a lovable one, and had two sweet little pups we called Mutt and Jeff we were most happy with.
So, that’s my tail for today (argh).
Creamy Alfredo Pasta with Chicken and Artichoke Hearts
10 cherry tomatoes, wilted
1/2 cup oven roasted peppers (green, red, yellow or all three)
2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
3/4 cup chopped thawed frozen artichoke hearts
3 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 box whole grain spaghetti (6 oz.)
2 cups of Alfredo sauce
Parmesan cheese for garnish
1/4 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Melt butter in medium saucepan over med-low heat. Add the garlic, cream, white pepper and bring mixture to a simmer stirring regularly.
Add Parmesan cheese and simmer for 8-10 mins. until sauce has thickened and is smooth.
Add the Mozzarella cheese and stir often until cheese has melted and mixture is smooth and creamy.
To assemble recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Place tomatoes (whole) and sliced peppers on sheet and cook for 20 mins. until tomatoes
have begun to wilt and peppers are tender. Remove from oven and slice tomatoes pushing seeds to the side. Set aside.
Make Alfredo sauce as directed and reserve 2 cups refrigerating the remainder. In deep large saucepan add 2 cups Alfredo sauce, chicken, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 mins.
Meanwhile bring water to boil, salt, and cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well.
Add spinach to sauce mixture and continue to cook for 1 min. until spinach is wilted. Toss with pasta and serve with additional shredded Parmesan cheese.