The Chocolate Eating Dog

Chocolate is very bad for dogs!  Some will tell you their dogs have eaten chocolate all their life . . it is NOT something they should eat.  Milk chocolate isn’t as bad for them as is dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate.  They should never have chocolate of any kind!

We almost lost Speck four years ago when he got into some chocolate.  You would think I would have learned my lesson but no . . apparently not!

Monday night I made the Chocolate Sesame Seed Cookies to take to our sewing day at quilt guild.  I used Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate which is not as bad as unsweetened chocolate would have been, but still pretty risky for a dog.  After guild, I brought the remaining cookies home in a zipper bag and put them on the table.  Last night after dinner Vince was looking for the cookies.  We had been out dealing with the chickens and watering the garden and then I saw it . . the zipper bag on the floor, torn open and cookies missing.

I’m guessing that when Vince was picking some things up off the table, he either knocked the bag off, or more likely, it was hanging over the edge of the table and Speck jumped and hit it til he made it fall.

We gave him hydrogen peroxide to get him to throw up but he never did.  We have activated charcoal but couldn’t find it so at 9:30 p.m., which isn’t late for most folks but was like the middle of night for us to be out . . we all three went to Wal-Mart.  I’m not quite sure why Vince wanted Speck and me to go but we went and we stayed in the car while he went in and bought more charcoal.

We got enough down him that we were comfortable, even though we weren’t sure how many cookies he had consumed.  There were still plenty left in the bag so I don’t think he got too many.  I slept on the sofa with Speck and it was a rough night but so far, he seems to be doing ok.  They say they can be in danger for 24 hours after eating it so he’s not out of the woods yet but . . we’re hopeful.

You’d think I’d be way more careful than to let him get chocolate again but he did.  Please be careful with your pets and be more careful that I’ve been about where you put that chocolate!

Homemade Pasta

Before we discuss pasta making, I need to remind you that I do not like red sauce.  I love tomatoes, I love everything that goes into the sauce but I do not like the sauce.  Explain that!  OK .. I didn’t think you’d have an explanation.  I eat pizza but mostly just what I make at home and I put very little sauce on the end I’m going to be eating.   I do not like lasagna at all.  Vince is Sicilian.  He could eat pasta with red sauce and meatballs three meals a day every day.   I fix it for him and he likes my sauce but I’ll usually eat the pasta with some butter and one meatball.  It seems that since I like all the ingredients that go into marinara sauce, I should be able to learn to like red sauce but so far, no luck with that.

When we were visiting with the folks at the San Saba Olive Oil Company, they asked me if I made our own pasta.  No!  I do not.  There are two reasons I do not make it.  First, several years ago, during a weak moment, or maybe I had ordered too much yarn and was feeling a bit guilty, I decided that every good wife who has a good Sicilian husband should make fresh pasta to be served with their Italian meals so I ordered a pasta maker

The second reason I did not make our own pasta is that when the pasta maker arrived, I was so anxious to make homemade pasta. I did and it was a disaster.  The first attempt was a crumbly mess.  I threw it in the trash and made another batch and it was a sticky mess and I threw it in the trash, packed the pasta maker away and never touched it again.

When we do eat Italian food out, the first thing that catches my attention is the homemade, fresh, tender pasta.  It’s so different from the dried pasta I buy in the grocery store.

Over the weekend I began thinking I’d give homemade pasta another try but I really thought I had thrown out the pasta maker since my attempt at using it had been such a disaster.  I remembered opening a box in the upstairs storage room that contained items that were stored near where I had last seen the pasta maker in the garage in Missouri, so I went out and found that box, dug through it and there it was .. the pasta maker I thought I’d tossed.  Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat!

Last night, we were not having pasta for dinner but I wanted to give it a try so I mixed up a small batch and it worked perfectly!  No crumbles, no sticky mess.  What did I do differently from the first time I used it?  I have no idea!

I had no pasta drying rack, though I’ve ordered one this morning, so I set up my wire rack over two half gallon jars and used that.  It worked just fine.  The pasta was so simple to make — flour (all purpose because I couldn’t find semolina though I’ve ordered that this morning also), eggs, a bit of olive oil and salt.  It was quite simple to clean up since they recommend that you brush the crumbs or residue from the pasta maker and don’t use water.

I think I’m hooked!  I remembered that this thing was in my laundry room.

I don’t think I’ve ever used it.  I think I made ravioli without using it once — laying out a sheet of pasta, putting some little mounds of filling, then putting another sheet of pasta dough over it, crimping with a fork and then cutting them apart.  That was quite frustrating so I ordered this handy little gizmo and by the time it arrived, I had decided the pasta maker was more trouble than it was worth.

Stay tuned . . tonight we’re having chicken ravioli with red sauce for dinner and for dessert . . yum . . you’ll have to check back tonight to see what I fixed but I’m thinking I’m going to have a real hard time waiting for dessert.  I will tell you this . . Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream is involved!  :)

Go ahead .. order yourself a pasta maker and a little ravioli maker.  We’re fixing to have a lot of fun on here with these two gadgets.

San Saba Olive Oil Company

Until a few years ago, we had never been to an olive oil/balsamic vinegar store.  We were pretty happy with the extra virgin olive oil we found in the grocery store or at Sam’s Club and Vince was doing a good job of finding lots of balsamic vinegars at T. J. Maxx.  Then someone told us about a store in Kansas City that sold all kinds of high quality olive oils and naturally flavored balsamic vinegars.  We left that store with several olive oils and quite a few more balsamic vinegars.  We love putting flavored balsamic and olive oils on our salads, or on fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, or my favorite use for balsamic . . over Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream!

So . . we were hooked.  Every time we’d go to Kansas City, we’d go by The Tasteful Olive and buy a few more flavors and then . . we moved to Texas.  I figured there had to be an olive oil/balsamic store in Austin or Fort Worth but we haven’t been to those places yet and we have been out of good balsamic for months!

Last week, just as we were leaving San Saba, Texas, Vince said “Did you see that?”  Hmm . . I don’t know!  What was it?  Vince said “That sign said San Saba Olive Oil Company!  Do you think they have olive oil and balsamic?”  Honestly, I thought it was probably just an old sign that we had never noticed before but it was worth turning around and going back to see so we did and I am so glad we did.

I should have paid more attention since I’m writing a blog post about it (guess I’ll never have a future as a reporter!) but I’m guessing they had 20 – 25 flavors of balsamic and about the same of olive oil.  We came home with pomegranate and brown fig balsamic.  I loved the pineapple and raspberry too but Vince said “Let’s just get two . . we’ll be back.”  And, we will be back.

The owners, James and Linda Brozo, were so nice and helpful.  Linda even makes the bread that’s in there for the tasting stations.

We love San Saba and we are so lucky to have such a neat shop so close to us.  If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by there.  Those oils and vinegars surely do make nice gifts . . especially if I’m on your gift list!  :)