Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bribe the Dog and Stampede to the kitchen - It's Italian Night

Chicken Parmigiana is on the menu of all Italian restaurants, from the worst, to the five star. It can be wonderful crisp and rich or dry and tasteless.   Here's a way to get a wonderfully moist dish with a crisp coating.

Brine It.

You can make this with your favorite red sauce, or just use a jar (my favorite is Rao's, which isn't very expensive.)

Use a blend of cheese instead of just mozzarella to up the melting factor and give it a little more depth (I used a mixture of  mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Regginao).

Bribing the dog to go into the other room, makes preparation a lot easier

Italian Night Chicken Parmigiana

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Brine:

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk,(note this is the time to use REAL buttermilk, not milk soured with juice or vinegar to get  the enzymatic and bacterial tenderization you want from the buttermilk)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

With a sharp knife, split the chicken breasts in half horizontally, then pound them between pieces of parchment paper to about 1/2 inch thickness, which keeps them tender and juicy.

In a bowl combine the buttermilk, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place chicken in bowl of brine and turn until coated, then transfer chicken and brine into a clean zip lock bag. pressing out any air and put in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours.
The 70 year old gas stove-
we have a doctrine of mutually assured destruction in place.

When you are ready to prepare dinner:

(1) Preheat oven to 425 F.

(2) Remove chicken from brine - pat dry with paper towels and set aside after discarding brine, then wash your hands thoroughly.

(3) Get a large sauce pan filled with water to heat for pasta.

(4) Heat a jar of pasta sauce in another pan until just gently simmering

(5) Get out a large skillet and place 1/4 to 1/3 cup (depending on how big your pan is, you are not deep frying but  doing a gentle crisping saute) extra virgin olive oil in it and set aside

(6) Mix up 3-step coating.

Note:  Use one hand for wet ingredients and the other hand for dry ingredients to keep it cleaner

Bowl (or pie plates) #1:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour (add a little more if needed)
   pinch of basil

Bowl #2
-1 egg plus 2 teaspoons of buttermilk, whisked, depending on the size of the chicken breast, you can add an extra egg

Bowl #3
-2 cups panko bread crumbs*
 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Regginao
 dash of pepper

Note:  If you have half a loaf of Italian or french bread getting old, cut it into slices, leave out to dry overnight on the counter, then chop into chunks and process in a food processor into crumbs with the cheese and pepper.

Dip chicken in flour, followed by egg mixture, followed by crumbs.  Set on a plate. Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.

When oil is 375 degrees, cook chicken, using tongs to get them into the pan, 2 pieces at a time, swirling the pan a little and using a thin, flexible spatula to keep chicken from sticking.  If needed, add another Tablespoon of oil.  When golden brown, (2 to 3 minutes) flip with spatula and fork and cook on other side until golden brown (about another two minutes) Remove to plate covered with paper towels to drain

Make sure your pasta water is about ready to get your pasta cooking (I use about half a box of spaghetti).

Place a thin layer of the warm pasta sauce in an 8 x 8 pan or casserole dish and top with chicken. Drizzle chicken with a little more sauce (don't drench it)and top with 2/3 cup of Mozzarella cut into 1/3 inch shavings PLUS 3 Tablespoons of Parmigiano-Regginao.  Leave the edges of the chicken free of cheese to give it room to melt.

Bake until cheese is starting to melt (16 - 18 minutes) then place under the broiler for just a few moments until starting to brown.  Top with shredded basil* and/or parsley and serve immediately.

*To get the shavings of basil as picture, place 10 basil leaves on top of one another, roll up like you would a cigarette, tightly, then cut from end to end like you would do a green onion, then detangle.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

That Show Should be a Crime

Mom!  Mom!  Animal Planet is on!

I watch very little TV, some Discovery Channel,  Mythbusters, Top Gear, Firefly, Castle, Dr. Who, Corner Gas, all on tape as I don't have a TV or cable (getting cheap tapes and watching on the big computer monitor is a lot cheaper than a flat screen and cable).  Mostly I'll join Abby the lab on the couch and watch an action movie with my husband and have fun making fun of some of the technology-

Because I'm the second generation in a law enforcement field, the weapons in the shows ARE fair game and my husband just sits there quietly and chuckles as I pick apart the errors.

Picture the scene, a Sniper setting up on a hill to take out his target.

"The Gun is totally disassembled?"

"The scope is completely off of it, WT. . . ."

"No Free Floating Barrel?"

9 MM. " 9 MM?????"


Then, later on, towards the end.

"Why do all the bad guy guards have short barrelled AR15's? They're going to make so much noise that every cop in the county will be here to arrest all the now deaf people".

"Oh come on! M203 doesn't work that way!!"
There's probably a reason guys, including my husband, never took me to the theater while dating . I almost got thrown out at the last one when a gal friend took me to Twilight and every time the bad CGI werewolves in wolf form talked like humans I'd exclaim like the dog in the Bush Bean commercial  "Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage!

But with the Ph.D., I also have to make fun of the science in the shows.  So once in a while I just can't resist and  I will watch some CSI type shows on tape when my husband is on the road.

It's more entertaining than most of the TV shows out there now, so removed from actual reality that they hardly bear watching. The original CSI Vegas though I actually liked, shelving most of the science and just watching the interactions between the characters which were well acted and crafted. But the spin offs were sometimes painful to watch..


Opening Scene -Young party girl in the New York subway has her face suddenly start to melt while vomiting blood.

In the distant city, Mac the steely eyed investigator, to his date: "sorry" (damn, my beeper went off at the opera. . . AGAIN).

Here comes the CSI Team, back from their night on the town, arriving in terribly expensive fashion wear, from their homes or dates, with all the traffic, in minutes.

Mac (entering the scene with no gloves, no mask, no eye protection, as he bends closely over someone that looks like a sleeping supermodel, except with lots of blood splashed on her and the melted face.

"Detective Angel, What have we got ?"

Detective Angel, (Victoria's Secret Model in tight pants and a skin tight low cut sparkly t-shirt under her suit jacket) "Looks like a Chemical or a Biological ! ! "

Female CSI assigned to the scene: "Oh Happy Birthday Mac!" (giggle, giggle, blush stare at ground, forget to work the scene)

Mac smiles and pokes closely at the body again, steely eyes glinting since he's not wearing any eye protection.

Mac: looking closely:" hmmm. . . doesn't look like small pox or anthrax"

(Time to look a little closer and poke in the blood spatter to make sure it's not something you can GET from exposure to blood spatter)
From XKCD - click to enlarge

Dr. H.: "No pruritic macular or papular rash" (Good thing, as that might be Ebola or Cutaneous Anthrax, which means you're standing in the minefield.)

Mac: "So no hemorrhagic fever!" ( Wow Mac, you diagnosed with just that steely glance. You didn't even have to isolate the virus from the patients blood and have acute serum samples inoculated into tissue cultures of mosquito cells or directly into live Toxorhynchites or Aedes mosquitoes or try a Immunodiagnostic method such as detection of anti-dengue IgM and IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and detection of hemagglutination inhibition antibody. Good job Mac, you'll have this solved before the hour is up!)

Pretty girl in a $700 outfit playing with something that I swear is an Etch a Sketch: "It's OK now! This subway tested negative for all hazmat and biologicals!"

Mac: " great!"

Watching any more would have made me laugh so hard I'd spill my beer. Besides they'll have their DNA evidence in oh, like 10 minutes.
Forensic Science Dog will hold the deaded pose until you get the chalk outline drawn.

TV is fantasy, what remains of a life is seldom so pretty. If you don't suit up properly, to protect yourself from elements, the terrain, or a hoard of nasty biologicals, you will likely join them on the next table. But then again the TV scientists never discovered that if you have a linoleum floor, some chalk, and liquid nitrogen you can make little hovercraft. . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

That One Friend

For those of you that are "that one friend", thanks for making life so much more joyous.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Snackie Search and Rescue


Dad - I tried to catch my treat but it bounced off my nose and landed under the stove! You have to save it before the dust bunnies eat it!
 I'll snoopervise
 You got it!
 Nom Nom Nom Nom
Kisses!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's Another Special Day

Happy Birthday Dad!
I made you stuffing to go with your birthday meal!
Love - Abby T. Lab

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Barkday Sarge

Happy Barkday



It looks like much of Blogville has shown up at your PAW-ty to help you celebrate turning 10 and your Mom and Dad got you some wonderful food and pressies.

Go on over to say hello and join in the fun!  You'll see some old friends and maybe meet some new ones. Frankie Furter and I have already arrived!

Plus -

there's  all kinds of neat foodables as well as PUNCH!
Photo from Sarge's Paw-ty post

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blogville Birthdays - Special Days

“Who throws a cupcake? …honestly!”
- young Dr. Evil, Austin Powers

I haven't made a cake in a while, usually asked to bring in my dark chocolate cupcakes with buttercream.

Cupcakes are fun

The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of "a cake to be baked in small cups" was written in American Cooker by Amelia Simmons. They're more than a dressed up muffin. They're fun, they're easy to prepare and share, and if they turn out too dry and overdone they make dandy replacements for sporting clays (pull!).  For lunch OR launching in a trebuchet, they're dandy little things.


But when it's a special occassion - especially a birthday around here, a cake gets baked.

My husband usually requests  either my Guinness Chocolate cake,
the Guinness Gingerbread (notice a trend here?) 
Or the creamsickle cake for summer gatherings.

I love cake.

Cake for celebrations or for cheer is a tradition that dates back as far as the Romans, with the idea for the candle on top being attributed to both early Greeks and later, Germans. The origins notwithstanding, the cakes vary from region to region and even among families. Everyone has their own favorite cake for celebrations.

The first one I remember, was not a birthday cake, but an Easter one.  I can still recall that ranch house, the apple trees I was almost big enough to climb, Mom's rose garden that  she painstakingly kept up, that after her death, still bloomed without help or hindrance from any of us.  I can picture that moment as she brought out the cake like it was yesterday.  For at Easter every year, Mom would make a two layer cake, then cut it in half, adding a nose, ears and tail to make a bunny cake. Then she'd make a small cake into a baby bunny. It didn't look exactly like the one in the cookbook but it was close.
We'd eat it at the very end of the day, after church, after thanks, after dinner.  Here is an extremely faded photo  from the late sixties of one of them.
There were other cakes over the years, some plain, some fancy. Another family member  made me a cake one year that, well, was completely burned on the outside and raw in the middle (using that bachelor cooking time conversion  method of doubling the temperature and cutting the cook time in half).  We still laugh about that.

Birthday cakes come in all sizes and flavors. Everyone had a favorite, though mine has been, since the very first cake that I can remember, yellow with chocolate buttercream.

Birthday cakes range from  memories of "Oh, that's so sweet!" (and yes, that's a plumbers candle my husband added to his homemade cake).
to "Someone's in the doghouse!"
Then there are wedding cakes. Cakes at weddings are intense elaborate affairs that can cost hundreds of dollars or can be hand crafted.

What were once tradition white cakes and frosting with the bride and groom toppers are now  as individual as the couples involved.  We had a Doctor Who Wedding Cake.
Since we're fans and I have red hair like Amy and my husband looks like The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) especially as he's the only 32 year old I know that regularly wears bow ties, it was fitting.
But why all the talk of CAKE in Blogville today? - Abby seems to be asking me.

Because tomorrow is a very special birthday for

So stop in and join the fun tomorrow and wish him a wonderful day. Abby will be there with Frankie Furter and all your friends will be gathered around. We can't wait to see what treat his Mom makes up for him to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lady and the Tramp Stamp

Don't I look all soft and adorable.  Please feed me treats.

With Abby all beautified for the upcoming birthday party for Sarge tomorrow, it brought memories of trying to get Barkley bathed, NOT the easiest of tasks.

From the Book of Barkley (Outskirts Press) and some photos of Barkley with my little Point and Shoot that you may not have seen.

CHAPTER 34 - Lady and the Tramp Stamp

I've had some bad haircuts in my time, as with very fine but also curly hair, it happens.  Barkley, however, has been spared getting shaved and groomed but for the occasional bath and nail trim.

Why is it a breed that loves the water and will cannon ball into any available pool or pond, hates getting baths?  When he was a puppy he just got his baths in the tub.  He wasn't too happy about it, but I could hold on to him and although I'd end up as wet as he was, we got it done.

When he was older, it didn't go so well.  You know those wildlife clips from Africa that show the lion running and jumping on the zebra, taking it down in a flurry of legs and hair.
It was something like that.
So I had to take him to a "groomer."  It was a lady recommended by his previous vet where we used to live, the groomer working from her home out in the country.  I asked if she did larger dogs and she assured me she did all the time.

I left him. She was very friendly; the place spotlessly clean, her instruments shining and well cared for, the other dogs there, waiting to get picked up, looking content.

When I came back, she was there, with another girl I did not recognize.   "I had to call for help," she said.  Both of them were drenched, with wet hair, clothes, everything.  There was water on the table, on the floor, several of their tools had been flung across the floor, and the picture on the wall was all askew.  They looked like they'd been in a tornado and flood combined.

 Barkley was in his pen, drying out, with a scarf around his need, looking ALL happy but not liking the scarf much.

 "I'm sooo sorry, I said, please; let me pay you extra for your services."  They declined, but I gave her a huge tip with a second apology.

 As we left, she looked at me and said, "Miss, I appreciate the business, and hope you'll think of me if others ask about pet grooming.  But please do not bring him back."

So baths got less frequent but we managed.  There were no more fashion accessories though, at least until he came home with a square of fur missing from his lower spine.

 It was some simple veterinary surgery to remove a small benign fatty growth from that area as well as four little skin tags on a couple of his legs.  Common enough in older dogs but if he kept chewing on them it could do some harm, so off they came.  At the same time, since he would be under anesthesia, his scheduled doggie dental cleaning and care was accomplished.

 Barkley loves Dr. H., and is oh so excited to get in the door and see her. I dropped him off in the early morning and could pick him up after I got off of work.  He was not so happy with me when I picked him up.

 He looked at me as if to say - "You told me some pretty girls were going to check my teeth and pet me, and I come home with Brazilian Bikini Butt."


Barkley is a "no fuss dog."  Although he is AKC purebred and a hunting breed, he's lived a quiet life at home.  It's been a simple life of water and dirt and running amok, not constant grooming and bows in his ears and dog couture.  If I dressed him in costume as a food object or cute insect, he would likely steal the clippers and give me a Mohawk in my sleep.

 He was neutered as a youngster; there's lots of good rescue dogs out there, so he wasn't going to reproduce, bloodlines or not, but he'd had a life of only routine fussing over, just enjoying being part of my family.  His not-so-secret canine mission was that of most working dog breeds - to sniff every object in the entire world, peeing on anything that smelled even remotely like another male dog and then having done so, trying to -

(a) eat it

(b) bark at it

(c) carry it around in his mouth

(d) hump it



But his teeth needed attention, so this had seemed like a good time to get it all done. The vet sent me home with some samples of dog treats that help with tartar, as well as a brush and some poultry flavored dog toothpaste (mmm, for breath that's barnyard fresh!)  The veterinary technician said, "With a little practice your dog will enjoy his brushing."

 I didn't tell her that the Storming of the Bastille was better received and less bloody than my attempt to apply a few drops of flea medication on his skin between his shoulder blades a couple of years ago.

 I'd be wearing the chicken flavored toothpaste by the time we were through.  I won't mention the look of disdain I'd get at a pink toothbrush.  But the doctor only has his health in mind and we talked about some alternatives to keep his teeth and gums healthy.

 He did fine, though he whined a little when he did not get a full bowl of food the night before the procedure, by doctor's orders, and he was in a little discomfort when he came home.  I had pain meds, but I could not give him one until the next morning, so he got much extra care and got to sleep with Mom on her bed, something normally not allowed.

I lay with him while he went to sleep, telling him he was still a handsome boy and even offering to show him the picture of me from the 80s when I had a mullet.  He declined, it appeared, nodding off to sleep, happy that this day was done.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prayer and POTP

POTP for the good people of Belgium and those innocent citizens of other nations who were harmed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Barkley Memories - An Ode to Spring

I found these pictures and just had to share.  Smile and enjoy the fact that Spring has arrived, - LB
New Life
Discovered

I Salute You

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday Eats - Flying Frisbees of Goodness


Abby Lab here - Mom made my favorite flying Frisbees this morning.  I don't get syrup on mine, but they are FUN to catch and eat.

This is the best recipe ever and makes the lightest, most aerodynamic Frisbees ever with the best texture as well as lift over drag ratio!


In one bowl mix:

1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

In small bowl mix

1 cup room temperature buttermilk or plain kefir (or use one cup milk or nut milk that you've replaced a Tablespoon of with lemon juice, then let sit five minutes).
Splash vanilla (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
1 egg (at room temperature) or equivalent egg substitute.

Whisk wet ingredients  together, and then SLOWLY stream in while whisking - 

1/4 cup melted butter or melted vegan butter substitute
Mix wet and dry ONLY until mixed (do not overmix) and cook on a griddle.   Don't make make them too big to make them easier to flip.  Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes.

Warning - Eating Too Many May Induce Flying Frisbee Coma

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Postal Pressies!

Abby Lab here. The mailman rang the doorbell to give me a package today!

It's from my fella Frankie Furter at

Otherwise known as -

And guess what he sent me?

Squeakie Tighty Whities!   Bwahahahahar!

Looking good!
And a squeaky to deaded soon!
What's this?  Alligator Gumbo Treats!
Hurry up Mom!  I want and try a gator treat!
For me?
Thanks Frankie - you're the best.  squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak