Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chicken Salsa Soup

Homemade soup is a staple for us.  I make it often, in large batches, and I keep meal-sized portions in the freezer to have for quick suppers.  Here is how I make one of our favorites.

Chicken Salsa Soup

Start with two quarts of homemade or store-bought chicken broth.  (I boil the remains of a rotisserie chicken.)
One pint of salsa.  (I use homemade,  with the spice level set to medium.)
One package of Soup Vegetables.  The mix from Weis Market is perfect, with potatoes, carrots, onions, okra, etc.  (I wanted a little more corn in this batch, so I also added a 12-ounce package of frozen sweet corn.)
Simmer till veggies are tender.
Depending on the flavor of the broth at this point, I have been known to add some chicken bouillon to perk it up.
Stir in some chopped chicken (the breasts from the rotisserie chicken are perfect) and two cans of black beans, drained but not rinsed.
Simmer for about ten minutes, and your soup is ready to serve.

These are the soup-mix vegetables.  I keep at least one package in the freezer at all times, to have them handy when we get the urge for soup.

We had our first frost a few nights ago, and there is a definite autumn chill in the air ... it's soup season!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Snapshot: Making It Official

Our dogs wear ID on their collars at all times.  It's a happy occasion when a new dog's tag comes in the mail ... Petal's arrived yesterday afternoon.

Till now, Petal has been wearing a blue collar with my cell phone number written on it in Sharpie marker.  It is from the stash of collars that I have on hand to use whenever we volunteer to help transport dogs.  It did the job, but blue isn't really Petal's color.

Now, Petal has her own collar ... bought especially for her, in a lovely shade of rose pink.  See her new tag?

The noise of jingling tags on collars makes me nuts, but I am mindful of the importance of keeping ID on my dogs in addition to their microchips, so we use flat tags from Boomerang Tags.  For $11.95, they provide up to five lines of information, super fast service, total peace of mind, and no jingling!  (even Winnie had a Boomerang Tag on her tiny kitten-sized collar.)  I received no compensation for this ... I'm just a very satisfied customer.

Today is Day 18 with Petal.  Dorothy is finally becoming more comfortable with Petal and isn't spending her days hiding upstairs anymore. 

Our routine is well on its way to being normal again.  I am very happy!

Sunday Snapshots are posts devoted to moments in time that represent glimpses into everyday life in Hartwood, or wherever else I happen to be at the time. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Settling In

Today is Day 12 with our new dog Petal.  She is settling into our family as if she has always been here.  All of our greyhounds have been like this, so I'm not surprised.

She is such a mellow dog, and I love it!  I have no idea what her bark sounds like because she hasn't barked yet.  (Ruby does that enough for both of them.)  Petal can generally be found sleeping or quietly playing with toys.

The antler chew is a favorite.

There's the antler again.

"Hi, Ruby."

Dog stuff has taken over our family room, in a wonderful way.  Three dog beds for two dogs ... seems perfectly normal to me.

... and, of course, there's a hoard of toys.

The cats are becoming accustomed to Petal's presence.  Alice came around quickly, resuming her normal habits and attitude within two days.  It is taking longer for Dorothy.  She's an anxious little thing anyway ... having a big new dog is something that's gonna take her a while to completely accept.  For now, she spends her days on our bed, instead of under it like she did for the first four days, and she does come downstairs from time to time.  It's great progress for her!

Hanging out on the bed.

That's Dorothy sitting on the bottom step, checking Petal out from a safe distance.

Some evenings she gets very brave and comes downstairs and sits in my lap!

Our only issue with Petal continues to be teaching her to do stairs.  Our front six stairs are almost mastered at this point, though sometimes she stops and freezes for whatever reason and won't move.  We are patient and positive, and generous with yummy treats, to encourage her to go up and down the steps and walk the yard without fear. 

Petal and Ruby get along perfectly together!  They are both gentle dogs, and they really seem to enjoy each other's company.

Last Friday, we made it official ... changing Petal's status from Foster Dog to Adopted.

Am I overdoing it by taking a photo of the adoption contract envelope before I mailed it?

Earlier today, I took a few minutes and made Petal her first custom collar with a piece of velveteen that I have been saving for something special.  Special fabric ... special dog ... perfect match.

As I sit here in the family room right now, Petal is sleeping peacefully on one of the dog beds.  The little voice in my gut was right on this one ... she is ours, she is perfect for us, and I am thrilled to have her in our family.  

Welcome home, Petal!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Welcome to the Family, Petal!

We got a new dog on Thursday!

Her name is Petal ... really, it is.

Petal is four.  In her former career, she ran 27 races in Florida as 'Kelsos Petal'(link takes you to her pedigree page)

Petal is here on a foster-with-intent-to-adopt basis ... a trial arrangement to make sure that she will be a good fit in our family and get along with Ruby and the cats.  It's all going very, very well so far. 

Blurry photo, taken when we met her at her foster home, of Petal sniffing a cat that walked by.

Also in her foster home, we met Vinnie the resident pot-bellied pig ... OMG, he was so cute!!

It was a two-hour drive to bring Petal home.  She and Ruby rode very nicely together, spending most of the ride looking around or sleeping.

When Petal got here, she went right to work getting comfortable in her new surroundings.

Emptying the toy basket ...

Testing the dog beds

She even investigated the inside of Ruby's crate, which was way too small for her.

Soon, she was sound asleep.

She has an old injury to her right front toes, from an accident while lure coursing after she retired from racing.  Once I get her medical records from the adoption organization, we will see exactly what the injury was.

Petal's nails are WAY too long, especially on her bad foot, so I will work on them over the next couple of weeks to get them down to a comfortable length.

We have been looking to adopt another dog for a while.  Ruby has been by herself since Winnie died in February.  She's okay as an only dog, but she is happier when she has company.

Our first evening went pretty much as I expected it would. The cats took one horrified look at Petal and ran for cover.  Before long, as we settled in, they ventured out to evaluate the newcomer.


As of now, bright and early on the morning of Day Five with Petal, Alice is going about her normal routine.  I expected this from her.  She likes dogs.  On Day Two, Petal walked over to Alice and poked her with her needle-nose ... Alice hissed and smacked Petal upside the head ... Petal realized that this was a lesson on boundaries, and we have been good ever since.  Dorothy, after her initial exploration on Day One, has spent most of her time under our bed.  Yesterday evening, she ventured out and spent time in my lap while I watched football and the dogs slept.  It was significant progress.

Petal is sniffing Alice, while Alice sits in my lap.

Petal is learning about the ways of our household.  Ruby is helping her.  

When I make dog stew, Ruby rinses the dishes.

Petal can help now, too.

It hasn't been all rosy and perfect, but that's to be expected with any new dog.  Petal is unsure of stairs, but she is learning.  It took a whole day of multiple attempts with yummy treats, using Ruby as an example, and a lot of praise, and now Petal is using our front stairs like a champ.  Soon, I hope to help her master the back stairs ... so she can go directly to the backyard instead of having to walk there on leash.

She loves toys! 

Right now, on this cool, rainy Monday morning, both dogs are sleeping.  Ruby is sacked out on the sofa, and Petal isn't interested in furniture and is on a dog bed.  My heart is full.

Thank you, Sighthound Underground, for matching us up with this wonderful dog.  She is everything that we hoped for ... and so much more!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Making Pear Butter in the Crockpot

Yesterday afternoon, I got a text message from my next door neighbor at Hartwood Winery.  It said, "Do you want these?" 


Let's get out the crockpot and make some pear butter.  It's really easy.

1.  Wash, peel, core, and chop the pears.  Fill the crockpot heaping full of the chopped pears.

2.  Cook the pears on High till they settle a little bit and can be stirred.  Add 3 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, and a 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

3.  Cook pears, covered, on high till they are juicy and bubbling ... stirring occasionally.

4.  Reduce heat to Low and simmer overnight.  I used chopsticks to vent the lid, to allow for evaporation so the mixture will reduce.

5.  In the morning, the pears were soft, and the liquid was thick and caramelized.

6.  Puree till smooth.  I used my immersion blender.  Since I planned to can my pear butter, I put the lid on the crockpot and turned the heat up to High to bring the mixture back to a boil while I prepared my jars and lids.

This recipe made five pints of pear butter ... seven half-pints went into the canner and three half-pints for the fridge to use and give away right now.

This was my first attempt at any type of fruit butter, and it's really delicious.  I hope you can use my recipe and directions and try it for yourself.

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