Archive | June 2010

Recipe Of The Week: Sparkler Pretzels

How cute!!!
(and easy!)

Fourth of July Pretzel Sparklers
Martha Stewart

Like most sparklers, these are extinguished after a short while — with several large bites.

To make two dozen, place 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted; remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, coat the upper third of each pretzel rod in chocolate. Cover with sprinkles; stand pretzels upright in a glass. Place in the refrigerator until firm, about 5 minutes.

Pretzel Sparklers - Martha Stewart

Pretzel Sparklers – Martha Stewart

Rebecca

Rebecca

Cool Product: Strawberry Pillow

I LOVE vintage style things and what better way to say summer than with a vintage style Strawberry Pillow from Uneek Pillows!

This pillow would look fantastic on our covered front porch along with a few pots of strawberries!

I have added Uneek Pillows to our Favorite Vendor list for future shopping.

Hint:

They have a couple of very cute and appropriate pillows that would work for the 4th of July!

Uneek Pillows

Uneek Pillows

Rebecca

Rebecca

Bullies

Before getting our first English Bull Terrier (10 years ago) I did A LOT of research on the breed so we knew what we were in for.

Before we got Brodie (American Staffordshire) I again did a lot of research and I am still fascinated by the history of the ‘bull’ breeds!

Here is a link that compares each ‘bull’ breed (excluding bull dogs) and I will post here about both the American Staffordshire and the English Bull Terrier since those are the two that we have.

I like this comparison because it has pictures of each breed so you can see the differences in body styles!

Pit Bull (wikipedia)

Pit Bull is a term commonly used to describe several breeds of dog in the molosser family. Many breed-specific laws use the term “pit bull” to refer to the modern American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and English Bull Terrier. However, a few jurisdictions also classify the modern American Bulldog as a “pit bull-type dog”. All three breeds share similar history, with origins rooted from the bulldog and a variety of terriers. The term can also refer to dogs that were known as “bull terriers” prior to the development of the modern Bull Terrier in the early 20th century.

American Staffordshire Terrier
(Brodie)

Although the early ancestors of this breed came from England, the development of the American Staffordshire Terrier is the story of a truly American breed. This type of dog was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers who developed this country. They were used for general farm work, guarding the homestead, and general companionship.

A number of the early ancestors were also developed for the “sport” of dog fighting. The extraordinary vitality of this breed is a direct result of breeding for successful fighting dogs.

Until the early part of the 19th century the Bulldog was bred with great care in England for the purpose of baiting bulls. Pictures from as late as 1870 represent the Bulldog of that day more like the present-day American Staffordshire Terrier than like the present-day Bulldog. Some writers contend it was the White English Terrier, or the Black and Tan Terrier, that was used as a cross with the Bulldog to perfect the Staffordshire Terrier. It seems easier to believe that any game terrier, such as the Fox Terrier of the early 1800s, was used in this cross, since some of the foremost authorities on dogs of that time state that the Black-and-Tan and the white English Terrier were none too game, but these same authorities go on to stress the gameness of the Fox Terrier. In analyzing the three above-mentioned terriers at that time, we find that there was not a great deal of difference in body conformation, the greatest differences being in color, aggressiveness, and spirit. In any event, it was the cross between the Bulldog and the terrier that resulted in the Staffordshire Terrier, which was originally called the Bull-and-Terrier Dog, Half and Half, and at times Pit Dog or Pit Bullterrier. Later, it assumed the name in England of Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These dogs began to find their way into America as early as 1870 where they became known as Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, later American Bull Terrier, and still later as Yankee Terrier.

English Bull Terrier
(Maggie)

About 1850, James Hinks started breeding “Bull and Terriers” with “English White Terriers” (now extinct), looking for a cleaner appearance with better legs and nicer head. In 1862, Hinks entered a bitch called “Puss” sired by his white Bulldog called “Madman” into the Bull Terrier Class at the dog show held at the Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea. Originally known as the “Hinks Breed” and “The White Cavalier”, these dogs did not yet have the now-familiar “egg face”, but kept the stop in the skull profile.

The dog was immediately popular and breeding continued, using Dalmatian, Greyhound, Spanish Pointer, Foxhound and Whippet to increase elegance and agility; and Borzoi and Collie to reduce the stop. Hinks wanted his dogs white, and bred specifically for this. Generally, however, breeding was aimed at increasing sturdiness: three “subtypes” were recognised by judges, Bulldog, Terrier and Dalmatian, each with its specific conformation, and a balance is now sought between the three. The first modern Bull Terrier is now recognised as “Lord Gladiator”, from 1917, being the first dog with no stop at all.

Due to medical problems associated with all-white breeding, Ted Lyon among others began introducing colour, using Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the early 20th century. Coloured Bull Terriers were recognised as a separate variety (at least by the AKC) in 1936. Brindle is the preferred colour, but other colours are welcome.

Along with conformation, specific behaviour traits were sought. The epithet “White Cavalier”, harking back to an age of chivalry, was bestowed on a breed which while never seeking to start a fight was well able to finish one, while socialising well with its “pack”, including children and pups. Hinks himself had always aimed at a “gentleman’s companion” dog rather than a pit-fighter—though Bullies were often entered in the pits, with some success. Today the Bullie is valued as a comical, mischievous, imaginative and intelligent (problem-solving) but stubborn house pet suitable for experienced owners.

Here is Brodies dad!
He was in the United States for most of the last year so he could further his amazing career. Just look at all his awards!
We were lucky enough to come across the local breeder who just happened to be hosting Dragon (and subsequent puppies!) during his stay.
(Dragon is back home now in Croatia)

Playmakers ‘Cotton Dragon’

We are curious on just how big Brodie will be once he is full grown!
He seems to think he needs to sit in hub’s chair while I’m working on the computer!

Brodie in hubs' chair

Brodie in hubs’ chair

Rebecca

Rebecca

Recipe Of The Week: Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

This would NOT appeal to me as I’m not fond of rhubarb…
however, my husband would love it!

From A Joy of Baking:

A two-crusted pie is the most popular way to bake with strawberries and rhubarb, which is probably why rhubarb is often called the “pie plant”. For this recipe, however, we are going to make individual free form tarts. To do this the chilled pastry is formed into small rounds. Then, instead of putting each round of pastry in a pie plate, we just place some of the strawberry/rhubarb filling in the center of each round of pastry and wrap the edges of the pastry up and over the filling. My favorite pastry to use is Pate Brisee, pronounced ‘paht bree-ZAY’, which is a French short crust pastry dough made from a mixture of flour, a little sugar, salt, butter, and ice water. It has a high ratio of fat to flour which gives the pastry a wonderful crumbly texture and buttery flavor. The tarts are baked in a fairly hot oven until the fruit’s juices start to run.

If you like, you can add a tablespoon of crystallized ginger or the zest of an orange to the strawberries and rhubarb. Crystallized ginger is ginger that has been cooked in a sugar syrup and then coated with sugar. It has a wonderful sweet yet spicy flavor. You can buy crystallized or candied ginger in small tins at specialty grocery stores or in bulk form from health food stores. It will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

Pastry Crust

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, flatten each portion into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax.

While the pastry is chilling, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, remove the two disks of pastry from the refrigerator and divide each disk into four equal portions (you will have eight portions altogether). On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of pastry into a 7 inch (18 cm) circle. Place the eight pastry circles (four on each sheet) onto the prepared baking sheets and cover with plastic wrap. Place the covered baking sheets in the refrigerator to firm the pastry while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

1 pound (454 grams) rhubarb, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces (approximately 3 cups)
1 pound (454 grams) fresh strawberries, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/4 – 1/3 cup (35 – 45 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 – 1 cup (150 – 200 grams) granulated white sugar

In a large bowl, combine the cut up rhubarb, cut strawberries, flour, and sugar.

Remove pastry from refrigerator. Place approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cup of filling in the center of each pastry circle, spreading the filling out to about 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the edge of pastry. Gently fold the edges of the pastry circle up and over the filling, leaving the center of the tart open. Press the edges gently so the pastry sticks together. Once all the tarts are assembled, cover and return to the refrigerator for about 15 – 30 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Bake the tarts for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbly and starting to run out from the center of each tart. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool before serving. Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 8 individual tarts

Joy of Baking-Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Joy of Baking-Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Rebecca

Rebecca

Recipe Of The Week: Strawberry Shortcake

I may have already posted this last year but it is so damned good I’m taking a chance and posting it again!

I, personally, hate those soggy sponge cakes the stores sell to make strawberry shortcake.

We have a staple around our house and always keep a box of Bisquick handy. There is a very simple and quite delicious recipe on the box for biscuits which are good plain and for strawberry shortcake!

Classic Strawberry Shortcakes

Ingredients

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions

Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, mix strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by 6 spoonfuls.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.

Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Rebecca

Rebecca

 

Bully Obsessed

Speaking of Bulls….

As with most families we love dogs and have had several over the years.

My favorites have always been the ‘bully’ breeds which include:
English Bull Terriers
Bull Dogs (any and all)
American Pit Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
(just to name a few)

For the last ten years we had two English Bull Terriers and I can honestly tell you it was like living with a ten year tornado (everything you read about the English Bull Terrier is true!). Sadly we lost our male a few months ago to chronic kidney disease.

We now have a new member of the family and he is an American Staffordshire Terrier. He is absolutely adorable ( and VERY smart!).

I know there are some (ok, maybe ALOT!) of you out there who the minute you hear the word ‘pit bull’ a negative wall goes up with visions of vicious dogs attacking small children or maiming and killing livestock.

A dog is NOT born to attack or kill.
There is no inherent gene they posses which magically turns on making these dogs vicious.

Vicious ‘pit bulls’ are a people problem.
More to the point….
Uneducated people and gang-bang wanna-be’s have taken a perfectly good, loyal breed and ruined their reputation. (Years ago it was the German Shephard getting a bad rap…now it’s the ‘pit’).

Nothing pisses me off more than seeing a young (mid-teens – 20’s) male walking down the street with his pants down past his ass and a ‘pit’ (with a huge chain collar) straining at the end of the leash. It is obvious that this poor dog has had no socialization or training and is merely being used as a scare tactic with his ‘homies’.

Ugh!

Thanks to the home-boys above many cities are implementing BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) banning specific dogs….pit-type breeds being one of them.

Again, this is no fault of the dog and BSL WON’T work!

I could go on and on and on about this subject but I won’t.
Instead I have joined a few Meetup groups and will work with them to educate the public regarding the ‘pit’ breeds.

I could also say angry things about Michael Vick/Bad Newz Kennel but I won’t. I think you all feel the same way I do. I will say this….most of his ‘killer’ dogs have been rehabilitated to the point where they can live out the rest of their lives with loving familes in peace.

We are also in an ongoing process of professional obedience training and socialization which ALL dog owner should go through regardless of breed!

Here is just one of many wonderful websites I found with ‘pit bull’ information.

I will warn you now…
There are links at the bottom of the website, one of them being Sad Reality. Do NOT click on that link unless you are prepared to see abused ‘pits’. I did and had to quickly click off as I sit here crying.

Pet Pitbull

Excerpts from the above site:

Old Time Pit Gallery
THE PITBULL TERRIER, poor fellow, is now almost obsolete, and what a shame! Will no one endeavour bring him back to his rightful own? Not to his former, much abused–pitifully abused–state, which was actually the cause of his downfall, but to the position of a true dog among dogs. Never was there a more noble, well -meaning, loyal, or courageous dog on the face of the earth. While perhaps some of the inferior types of this class were nothing much to look upon, yet those of the better specimens were really splendid-appearing animals and worthy of a place in any home or show ring. This terrier did not lose his reputation, and with it his popularity, because of any fault of his own.

Those who handled him, those who made him fight to maim and even kill other dogs, always at the grave risk of his own life, ultimately caused his decent down the grade rapidly toward oblivion. Left to himself, he was no more of a fighter than many of our other dogs which are held in the highest respect, and under the right supervision he was one of the most peaceful creatures living. Of course, it must be admitted that he could not really boast of blue blood, nor could he exactly claim a true-to-type strain, but, nevertheless, if other breeds could be carefully developed and raised to a standard recognized by the American Kennel Club, why could he not have enjoyed this honour? Surely, he well deserved it. So let us sincerely hope that some sympathetic person, or group of persons, may sooner or later take up his cause and carry it through until he has a fitting place in canine history.

John Lynn Leonard, DVM 1928

BSL (Breed Specific Legislation)
Banning Pit Bulls would be like banning cars because people get killed in car accidents! Who’s responsible, the car or the driver/manufacturer? Any car can be deadly in the wrong hands or if built with defective parts. Same thing with dogs… Any dog. Pit Bulls are no more responsible for the way they are bred, raised and trained, than cars are responsible for the way they are designed, built and driven.

Simply put, the best argument against breed bans is that they are costly and ineffective. Breed bans are often a knee-jerk reaction from politicians who want to say they are “doing something”, after a highly publicized dog attack (of any breed). This is a useless exercise.

Criminals habitually break laws, so having an “illegal breed” may indeed be attractive to them and might make them want to breed and sell more “illegal dogs”. If their dog is confiscated and killed, they really don’t care. They will just get another one because breed bans punish the dog, not the owner.

On the other hand, law abiding responsible owners, whose dogs love people and have never done anything wrong, can see their homes invaded, often without a search warrant, and their beloved family members dragged away (in front of their children) to be killed. Not because the dogs are unstable or mean, but simply because of their breed. Meanwhile, the owners of truly dangerous dogs (of any breed) escape punishment because their breed is not targeted by legislation and therefor is believed “safe”.

A 10 Lbs Pomeranian killed a baby a few years ago… Obviously a problem with that particular dog, not the breed. “The baby’s uncle left the infant and the dog on a bed while the uncle prepared her bottle in the kitchen. Upon his return, the dog was mauling the baby, who died shortly afterwards. (“Baby Girl Killed by Family Dog,” Los Angeles Times, Monday, October 9, 2000, Home Edition, Metro Section, Page B-5.)”

Because of a serious lack of regulation in dog breeding, too many dogs inherit defective genes and are sold to irresponsible owners. A breed ban will not resolve the problem. This nonsense will continue with the next macho breed and will become an endless race between breed specific legislators and unscrupulous breeders.

A Pit Bull breeder was shut down last year because Pit Bulls were banned in Topeka, Kansas. All his dogs were seized and destroyed, just for being the wrong breed at the wrong place. The man now breeds and sells African Boerboels, a rare breed from the Mastiff family, completely unknown to legislators. Unlike American Pit Bull Terriers, however, who are known for their love of people, Boerboels are serious guard dogs bred specifically as protectors. An irresponsibly bred and owned Boerboel might actually be more dangerous than an irresponsibly bred and owned Pit Bull. This is what a breed ban has accomplished in Topeka…

So in light of this, what kind of message are we telling abusive and irresponsible individuals when we make the dogs pay the price for their actions?

Here are some things to consider:

“Pit bull” is not a breed, but a “type” that encompasses several registered breeds and crossbreeds. Therefore, statistics that claim “Pit bulls” are responsible for some percentage of attacks are lumping many separate breeds together, then comparing that to other dogs that are counted as individual breeds.

Breed identification is left up to victim and witness testimony, and is often wrong. Due to negative press, biting dogs of almost ANY breed have been called “Pit bulls”. Try this little quiz for fun: Find the Pit Bull See how many people you know can pick out a pit bull from pictures, let alone in the middle of an attack.

Search the Center for Disease Control site. Even the CDC supports the position that irresponsible owners, not breed, are the chief cause of dog bites. They have done studies that indicate that the most “dangerous breed” of dog changes with popularity and reputation.

Search the American Temperament Test Society. Pit bulls have an average score that beats even the “ultimate family dog”, the Golden Retriever.

Positive pit bull press – This site shows not only what the breed is about, but the difference responsible ownership makes. Many of these pages are “Pit bull rescue makes good” stories. This site features, among other great stuff, rescue pits that are saving human lives in Search and Rescue and US Customs Service.

The Diane Whipple case. One of the first times the owner has been held responsible for the actions of their dog. Note that the breed involved was the Perro de Presa Canario (Canary Dog) from Spain, yet the brunt of the negative press again targeted the pit bull, an all but unrelated breed. Clearly the message is lets stop targeting the dogs! Pit Bulls are no more dangerous than any other strong and large dog. They just happen to attract more irresponsible and abusive owners than any other breed… Ironically, by portraying them in a negative way, the media and breed legislators only make them irresistibly attractive to individuals with bad intentions. Do Pit Bull haters really think that after banning the breed all the criminals who use these dogs as weapons will own Basset Hounds? And if they did, how long do you think it would take before Basset Hounds start making the news?

A breed ban will only remove Pit Bulls from the good people’s homes and leave them in the hands of animal abusers who couldn’t care less about the law… Better think twice before supporting such measure…

And lastly I will leave you with this little test.
People tend to mislabel a dog as a ‘pit’ when in fact they are not.
See if you can pick out the ‘pit’ in this test
:

FIND THE PITBULL

Rebecca

Rebecca

Recipe Of The Week: Strawberry Smoothie

What is June, and summer for that matter, without smoothies!

I like the thought of adding rum…

But that’s just me!

STRAWBERRY BANANA PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

1/2 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 ripe bananas, peeled
3-4 tablespoons sugar or honey
3/4 cup water or coconut water
2 cups medium ice cubes

Process in blender until smooth. Serve immediately or freeze until slushy.
Makes 6 servings.

Rebecca

Rebecca