“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” ~ Dean Koontz
The 2nd in a series of 3 dog “tails” written by Chef Janet Craig of The Satisfied Soul.
Another part of my job is cooking for seniors and I am often hired by their “kids” (people like me in the 50’s & 60’s) to ensure their parents are eating properly. A lot of seniors used to be good cooks, but over time, sometimes they are no longer able stand for long periods or they have dietary restrictions. Hiring me gives them the ability to be independent and remain in their own homes.
A woman contacted me and arranged for me to go to her parents’ home – a lovely large Tudor style home. She had said her Mum, Martha, had slight dementia and her Dad, George, was a retired doctor and didn’t cook. When I arrived this couple greeted me at the door, both beautifully dressed, lovely white hair, their cardigans in place. Martha had her full makeup on so my first impression was that they looked healthy and happy.
After I got unpacked and started to work the husband, George came into the kitchen with his newspaper in hand and asked if Martha could sit with me. I realized the poor guy never has time to himself so I said, “Of course. Martha, come sit, watch me cook and I’ll make you some tea.” I kept thinking, “Why are they in this huge house?” Well, you guessed it. They had this dog, a Puli named Sandy, who was a mass of black dreadlocks to the floor. I could not tell his ass end from his front end, but they loved him and they couldn’t give up their home while they had their dog.
After being asked the umpteenth time what my name was, Martha announced Sandy had to go out. So I took the dog and let him out the glass doors onto the patio. It was the middle of January and the patio door was stuck with snow, so I ended up outside as well trying to get the dog out. Then Martha slammed the glass door shut and locked it, with me outside!
I tried my best to convince her to let me in. I could hear her calling out, “George, there is a strange lady in white on our patio.”
“Jeez!” I thought, “Do you think he’s heard that before?” Then I had a brainwave. I picked up Sandy and smiled at her. She opened the door happily saying, “Oh! You found Sandy!”
“Who Let the Dog Out?” #2
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
2 pounds stewing beef, trimmed, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted, ground
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 540 ml can diced tomatoes, including juice
2 bay leaves
2 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/2 cup pitted green olives, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1.In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add beef and toss until evenly coated.
2. Set meat aside, shaking off any excess flour; reserve flour.
3. In a heavy frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Brown beef in batches, turning and adding more oil, if necessary, for about four minutes per batch.
4. Transfer beef to slow cooker’s stoneware insert. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions and garlic, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Sprinkle with cumin and the flour mixture and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add beef stock, wine, tomatoes with juice, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about two minutes.
5. Add to slow cooker, stirring well. Cover and cook on low for eight hours or on high for four hours, until mixture is bubbly and beef is tender.
6. Stir in roasted peppers, olives and parsley. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, until peppers are heated through. Discard bay leaves and serve.