Makin’ bacon, the first BLT sandwiches of the season

There is nothing like the first BLT of the season made with homegrown tomatoes. Among the veggies in our garden this year, the Early Girl, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster and Roma tomatoes are the most welcome. Our spring and summer have been unseasonably cool, and tomatoes like hot days and warm nights. They do their magic during those warm nights. We’ve had an abundance of rain this season, though, so much that I’ve only watered our veggies and flowers a handful of times the whole season! This week, the tomatoes finally began to ripen.

Last night and today, BLT’s have been dinner, along with chunks of a particularly succulent and sweet seedless watermelon.The results were, well…Just take Emma’s word for it.

Picture of dog panting and drooling for BLT sandwich

Yeah, baby! It is time for fresh tomatoes plain or with Tzatziki Sauce (we get ours from GFS, Gordon Food Services), a splash of balsamic vinegar, light Italian dressing, or served up on sandwiches. Miracle Whip is our condiment of choice for the latter.

I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time around, because it is less messy and the grease is absorbed as it cooks. Just layer a few paper towels on a plate, arrange slices of bacon side-by-side on the plate (no overlapping) and cover with another few sheets of paper towels. Cook on high for 4-6 minutes and let cool a bit. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, you will probably need to turn the plate part way through to make sure it cooks evenly.

There are also some great microwave bacon cooker kitchen gadgets if you want to save on paper towels and lessen the amount of bacon grease you consume. Nordic Ware makes one that’s both a bacon cooker and meat grill. There’s also The Original Makin’ Bacon Microwave Bacon Rack, which suspends the bacon during cooking, letting the grease drip down into a reservoir below. I’d like that one myself, since it lets you cook more pieces at a time, certainly more than I could using a plate and paper towels.

What’s your favorite thing to do with an abundance of fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes? We are going to have a BUNCH of Roma tomatoes coming ripe at once and I want to use them up. I don’t know if I want to bother with canning, but I might try it. It would be good to make some tomato sauces for later. Hmmmmmm. At least it’s been a cooler summer so canning wouldn’t be so doggoned hot. I thought about setting up a hotplate out under our gazebo and putting my big Ball 21-quart waterbath canner out there so it won’t heat up the house.

Snow, ice, and dog hors d’oeuvres

Back in late January, our temperatures plummeted. At one point, our city was the coldest one in the US at -20F. We beat out Alaska and Minnesota! Just because it gets cold doesn’t mean the dogs get a free pass and don’t have to go outside, though. The more cold-hardy of the two goes out in her own fur coat, but our greyhound mix, Emma, wears a sweater or a doggie coat. She has a metal plate in her leg from a bad break, so she’s especially susceptible to the cold.

Here’s a shot taken of the more robust winter dog after the snowstorm, when we took a frigid walk down the street. Poor Emma only made it a few houses down the street before my husband had to turn back toward home with her. Stella and I soldiered on, because Stella was still playing in the snow and I wanted to get to a better vantage point for the gorgeous sunset.

Photo of my dog walking in the snow

Our rugged individualist.

 

Just as spiritedly as she played in the snow, she suddenly stopped and looked up at me before starting to limp. Her feet had reached their limit! I thought I was going to have to carry her back home, but right then my sweet husband came driving up in our car, figuring we might need to be rescued. It was below zero out and terribly windy. We gladly got in the car even for that half block drive home!

This is the sunset I wanted to photograph. Aren’t those clouds gorgeous?

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

 

More snow fell this past Monday evening through Tuesday morning and, after it, a layer of ice. This has made for some interesting time outside for our two dogs who, at only about 42-45 pounds, alternate between skating atop the ice and breaking through spots. It also serves to make piles left by the dogs and other animals quite prominent in our landscape. While walking one of the dogs today, I noticed this:

 

Iced deer poop hors d'oeurves

Culinary perfection to my dog: Iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres

 Yes, the deer who frequent our yard at night left their usual calling cards. This presents iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres for Stella, who has a disgusting fondness for these morsels. We have to keep her away from this feast. Dogs!!

Dogs die from being left in hot cars

I came out from Walmart today to find a dog baking in a hot car next to mine. The one back window facing my car was down about 5 inches.

The dog was an older beagle mix, grey muzzled with slightly-clouded eyes. It was panting heavily and salivating. While I stood watching it, the dog alternated between standing with its front paws on the armrest between the front seats, climbing down into the shaded spot on the floor in front of the passenger seat, standing on the back passenger arm rest with its head tipped up out the open window, and lying on its side on the back seat. Its sides were heaving as it panted; it was obviously hot and in distress.

I hoped the owners would be right out, so waited eight minutes before I called the non-emergency number of the local police. I was on the phone with the dispatcher when the couple approached their car about two minutes after I placed the call.

The woman saw me standing behind her car as I was talking to the dispatcher. She said, “Why are you looking at my license plate?!”

What, this one?

I told the dispatcher the owners were just coming up to their car. I turned to the woman and said in a low, calm tone, “I am reading your license plate to the police. I called to let them know there was a distressed animal in a hot car here.”

The woman snapped, “We were only in there five minutes!” I replied that I had been next to their car for ten minutes at this point.

She said, “The back windows were both down!”

I said, “M’am, do you have any idea how quickly a car reaches dangerous temperatures for an animal on a hot day like this, even with the windows down?”

DID YOU KNOW…
When it’s 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car — even with the windows cracked — can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in just half an hour. On hotter days, the temperature will climb even higher. Outside temperatures in the 70s can be dangerous, as well. Source

The dispatcher took my contact information and ended the call. The patrolman arrived just after that and came over to the passenger side of my car (the opposite side of my car from the couple’s) and leaned down to talk to me. He asked me what happened, and I told him what I’d seen.

While he was talking to me, the woman yelled, “Both the back windows were down!” The officer glanced her way and said in a flat tone of voice, “I’m not talking to you right now. You’ll get your chance.” He leaned back down and said to me, “You can’t control who has kids or pets.”

Can I just say, I *heart* that officer? When I left, he was walking over to their car. I hope he educated them about the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car. I hope he encouraged them to soak their dog down with cold water as soon as possible. In the end, there wasn’t anything else I could do.

I know I made a couple of enemies by my actions today (woof, if looks could kill!), but how could I keep silent when faced with an animal suffering in the heat? Several times each summer, we read stories about people whose children die due to being left in hot cars. Sometimes we hear about dogs that die from the same cause. It even happened recently with a K9 officer whose partner left him in the patrol car.

On a hot day, a car reaches uncomfortably high temperatures even if you park in the shade and have all your windows down. It amazes me that some people lack the common sense to realize it’s not safe to leave a dog in the car on warm days. These same people would never choose to sit in their car, on a sunny, 87-degree day (that’s the temperature in the shade, mind you), out in a parking lot.

What if, in addition to that, they were forced to wear fur coats and lacked the ability to sweat and cool off by evaporation? This is exactly the treatment to which they subject their dogs.

I guess the only thing we can do is report the situations as we see them and try to educate people about the issue. The website, mydogiscool.com is a tremendous resource for the latter. Give it a good read through and print off a few of their free educational posters and fliers in PDF format. This one gets the point across:

This double-sided brochure contains facts every dog owner should know:

If you can’t print them yourself, you can order them for $3.00/25 pieces. Bulk pricing is available. See the website for details. It might be just as cheap to take them to a local copy-print place. Who knows, if the owner’s a dog lover, you might even get a discounted rate.

However you get them off the screen and into your hands, keep some in your car’s glove compartment for those times you see a dog left in a hot car. Go out on a limb and possibly save the life of a dog. If the owner comes out before you leave, great! Hand him a flier. At the very least, tuck a flier under the windshield wiper on the car as you make a call to the police.

Please spread the word. People don’t mean to put their pets’ lives in jeopardy. What they don’t know could cost them their beloved family member.

I caught Santa, and you can, too!

Can you imagine the look on your kid’s face when you show him a photo of Santa in your own living room?

When I saw this site, icaughtsanta.com, I smiled. What a fun, original idea! Best yet, I have a discount code for my readers. But more about this later.

Our girls, despite their being four-footed, got to see Santa. See for yourselves!

Santa was just reaching into his bag of toys when he heard a low growl come from behind him...

Santa was just reaching into his bag of toys when he heard a low growl...

Santa reaching for the puppies.

Santa likes his reindeer well enough, but he had to pet the sleeping puppies before heading back up the chimney.

Time’s a wastin’….Head over to icaughtsanta.com, upload your photo, and watch St. Nick appear. I have a coupon code for you, too: SANTA50 will get you half off your order. This is great fun!

What to do if your cat loses its tail

Did you hear about the lady who accidentally cut her cat’s tail off with a weed whacker?

Orange cat looking back where its tail should be.

The cat lost its tail in an unfortunate weed-whacker event.

Very upset, the woman grabbed the cat and its severed tail and told her neighbor she was taking the cat to Walmart.

Her neighbor said, “Why on earth are you taking the cat to Walmart? You should take him to the vet!”

The lady replied, “Don’t you know Walmart’s the largest retailer in America??”

What is it about cats and boxes? Ask Maru.

I know they like cozy spaces. It tickles me to see our cats scuffle snuggle down in their choice of the innumerable boxes in our house. Here is Snoopy enjoying a respite in one of many Amazon boxes:

image

 

Maru, the box-obsessed Asian Kitty on YouTube, would concur.

Too small box and Maru:

He takes box love to a whole new level. I just loves me some Maru kitty.


UPDATE: Oh, my gosh. I was just browsing Amazon and found out there is a Maru book coming out in August: I Am Maru. No way…How fun!

Man, I love the Internet.