The decoy maneuver

The decoy maneuver is one of Ghengis’s finest tricks. I’m incredibly proud of him for not only tricking Maddie (not hard at all) but for also tricking me. It took me a long time to figure out he was just doing this to get a place at my side, not to warn us of possible invasion.
The Scenario: I am home sick today. I’m curled up on the sofa with my coffee, my crochet projects and the Alien Quadrilogy playing. Maddie is curled up next to me. Ghengis is napping on the loveseat on the other side of the room.
The Issue: Ghengis would certainly prefer to be the one curled up next to me as I provide considerably more warmth than the blanket he is nesting in, but Maddie is already there and if he pulls the ‘Jerk Maneuver’ it will entail at least 15 minutes of roughhousing with Maddie and she still might not give up the seat.
The Solution: The only viable solution, as he sees it, is the Decoy Maneuver. The DM has Ghengis growling, hackles up and running around. Maddie will react as expected, she will get up and investigate looking for the possible interloper. She must protect the den! Maddie gets up, Ghengis takes her seat at my side, Maddie moves to the loveseat.
Possible Issues: If Ghengis is too urgent in his barking he’ll get yelled at by me to shut the hell up. If he is too subtle Maddie will switch into Blocker Mode where she presses her entire body across mine in an effort to either keep me safe or get her own protection.
Known Factors: Ghengis knows that unless there is actual angry fighting (as can happen over peanut butter, though it is entirely rare) I will not get involved in their disputes or referee for them. I don’t care how they determine pack order as long as they acknowledge I am the Alpha. Ghengis also knows that Maddie will not put up a fight for the seat as she prefers the “Hippo Maneuver” wherein she just forces her way onto Ghengis and squeezes him out.

Nobody cares

what the hell happened to me? This afternoon I was sitting at my desk all excited about what I’d had for lunch. I was fucking GIDDY after lunch.
Of course, it’s been opined that nobody cares what I had for lunch and by all rights I should not care what I had for lunch. There was a time when I got all excited by extra tequila, date night or live nude donkeys. Now i get excited by my own lunch.
What did I have? What excited me so damned much?
Salami on rye with cheddar and homemade mustard
Tomato and lettuce kept seperate until lunch
An apple
Some carrots
A cookie
Good times.
I was a little less excited to take Maddie to the vet. again. for her feet. again. This time we were told to take her to a dermatologist, that she probably has an allergy, either airborne or food related. It’s disheartening. There is no answer in site. The vet was clear, even if we go to the dermatologist it will probably take a battery of tests and a lot of trial and error before we figured out what was wrong and what to do about it.
We’re going to have to have a charity walk to raise money for her treatment.


While I was putting away groceries the other night I found an unopened bag of guajillo peppers. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten them. And like most of my food experiments, it starts with a craving and a single found ingredient and a need to combine the two to make it work out. I wanted to make my butternut squash enchiladas and decided to make my own sauce…
spicy enchilada sauce
into the crockpot…
1 can diced tomatoes (with the juices)
1 dried guajillo pepper, ripped to pieces
1 dried ancho chili ripped to pieces
2 diced jalapenos
2 tbl chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbl cocoa powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/2 tb pepper
1/2 tbl salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds
1 cup water
1/8 head of garlic
1 black (not green or white) cardamom pod
1/2 tbl smoked spanish paprika
Set on high, cook for 3 hours. Remove cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cardamom pod. Run through food processor or blender until smooth.
I used this on squash and sweet corn enchiladas last night. It ended up being spicier than I expected but it was really good.
The black cardamom pod adds a subtle sweet smokiness, same as the smoked spanish paprika but I know those are both hard to come by if you don’t have a good spice shop near you.

zen and the art of the noodle

Like every hipster kitchen geek I own an Atlas pasta maker. I’ve had it for years. I bought it at a garage sale, i think it had only been used once. Used once and deemed “pain in the ass” and set aside, later to be sold because it was heavy and taking up too much space.
I brought it home and I used it…once.
I didn’t even use for making pasta. I used it for a Martha Stewart recipe for rustic pizza dough.
A few weeks ago I made homemade raviolis and hand formed the dough. A few days later I wanted to make them again for dinner at David’s sister’s house. Wanting to be more authentic I pulled out the pasta maker and rolled out sheets of pasta dough.
It was the first time I’d really made pasta in it. It was disastrous.
Okay, not really disastrous, but there were many mistakes mades. Thoughtless errors that could hae been avoided and a bruise on my forearm that was the result of not having the c-clamp to hold it in place. The raviolis tasted fine, but they were problematic. There were lessons to be learned.
There was leftover dough. Undeterred, the next night I rolled the dough again to make fettucini for dinner. I started to get the hang of it. It’s not a battle to fight, it’s not a triumph that you win.
It’s a calming process.
It’s not unlike making chicken stock, the end result is great, fine, but the process that got you there is what soothes and calms you.
You start with your dough and your machine. You cut your dough into manageable pieces. You start working it through at the widest setting. The dough wants to fight you, the proteins want to bind up, the dough wants to break. Your job isn’t to break the spirit of the dugh, but to finesse it. Much like navigating the holidays with divorced parents, you have to leave everyone thinking they won.
You crank it through, fold it in half, crank it through, fold it in half, crank it through. Soon, it starts cooperating, but it only cooperates so long as you stay calm and focused.
if you fold it too thick, run it through too fast, look at it funny, the proteins could bind and you go back a step or two. And this is good for you.
Stay focused, go slow, don’t rush. If you do you lose a turn, you have to back up. You have to clear your mind of all the frustrations of the day, all the worries of the season. You and your pasta machine and the noodles.
Then you take half a butternut squash, cooked and chopped and 2 peeled, chopped apples and add them to some garlic sauteeing in butter. A good sprinkle of sage and a dash of allspice along with a cup or so of water. cover, turn the heat down and let it simmer. Cook your pasta, drain, toss with the squash sauce.


David is in the kitchen cooking something. I don’t know what it is.
“Oh man, you’re going to burn your underwear and move back to japan when you taste what I am making”
I’m not sure what that means, but I’m not wearing underwear.