A week and a half ago, Becky and I had to say goodbye to our dog, Summer. Summy, 13 years old, had been having problems the last year with her heart, but more than that she had several stroke-like episodes that were difficult to diagnose, but were related to the whole old-doggie package. Two Sundays ago we woke up to another of these episodes, and knew things were only going to get worse for her.

Becky had been with Summer for 10 years when Maggie and I Brady-bunched up with them. I am so lucky that I met Bec in time to spend 3 years with Summy, the most adorable dog I've ever met. Now I'm part of a club that's great in number but select in its bond: fulfilling the painful and emotionally-requisite contract of dog ownership. We will miss Summer so much. Our son, coming around the bend, will be subjected to incessant Summy-stories. Sorry, kiddo.
Here are some of the things we will tell him:

When we woke up in the morning, she would fetch a squeaky toy, hop on our bed and then make the toy squeak
Her ears smelled like brownie batter
She'd kick her leg when you found the right belly spot
Going up the stairs she looked like a lamb
Her inquisitive head tilt
Her single, irrepressible doorbell yelp
Great company in the car
She followed us everywhere in the apartment, and if we were at two ends of the apartment, she'd lie down in the middle
She ate a whole vole, whole.
After a bath, she's run around the apartment, rubbing against ever piece of furniture and rug she could get to.
She took off into a lake after some ducks, and swam out 50 yards before I freaked out, undressed and swam out to get her (it was cold and rainy). When I got to her and lifted her out of the water, she continued air-swimming.
She was the Ring Bearer at our wedding.
When she farted, it startled her, and she would run away from it.
No tail. Wigglebutt.
Her bouncy ears when she walked
She would spin around when her dinner was being prepared.
She'd poke her head into the bathroom if one of us was in there.
We called her Noodgie, Noodgers, Shloopie, Shlampy, Chomps, Chompers, Summy, Sumsum, Summybear, Monsterbear, Munchkinbear, and Wiggles. And Summer, of course.

We love you, Summy, and always will.

It's Been Too Long, Fish Stew

A few of you have commented on my lack of blog entries since, um...September...2010. Anyway, a few things have been going on in the interim.
Becky and I are expecting our son in a matter of a couple weeks
Becky graduated from NYU nursing in December
We turned her office into a nursery
We said bye to our beloved dog, Summer (which I'm going to post about right after this because I'm stalling)

It's easier for me to jump back into the Feedbag by posting the recipe for tonight's dinner, which I was incredibly pleased with.

Incredibly Pleasing Fish Stew

in a heavy dutch oven type pot:
brown 1 finely diced onion with 1 tsp crushed red pepper in scant 1/4 c. EVO
1 28oz. can peeled plum tomatoes (drained & chopped)
1 cup white wine (fruity, not dry)
1-1/2 tsp salt
and reduce by 1/2

then, add and bring to a simmer:
2 cups water
1 celery stalk sliced
2 or 3 carrots sliced
1 medium potato 1/2 in. dice
1-1/2 Tbs. smoked paprika (Spanish)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp white or black pepper
4 or 5 capers
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp carraway seed

while this simmers:
in a saucepan, brown 2 links (approx. 1/2 lb) hot sausage* sliced (italian
drain if it yields a lot of fat
add sausage to the simmering stew, then,
melt 2 tbs. butter in the sauce pan, stir in scant 1/4 c. flour
once browned and clumpy, stir in 2 cups water
stir till even & thickened, then add to pot

*Because of my wife, I used this really delicious vegetarian sausage made by Field Roast Grain Meat Co., but I don't recommend the substitute unless you're sure you like it)

return stew to simmer, then,
add a few dashes of tabasco
chopped kale/chard/spinach (1 small bunch)
chopped parsley (a handful)
and simmer for another 10 minutes (until carrots, potatoes are soft)

add pieces of fish (1lb delicious mild fish like cod/mahi/tilapia) and simmer gently for another 3-6 minutes (depending on thickness), until fish is cooked through.

serve with a squirt of fresh lemon over the stew and some crusty bread.
oh baby.