Monday, October 20, 2008

Bear Dogs R Us

It rained over night, the trees and grass are sodden. So is my brain. It's a big old bleary-eyed brain fog day. I have to tell myself which foot to put in front of the other as I wend my way to the kitchen for my morning cappuccino. Maybe it will help my eyes to focus, both at the same time. Nope. Back to sit on the bed and watch the news. I read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen with the sound off, the announcers voices are just annoying.

After Richard leaves for work, I tidy the kitchen and then set about creating a new bread recipe. I have a couple of boxes of Weetabix cereal biscuits in the cupboard, and after reading the ingredient and nutritional label, decide they would be good crushed up in a Spelt bread. Now for the other ingredients. Hmmmmm, there is that package of Maple Flakes I have had for a while and wanted to use in something. And that bag of dried apples...soon I have a recipe written up.

But first, time to take the dogs out into the garden yard before the rain begins again. Pippi and Mason of course race to the end of the yard and peer through the fence down towards the big Pear trees, looking for the Bear Monster. They sniff the breeze, but he is not in the neighborhood. Thankfully. We wander about, me picking up windfall apples. They planting doggy mines, perhaps with the thought of deterring their furry black nemisis.

There are still some Gravenstein apples on the tree, and I pick a few using our homemade picker. For the unintiated, let me describe the flavor of a Gravenstein. It is sweet, crisp, faintly tart, and if you get it at just the right time, has butterscotch notes. I love the taste. What is surprising is it's long season this year. Usually, it ripens in August and is all finished by mid September at the latest. I will miss it when it is gone. It is a versitile apple, good for pies, sauces, jellies, butters and eating fresh.

Time to go back into the house and continue with my recipe. I decide on white flour, spelt flour, crushed Weetabix, Maple Flakes instead of sugar, butter, salt, milk powder, cinnamon, yeast and dried apples. Soon I am gathering ingredients to be mixed in the bread machine and the dough is mixing. Looks good, a little sticky, but will knead in more flour after its first rise.

A half cup of flour and some hand kneading later and the very sticky dough is rising in a round Corelle casserole dish. I forgot how much the dried apples would expand when they mixed in with the water and flour. Make a mental note to chop them finer next time. And use 1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup. The dough looks and smells wonderful. Hope it will taste good when it's baked. Well, it IS a work in progress after all.

The sun comes out of no where, so we decide to go outdoors again and enjoy it while we can. This time I have six dogs with me instead of my usual five, as Rosie decides to join us. As I open the gate, Mason and Pippi again race out to the end of the yard, but this time they are standing up at the fence and barking their little heads of. Ah crap! I hurry to the end of the yard as fast as I can with my cane. "Is it the Bear Monster guys?" I ask as I look down towards the Pear trees. They continue their raucous barking while I look around the yard. Then I see him.

He is running from under the big old Sitka Spruce tree, down and over the bank of the creek. I holler at him to get out of here, banging my cane on the metal fence post while the dogs all bark and roar. Once he is out of site, I go and deactivate doggy mines, secure in the knowledge that Mason and Pippi - especially Pippi - will alert me to his return.

Pippi has an amazingly deep and loud voice for a small dog. She and Mason pace around the corner of the yard, lifting their muzzles and scenting the air. Mason growls, while Pippi throws her head all the way back and lets loose with periodic spine tingling barking, interspersed with scenting the air for the Bear Monster. Ok enough is enough, I have stood my ground and been really brave but time to go back in. And lock all the doors.

Inside Pippi is still agitated, walking from room to room, growling and scenting the air. I put the bread dough in the oven to bake and go into the living room to listen to the news. She follows me, at times barking. This little girl takes her job as a guard dog very serious. I try to reassure her, but she isn't having it. Mason sits on the back of the sofa, looking out the patio door through all the doggy nose prints, and watches for the Bear. Pippi lays on the floor behind my chair, watching the doorway. No Bear will dare to get past her.

The odor of the baking bread reaches us and I have to admit, it is mouth watering. Before putting it in the over to bake, I sprinkled about a tablespoon of Maple Flakes on top, to finish it off. Hope they don't burn. I realize suddenly that it is after 6pm and I have not fed the dogs or myself. Time for dinner.

The dogs are fed and I go out into the back porch to get some wood for the fire. I sense as much as see movement in the fading light through the patio door. Cute Little Island Doe Mule Deer and her fawn are grazing for apples from the tree out back. The see me. I wave and finish getting my wood. As I come back in, the timer on the stove goes and the bread is done. Sure smells wonderful. Removing it from the pan, I set it on the cooling rack and inhale it's scent.

Turning back to the stove, I again sense movement in the yard, this time under the King Apple tree. Mom and baby have moved around to the driveway to eat apples there. I feel safe and secure with their presence, for they wouldn't be here if the Bear was in the vicinity.

In the photo's above, the one with the now bereft garden boat, scroll to the bottom left and you will see my fierce guard Bichon, Pippi, protecting me from the Bear Monster. By the look on her face, you can tell she takes her job very serious.

In the living room, the kids begin to hoot and holler. They have spotted the deer in the driveway. Usually I would stop them, but tonight I think they have earned their bark time. I leave them for a couple of minutes and then distract them with treats.

Pippi curls up on the Futon and dozes, but I notice only one eye is closed. She's on the job. On the back of the sofa, Mason too is dozing and guarding, facing the driveway where the deer were congregated. No one will get past him.

And me? I am waiting for the bread to cool so I can sample it. Richard will be home in an hour. It should be ready then, I can't wait. Apples, cinnamon, Maple Flakes, Weetabix, Spelt...can't you just taste it?

1 comment:

Kate VanDewark Plummer said...

Oh you are an EEEVVVIIILLL woman to post this at this time of night!!! You are just plain MEAN!

YES, I can smell it!
[Bitz!] :)