Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Rock

No, not that one.

This one.

Look, there's no way to sugarcoat this so I'm just going to come out with it.  Our pup, Roxy is in love with a rock.  At first we thought she had a strange fixation with rocks in general, but we soon realized that it was just one rock.  It is a smooth, gray medium-sized rock that is generally unremarkable except for the fact that our dog is desperately attached to it (however, for the purposes of this story, the rock's name is Pierre and he speaks with a French accent).

(Click on pics for larger image)

Our first indication that Roxy had gone over the deep end for Pierre was when we repeatedly saw her barking at him, crying and batting him around the yard, only to later find her canoodling with him, napping with him, and even grooming him. Eventually she became so attached to Pierre that she smuggled him into the house every chance she got.  Unfortunately for her, repeatedly dropping a rock on a hardwood floor will attract unwanted attention.

After about a week of observing this bizarre behavior, I came to the conclusion that Roxy's inexplicable aggression/affection toward Pierre could only mean one thing - girlfriend was in love.  And the more I observed this improbable relationship between a dog and a rock, the more I began to understand their story - a complex story of forbidden desire, heartbreak and 80's love songs.  A modern-day West Side Story, if you will.

At first Roxy and Pierre were as happy as could be...

But after a while we noticed that Cooper was becoming agitated by Roxy's newfound friendship, and I believe he intervened.

Musical Interlude...

Suddenly we didn't see Pierre around the house anymore.  Occasionally we'll find him in the mulch by the plant beds or out back by Mr. B's shed, but we haven't seen Roxy and Pierre together in over a week.  I can only assume that Roxy had to let him go.

But very late at night, from somewhere in our back yard I can hear the faint melody of a sad, sad song...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spanish Jambalaya / Bayou Paella?

(Whoops, forgot to take a "before" pic!)

This dish incorporates the flavor two famous shrimp & rice dishes - jambalaya and paella.  For this incarnation, the andouille sausage normally used in jambalaya has been replaced with chorizo (frankly, because I think chorizo tastes better). But, the expensive shellfish and saffron traditionally found in Spanish paella are omitted from this dish to allow for a more economical and user-friendly recipe, like jambalaya.  So call it what you will, but know that this recipe falls under the "smack yo mama" category of delicious.  If you want to impress your relatives, friends and countrymen, I highly recommend whipping up this culinary delight.  Without further adieu, I present to you the recipe for happiness.

This recipe serves 4

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 links chorizo sausage (or 1/2 to 3/4 lb.), casings removed
2 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cajun seasoning (recommendation to follow)
1 cup uncooked white rice (not minute rice, people!)
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the shrimp if setting aside in the refrigerator beforehand)
Salt and pepper, to taste (particularly if Cajun seasoning does not contain salt)
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add chorizo and break up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon as it browns.
Remove browned chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside (but do not clean the pan!  The browned bits and oily chorizo business at the bottom of the pan will add tons of flavor later on.  Forget about your cholesterol for a minute).
Add butter to the pan and once it's melted, add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft.
While onions and garlic are cooking, sprinkle with the flour and incorporate well, stirring frequently.
Add tomatoes with juice and cook for several minutes, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
Add oregano, Cajun seasoning, rice and broth.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until just a little bit of liquid remains.
Add the shrimp and browned chorizo to the pan, stir well and cook until rice is tender and shrimp is pink and cooked through (about 7 or 8 minutes).

My unsolicited product recommendation:
Now, you can use any ol' Cajun seasoning, but I HIGHLY recommend you run out and buy this little beauty. It's got a little kick to it, it's got depth, it's got rhythm, it's got music (but it's also got salt in it so if you do use it, taste your recipe before adding any salt!).

But most importantly, enjoy!