You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

martedì 26 ottobre 2010

You're a Good Little Dog Part I

And most of them are, especially JR, left, who died this past week. (Waldo was little, and he was a dog. But good? Bah!)

We pick olives beginning this week, that is, if the torrential downpours stop torrentially downpouring. Lots of trees, lots of olives … here’s hoping.

It’s the time of year when people who are lucky enough to have their own trees put down their nets (the better to catch them with, my dear), whip out the rakes to shake the s*** out of the branches, and watch the olives fall to the ground, preferably on the net.

You typically do this on a sunny day, well after the dew has magically evaporated (and trust me, there’s a lot of dew, even without torrential rains, this time of year). At day’s end, you roll the nets (presumably the olive trees are terraced, thus making the nets easier to roll) to the bottom of that terrace, and then bring the nets together, and put all the olives in a big container. Typically, dogs have gotten in the way, and this year will surely be no exception. Over the weekend, there will be at least 4 present.

(You keep doing this ‘til you’ve picked all the olives, and this can take time. Because it can take time, you rope any willing friend/relative/passerby off the street, bribe him/her with a good meal at day’s end, and then ply him/her/it with wine … as much as it takes to hear, “Hey! Helluva good time! Would love to do this again next year!” ... we take Tom Sawyer and painting that fence as our inspiration.)

Then you take the olives to the frantoio (the place where they press the olives and make olive oil) and the stuff comes out young, green, redolent of … yup, olives. You take a piece of unsalted bread, toast it, rub it with a peeled garlic clove, magnanimously drizzle the olive oil on top, add a pinch of best-quality sea salt, grinding of freshly ground pepper, and you eat it. And it is heaven. And you want all around you to eat it, because otherwise you will smell like my cousin Sean’s garlic recipe, below, and no one else will.

What to serve these unwitting, kind, generous friends of ours? Normally, it’d be Italian, the usual. Instead, why not serve American – since, in fact, I am?

Here is Cousin Sean’s take on his parents’ recipe, long served at a beloved tavern to many of us. Why is it award-winning? Says Sean: “I went there last year [to a garlic festival in Easton, Pennsylvania] with Ellery [his young, presumably garlic-loving daughter] and saw that they had a garlic dip contest. I tried all the entries and was thoroughly unimpressed. So I decided to enter the contest this year using the dip my parents always made. I won the contest. The prize was a bag of garlic flavored goodies and a $50 gift card from Wegman's. So now when you blog about it you can tout it as an ‘award-winning’ recipe.” [Done, Cousin!]

(Larry’s Big Pot of Chili, to follow this dip, is next post’s recipe.)

Old Brewery Tavern Garlic Dip aka Sean’s Award-Winning Garlic Dip

1 lb. cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
1 oz. whole milk
½ medium bulb garlic, mashed through a garlic press
1 T. ground cayenne pepper

Let the cream cheese sit out for a couple hours so it is easier to work with. Then mix in the sour cream and milk. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper to taste. If you let someone try it and they don't comment about how freakin' spicy it is, then you haven't put enough garlic and pepper in it! My mom came up with the original recipe, sans the cayenne pepper. Then along came my father and added the pepper and an instant classic was born. Serve with the thickest crinkle-cut potato chips you can find. Even the native Italians will find it outrageously garlicky and irresistibly delicious. P.S.- You will eat it all in one sitting, so batch it accordingly. Buon appetito!!

If the idea of eating all that raw garlic appalls you, roast it first (slice the top off, place on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, loosely pack it up, and place in a 375°F oven ‘til lightly softly browned; squeeze the cloves from their skins, and mash … then add to dairy mix).

JR died last week, a dog beloved to His People. You can see his picture on the upper left on this post. I never knew him, but his people are my family. A lab/chow mix, he was rescued at the age of somewhere between 2-5, and quickly ingratiated himself into his pack. In the beginning, he divided his time between undergraduate/graduate studies in Philadelphia and family life in Bethlehem before ultimately deciding to settle in Bethlehem – perhaps because he loved Musikfest so much? Or Pottsie’s Dogs? Or perhaps, simply, Lori and Fred?

JR was named, as previous members of his pack were, for ice hockey players (many of his pack played the game). He was popular with his neighbors: as Fred, one of His People wrote, “JR was fondly referred to as ’Chinese Guard Dog’ by his neighbors.” He was a talented dog who, as Lori, His Other Person writes, “He was quite an escape artist when he first arrived and even I got a call, from a bar - the bartender told me he was quite charming and would have probably ordered a drink if he could have, when he got out one time.” (One wonders what would have been his tipple of choice.)

And then, for any of us who have rescued dogs, you wonder about their back story, the stories they could tell if only they could speak (we’ve been wondering this about sweet little Rosie this past near week). Lori continues: “Someone took the time to train him because you could put a plate of table food on the floor and he would not touch it unless I told him it was okay.” One of JR’s greatest pleasures? Recycling: “He pretty much went everywhere with us - and became quite the little recycler - that was once of his favorite places – the Bethlehem Recycling Center. He rode around in the convertible with the top down and never moved a muscle.”

JR, know that when we eat the Old Brewery Tavern’s garlic dip, we will all have DOG BREATH. Safe trip to the Happy Hunting Ground, dear boy, where you’ve already been met by your immediate and extended canine pack, all hamburger loving, who will teach you, as Robert Frost once wrote, to bark with the great Overdog, “that romps through the dark.”

JR circa1999/2002-October 2010.

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