Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dog Blog Two

On November 8, 2012 I shared the steps to washing a dog in  "Dog Blog".

In that particular case, I washed a dachshund. I had no idea that all smallish dogs are not created equal. There are some dogs, specifically chihuahuas, who think they are in fact gazelles. This makes them particularly difficult to capture and to bathe. Here are my suggestions based on experience.
 Step #1

Acquire an unsuspecting chihuahua or a reasonable facsimile. Documentation as to potential breed and bloodline will not be checked. Sometimes, it's difficult to determine whether said dog is actually dirty. A chihuahua has grime associated habits all its own...sneaking licks of creamsicles, burrowing in gardens, and then of course, there are the usual eye crusties. Chihuahua markings might be deceptive. Until dog is washed, assume that the dark or sticky spots are dirt.

Step #2

Since this is a species of dog that people tend to dress in outfits, remove all clothing, life jackets, raincoats, harnesses, anti bark collars or whatever else the chihuahua might be wearing on that particular day.

Steps #3, 4 and 5

Prepare bath products as in original dog blog. Bring chihuahua into bathroom. Start the shower. Exhaust dog by holding her above the flowing water, allowing her to make rapid swimming motions with all four long doggy legs. This is an important step. Should you skip this step and accidentally place chihuahua directly into tub, she will leap up and out with her kangaroo-like skill. She will then shake and jump wildly about while spraying you, the walls, the mirrors, your toiletries and all your dry towels.
Wet and soap dog. Rub fur rigorously and note the unusual bristly, resistant texture of the chihuahua's coat. Dog remains almost the same size, unlike previously bathed incredible shrinking dachshund. Still, she will attempt to escape so a firm but gentle grip will help keep her securely in place.

Dog will attempt to garner sympathy, as all dogs do, by looking pathetic, soggy and doe-eyed. Be firm and be sure to remember the eye crusties. Rinse dog, making certain she is soap and grime free. This is easy because of aforementioned hair texture. Like water off a duck''s back.

Step #6

Remove dog from tub captivity and wrap in a towel, rubbing gently to absorb moisture. A second towel will rarely be necessary. Chihuahua will be so terrified at the experience that she will shake with fear while hiding her tail. Be aware. Tail retains a lot of water and if it isn't properly dried, dog might exact her revenge at a later time.

Step #7

It is uneccesary to reward chihuahua with a treat as this particular breed believes in helping itself. (see previous creamsicle photo or ask dachshund)

Step #8

Place chihuahua on floor. It will immediately seek out other dog to discuss this undesirable experience. Both will sniff the air, look around curiously, and wonder why they smell alike. 

Then chihuahua will dry itself further by putting its mark on any accessible piece of fabric...rug, carpet, sofa, socks. Unlike dachshund, chihuahua prefers cloth to walls.

Step #9

Dog, being young and inexperienced might try to squeeze into a small space like under a coffee table to hide. She will then scratch carpet in a digging motion attempting to create more head and leg room for herself. Dachshund will show up to give chihuahua a tip. "Dude...I can see you. Under the bed is a much better hiding place. Roomy, soft and already furry."
Step #10

Dog creeps out from hiding place and makes a sad face until you grab a protective towel and pick her up. Turns out the second towel is needed after all.

Your little buddy will soon ready to be dressed up in her finest outfit yet again.
That little dog sure has a lot to learn. Fortunately, I can share my 12 years of experience.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Macarons Are Not Macaroons - Part 3, Not the Final Chapter

Macarons at Le Dolci...$2 a piece
Our macaron making day finally came. My friend Denise and I excitedly went to the class location on Dundas St. W. We arrived early, parked and enjoyed a chat over a latte. Shortly before eleven, we ventured to Le Dolci where other eager participants, all women, were donning their pink aprons and  talking with the instructor, patisserie chef Eyal Liebman.
When Chef Liebman asked who had attempted macarons before, most of the hands went up. We laughed when he said, (with French accent) "Ah, that is why you are all here."

We listened, we watched, we asked questions, we learned. Chef Liebman explained and demonstrated. Some people took notes, some observed, some participated, and some daydreamed while visions of macarons danced in their heads.

Measurements and instructions were posted on the wall. We were using an Italian macaron recipe and it was slightly different than what we'd tried at home. This method involved boiling sugar and water, using a thermometer to get to the correct temperature and then gingerly pouring the syrup into the egg white mixture.
Almonds and powdered sugar were then added and the mixture stirred rigorously until the dough, when left for about seven seconds flattened smoothly back in the bowl. It is important not to overmix or undermix at this point. We then received instruction on how to pipe the dough onto templates on the baking sheet.
Denise and I learned that when we worked at home, our almonds were not sufficiently ground and that they should have had a more floury consistency. We had also not beaten our egg whites enough. This is how they should look when ready.
We then divided into groups to make our own macarons.. The three resulting batches looked like this.
Batch #1 (Chocolate) Created by Chef

 Not quite right but then some were piped by students. Nonetheless, they were filled with ganache and sandwiched.
Batch #2 (Pistachio) Created by Group 1 
These cookies were a bit of a disaster. The pistachio butter from a bakery supplier was blamed and the chef informed us that he personally uses pistachio paste from Spain. Neither option (supplier or Spain) were amateur cookie maker friendly suggestions. The cookies cracked while baking and were not filled and sandwiched.
Batch #3 - (Plain) Created by Group 2
These turned out quite well. Except for some piping issues which created a few deformed cookies, they all rose nicely. They were filled with lemon curd and sandwiched. Denise and I were involved in making these. Clearly, our previous at home practice helped with our effort.
We were unable to determine whether the chef was impressed with our efforts or whether he was just relieved that it was all over. You be the judge.
After the course, Denise and I talked over lunch and planned another macaron home baking session. We are feeling much more confident that our future efforts will not resemble feet, acorns or tongues. I've even found a great new recipe from Canadian Living magazine and I'm looking forward to one last kick at the can.