Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Favorite Kettles, Mating Dogs and Other Useful Things

I have favorite kettles.  I have favorite dishes. I have favorite utensils in my kitchen that are old and worn-looking but they do the job better than ANY NEWER FACSIMILE.

I love these things. They're part of how I do things: create. Bake. Cook. And good cooks know that your equipment really shouldn't look Calphalon fancy, but be hold-the-heat-good!

Here's a favorite example. The pastry cutter on the right was my mother's. For years I used two knives, criss crossing the butter or shortening into the dough. But Mom gave me this one before she passed away, and then one of my kids got me the new one to the left... The new one has no spring. It's too tight. The separation of the wires is too narrow. So they meant well, but the old one that hangs on my kitchen wall just plain works better!

And you guys have seen this kettle often:

This is my 4 1/2 quart Cast Aluminum Dutch Oven. It's not pretty. It's not fancy. But Cast Aluminum holds and maintains an even heat better than any other pan I've ever used, including the fancy new layered looks. Many layered pans have cast aluminum on the INSIDE layer, covered by copper or stainless because they're prettier, but when you're making sauces or candies, an even heat is crucial.  With my cast aluminum kettles, I get that and you can find these babies for a SONG at garage sales. Because most people have no clue what a treasure they've got. And cast aluminum is HEAVY. If it looks like this, but it's light, it's not the right thing, so save your .50.

This gratuitous picture is to show how well child-protective locks work on cupboards.  You can see the stripped lock in the back left corner on the old hardwood floor.  Yup. That was Meggie, 18 months old, my Goddaughter. Smart little cookie, right?  In this pic is Mary Ruth (front, seated, facing the action, Megan, Brody (far back) Logan (doing a stomp in orange shirt) and MacKenzie (trying new dance moves on the cereal)...  I've always used bandanas to tie the cupboards shut. It's not pretty, but it works. We've gone through several locking devices and we've come to the agreement:  The bandanas work, tied snug through the two handles into a granny knot. Around here effective is the name of the game.

So mating dogs... You knew I'd get to that, right? Our Golden Retriever Sadie came into 'season' two weeks ago but with Christmas I wasn't sure if I'd messed up because we were busy. So I had Mick (our stud dog, and just a gorgeous fellow) come visit.

This is Hearthside's McDreamy  "Mick"

So Mick comes over and he's obviously interested but she's not... So I send him home 48 hours later, thinking I'd messed up because of the holidays and missed her 'heat' cycle.  I didn't, but this is not an exact science. Sigh... So Mick comes back five days later. Still nothing. We're on day 9 which is usually prime time, but not always. So Mick stays through day 11 and nothing happens so I shrug and figure I'm just totally not on top of this.

Libby-the-Poodle (gorgeous, smart, nice, did I mention smart? dog who has the nicest puppies I've ever met each and every time) goes into heat a week after Sadie.  Which means simultaneous puppies if they both take, but that's another blog.

This was Libby last spring, taking care of Maddie's puppies. And yes, she'd nurse them. She's such a good dog.
We invite Mick back, but he's probably about fed up with us now. As in: You keep stealing me from my cozy fire and my hearthside rug to do NOTHING????? 'Sup wi dat???

Mick thinks Libby's adorable, but he FALLS IN LOVE WITH SADIE...  Because now she's ready.

Sadie with her 2011 litter of little red puppies.
Oh my stars. Day 14.... And this does happen, you can find it in the breeding info blogs, but it has never happened with Sadie...

As for Libby?  Well, time will tell. We're KEEPING MICK here for another week, just to cover all the bases. (Note the baseball analogy, spring training is short weeks away)... We've retired Maddie. She'll just stay here and be our dog now.

This is "Maddie"

These are "Golden Doodle" pups.... a cross of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. And yes, they're just as beautiful when they grow up!
And this is Sadie's last litter because Ruthy sees time disappearing a year in advance and dogs need love and attention especially during pregnancy and nursing... We moms understand that, right?  So it's not fair to keep breeding as my time grows short writing.

But I've learned a lot. And if we end up with two litters this year, a week apart, I'm in for a busy spring but that's okay. Life on a farm should get busy in spring, right? And if Dave caves and puts up fencing for Alpacas, well... :)   Then I'll have some new animal friends to blog about!


  1. Thanks so much for this post, Ruth!!! Those dogs are beautiful. As far as kettles, I have this 20 Qt stainless steel number we use infrequently but must have for doing Beaufort Boil, which we will again soon for hubby's birthday! Blessings!

  2. LOL. I love a good doggie romance. Poor long-suffering Mick. And those golden doodle puppies are adorable. We have two in our area and they are lovely dogs and Simba's best bud is a golden retriever named Chloe.

    I follow a sheltie breeder's blog in my area and she ended up with 3 litters just days apart in the fall. What a lot of work! A true labor of love (and puppy kisses.)

  3. Welcome, Carrie! I'm assuming Beaufort Boil is the same as a low country boil. I love it!! It would be perfect for a b-day celebration. Yum!

    LOL, Kav. Your'e right, a doggie romance. But my goodness, Ruthy, how do you remember all the names? Sadie, Maddie, Libby. I got so confused I kept having to go back and forth to see the photos again, trying to place who is who. LOL

    what precious puppies! If we're going to get one, I need to do it soon before you retire from breeding. Whenever my daughter whines to get a new puppy, I tell her we're going to have to drive to NY for our next one. :)

  4. First, Carrie... You should come post about the Beaufort Boil because I have no idea what this is. The BELLE has a clue, but for us northerners, you should 'share' the kitchen space and tell us how to do it the Beaufort way! Let me know if you'd like to do that (you can e-mail us at yankeebellecafe(at)gmail(dot)com

    Kav, aren't they beautiful dogs? And it's been a labor of love and a whole lot of work but it's been good. A wonderful experience and I've met so many NICE PEOPLE and a few characters for books.

    'Nuf said.

    AND THOSE PUPPIES ARE TO DIE FOR ADORABLE. :) A lot of the owners stay in touch with us and it's been fun to make new friends and expand my horizons.

    Missy, yes, the next dog must be a Ruthy-dog. I'll either have you come here or meet you half-way. Or I'll deliver a Doodle next year RWA ATlanta... ;)

    Which actually might work, right?

  5. Oh, that would be perfect, Ruthy! But I have to say we won't get a puppy unless we lose one of our other two dogs. Two is maximum. And we're hoping our senior dogs will be with us a long time to come!

    1. Even I'm not mean enough to wish one of your old dogs away! Somewhere in this snark heart is a gentle soul... It just takes a bit of doing to find it!

  6. aww so cute! I've read about labradoodles and goldendoodles but that was as far as I got. I'm limited to 2 dogs and already have a german shepherd and lab..not so sure I could do the puppy thing again - I'll have to figure something out. being gone 13 hrs some days is tough on a dog(and the floor) and the puppy years I lost dolls, furniture, carpet...the only 'good' thing I can say is that the only book they ever destroyed was a 99 cent popup book - thank goodness because I have to draw a line somewhere! I remember they were really expensive down here - at least at the time- and I was thinking no way I'd spend that kind of money on a dog then realized my almost-free lab had cost me much more than that in medical stuff including a $3000 knee surgery a couple of years ago - so I guess everything averages out LOL! so far th shepherd hasn't been as expensive other than a couple of foot injuries requiring stitches (which she re-opened and I had to pay again so probably more like 3 times!) but the lab I got from a guy at work who wanted hunting dogs - she's had so many skin allergies - they finally settled and then her knee and now her hips.
    oh well they both turn 11 this year and I'm already dreading the day I lose them. you'll probably be done breeding them by the time I'm ready :-( but a long drive to NY might be nice and no better way to get to know a dog than to spend days riding in the car huh?!

    1. Well, we'll hope for longevity for both and I agree on the car ride! Mandy and I brought Mick back from Minnesota, a 17 hour drive, and he was a wonderful puppy. And it was so fun driving out there, knowing we were bringing our baby boy home!!!

      Oh, and we got to see BETH, too, LOL!

  7. Oh, my goodness...I want a Goldendoodle puppy! Can't afford one, but that's my problem, not yours, LOL. My daughter's sister-in-law has a chocolate Doodle and her in-laws have a golden Doodle. They're such adorable dogs, but I love the Goldens, too. Our former neighbor only had Golden Retrievers and she was involved with a Golden rescue society, too, so we would meet her foster dogs when she'd be working with them. I just don't think we have the room, especially since we already have a mostly-Lab who's neurotic as all-get-out. So I will enjoy them vicariously through you, Ruthy. :)

    And I well understand the "old" utensils/pots versus the "new". I have some stuff my mom gave me when I moved out of their house almost 33 years ago, and there really isn't anything like the oldie-but-goodie. But you know what's even better? The fact that my 28yo daughter has my mom's cooking and baking skills and she knows it, too! I gave her a little figure a couple years ago that says something about a baking angel lives here and she keeps it on her kitchen windowsill. My mom passed away on my husband's birthday in December 2008, and Shawna misses her every day, despite not having been able to see her much (our kids hadn't seen my parents in over 5 years--they lived in NC and, of course, we're up here on Lake Ontario in western NY).

    Sorry, didn't mean to ramble (and start tears forming in my eyes either, for that matter)...

    Can't wait to see pup pics!

  8. Oh, Melanie, you're not only allowed to ramble here, you're encouraged! I love these memories, and honey, no one cries alone in my presence!

    Dog stories... kid stories.... hard times.... good times.... Aren't they the stuff life's made of? And then we choose how to let them affect us, right?

    I go the Pollyanna route, that looks for the joyful side of the bad day. I love Pollyanna, even if I am a snark!

  9. Here's to longevity of the poochies! Susanna, our lab is 11. And our mutt, 9. They're both getting gray muzzles!

    Melanie, you made me tear up, too. I love the idea of a baking angel!

  10. Goldens are so sweet. Ours is about to turn five. No babies for her, though. She was one of thirteen puppies born to the two goldens across the street. We saw them right after they were born and watched them grow. Five and a half weeks later, one found her way home with us:-)

    1. Of course it did, Mindy! ;) Because they are irresistible. And I know how naughty they can be... They're like the naughtiest puppies in the world, but they make the best dogs. And that's the important thing, right? AFTER we replace the wallboard they chewed, the wallpaper they peeled, my black strappy sandal, and a couple of pairs of undies....


      Oh my stars.