Saturday, January 25, 2014

ZUCCHINI: 3 1/2 year Progress Report

I found an old list I had when Zook was only a few weeks old of things I wanted him to learn. I wanted to see how we'd come along with his training, and decided to update his progress on the list.
  • Learn name
  • Learn command "sit"
  • Learn command "down" (for laying down)
  • Learn command "show me your belly"
  • Learn command "sit pretty" (to get him to sit up and "beg")
  • Learn command "roll over"
  • Learn command "come here"
  • Learn command "stay"
  • Learn command "get in your bed"
  • Learn what "Wanna go outside" means
  • Learn what "Wanna go for a ride" means (What dog doesn't know this one?)
  • Learn what "eat" means (He knows this in addition to "food" and "hungry", and will bring me his bowl on command.)
  • Learn to walk properly on a lead (And does very well obeying commands like "wait" and "stay with me" when he's off-leash as well.)
  • Learn to ask to go outside
  • Learn to fetch (He'll "fetch" almost anything I ask for.)
  • Become "crate trained" (He enters his cage at work on command, but I rarely need to command him to go in. Usually he lays wherever he wants in my office.)
  • Learn the meaning of "toy" or "baby"
  • Try different foods. Get him to eat rice and veggies and such.(He eats almost everything but turnips.)
  • Become good friends with Katy (Mom's dog) so that maybe the two of them can even play together. (They became best friends before she died, and now he's best friends with our new dog Tiki.) 
Additionally he has learned:
  • "Drop it"
  • "Leave it"
  • "Off" (for getting down off of things or people)
  • "Wait" (he'll wait at the road for me to tell him it's okay to cross, or slow down to wait for me)
  • "Treat"
  • "Go see" (to "go see" a certain person, or what a noise was, or something. It's basically a release command that gives him permission.)
  • "Bath" (he's learned to walk into the shower and "submit" to a bath. He isn't happy about it, but he'll do it without being forced)
  • "Go to work" (he knows these words mean going to work with me, where he gets to see the other people he loves)
  • "Go home" (he knows this means we are going home)
  • "Stop" (When off-leash, he's been taught to "stop" at the road and wait for me to say it's okay to cross)
  • "Load Up" (for "loading" into the car)
  • "Clean up" (to clean up any food that fell on the floor)
  • "Inside" (to go inside)
  • "Watch" (To get him to focus on me rather than the treat, but I hope to expand on this eventually and get him to watch something else I indicate)
  • "Bring your bowl" 
  • "Bring it here" (he'll bring anything I indicate)
  • "Come see me" (usually means for him to climb into my lap)
  • "Let me see" (for him to bring me whatever he has, so I can see what it is or take it away from him) 
  • Bedroom/Office (tells him what room he needs to go to)
  • "Get out of my kitchen"
  • "Take it nice" (to get him to take food nicely from my fingers) 
  • "Move over" 
  • "Settle" (when he's excited and needs to settle down)
  • "Back" (it can mean for him to back up, but when we're in the car and he's in my lap, it means for him to get in the backseat)
  • "Treat" (what dog doesn't know this one?)
There's probably more that I'm not thinking of. He's so smart and learns so fast! He is such a sweet dog with adults, although he can mistrust some kids and can be aggressive toward some dogs (never hurting them, but threatening). The day I chose to adopt him has proven to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. He's the best dog I could have ever hoped for.

And now Zook has a friend. Tiki (now 10 yrs old) joined our family last year. I had intended on just fostering her while I found her another home, but Zook took to her and loved having her around. So I kept her on permanently for him.

It's all worked out very well. We have a happy little family.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

RECIPE: Peachy Oatmeal with Bittersweet Chocolate Bits

This recipe is from my newly purchased 50 Best Plants on the Planet by Cathy Thomas. I decided to try the recipe for Peachy Oatmeal, and it was so good, it was like eating dessert! And the recipe is easily halved.

Peachy Oatmeal with Bittersweet Chocolate Bits
Makes 4 servings

2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
pinch of salt
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 tbs agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used about 1 tbs semi-sweet chips per serving)
2 ripe peaches cut into thin slices

Bring milk and and salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mix in oats, agave, and vanilla. Lower to medium heat and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Divide mixture into four bowls, sprinkle with chocolate and press lightly into mixture and top with peach slices.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I posted this on Facebook today, as I see these things every spring, and I thought I would use this forum as well to try and get the word out to people...

It's that time of year. Spring is when nature is pretty hyperactive, and danger is high for wildlife. Some things to keep in mind while you are out and about:

1)  Keep an eye out for turtles crossing the road. Females and males are on the go, seeking out new venues and females looking to dig nests and lay eggs. If you see one crossing the road, please try to stop and help it in the direction it was heading. They commonly get run over and need all the help they can get. Sometimes they can't get over the curbs to get back to safety. Sometimes people forget how tall the turtle shells are, and how low their cars are, and they think they can safely straddle them. They are often wrong.

2)  Likewise look for squirrels and such. Remember that squirrels are prey animals, created to avoid birds of prey. Their avoidance technique is zig-zagging. So people think they can just straddle them with their car, not realizing that the squirrel will dart in the opposite direction and run in an unpredictable zig-zag path. When you see a squirrel, slow down and just give it time to realize you are coming and head back to safety. It really isn't that difficult. I do it all the time!

3)  People also believe that they can just head down the road at 50 mph, and birds will always get out of the way. Especially this time of year, that may not always be true. Birds are focused on courting rituals and building nests right now. They are distracted. And you may easily see something like I saw the other day, with a bird so distracted with the nesting material he was collecting, he didn't think to get out of the way of cars leaving the intersection at the light, and he was plowed over before he could get out of the way, because the drivers are too impatient to edge forward to warn the bird and get him to move. Often the birds are in the middle of a dispute, chasing one another, and are so focused that they forget the cars.

4)  And, in situations like the above, realize that birds are often stunned for awhile after being hit. So they may appear dead, but are actually just in stasis. Like the one I saw get hit last week. He actually laid on his back, feet in the air, for several minutes and appeared dead. Then he flipped over, as cars whizzed inches from him, but was still too stunned to fly off. I grabbed him and given time to recover, he wound up being fine and I could let him go back in the area I'd found him a few hours later. I've picked up stunned birds from the side of the road a few times now.

5)  Remember that animals that are hit by cars aren't doomed. They often can recover, if given an extra hand. If you see an injured animal, try to capture it and get it to a wildlife clinic like CROW on Sanibel Island. They have pick-up locations all over Lee County. (I picked up an injured opossum a couple of years ago that I spotted in the road. He had a broken jaw. They monitored him and were able to release him after a week or so.)

6)  Speaking of opossum, realize that if you see a opossum hit (or hit one yourself), that they are often females carrying young in their pouch. If possible, check for babies. I once had a maintenance crew find a dying mother opossum and a pouchful of babies covered in fire ants. They took the babies from the dying mother and gave the little pinkies to me. I took them to CROW. Unfortunately that bunch couldn't survive the fire ant venom, but often they can be saved!

7)  And, just in general, be patient and thoughtful. If you see an animal in the road, or near the side of the road, SLOW DOWN! Don't expect it will just get away from the road and be fine! If it is in the road, don't keep speeding on, assuming it will just get out of your way!

We are the keepers of the earth and its inhabitants, and let's keep it well!

Monday, April 8, 2013

RECIPE: Maki's Yakitori Stir-Fry

Last night I decided to make up a batch of Yakitori sauce. The recipe comes from a Japanese family friend who shared it with us decades ago. It's very simple to make.

Maki's Yakitori Sauce

1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 cup soy sauce (I use organic Tamari)
2/3 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 ginger root, chopped fine (I used about 1/2 tbs)

Cook all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook on low flame 25-30 minutes, uncovered. Check after 20 minutes to see if sauce is thick enough. It has cooked too long if it is too syrupy or candy-like.

(Mine doesn't thicken. Perhaps I need to turn the heat up a little. Or bring to a boil and then simmer.)

Double the recipe for about 1 quart of sauce.

For a BBQ variation, add ketchup and Tobasco sauce. Use on chicken.

For my stir-fry, I add chopped carrots, sliced onions, chopped green pepper, and a store-bought stir-fry mix that included broccolli and snow peas.

After this cooked for a few minutes in hot oil, I added in some sliced button mushrooms.

I cooked until about crisp-tender, and then add day-old leftover brown rice.

Once it was all cooked through to my liking, I added some Yakitori sauce.

Very good! Store the Yakitori sauce in the refrigerator. I don't know how long it keeps, but I expect it should last awhile, given the high concentration of soy sauce and wine.

(I also added some chopped tomatoes, only because I had some to use up. Normally I wouldn't include them in a stir-fry.)

NOTE: A week or two later I made another batch of stir-fry, this time with a few snow peas and broccoli florets, but mostly sliced zucchini, red peppers and onions, and it was awesome! Better than the stir-fry with the mushrooms and tomatoes.

RECIPES: Rice and Bean Taco Salad

I already posted this recipe in the past, but this time turned out so good, I wanted to note the couple of subtle changes I made, so hopefully I can duplicate it next time.

The recipes calls for cooking onions and garlic in butter before adding in the other ingredients. This time I just did the garlic, and sauteed it in olive oil. Then added the other ingredients. I also put the can of green chiles in the pan to cook with the rest, rather than with the lettuce and tomatoes.

After warming it through, I put about 3/4-1 cup of the mixture on a bed of torn romaine lettuce. I topped that with grape tomatoes that were halved and sprinkled it with sliced green onions and Mexican four-cheese blend. Then Ken's Steakhouse ranch dressing and some crushed nacho Doritos.

So good! Find the original recipe here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

RECIPES: Heather's Roasted Creamer Potatoes

I was craving a traditional Sunday dinner meal the other day. You know-- the kind that includes mashed potatoes and maybe some roasted veggies and gravy? I came across some creamer potatoes at the farmer's market, and I decided they would do...

Heather's Roasted Creamer Potatoes

Creamer potatoes (or small red new potatoes)
Onions, slivered
Olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  • Put creamer potatoes in a roasting pan with onions. Cut up larger potatoes into bite-size chunks. Drizzle with EVO. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and ground pepper.
  • Roast until done (I don't remember how long it took.)

Very easy, and very good! And very good with caramelized onion salmon.

RECIPE: Heather's Citrus Orange Roughy

I recently needed to use up a piece of orange roughy that I had in the freezer, and I debated on what to do with it. I intended to do a Lemon-Orange Roughy I saw on the web (made with lemon and orange juices and lemon pepper), but I didn't have OJ or lemon pepper and only bottled lemon juice. So I had to make due. It went something like this:

Heather's Citrus Orange Roughy

1 orange roughy filet
Seasoned pepper
Bottled lemon juice
Bottled lime juice
Dried orange peel
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in pan. Sprinkle roughy liberally with seasoned pepper on both sides and place in pan. Saute for a minute. Squirt lemon and lime juices over fish. Sprinkle with a pinch of orange peel. Saute for about 5 minutes on each side.

Very simple way to prepare this fish, and a nice light flavor. It turned out quite well!