Monday, July 28, 2008

She had a hard day

Poor Pia. Sometimes life is rough for her. Today was no exception. She had to get groomed and then make an appearance at the local library to do an interview with the local newspaper for her work there and get pictures made. She had to meet people, get petted and admired. She was so exhausted that she came home and had to get comfortable and have a long nap.

GAWD, I so wish I had that life...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I don't feel like it!

You know, there are just some days that you don't feel like doing what you need to do or have to do. You are just in one of those moods. On Friday last week that is just how I felt. I didn't want to do anything I should be doing.

I needed to groom one of my therapy dogs , my Afghan Hound, for my Friday visit at the local hospice house and then a visit to the adjoining retirement village. It isn't that I don't enjoy visiting and trying to put a smile on someone's face, even if it is for a moment, I just didn't feel like it. Grooming the dog would take 3 hours to get her ready and I should have done most of the work the day before. I sat thinking that I really didn't want to groom and go, all I wanted to do was stay at home and do things around here. The more I sat and thought that I wanted to stay home, the more I wanted to stay home, and thought, "Why should I go today, I am only a volunteer and I am not getting paid to do this. I don't HAVE to go?"

All of a sudden, another thought and a realization came to me. Those people that are in the hospice house and their families don't want to be there. Those people that are residents there don't want to be dying or in pain. Those families don't want to see their loved ones in the last stages of life, or dealing with pain issues. I'm sure that the residents that are there would love to know they had at least a few more years ahead of them, and so would their families.

Those people in the retirement village don't really want to be there. They would rather be in their own homes taking full care of themselves and their lives. They would like to prepare the meals that they would like and eat when they want. They would love to have a car to drive to the store like they were used to.

All of a sudden I felt guilty. I felt badly that I could choose the options that I wanted, I had everything that they wished for and I was trying to choose not spending a few minutes with someone that needed a little smile for the day in the face of sadness and grief. I felt guilty because just a few minutes with someone who was lonely and just needed someone to visit with made them feel good.

I felt as though I was letting someone down, even though most at the retirement home don't remember me from one week to the next. They always say how beautiful the dog is and most want to pet her. Some love for her to come and sit next to them on the couch while they stroke her long hair and ask the same questions about how long it takes to groom her, does she have a special diet, does she stay inside and all sorts of others. There is one that giggles with delight every time we show up and wants to have the dog all to herself.

At the hospice house things change from day to day so you don't know if someone is still going to be there, if someone new is there, if they like dogs or not. It is always a pleasure to go into a room and put the dog on a chair next to the patient so they can see them and pet them. Sometimes you have to take the patients hand to help them pet the dog. When they get a smile on their face, you know you have done something good.

One time at the hospice house, a patient that I had seen while he was very coherent, fell in love with my other therapy dog that is a German Shorthaired Pointer. The gentleman had had hunting dogs and had a picture of his dogs on his windowsill. We had some great visits and talked about hunting dogs. He took a fancy to my Shorthair especially because she was a hunting breed. He told me that she had good thick ears that wouldn't get torn by briars. He told me she had good feet that could go through the briars easily. He also told me she had a good nose for trailing. The daughter told me how much she appreciated me visiting and that her dad hadn't spoken that much in a long time. I told her that if she wanted a special or extra visit to let hospice know and they would give me a call. 3 weeks later, I got the call. It was on a Thursday. They didn't think he was going to live through the night, he was unresponsive and the family asked if I could come in a day early, because he loved dogs so much. I got myself cleanded up and my dog cleaned up and headed over. The family was so kind and grateful that I came. I asked them to put the bed in the lowest position, which they did. I brought my Shorthair over to his bedside and got her to put her head on his bed. I took his hand and helped him pet her. I don't know if he knew we were there or not, but the family was smiling. They even took a picture of what was going on. I thought of this day, and my guilt grew stronger.

I got my attitude in check and began to groom. Yes, it took me a good 3 hours to get the Afghan ready and then time to get myself ready, but I was committed and realized that even though I didn't feel like it, the people I was about to visit didn't feel like doing what they were doing even more, and to boot, they had no choice in it. At least I had the choice.

I'm so glad I went! I had one of the busiest days visiting with patients and families at the hospice house, mostly family members. They need a smile too. It is nice when you walk by a room and see someone with a grim, sorrowful look on their face and they smile, just because you are there. They forget for just a few minutes where they are and go into a happy place.

When I got to the retirement village they were doing a sing along. When the lady that wants my Afghan all to herself saw us, she stopped singing, pushed her walker away and called us to come over. She was giggling just like a child would! Now THAT put a smile on MY face!

I think I have figured out that no matter how much I sometimes don't feel like it, what I do is for someone else. I can give something special to someone else who just needs a few minutes of my time.

At the moment, I have to groom the Afghan for tomorrow morning. The local newspaper is going to come out to the library to do some photos to advertise the reading program that I do there. I don't feel like it, but...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Feel like cooking? Let's try 'Chicken Creole'

Are you ready to cook a Creole dish that is sure to impress your friends? Want to learn how to make a roux? Well, let's get started. I'm going to teach you how to make "Chicken Creole' today. You can easily substitute shrimp or tofu for the chicken. I'll give you substitutes as we go along. Nobody misses out with this dish! This is a recipe from The Gumbo Shop in New Orleans.

First let me say that I apologize for putting this in separate posts. I'm just learning this blogging thing and am winging it at the moment. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it sooner or later.

Now, let's gather our ingredients...

6 T peanut oil (very important to use peanut oil)
6 T all purpose flour
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped bell pepper
1 c. chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 - 16 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 t. black pepper
1 t. white pepper
1 t. thyme
1 t. basil
2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 T Worcestershire
1 c. shrimp broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarians
3 lbs. peeled raw shrimp, cooked and cubed chicken or tofu for vegetarians.

You might find that you would like more or less of any of the ingredients, after all, it is your dish to enjoy!

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Chicken Creole Continued

I like to gather all of my chopped vegetables together in one bowl to have ready when they are needed. Place your minced garlic in a separate bowl.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now you will start your roux. Just remember that a roux is nothing more than a glorified brown gravy. A roux is usually darker than most gravies and the color will dictate the flavor of the dish. Put a heavy skillet/cast iron pot on medium heat with the oil inside. When you can put your had over the oil and feel the heat you are ready to add your flour and whisk well to blend.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now in this picture, our roux is just starting to brown. You will need to stir often to keep it from burning.

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Chicken Creole Continued

You want your roux for this dish to be the color of milk chocolate. I have used a Reese's peanut butter cup as an example of the desired color. You will notice that in this picture, it isn't quite ready.

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We are almost there. Stir constantly to ensure that your roux doesn't burn.

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Creole Chicken Continued

As soon as your roux is the color of milk chocolate, stir in the chopped vegetables. This will stop the browning process of the roux. Make sure to keep your face away from the top of the pan. The vegetables hitting the roux will steam profusely. You will saute until the vegetables are limp, stirring often. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Do not over cook your garlic.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, basil, salt ans cayenne. Cook for 15 minutes. Add Worchestershire and broth then bring to a boil.

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Chicken Creole Continued

Now you will either add your raw shrimp, cooked chicken or tofu and simmer for about another 20 minutes.

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Chicken Creole Finally Finished

This dish improves after resting overnight. Serve heated over warm rice along with some French bread (or even your favorite bread) and your favorite beverage. A lovely one plate dish to share with friends and family. I hope you have enjoyed this and will give it a try. If you have any questions, let me know.

Good food = good times!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Struggling Today

Well, now that I've started a blog, I'm trying to learn how to use the thing. I am so terrible at this and really do struggle. Now to try and add images and image links. I'd like to add my artwork, give some cooking demo's share my day and everyone and everything around me. Life can be busy, and can also be fun.

I'm going to try and pop up a picture of my 'Chicken Creole' to see if it works. It is a photo of the finished dish. If it does, then as I get time, I'll share the recipe and give you a photo by photo of how to prepare it. You can use shrimp, but when I cook for a crowd I always use chicken because of seafood allergies. You can also substitute tofu if you are vegetarian.

So for now,

Bon Appetit!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cookin' with barefoot? What is that?

You know, as I whirl about the internet, I always go by barefootchef. Notice that there is a small cap b and it is one word. That is me, and who I define myself as. Barefoot, for being casual, chef because I like to cook. Not that I am a professional cook, although I have taken many courses in cooking in a culinary art school as well as classes that you'd take from a chef that you sign up for. The casual cook. I like making difficult dishes as well as simple ones, just depends on the day and the mood. The casual person who likes to cook. That is who I am.

I also dabble in the arts. I love to sew, weave, spin and knit. I've actually taught sewing since 1989 when I was in New Orleans. I had someone ask me to teach with them at the local Clothworld stores and was hooked. Didn't think I knew enough to teach, but found shortly after beginning that I did and would love it! I also found that you learn a lot from your students if you listen to them. At the moment, I only teach private lessons by appointment.

A few years ago I became involved with ACT's. Most of mine are done in fabric and thread painting. I have branched out to do fabric journal pages, some collage and as of late, altered cutlery.

So for now, I'll leave you with a thought...

We are all like angels with one wing and can only fly by embracing one another!