Some of you know we have animals. Two cats, two dogs. We have an equal distribution of male and female among all the species in the household and in each case the males are older than the females. At bedtime it's often the case that the male cat, male dog and I go into the bedroom to sleep while the female cat, female dog and the GM stay in the living room and watch movies. You know those young girls. They like to stay up late.
As animals of restaurant owners you can imagine the kind of treats which these animals get. Perhaps not quite as lavish as Pim's post about a lucky dog at the French Laundry, but good treats nonetheless. Speaking of the French Laundry I thoroughly enjoyed the article in last month's Gourmet about three Chinese chefs being taken to the Laundry.
The older male dog is an adoptee from the shelter. He's a lab/pit bull (I suppose I should really say Staffordshire Terrier if anyone from our insurance company is reading this) mix, very quiet, solidly built and low to the ground. After we had had him about a year we noticed he was limping more and more. A trip to the vet revealed he had arthritis, which was exacerbated by his gaining 25 pounds in the year. Immediate diet time. Both dogs went on a spartan regime of 1 cup of kibble per day, half in the morning, half in the evening and minimal (practically zero) treats. Sometimes I do feed them meat or scrap from work but when that happens they're supposed to get half of their allotment since the meat is denser than the kibble.
They've been on the diet quite a while and it's worked. At last weigh-in the old guy had lost nearly all the weight he had put on, the younger female was looking nice and thin and we even increased her ration slightly.
Yeah, yeah, yeah you say. Who cares about these damned dogs. Sorry, I was proud of the weight loss. And that the arthritis seems almost non-existent between his being thinner and an addition of buffered aspirin and glucosamine to the diet.
Anyway, when smoking the bacon I wonder how tantalizing the smell must be for them and as a kindness to them (and to protect the bacon) I've kept them in the house while smoking out in the yard. I imagine they have dreams that evening of pork chops, sausage and bacon like in the cartoons. I can almost see the thought balloon above their heads.
As summer has progressed and I've become more harried, I've had to leave the smoker unattended and go to work, coming back from time to time to add more chips. I didn't want to take the smoker to work because, well it makes smoke, I have no room under the hood for it and I didn't want to smoke my neighbors out. OK, maybe a few of them.
I've also had to have the dogs in the yard unattended while the smoker is going because I didn't want them locked up in the house all day. I keep an eye on them while I'm still in the house and after an initial period of curiosity and admonishments to keep away, they find their shady spot and settle down.
Yesterday I had a large batch of bacon and andouille gently smoking away, the GM was working on a large stained glass project and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had a wedding to attend and I needed to drop the smoked goods back at work some time before service was over. We also wanted to see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory later that evening.
At the wedding we had a long conversation with one of our very good customers and stayed a bit longer than we had planned. I know you can see where this is going. Indeed, when we got home the smoker door was open and two large pieces of bacon were missing. And our dog's bellies, particularly the male one's, were grossly swollen and they were drinking water by the gallon.
Yes, my two Augustus Gloops had raided the smoker. The poor old guy is fatter than ever. I'm sure it's temporary but he does look like a small pig right now. Most of the bacon and all of the andouille was untouched. I'm bringing the smoker to work and will figure out a way to deal with it.
We did see Charlie, which I thoroughly enjoyed and when we came home watched Off The Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's which was so sad. It's a documentary of the final two weeks of Chasen's in LA, a Hollywood institution fallen on hard times. What was so sad was not the restaurant closing, or even the staff's dedication to the job and their identification with the restaurant although that was quite touching. What was sad was that their dedication and identification was primarily to and with the celebrities they had served and who had abandoned them only to turn out in force when they heard the place was closing. As the bartender put it "When you're sick, nobody calls you, but everyone comes to the funeral."
For those who've asked, I did order a range. A Montague Grizzly should be making its way to me in a few weeks. Now I need to find a home for this broken down Wolf. I have a friend who may need it for parts. Of course by the time I get the range summer will be close to being over and I'll have little need for it. No, regardless, it was time to get something new. After I described the shape it was in to someone at the wedding the GM said "I had no idea how bad it was." Just as she tries to sometimes keep the ugly truth about the bank balance from me, I try to spare her the gory details of the equipment.