Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Puppy School Drop-out

I love my dog.  Not in a weird, socially-uncomfortable sort of way, but I do love her to pieces.  She's my little companion during the days that all 3 minis are in school, so she spends her days happily following me around the house.  That is, until I get the vacuum out.  Then she shoots me her look and heads outside.

I decided to sign my sweet Lola up for puppy obedience school.  She is a really mellow and well-behaved dog at home, so I am toying with the idea of doing a therapy dog training.  When my oldest mini was in the hospital several years ago, he had a dog come visit him and he still talks about how much he loved that experience!

And since we regularly visit children's hospitals, I thought it would be neat to take our dog with us.  So this was the reasoning behind my brilliant idea to enroll Lola into obedience school.

To put it mildly, Lola was the "wild woman" of puppy school.  And by "wild woman," I mean it took 3 instructors plus myself to get her under control.  And a special collar that they swore doesn't hurt her.  However, they didn't volunteer to put it on when I asked if I could try it out on them first.  You know, just to prove to myself that it wouldn't hurt her.

We finally got her settled down enough to take her into the arena where all the other puppies were.  We were about 30 seconds into training "heel" which basically means walking your dog in a circle and keeping them on the left side of your body, when I realized people were talking trash about my dog.  Seriously.  Dog owners were gossiping about my dog to their dog.  "Mac, stay away from the chocolate over there.  Those chocolates are the wild ones."  "Charlie, look at that chocolate.  Don't you ever behave like that."

And that's when I realized that puppy owners were about as supportive and encouraging as first time moms in a playgroup.  "Morgan, stay away from that baby, he can't even crawl yet."  "Benjamin would never need to feed in the middle of the night now that he is 6 months old."  "My baby is 18 months old and is reading.  Your baby is 18 months old and is eating all the books."  blah blah blah.

I was the mom of the kid that hit all his first year milestones about 6 months late.  And then I was the mom of the biter.  And then I was the mom of the kid that screamed whenever anyone that wasn't her mom tried to talk to her.

Needless to say I left both playgroups and obedience school feeling a little discouraged.

When I got home, I was sharing the experience with Mr. McGhee and the minis overheard the conversation. And, let me just tell you, my minis were fired up.  These guys right here were ready for a throw down.  

And then my girl mini burst into tears because it "hurts my feelings that people are mean to my Lola-girl."

And then Mr. McGhee was all fired up because not only had someone talked trash about his dog, his wife was upset, his boy minis were wound up, and his girl mini was in tears.

And then I made the comment that I found those perfectly well-behaved dogs nauseatingly boring.  Just like I find perfect children and perfect adults a tad boring as well.  I like some spunk, to keep things interesting.  We all had a good chuckled and I said that I would work with Lola this week before our next class, so hopefully things will run a bit smoother.  My middle mini insisted that he didn't want me to work Lola too hard and risk de-spunking her!

And since we all felt like our spirits had been darkened a bit, I decided to make something for dinner that would cheer us all up.  And for those of you that are faithful blog readers, you all know that my minis favorite food is asparagus. So I decided to whip up this pasta recipe.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  1. Heat the oven to 400°. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.
Cut up your asparagus.

Cover it with oil and put in on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Cook your vinegar until there is only 3 tbsp left.  This is called a reduction.

Your reduction will be can see the line I made with my spatula.

Asparagus, when it is done roasting.

Add butter and your balsamic sauce to your cooked pasta.

Mix in your cheese.

This recipe is good.  It's not an oh, my totally delish recipe.  But it definitely is an easy, quick, and tasty dinner.  I served mine with this salad, and it was the perfect dinner for a crabby family.  

Stay tuned for puppy obedience school updates.  And, if you can, please send a little prayer up that my sweet Lola girl doesn't poop in the middle of the arena while all the other dogs are marching around and heeling.  Because that little incident was a little too much "spunk" for me!