Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Ready kids? It’s story time!

Thatdog is not a lover. He’s not into PDAs (or PrivateDAs either if we want to be entirely truthful.) He doesn’t want to cuddle or sit in your lap. If he’s on the couch and you sit on the opposite end, he will get off the couch and go sit somewhere else. This is very important background information.

On Monday night, Thatboy got home from work and Thatdog tried to bolt out the door like he was being chased by a debt collector. It was very suspicious behavior he had never exhibited before. Thatboy did a thorough check all over and came to the conclusion there was something wrong with Thatdog’s tail. As soon as he touched the tail, Thatdog would cry out in pain. Now, if a friend of mine asked me what to do in this situation, I would tell them to wait it out and see how the dog was doing the next morning. Except, Thatdog continued to exhibit odd behavior. He glued himself to Thatboy’s side, following on his heels, pressing his body into Thatboy’s leg. If Thatboy sat down, Thatdog jumped up beside him, leaning his body into Thatboy’s and resting his head on Thatboy’s shoulder. (See how his lack of clinginess is important?) So Monday night, we got to take a quick run over to our vet. (Whom I love. Especially since most times when I call it’s something like “can we please come in rightthisverysecond?”)

Dr. Awesome diagnosed Thatdog with a soft tissue injury and gave him some anti-inflammatory medication to help bring down the swelling. He claims this is a fairly common, though unexplained phenomena, in labs. We brought Thatdog home and started him on the meds, but they obviously weren’t kicking in right away. Unable to sit or lay down, because of the pain in his tail, he spent the evening resting his whole body weight on whoever of us was sitting on the couch. And getting up to get off the couch would send him squealing and running as he had to readjust.

When we went to bed, Thatdog, who usually likes to sleep in the living room on his bed or the couch, snugged himself right up between Thatboy and I, once again, leaning onto me, so he didn’t have to try to lay down. He would remain there as long as I continued to pet him, but if I stopped, he would climb on top of me, pushing his face into the wall behind our bed. Thatboy said it was as though he was trying to run away or distance himself from the pain behind him. Eventually he would fall asleep for brief moments, and slide down my body. Sometimes this would cause him to jump up crying in pain if there was pressure on his tail. Sometimes he would manage to fall asleep in just the right position to avoid it. And we would both sleep for a few minutes, until my body or his shifted and he would jump up crying again. It was a very long night, as I’m sure you can imagine.

By last night, he was feeling well enough to sit, lay, and even sleep in his own bed. His tail is still swollen, but much less so than Monday. Since, unlike Thatdog, I don’t get to spend all day at home, curled up on the couch, the lack of sleep is still hitting me. So I’m going to enthrall you with another post pulled from the archives. This one, all about stews.

There is something I just love about stews. And really, everyone should love them because they are the perfect way to use up pretty much anything in your fridge and freezer. Theoretically, you don’t even need a recipe for a stew, since it’s just a mashup of whatever ingredients you have on hand. The technique is easy enough – coat some cubed meat in flour, brown, and then add veggies and liquid. You can make it as thick or as soupy as you like. Serve it alone, over rice, or even noodles. And every culture has their own take on it. In general, I’m partial to Indian curries. But if I’m looking at the European style stews, I tend to favor those from Eastern Europe. Maybe it’s because it was my safety fallback when I was traveling through that area. My Slavic languages are limited to German, which I thought would be helpful in Bratislava and Prague. It wasn’t. English, German, French – tried them all and definitely resorted to pointing and signing during the majority of my visit to these two cities. But mealtime was easy – I just had to find goulash somewhere on the menu and I knew I would be okay. What’s interesting is that goulash varies from country to country. In places like Bratislava and Prague, it was a thick, brown stew, often served with a spaetzle type noodle. Goulash in Vienna had more of a tomato base.

Keeping that in mind, here are three different “stew” recipes, beginning with the classic stew you’re probably most familiar with. Get the technique down and you can easily change or adapt to suit your tastes or whatever you have on hand.

Beef Stew
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 lbs stewing beef plus bones
4 Tbsp shortening
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp allspice
12 small carrots, trimmed and scraped
12 small white onions, trimmed
8 small new potatoes, peeled

1. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper and roll the beef cubes in the mixture. Shake off excess.
2. Melt the shortening over high heat in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a cover. When the fat is very hot, add the beef, brown on all sides.
3. Pour in four cups of boiling water. Stir and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion, bay leaves, and allspice.
4. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Add the carrots, onions, and potatoes and cook another 20-25 minutes.

"Czech" Goulash
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp paprika
1 lb beef round, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp marjoram
2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup potatoes, cubed
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Melt the butter in a covered casserole. Add the onion, stir and cook until soft.
2. Stir in the paprika and cook 1-2 minutes.
3. Roll the meat in the flour and add to the onion, brown the meat.
4. Sprinkle with a little salt and add marjoram. Pour in broth and bring to a boil.
5. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
6. Add the potato and cook 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and salt as necessary.

"Viennese" Goulash
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced thin
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb beef round
1 cup canned tomatoes
2 Tbsp sour cream

1. Melt the butter in a covered casserole. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the paprika, salt, and garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
3. Remove the onions and set aside. Turn up the heat and brown the beef.
4. Return the onions to the pot with all the meat and the tomatoes.
5. Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.


  1. Oh no!!! I hope he feels better soon! And I hope that you get some rest tonight. Sans a huge dog lying on top of you.

  2. I hate when animals are in pain. Thanks for all of the options -- we really need to broaden our stew options.

  3. Poor guy. I sure hope Thatdog is well on the mend!!!!Stews are so comforting with this off and on on again Spring weather we are having.

  4. Awww, poor pup! I hope his tail heals quickly. And hope you can catch up on your sleep soon too. Your stews look delicious.

  5. Oh - Thatdog deserves some stew. (I know - I know - don't feed the dog table food) but sometimes you need to make an exception. The stews are my warm blankets - I love all of yours. And here's to a speedy recovery for Thatdog.

  6. I hope your dog is on the mend. All of your stews look wonderful. Anything that looks that good can't help but be delicious. Have a good weekend. Blessings...Mary