A Guest Post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)
The human half of our pack returned last week, so now we're all home, the walks are happening, biscuits are flowing, and life is back to normal--exactly the way I like it. But lately, I've been wondering why humans feel compelled to travel. Management says people travel to find a sense of place. But a dog has to wonder: shouldn't we be finding a sense of place in our own backyard first?
Travel. Please tell me what's the allure of hopping on a plane, train or automobile and just taking off? If you love where you live; and by the way, I just got a message that there's an agility course in an off-leash dog park close to where I live. What's not to love about that? And what's with the pressing need to travel?
Seriously, every time they go I hear Management whining about moving like cattle through the security systems, adjusting to a different home, time-schedule, climate, food and people? And don't even get me started on the water complaints. . . . Always an agenda--go here, go there, eat here and there, return through the same factory-farming security system where you can't say a word.
Relaxing? I think not. Take your blood pressure and see. Therein lies the human conundrum and no one ever raises a glass of wine to the process of getting there.
And let me just say, humans take the word "vacation" way too seriously. Frankly, vacation and travel talk often morph into brag fests that put me to sleep faster than a Newt Gingrich speech. Thankfully the canine world lets travel talk pass like wind as humans coo: "When we were in Madrid . . . " or "I remember when I was in Italy. . . ."
Most of us canines never feel the lure of wanderlust. Dogs are too wise to tote bags to a new place when the old bed is fine and there's plenty to sniff in our own yards. . The packed suitcase means a second-rate hotel, too much barking, not enough dessserts and lousy food. At my lodge, an ill-tempered Chihuahua kept everyone, yipping orders like a tiny Nazi dog. He lorded it over everyone that he alone slept with the human who waited on him paw to paw.
No one cared that I ate carrots straight from the vegetable bin at home and curled up in an overstuffed easy chair, lulled to sleep by Buffy the Vampire reruns, my favorite show, if I had to pick. My whining fell on deaf ears.
But while I was whining and doing without, Management was checking out the cactus blooms, butterfly gardens, something called Biosphere 2.
The slow and easy stink-eye was my way of pouting. I like to keep the guilt payments coming. My sister Chloe doesn't hold anything against anyone, ever. But thanks to me, it wasn't long before food was ponied up for the picture--mesquite flour, salsa, and tepary beans, a small, native Southwest legumes.
The best offering of all was dog biscuits from a Phoenix farmer's market. Of course I was forced to share, but I still love gifts to me.
A word of advice--it never hurts to check bags for more when all is said and done. Humans forget important things, like food in a bag. My sister and I ate cookies from some bakery in one bag, so we were encouraged to check them all.
I could just as easily have scored a second time, so I won't give up.
And a farm that we visit just down the road.
Along the way we stop to take in the view from the street.
I'm not alone in my love of all things rooted. Most of the humans in the world don't have the resources to travel. And does travel really make humans happier? Is sucide lower among travelers? And what if you can find the elusive butterfly of happiness in your own back yard?
I'm a backyard preacher, but even I appreciated sampling these little beans from the desert. What stories they could tell about climate change. And what could be better than celebrating tepary beans in the first vegetable soup of spring?
It's a bit early for Cinco de Mayo, but I could go for an early celebration.
A word from the Management:
Since this recipe contains avocados, the question of whether dogs can really eat them came to mind. About a month ago I'd seen a sign on a booth at a dog show that listed avocado as a canine toxin, along with onions, chocolate and grapes or raisins. I'd heard of all the others but avocado shocked me, so I did a bit of checking here and there. It appears that a toxic component (called persin) primarily in the skin, bark and pit. A small amount is also in the fruit and too much can cause vomiting, but seems no one has ever reported any serious problems in dogs. My opinion is people have overblown the concern over this natural food and really, how much avocado is your Cooking Assistant going to eat anyway?
Spring Vegetable Soup with Tepary Beans
(Serves 4 to 6)
Though this recipe is made with tepary beans, you can use just about any bean except black beans for this recipe. 1 cup dried soaked beans equal about 1 cup cooked beans, sometimes more, depending on the bean. I try to stay with seasonal vegetables for this soup, especially the greens. Remember to vary the color of vegetables, and add them according to how long they should cook. Consider that frozen peas only take a few minutes, while carrots, turnips and potatoes may need 20 minutes.
1/2 cup tepary beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
1 1/2 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 cup chopped spring onions
8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon chopped Mama Lil's Peppers (or use minced or dried hot peppers to taste)
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic or Rocksalmic vinegar
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can water
4 cups of your favorite vegetables, chopped if necessary (corn, peas, cauliflower, cut green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, celery, turnips, peppers)
2 cups chopped or torn arugula
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups roughly crushed tortilla chips
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add onions, stir and cook until browned. Add garlic sliced and continue to stir and cook until garlic begins to brown.
2. Stir in basil, peppers, agave nectar, balsamic (or Rocksalmic) vinegar. Blend in tepary beans, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour before adding vegetables that take at least 1/2 hour to cook.
3. Blend in potatoes, carrots and turnips, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add corn, cut green beans or snow peas in the final ten minutes of cooking. When all vegetables and beans in the soup are tender, layer the fresh arugula with cheese, chips, avocado and soup in bowls, ending with arugula and shredded cheese.