Saturday, August 11, 2007

A visit to the Dog Park; And Dinner with friends!

We got invited to bring our new dog, Wilson, to the off-leash Dog Park with friends this afternoon. Despite the fact that I am not totally crazy about boisterous groups of barking, shaggy, slobbery dogs - especially large dogs... I admit, it sorta sounded like fun!

The place is fairly new, hey - I didn't even know it existed. Even though our back yard is over 1/3 of an acre, Wilson could use more space to run on occasion. (Like when chasing his precious tennis balls!)

I'd been wishing there was an off-leash park in the area to take him - my friend Froggy takes his dogs in Albuquerque all the time, I was always jealous we didn't have any place similar. But now it seems we do. Yay!

The kids were really excited and I was interested to see how our new little guy got along with other dogs. I know how much he loves to run, so this was a great (and safe) opportunity for him to stretch his legs too!

Well, of course - he LOVED it! We all loved it! And I enjoyed having some time to visit with friends while the kids played with the dogs...

Wilson would take his tennis ball and drop it in front of any likely suspect - then bark and dance for them to throw it. Fortunately these people were all more "doggy polite" than I am, and didn't mind scooping up a slimy, slobbered on tennis ball and hurling their shoulders out of joint throwing the thing far, far down the park . Then half the dogs in the park would go galloping after the ball.

This went on for over an hour - probably longer if we'd stayed! He out-ran every (much larger!) dog in the place to get to "his" prize. What a speedy little guy!

It was about supper time when we got ready to head home - everyone was muttering about being tired and hungry, and wondering what they should make for supper and kids were whining for fast food....

Spontaneously I said "Just bring everyone over to our place - I'll make spaghetti!" Well, 'our place' is 12 miles out of the way, I didn't expect any of them to really take me seriously, but they all shrugged and said "OK, that sounds good!" and so I made supper for a crowd. (Vegan too of course, and no one noticed, complained or said a word!)

Of course, I'd forgotten my house was utter chaos. (We're leaving for a week in Victoria, BC on Monday).

No matter. Dinner took less than 30 min. I cooked some whole-wheat spaghetti, heated some homemade spaghetti sauce I had leftover from last week, made a salad and whipped up some pesto with a bunch of basil and garlic.

I put some of the pesto on split french-bread rolls and toasted it in the oven, then topped it with FYH Vegan Mozzerella and broiled it for a moment until toasty. (That's what the strange greenish-brown lumps are, in the silver mixing bowl! My, aren't we fancy today!)

No fancy serving dishes, no good china, I just plopped pans on the table pulled out the paper plates and the wine-in-a-box (OK, and soda for the kids!).

But even without 'proper' serving utinsels and surrounded by my messy, messy house, dinner was a hit. The kids couldn't stop snorting down the toasted pesto-garlic "cheese" rolls, we had to laugh.

Long after dinner was over and we were stuffed beyond any reasonable limits, the adults sat around the table and told stories and finished off the wine and reminisced. It felt good and it made me happy to be surrounded by friends and laughter. We haven't had an impromptu dinner with friends over in ages. Definitely need to get back in the habit.


Here's my basic all-purpose garlicky pesto. It's pretty rich stuff, you won't need a lot. But it freezes wonderfully and I go ahead and make a huge batch every time my basil garden is over-producing!

Use tofu instead of the Earth Balance if you're just using it on pasta and/or want less calories.
It *might* leave little telltale white specks if you use it on toasted rolls/bread, which can be problamatic, depending on your guests and how tofu-phobic they are.

Well, tonight I didn't have any tofu anyway, but I'm not sure it would have one inspected things too closely. They were hungry. It was inHALED on the pasta and evidently quite popular toasted on the bread because that disappeared too!

Vegan Pesto

2 - 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
3 - 5 cloves garlic (or more if you like it garlicky!)
1/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan "butter" spread
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Blend cashews with olive oil until they're completely smooth in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend until it's as smooth as you like it. You may need to add a bit more olive oil to make it blend easily.

Put a Tablespoon or two on hot pasta and stir in. Mmmm..

Or - spread thinly on bread or rolls and put under broiler until toasted - add some sprinkles of vegan cheese and broil just a second longer until cheese "melts". (I know, melting vegan cheese can be tricky - it will sorta melt, under the broiler, just watch it closely...).

Have A Great Weekend!


Anonymous said...

That is so great!

Anonymous said...

Oh that pesto bread sounds so delicious. I never would have thought to use EB in the pesto. Can't wait to try it. We're having a severe drought right now (about 15 inches short this year so far) so my basil plants are really suffering. Last year they were almost 5 feet tall by this time. Unfortunately they're still short little buggers. I need to remember to turn the hose on them more often so I can make this!!!