AMAZING Tasting Menu - October 17, 2012

We needed to keep busy so we dived into working on the Riverside Children’s Theater set production.  They are putting on the play “Alice in Wonderland”, which is a set-heavy production.  Good thing - it kept us busy.  Not busy enough to feel better, but busy enough to get through each day.  This is the first play that this particular director has done for the Children’s Theater and he has a lot of ideas about what he wants, plus it's a short production cycle, so there was a ton of work to do.  In fact, the guy in charge of the set-technicians bet Martin (the guy in charge of creating sets) that the sets would not be done in time; the bet was about who would pay for dinner for the crew.  That was before we showed up; Randy worked with Martin to build sets while I painted sets and drew details for other volunteers to paint.  We only had a few days there but all the volunteers worked together and got it done.  It was a wonderful dinner, at Don Jose's, and all the better because Mike was paying!

Recently Randy decided to stretch his cooking skills a bit, so he talked to Aunt Jean about getting together a dinner for some of her friends.  Ten people got together on the 10th of this month at her place where Randy served an amazing nine-course dinner.  Since there were so many courses, it was a “Tasting Menu”, with small, perfect servings of each dish.  At the beginning of the meal some of the guests quietly wondered if they would get enough to eat, but there was no question about that by the time it was over.   The menu included appetizers, seafoods, a light sorbet, a vegetable dish, red meats and desserts: 

Stuffed Mushroom on a bed of Wilted Spinach
(no picture available)

Endive Fruit Boat with Crème Fraîche

 Shrimp Scampi with Cheese Grits
Pan Seared Scallop with Summer Truffle Risotto
Lemon Sorbet
Eggplant Stack
 Prime Filet of Beef with Balsamic Glaze
 Lamp Chop with Cabernet Sauce 
Zabaglione with Fresh Berries
Panna Cotta 
And (no surprise to me) the dinner was a total success.  The guests were talking about it days later.  I was a bit surprised how many of these dishes were new to the guests but that is probably because I have spent years with Randy, and Randy has spent years exploring the culinary world.  This is what he loves to do - it was a ton of work but so very much fun!

October 16, 2012

A lot has happened in the last 3 weeks and I haven’t blogged about it because I don’t want to think about it.  But it’s time to get this over with.  

I recently took a trip to visit Mom and that went well (thank God), but while I was there I got a terrible call from Randy.  Unbelievably, our darling Sugarbaby had died in his sleep.  He had developed a cough a few weeks earlier and the vet said it was either congestion or heart failure.  She gave him meds that cleared up the cough but it came back.  Randy was going to take him back to the vet on Wednesday but he passed away that night.  

We were blessed to share 10 years with Sugarbaby; sometimes 10 years is a long time, but not when it is spent with someone you love that much.  It is impossible to say what a huge hole that little bit of fur and tongue has left in our lives.   I trust that the hurt will heal, but the hole never will.  

Sugarbaby came to us as a puppy when he was about 6 months old.  He was full of joy and happiness and we all loved each other from the very beginning.  
We had a older dog named Runt at the time, and he was a great big brother to Sugarbaby.  Every morning Sugarbaby would launch himself at Runt to bounce off his shoulder, and Runt would just brace himself on his arthritic legs and grin down at him.  Runt, who was part Chow, was a lot taller than Sugarbaby, so he would drop down on his belly to be at Sugar’s level during playtime.  Runt had terrible breath and Sugar spent so much time in his mouth that sometimes he smelled like bad breath!  When Runt passed away Sugarbaby was nearly hysterical with grief.  Then we found Julienne.  For about a week Sugarbaby sat on top of his kennel and watched this bouncy, scatter-brained goof-ball run around.  Then he got down on the floor and adopted her as his own little sister.  It was amazing how much Sugarbaby seemed to grow up to fill the “big brother” roll, like Runt had done for him.  He let her eat his food, play with his toys - he even let her drag him around by his tail.  Julienne was a very nervous little girl (she had been abused) so Sugarbaby appointed himself as her guardian and defender.  For the next 7 years all she had to do was tremble and he was on the attack.  Fortunately a Pekinese can’t attack very much, but he always tried!  We worked to get him to calm down around strangers and we had some success, but if Julienne got nervous, all bets were off.  She was his little sister and he would do anything for her.  He even let her take naps on him . . . 
and sometimes she would return the favor.
Occasionally they had a little difference of opinion . . .
but they always had each other's back.
We were amazed at what a tough little guy he was.  He didn't know the meaning of fear, or even discretion.  He thought he could whip the world.  Of course, he always brought Randy along, just for back up.  Most of the time he was a such macho little guy . . .
but he also loved to snuggle up with his little friend "Squirrel".

Sugarbaby was quite the adventurer.  He traveled all over the country with us, from Alaska to Nova Scotia and all sorts of exciting places in-between, sharing it all with his best buddy, Randy.
And he could walk for miles (. . . in Randy's arms).
Bad weather never bother the little guy - he could wade through a foot of snow (. . . in Randy's arms).
He loved traveling in the RV, although he could get a little pushy when he got behind the wheel.  You did not want not be on the road in front of this guy!
So most of the time he was the co-pilot, ready to help out when the going got tough.
And many times his careful attention to detail kept Randy from driving us all into a ditch.
As a tough guy, he delighted in showing off by arm-wrestling Randy to the ground . . .
but he was always a floppy-pawed baby when Randy scooped him up!
We were so enriched by every minute we shared with him, which unfortunately makes us feel his loss so deeply.  Sugarbaby, until we meet again, you will always own our hearts.