In Dog Years

At just 8 weeks old, Sean brought you home for the first time. You cried, and cried, until he let you curl up in his lap for the 45-minute car ride. You had him wrapped around your finger. Just 1 … in dog-years.

Guinness and Sean on Day 1

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Later that summer, you were the life of the party at the bonfire before my sister’s wedding. Just 2 … in dog-years.

On New Years Eve, you ate a Christmas ornament, and we called the Vet in a panic, Just 5 … in dog years.

You rested your head on my pregnant belly, and kept me warm. Just 7 … in dog-years.

Then, you peed on our bed because we brought THAT baby home. Still 7 … in dog- years.

You gently played with that baby, and shared your squeaky-toys with no complaints. Just 10 … in dog-years.

You rested your head on my pregnant belly and kept me warm. Again. Now 17 … in dog-years.

That time, 3-yr old Michael let you outside for the very first time. He was so proud. A lively 28 … in dog-years.

You let the kids dress you in Mickey Mouse ears. A stately 59 … in dog-years.

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Really?

You chased me in circles around the house, and the kids laughed ‘til their bellies hurt. Feeling pretty good for 66 … in dog-years.

When we moved, and you weren’t pleased. You left several “presents” to remind us. Still the boss at 73 … in dog-years.

You managed to climb onto the dining room table, and couldn’t get down. A spry 77 … in dog-years.

12 human-years; 84 dog-years … You chased whiffle balls in the yard, over and over and over. You rested your head at Sean’s feet while he worked. You ate every scrap that fell from the kids’ plates. You playfully jumped on every new person who walked through the door. When Sean was away, you slept on his side of the bed, and made me feel safe.

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Today, we laid next to you, and rubbed your belly until you fell asleep. And we said good-bye. Thank you for sharing your years with us, dear Guinness.

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My Favorite Way to Make Corned Beef and Cabbage – No Crockpot Required

I cannot wait to revive this recipe this weekend. This might be the way to prepare the tastiest corned beef, ever!

Odds 'N Ends

Using my oven as a slow cooker.

I know that for all you culinary experts out there, this is probably a pretty elementary concept. But for me, it was like getting the super-secret password to big-batch cooking!

Last week, I had a cooking quandary. I was planning a Paddy’s Day corned beef and cabbage  dinner for about a dozen adults, and another 1/2 dozen kiddies, all stemming from my quaint, far-from-commercial kitchen. In the past, I prepared it on the stove stop, or in my slow cooker, but those were meals for 4-6 people. This weekend, I was planning on a houseful (and I was kind of hoping to have some leftovers to boot.) There is no way that 14 pounds of corned beef would fit into my little crock-pot.

Near panic, I decided that there is no conundrum that the Google Search engine cannot solve. Sure enough, I found several sites…

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The Most Useful Trick I Learned This Weekend?

Using my oven as a slow cooker.

I know that for all you culinary experts out there, this is probably a pretty elementary concept. But for me, it was like getting the super-secret password to big-batch cooking!

Last week, I had a cooking quandary. I was planning a Paddy’s Day corned beef and cabbage  dinner for about a dozen adults, and another 1/2 dozen kiddies, all stemming from my quaint, far-from-commercial kitchen. In the past, I prepared it on the stove stop, or in my slow cooker, but those were meals for 4-6 people. This weekend, I was planning on a houseful (and I was kind of hoping to have some leftovers to boot.) There is no way that 14 pounds of corned beef would fit into my little crock-pot.

Near panic, I decided that there is no conundrum that the Google Search engine cannot solve. Sure enough, I found several sites with easy-to-follow directions on transforming my giant oven into a slow cooker for the day.

It was wonderfully easy!

Corned Beef

I simply used an extra-large aluminum steam table pan, and laid out my brisket. I added just enough water to cover the meat and my own special spices (alas there was no spice packet included in this brisket).  I covered the pan with foil, and braised the beef for about 7 hours at 300.

After 6 hours, I drained some of the savory broth from the pan, and added it to my stockpot, where I was simmering my vegetables.

Delicious!

The Vegetables

Using the broth to simmer the veggies

The corned beef was moist and flavorful, and broke apart easily with a fork. The veggies tasted like they were boiled right along with the beef.

The best part was that the food was ready shortly before guests arrived. I carved the corned beef, and returned it to the pan after draining dome of the extra liquid. Then, I transferred the veggies to another aluminum pan, leaving just enough liquid to keep everything moist. I placed the veggies in the warm oven next to the corned beef. I had plenty of time to enjoy my company (and a pint of Guinness) before serving the meal.

When everyone was ready to eat, all I had to do was pull both pans from the oven, and peel off the foil. Voila!

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