Monthly Archives: February 2015

Judge The Hero Dog: A Very Emotional Farewell

an Admittedly I’m a bit of a water cart. I cry at anything that tugs at the heart strings and sometimes it doesn’t take much to set me off. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got strange stares on public transport because a sad story in a magazine I’m reading has caused me to get teary. And it just so happens that there was an article today that absolutely broke my heart and I feel quite teary as I write this. It was about a retired police dog called Judge who was recently put to sleep after his health had rapidly deteriorated due becoming terminally ill. imagesPUST9MNU We never had pets in our house when we were growing up for various reasons despite constant pleading from my two youngest siblings. But we got our animal fix when we went to visit aunts and uncles nearby who had cats, dogs, fish, and at one point a ferret and a tortoise (just not at the same time!) However I can’t hand on heart say that there was a void in my life because I didn’t have a pet. In fact because of my inexperience with animals, I always felt a little unsure of myself around them although this has gotten better as I’ve become older. But I still don’t know if I could ever see myself living with a furry friend. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like animals especially when they’re so frickin’ cute. I’m often amazed by their intelligence and the loyalty they show their owners. They really could put us humans to shame. So it’s no surprise that reading about Judge and the emotional farewell he received from his colleagues had me in floods of tears. j1 Judge, a nine year old German shepherd who had retired from his work with the police department at West Deptford, New Jersey in 2013, was given a farewell worthy of heroes – which he is. Distraught police officers  formed a guard of honour and saluted the hero dog as he walked past them with his training arm in his mouth as he was about to be driven to the animal hospital. I’ve seen many heartbreaking scenes in my time – and I have to say, this one got me.  More than thirty officers and a dozen K-9 units lined the streets  as Judge went on his last ever walk. Despite the stiff upper lips, the feeling of loss and devastation came through in the photos and even the most hardest of hearts couldn’t have failed to shed a tear. Judge had sadly grown so weak, that his handlers weren’t sure if he would be able to make it to the car. But proving he was made of stronger stuff, Judge amazed them all by his tight squeeze on the training arm which showed that he still had some strength left in him. j2   And that wasn’t all. Vets and specialists were lined up inside Swedesboro Animal Hospital in a touching tribute to the brave dog as Judge walked in, with one of the vets visibly overcome by emotion – and who could blame her? It really made me feel for the law enforcement officers who did very well to hide their inner turmoil. And it also made me feel for Judge because there was absolutely no way he didn’t know what was happening, and I just hope his last few moments weren’t filled with fear. Sgt. Dan Eliasen, who supervises the police department’s K-9 division, said:

“It’s about showing respect, but also the people who are here wanted to thank Judge for his service to the community. No one has forgotten what he’s done — and that includes protecting his partner and his community.”

j3 Although he retired two years ago due to problems with his teeth, over a period of time, his health became increasingly worse until police were forced to make the painful decision to end Judge’s suffering. $13,000 raised in one day for medical treatment for Judge plus the offer of free medical care from St. Francis Vetinary Hospital all came too late for the heroic dog who was recruited back in 2007 and had assisted in the arrest of more than one hundred and fifty criminals as well as the seizure of drugs, vehicles and firearms, and the confiscation of $47,000 in cash. He had undergone surgery and was on medication but when his liver grew so large that it crowded his stomach and left him unable to eat, there was nothing more that could be done. imagesUWPN9O3C Last year my aunt was forced to put her beloved cat to sleep as the poor kitty had become so ill and so weak that it was the only humane thing that could be done. My aunt had had her for years so I can only imagine her sense of loss. And it’s not just my aunt – I’ve had many friends who have suffered the loss of a beloved pet. They’ve often said that they felt they couldn’t publicly grieve because they felt that people wouldn’t understand and would think that they were daft crying over an animal. But it’s not just ‘an animal,’ is it? When you bring them into your home; feed them; play with them, look after them, love them, and give them a place within your family, how you could you possibly feel anything but devastation when they die? As one lady I know said after the death of her dog, “it doesn’t feel like I’ve lost an animal. To me, he was just like a person. A friend.” And that’s exactly what these little furry and not-so-furry creatures become – friends, and according to Mr. D. better friends than most humans (I hope he’s not including me in that comparison!)

And that’s one of the reasons why I feel I couldn’t bring a pet into my home because I just know I’d never be able to handle it when the inevitable happens. Though a friend of mine has a different take on it. She agrees that the sense of loss you feel when they pass away is unbearable, but she said nothing compares to the happiness they bring, and she went on to say that it’s not about the love you give them but the abundance of love they give you – which obviously set me off again! As for Judge, I hope that he is at peace now that he has been put to rest and that his suffering is over. I hope that his colleagues come to term with their loss and feel proud of themselves for giving Judge a truly magnificent send off and find comfort in their memories. And most of all, I hope that Doggy Heaven has given Judge the welcome he deserves. j2 Rest in peace Judge. Thank you for helping to make the world a better place. xx imagesCAHZOS9O

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My Top Ten Last Meals!

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Mr. D. told me today that if he could live on three meals for the rest of his life, he’d choose steak, pizza and pasta. That’s it – he’d never need any other type of food for the rest of his days on earth. However when he asked me for my top three meals, it was impossible to choose (and no, I wasn’t allowed to choose desserts!) And this is coupled with a colleague asking me what I’d have for my last meal if I was on death row (we do have some strange conversations in the staff room!) and once again I couldn’t decide. I clearly have a more varied palate than Mr. D. and I couldn’t possibly live on just three dishes and neither could I have just one ‘last meal’. For me, you’d have to make it ten!

So if I could only eat ten dishes for the rest of my life, these are the ten I’d choose:

1. ROAST DINNER

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A roast dinner is a family favourite. It doesn’t matter what kind of roasted meat it is – though when I was growing up it was usually chicken or lamb – but it has to be served with stuffing, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding, or if I’m in the States, biscuits. I always add either red or white wine to the pan while the meat is roasting, and I usually tend to vary the types of vegetables that accompany the dish.

Seriously, who couldn’t love a good roast dinner?

2. CURRIES

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I’ve never understood people who say that they don’t like curries, usually because they insist it’s too spicy. I don’t like overly spicy food either. I don’t see the point in not being able to taste what you’re eating because you’re mouth is engulfed in flames! But that’s the beauty of curries – you can make them as mild or as spicy as you like. I’m lucky that because of my cultural background, curry was almost always on the menu when we were growing up, and not just curries from the Indian subcontinent either, but also from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Africa and the Caribbean.  There are so many ways of making this very versatile dish, and I can honestly say that I enjoy them all – providing they’re not too spicy of course!

3. NASI LEMAK

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Nasi Lemak is Malaysia’s national dish, and even though I believe it is traditionally served for breakfast, I could quite happy eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whenever I go to a Malaysian restaurant, I don’t really need to look at the menu, as I know I’m going to choose my favourite Nasi Lemak. This classic dish contains a serving of coconut rice and various other components which can vary but typically include a curry of some kind, fried chicken, an egg, sliced cucumbers, and crispy fried anchovies and peanuts, all served up on a banana leaf.

Delicious!

4. SALMON

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Mr. D. is a real sweetheart. He knows how much I love salmon so whenever we go out to dinner, he’ll be checking out the menu for my favourite salmon dishes before he’s even decided what he wants!

At home, I’ll usually pan-fry or oven bake the salmon with some lemon, coriander, and maybe a little crushed chilli (if Mr. D.’s OK with that!) But I really don’t mind how it’s cooked, as I know it’ll be delicious. I’ve eaten salmon curried; in a salad; poached; with teriyaki sauce; in a red Thai curry; grilled with a mango salsa, and this weekend I’ll be trying Jamaican jerk salmon for the first time. Bring it on!

But strange as this may sound, I can’t actually stand smoked salmon at all! How bizarre!

5. FISH AND CHIPS

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This one can hardly be a surprise – I’m from England after all! I didn’t like it very much when I was a child though. I suppose it was because I was a very picky eater and I found fish and chips to be way too greasy. But as I got older I grew to love it. I still don’t like fish and chips if it’s overly greasy, and furthermore the chips have to be thick and chunky; I don’t care much for mushy peas, and the fish should preferably be cod and should always be battered NEVER breaded! Oh and you can hold the ketchup: I prefer to have a squeeze of lemon with chilli and garlic sauces. Not very British, I know, but it hits the spot!

I’ve tried fish and chips in other countries, and even though they’re not bad attempts, they’re obviously no match for the fish and chips at home. However I have to say the fish and chips in Zurich were pretty good!

6. SHEPHERD’S PIE

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Another British classic that I absolutely love and it takes me right back to my childhood. As fussy as I was during childhood when it came to food, I loved shepherd’s pie and I’d surprise everyone by asking for thirds! Some people – Mr. D. included – might just write off shepherd’s pie as bland slop on a plate but as far as I’m concerned, it means they’re not ‘doing it right.’ Minced lamb in a thick, brown gravy topped with mashed potatoes looks, sounds and tastes boring. Whenever anyone in our family makes it, we always try to jazz it up a bit. You can do that by adding herbs, garlic, cheese, spring greens or mashed root vegetables to the potato topping, and a tin of chopped tomatoes, a dash of Worcestshire sauce  and a load of veggies taste great in the minced lamb and helps to improve the appearance.

Though try as I might, I can never get Mr.D. to have more than a couple of forkfuls.

7. SEAFOOD

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of seafood: crab, lobster, prawns, squid, scallops, clams… I seriously can’t get enough of them. Mr. D. and I went to an American restaurant in London last year where I ordered a kind a stew that had virtually every kind of seafood in a delicious white wine sauce. Bliss!

I’ve tried seafood cooked in many different ways but I believe that the best way of cooking seafood includes a fair bit of spice and zing to bring out the flavour.

8. MINTED LAMB CHOPS

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bbc.co.uk

 

Oh my goodness – heaven on a plate! This is something else that takes me back to my childhood as this was something I’d happily guzzle without complaining. It also happens to be my little brother’s favourite dish too. However, as the minted lamb is the star of the show, I like the accompaniments to be quite simple, so it’s just boiled potatoes, savoy cabbage and lashings of gravy for me – just like Mum used to make!

9. TRICOLORE SALAD

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I love this salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado with a bit of basil. What’s so strange is that I was never a huge fan of cheese or avocado when I was younger but I absolutely love it now, and try to make a tricolore salad whenever I can – and it tastes divine in a wrap!

10. TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD

taste.com.au

taste.com.au

 

OK, so Mr. D. said no desserts but I had to sneak one in here! I’ve never really been an apples, oranges, grapes kind of girl. So if you’re going to serve me any kind of fruit or prepare a fruit salad, tropical’s the only way to go. I could eat mangoes, pineapples, passion fruit, papayas, jack fruit, soursop and kiwi fruit all day long. And it’s better than gorging on cakes and pies (though I adore those too!)

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Ideas For A Fabulous Valentine’s Day Breakfast In Bed

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Yay! St. Valentine’s Day is about to descend upon us – and I’m thrilled. Say whatever you like about this day but I do love everything it stands for. And what’s so great about this St. Valentine’s Day is that it falls on a Saturday so it’s more like St. Valentine’s Weekend. Even better! And I’ve definitely got into the spirit of it. Although we’d originally planned to go away this weekend, I’ve been a little under the weather so we’ll be staying at home but it most definitely won’t be boring. We’ve got the cards, the gifts, the choccies, the booze, the candles, the rom-coms, the Valentine’s Day treats and all the ingredients for a fabulous dinner. Because we were long-distance for a long time, we never got to spend St. Valentine’s Day together until after we were married, so it’s very special to us.

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So seeing as you have the whole weekend to lounge around and be totally loved up, there’s no excuse not to have a long, leisurely Valentine’s Day breakfast. A piece of toast on the go just won’t do especially as (I hope) you won’t have to dash to the office. And there aren’t many things that scream romance quite like breakfast in bed which is the perfect way to start a lazy weekend. And let’s banish all thoughts of your usual fare – Valentine’s Day is a great time to try something different and indulge in heart-shaped delicacies and dainty little pastries.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

 

So here’s some ideas to inspire you – and have you wishing every day was a breakfast in bed day!

First things first. When serving breakfast in bed you’ll need:

  • A tray
  • Cutlery
  • Glasses
  • Cups/mugs
  • Napkins or kitchen roll
  • Flowers
  • Newspapers or magazines
  • A bottle of Champers (it’s a special occasion!)

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What To Serve:

  • Porridge served with berries/chopped bananas, honey and cream
  • Pancakes with a selection of fillings: jam, honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, Nutella etc.
  • Homemade croissants with butter and jam
  • French toast with berry compote
  • Scrambled egg and smoked salmon bagel
  • Sausage, egg and cheese bagel (Mr. D’s favourite!)
  • A fry up! How often do you get to have a full English? Be sure to serve on extra large plates.
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Danish pastries
  • Muffins – these can be made in advance to save you from getting up early to prepare them.
  • Waffles with butter, syrup and strawberries
  • Steak and eggs
  • Fresh fruit smoothies (my fave!)
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Yogurt in a tall glass layered with fruit, cereal/oats and compote/honey
  • Stuffed French toast with Nutella and raspberries or mascarpone and blueberries
  • Crumpets with butter and jam
  • Hot chocolate made from scratch with whipped cream

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And remember…

  • If you’re going to serve toast, make sure you prepare that last so that it stays warm.
  • Likewise if you’re going to serve yogurt, get that out of the fridge just before you go up so that it stays cold.
  • Make sure you have all the things you need before you go up. It’ll be annoying to run back down because you’ve forgotten the cutlery.
  • Napkins and kitchen roll are a must!
  • If you’re going to serve Champagne/sparkling wine along with the breakfast, make sure you pop it in the fridge the night before.
  • Don’t worry about crumbs or mess. This is quality time with your other half. Enjoy!

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