Recently our household has turned a little cartoonish. But in a good way. There are no anvils dropping out of the sky, and Tom and Jerry aren’t making appearances, but I am having long conversations with my dog – and he’s talking back.
Don’t tell me all you dog owners don’t do it. Whether you want to admit it or not, dog owners talk to their dogs way beyond the sit, stay, come commands. They share secrets, they vent, and they talk about what so-and-so unbelievably and outrageously said about another so-and-so behind their back. Usually, and normally, the dog gives a cocked-head, wide-eyed, uncharacteristically genuinely interested look hoping that a familiar word like “treat” or “walk” will add relevance to the blah blah blah noise coming out of our mouths. My sister’s dog makes a funny, gruff, growly noise when she talks to him, until he gets fed up at her lack of understanding him, and does the only thing that relieves his frustration: rolling over onto his back for an obvious, demanded belly rub. It’s as if he were saying, “Well, if I have to listen to you go on about the latest Housewives episode, then I might as well get something out of it.”
And it’s moments and thoughts like this, the art of anthropomorphism, which led to my conversation with Sig, our floppy little mutt of a doggie.
Rob and I have often wondered if Sig had a voice, who he would sound like. We’ve joked about a James Earl Jones reverb emanating from his small body, as well as someone sophisticated and witty, like Brian Williams. After way too much deliberation on such a ridiculous thought, we’ve settled on a cross between Michael J. Fox and Owen Wilson. Think hard, you can picture it. So last Monday night, after Sig had a long walk, and then his dinner, we had a conversation.
“Sig, what are you doing? You are in my way.” Almost stepping on him, I was cooking my Sautéed Spring Vegetables to accompany a pulled chicken with Carolina Sauce. It was an easy and fast dinner with the chicken in the oven, and the sauce already made and on hand. Rob sat on the other side of our island keeping us company.
“Mom, I’m waiting for some more food.” Yep, Sig’s Owen Fox voice responded (from across the island).
Being a good dog-mom (or a really stupid person to engage in this), “You already had your dinner,” I responded.
“But seriously, Mom!” surprisingly, as the words were spoken, Sig’s feet actually moved back as if in protest. “How do you think I can eat that same ground up chicken meal every night? It’s just not fair!”
“You’ve never complained before – “
“But you took me on a long walk today,” his voice stretched, “and it’s hot outside,” and then finally, “and you have all that yummy stuff cooking – can’t you just drop me some?”
And then as if on cue, my wooden spoon just happened to stir with vigor, shooting a piece of bell pepper and squash out of the pan. “Oh man. Ok, pup. There you go.”
“Hey thanks! Wow, this stuff is hot.” (quick sneeze) “Maybe if I eat it real quick – oh yeah. Good stuff. Mom, can I have some more?” Those wide puppy eyes looked up in anticipation.
“No. You didn’t chew your food.”
So Rob does a great Sig-voice. And yes, this interaction did happen. It was just an average Monday night. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Just ask Sig.
On a not-so-strange, OMG-does-this-woman-actually-have-conversations-with-her-dog note, enjoy the sautéed veg. Sig did. It’s a great side dish and even better left over the next day. It’s easy, fast, and satisfying. I cook it in stages, kind of like a ratatouille, but I use a high heat to caramelize the veg while keeping its toothsome integrity. No one likes slimy sautéed veg (think buffets at giant banquet halls for work conferences where the so-overdone vegetables leave an oil slick on your plate, napkin, and possibly your brand new outfit, leaving you to walk around schmoozing the rest of the night looking like a 5-year old having just eaten pizza). So make sure you only use a touch of oil but more seasoning to bring out the liquid – and taste – in the veg.
If you want to come over to our house to witness a Sig conversation, I’d be happy to cook it up for you. If not, enjoy making this super easy, super delicious side dish at your leisure. Enjoy!
Sautéed Spring Veg
(serves 2, generously)
- ½ onion, sliced
- 1 large celery stalk, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, diced
- A few leaves of fresh, washed, romaine lettuce, sliced
- 1 tbsp Smoky Spice Mix:
1:1:1:1 white pepper, chili powder, paprika, and brown sugar.
Add a 3-finger pinch of cardamom and s&p to taste
- 1 tbsp butter
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onion and sauté until it starts to soften (“sweat”). Add the celery, garlic, bell pepper, and squash, and raise the heat to almost a complete high. Sauté consistently in 2 minute intervals until the veg starts to brown, but is still slightly firm to the touch.
Once the veg has turned golden, add the Smoky Spice Mix and stir consistently, so everything gets coated and the mix starts to toast (you’ll smell a definite change from the “raw” spices to once they brown in the pan – the spice will be more pronounced). Take off the heat and add the romaine lettuce. Mix well and serve next to your favorite protein, or enjoy by itself as a light dinner.