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We had snowy white carpeting in our house in Minnesota: for 6 weeks.
Our house had been on the market for a year and the Realtor convinced us that, for it to sell, we had to rip out the old carpet and re-do the entire house in brilliant white. We argued that new owners would tear up whatever carpet was in the house anyway (which they did), but we acquiesced.
Other people told us to bury a statue of St. Christopher in the front garden. I'm not certain which worked but we sold 6 weeks later.
Six whole weeks of living with a carpet so white that every speck of gnat crap was clearly visible.
I had not realized just how furiously carpets collected dirt and how ferociously the little fibers clung to it.
I swore to never have carpet again.
Rugs, yes. They can be taken out, beaten, laundered, etc. But no carpets.
Everyday, this time of year, I thank the powers-that-be that the original owners of our current house saw fit to tile the floors in roughly the same color as the clay soil it sits on.
It's damp, you see. It doesn't rain but everyday the ground gets more and more water-soaked. I don't know why; it just is. Even the grass gets muddy.
And we have dogs, you see. As they are not toilet-trained they have to go out into the damp, wet garden.
As they are dogs they want to go out and do stuff: chase bunnies and birds; sniff and dig in the holes left by moles and voles; bark at and chase the neighbor's cats and dogs.
All this activity tends to make their paws just a wee bit muddy.
All this activity makes them tired,so they want to come in and nap in the warmth.
After they rest they want to go out again.
Everyday I am on my knees giving thanks for our brown floors. It's much faster giving thanks than scrubbing.
If, and I say this hypothetically, IF I washed said dirty floors it would take hours for them to dry in the damp, and, by the time they were dry, they would be full of paw prints again. You see why I am so grateful.
(For all you domestic goddesses with immaculate floors: Yes I have several rugs coming in to the house; Yes, I make them wipe their feet; No, I can't make them wear boots – have you seen the size of my dogs?)
Instead of complaining about my floors a I should be sharing some of the new things I've been cooking.
First, the last picture of the season. I just thought these tarts looked so cute sitting on the Christmas Tree plates.
I got the idea for this recipe from a post in early December by Laurie, of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.
Feta and Caper Tart
The feta the I use is Greek and comes in small cubes in a jar, covered with olive oil and herbs.
Cut salmon into small pieces. Place 2 ramekins, 2 1/2 – 3" (6 – 7cm) on a baking sheet and set aside. Lay out 1 sheet of filo and, using pastry brush, lightly brush all over with olive oil. Fold the sheet in half, lightly brush the top. Fold in half again, the other way, so you have a small square. Brush the top lightly with olive oil. Pick the filo up by bringing all 4 corners together and carefully put inside a ramekin. Smooth out the bottom a bit so it kind of lines the ramekin, leaving the 4 corners to hang over the edge. It should all be rather loose. Repeat with other sheet and ramekin. Divide feta and place in each ramekin. Divide and add capers and smoked salmon. In small bowl whisk together egg, herbs and crème fraiche. Divide egg and pour over cheese, capers, etc. Bake at 400F (200C) for 20 – 25 minutes. The corners hanging over the edges will get quite brown very quickly – don't worry, they won't burn (Or, at least, mine didn't) When done remove from oven and carefully remove filo cups from ramekins. Kind of wiggle, then turn upside down into your hand. Serve, garnished with a few olives and/or a bit more feta.
To continue with the Med Mood here is a dish based on a recipe from one of my Spanish cookbooks:
Braised Lamb with Potatoes and Onions
boneless lamb, shoulder or leg, pieces, 14 oz (400gr)
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs paprika
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
2 – 3 medium potatoes
In plastic food bag mix flour and paprika. Cut lamb into 1 1/2" (4cm) pieces and trim excess fat. Add lamb to flour and mix to coat well. Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. Add lamb (reserve any remaining flour) and brown on all sides. Slice onion; mince garlic. Remove lamb and sauté the onion and garlic until tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with any remaining flour/paprika and stir well. Return the lamb to the pot, add herbs and stock. Cover, turn heat to low and braise for 30 minutes. Cut potatoes into 1" (2.5cm) cubes. Add to the pot, stir well and continue to simmer 30 minutes longer, until potatoes are done. If it starts to dry out add a bit more chicken stock or water. When potatoes are done, remove bay leaves and serve.
Now I have to go let the girl-dogs in. Did I mention that Emma is a proper dainty girl? She really doesn't like getting her paws wet and muddy. Sedi, on the other hand, can spot a tiny puddle anywhere and actually splashes her paws in it…at Emma! The bitch… (Well, she is!)