When I was 3 or so, there was Zoro. He was a Doberman – taller than me, pointy ears, so regal. My folks, with my dad’s work schedule being what it was, tried to make it work and keep him with our family. In our big duplex in Chicago, he caused absolute havoc. On the eve of my yearly photos, he ran down the hallway, turned a left into the bathroom where my mom was helping me take a bath…and jumped in the tub. Scratches all over my face and arms. The photos had to be postponed and Zoro went to live in the suburbs with friends who had a yard. I never had a dog again while growing up.
Mingus joined our family a month & a half ago. Having a dog is something I’ve wanted for a long time but never thought I could manage because of my work schedule. Freelance life means I have days upon days of free time…and days upon days of never seeing daylight for being in the studio. I’ve always been a cat person because, well, they’re a lot like me – they sort of do their own thing, look for some pets and encouragement and generally don’t give a damn otherwise. Having a dog – and a puppy, at that – has been really eye opening. For the first time ever, the roles are reversed and someone or something needs me. He didn’t pick me – I picked him and he can’t really leave on his own. He has no thumbs. I’m his everything (as is his daddy) and it’s an odd place to be in.
It’s also an exhausting place to be in. I see the behaviors in me as I deal with Mingus that I saw in my parents sometimes. The exasperation. The fatigue. The trying to balance it all and be good at it all. Trying to keep the dishes out of the sink and the wet leaves off the floor in the midst of it all. Having a dog has been a joy…but it’s been a lot of hard work. If he wasn’t so damn cute or so unconditionally loving, I would have pulled my hair out by now. I fully expect Supernanny to come through the door at any turn.
We’re doing the best we can, I think. What I’m not doing, however, is cooking.
It’s all I can imagine that this is like having a baby. Waking up, taking him outside, feeding him, taking him outside again, working on invoices or taking a shower while he takes a nap and then repeat throughout the day with the occasional “stop chewing on your sister” thrown in there for good measure. I’ve taken a few personal moments and let him snooze in his crate but, for the most part, it’s all Mingus all the time. I made a pot of soup at 8 am while he was otherwise occupied…and it was the best move I’ve made in a month. There was a quicky kale salad that, while delicious, doesn’t necessarily count as cooking as much as it does assembly.
One thing I have been able to do is roast.
I threw a pan of these really beautiful tri-color potatoes in the oven for a quick breakfast before heading to a shoot this week. Tossed with my current spice obsession, za’atar, they were bright and light tasting. I added the lemon slices for a little tang that could only be topped by some hollandaise, which I certainly don’t have time to babysit. It was a meal hearty enough to get me through a day with no craft services. Adding an almost-fried egg on top with a sprinkle of fresh herbs was a quick finishing touch that made me feel like taking a moment and doing something nice for myself.
Za’atar Roasted Baby Potatoes with Lemon – serves 4 to 6 as a hearty side dish
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice that is a mix of sumac, sesame seeds and other herbs. It has a very light, bright flavor and is a great way to season breads, fish, meat and vegetables. While I buy my za’atar premade at a local market, you can make your own mix at home. The great folks at Frieda’s Specialty Produce sent me these tri-color baby potatoes that are just lovely – the colors hold even once they’ve been roasted and taste & look like fall.
– Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cut potatoes with the olive oil, za’atar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread them out onto a large baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Pull the tray out and scatter the lemon slices on top and continue to roast until the potatoes are crisp and golden brown – this was another 10 minutes in my oven. Allow to cool slightly and serve – this is a great dish for brunch with eggs or a side dish with roasted fish or lamb.