For the love of dogs

Volunteering at an animal shelter gives me much joy, for several hours each week I get to spend time with dogs of all shapes and sizes, often going home covered in slobber, dirt, poo and a variety of dog hair. Whether my job is cleaning their kennels or playing ball in the exercise yard it really doesn’t matter to me but knowing that each dog has had some positive, caring interaction with a person makes me happy.

These are some of the beautiful creatures that I’ve been lucky to spend time with, some of them have found their furever family and some are still waiting but in the meantime I will love each of them.

One of my dearest friends (who I refer to as the crazy cat lady) gave me a great book called ARFfirmations, Meditations for your dog by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman and for this crazy dog lady, it was the perfect gift. This book is written for dogs, the aim is to inspire them to feel confident and to help them avoid feeling shame or guilt as a consequence of their actions (such as sitting on the sofa), I’ll leave you with one of my favourite ARFfirmations from their book.

I whine when you leave the home because I know how much you will miss me

Why do I whimper every single time you walk out the door, even just to get the paper? It is because I am blessed with empathic sensitivity. I know, even before you leave, how much you will wish you were back home, glorying in the magnificence that is I. It is only natural and fitting that you feel this way. I know, as you know, that I am the cutest thing in the universe. I combine adorableness and genius. If I were not myself, I would miss me, too.

 

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La Dolce Vita: Sweet Dreams and Chocolate Memories by Isabel Coe

La Dolce Vita: Sweet Dreams and Chocolate Memories book cover

A friend of mine suggested I read Isabel Coe’s La Dolce Vita: Sweet Dreams and Chocolate Memories, a fascinating story about a woman and her family in Italy and Switzerland and the fond memories she has about cooking, especially with chocolate. My friend and I had been discussing our favourite desserts that our grandmothers once made and knowing how much I love all things Italy and chocolate, she kindly let me borrow her copy of the book.

The recipes featured in this book sound heavenly, I have not dared to test them myself because I don’t know whether the end result would be successful and if it was, then how do I stop myself from eating the entire dessert? Isabel Coe talks of her Omama’s Chocolate Mousse, Nonna’s chestnut truffles and her Mother’s chocolate sandwiches, Isabel learned to cook at a young age and finds comfort in these recipes handed down through generations now that she lives in Australia and lives with the feeling of being homesick. One of the first recipes to grab my attention with its simplicity is Omama’s Creme Chocolat, described as a dessert that ‘tastes rich yet is somehow light to eat’ and is best served with chocolate madeleines.

Omama’s Creme Chocolat (Isabel Coe)

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

Method:

  1. Place the cream in a bowl with the vanilla pod and leave to infuse.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and stir until dissolved. Stir in the sugar and leave to cool.
  3. Lightly whip the cream and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  4. Eat slowly and savour every mouthful.

I particularly love the last step in the instructions for preparation 🙂

If you have read the book and made any of the recipes contained within I would love to hear about it and if you haven’t read the book but love a good story about family and food, I recommend reading ‘La Dolce Vita’. Reading this book brings back many food memories of my own: shelling peas into a bucket for my Nanna as she prepares Christmas lunch for 20-30 people; beating sugar and butter by hand while sitting in the sun hoping that the warmth would speed the process; and eating the blackest, juiciest plums straight from the tree in my Grandmother’s backyard. It makes me wish that I had captured more of my family stories while my Grandparents were alive.