And Tally Makes Six for Thanksgiving Dinner

Call me a procrastinator, but I didn’t start dusting off my puppy rearing skills until I made the two-hour drive to pick up Tally, the newest member of our family. It couldn’t be helped. Between work and book revisions and holiday prep, I have been busy. Thank goodness for audio books on all sorts of subjects including puppy training, for the electronic devices that download and store these helpful how-tos, and for the newfangled car stereo systems that play them loud and clear as we drive. Oh, and thank goodness also for good, supportive veterinarians, an older dog who is willing to give the younger Tally a wide berth, and modern day washing machines. Without all of the above I’d be in worse shape than I am right now.

Tally is short for Talisker, which is a Scotch whisky. When you bring home a Scottish Terrier, you almost have no choice but to name him after something unmistakably Scottish. A figure from Scottish history, say Rob Roy, or a literary Scot like Macduff or Lady Macbeth, as gender will dictate (although for some reason this breed seems dominated by the masculine). Many Scottie owners choose a modern day Scottish name like Fergus or Duncan or Hamish or Alastair, while the rest of us will name their 8-pound pup after a single malt scotch. A narrow field of names for sure, but perhaps it is because these dogs look so ridiculously Scottish, even when tiny and unmarked by life and the harsh elements: proud with a short and sturdy-legged ready stance, and a very, very dour (which in Scots-speak rhymes with “poor”) visage. This is no happy-go-lucky Beagle; the Scottie is instead the Gordon Brown of dog breeds.

Dour or not, a puppy is a puppy is a puppy, and Tally and I are muddling through. Today, day two, he tolerates his collar but still wants to chew his leash. One minute he snuggles into me, the next he nips at my heels and pant legs. He can rest and sleep in his crate but he also would rather pee in there than pee outside. The four hours’ worth of audio books helped some, but time (and persistence, and patience) will have to take care of the rest. We have some way to go.

Experts will warn you against taking in new pets at the holidays, citing many good reasons. But Spy joined us halfway through December ten years ago, and now here is Tally, popping in during Thanksgiving week. I don’t know any different (or any better, apparently). Our meal will be streamlined this year, but a bountiful one nonetheless. Children will be home and seated at the table. Their parents will be beaming. A puppy will add new energy while an older dog will move up in stature, canis emeritus complete with endowed dog bed. And the cranberries are done. There is much to be thankful for.

Zesty Pear and Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry sauces and relishes often taste too tart or astringent for my taste, the berry’s tannin not at all helped along by the common addition of orange juice, zest, or rinds. Give me pears with the cranberries, however, and I am happy. This recipe hails from a 1991 Gourmet magazine. I have made it a couple of different ways over the years – with maple syrup instead of the brown sugar, with chopped figs substituting for the raisins – but I would never think of swapping out the pears. They tame the acidity with their mellow and sweet juiciness. Omit or reduce the red pepper flake if you don’t like heat.

  • 12 ounces of cranberries, picked over, shriveled or spoiled berries discarded
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped golden raisins
  • 2 Bartlett pears, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup peeled, minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar, unfiltered if you can find it
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the cranberries, syrup, figs, pears, lemon zest, ginger, red pepper flakes, onion, vinegar, mustard seeds and salt.

Simmer the mixture over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for up to 25 minutes or until the berries have burst. The chutney should look like a thickened sauce but still retain some chunkiness. Chutney will keep, covered in an airtight container and chilled, for 2 weeks. Serve the chutney at room temperature. Makes 3 to 4 cups.

© 2012  Jane A. Ward