Sunday Morning with Oliver

Sparkle 2.0 hit the dust. I guess we just aren’t fish people. Instead of doing the bait and switch with a new specimen we decided Bryce was ready to hear the truth. We have, after all been through the death of a dog, and she handled it okay.

Last Thursday morning Sparkle appeared to have mastered the side-stroke. I knew what we were in for and so I wanted to seize the opportunity to teach her about the cycle of life — my plan included breaking the news to Bryce, burying the fish and having a funeral with words of hope and gratitude, flowers and all. I staked her toy pin wheel behind the site to serve as a marker of remembrance, so she would always know where Sparkle was if she wanted to visit her. This plan while seemingly simple went completely off the rails in a matter of minutes.

After learning Sparkle’s fate she was kind of inconsolable. It gave us pause in moving forward with the burial because I wondered if it would be too much for her. We waited until she was calm and explained how we were going to honor her which she was open to. We took the fish to our garden gravesite and I laid her down. Bryce looked at me as if I had lost my mind and asked, What are you doing?! She doesn’t like dirt! She’s going to be cold! I hadn’t quite thought through the explanation of why we bury the dead, you know, in kid terms. I too, think it’s a strange thing, but I told her that her spirit would live on in our hearts and that her body would become part of the garden, and she would transform into the Lavendar flowers next spring. She still looked confused.

We said a few words about Sparkle and all of her best qualities. When I put the soil over her Brycey got very angry an told me (again) that Sparkle didn’t like dirt, she obviously couldn’t breathe and that she needed water!

So she dug up the fish and ran off with it. She put Sparkle in the storage compartment of her Playmobile car — with water, and it stayed there for a couple of days. Don’t worry she’s not handling it, but now she’s seeing what happens to fish when their bodies die, which is a whole other conversation. I umm..saw this going differently in my mind.

Now, meet Oliver, our new guinea pig. He’s a much sturdier specimen, one that has an average life span of 5-8 years. Bryce has taken him on like her own little baby god help him, and she carries him around the house in ice cream bowls, or as you see in the picture, colorful flower pots. He seems to quite like it which is why I haven’t intervened. He’s incredibly sweet and a great addition to the family — I guess the miniature piglet will have to wait. Ali has warmed up to the little critter, by the way.

In honor of Father’s Day we made a rather special breakfast that satisfied the celebration but also the need for kitchen economy. There’s no reason to throw out day-old (or more) bread ever again!

Amy Pennington, A Seattle chef and author of a great cookbook, Urban Pantry, has made this as simple as it is tasty. Her book is all about being smart in the kitchen. There are great tips on pickling and canning, of which I’ll be sharing with you tomorrow.

Bread puddings can be made in hundreds of ways — sweet, savory, tart, spicy — it’s up to you and your heart’s desire. You only have to keep these proportions in mind when making bread pudding: 1 c of cubed bread + 1 egg + ½ C milk or cream = 2 servings. This will give you a good balance between bread and custard. If you’re looking for a more moist or “custardy” dish, add one more egg and a splash of cream to the above equation.

Breakfast Bread Pudding

4 c cubed (day old) crusty bread
4 eggs
2 c whole milk
½ lb breakfast turkey sausage (bulk)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 handful of cheddar cheese
Salt + pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the turkey sausage on med high heat.
Cut the bread into cubes. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the bread to the custard and let it sit for about 5 minutes, while the turkey sausage is cooking.

Pour half of the bread mixture in a casserole dish, and then add the turkey sausage. Pour the remaining bread and custard over top, and finish with some cheddar cheese.

Bake covered in the oven for about 40 minutes, removing the cover for the last 20 minutes.

Have a fantastic day!

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