Friday, March 13, 2015

Cheeseburgers with Leonbergers: Would It Really Be That Bad?

             It’s the weekend, maybe Friday night.  You’ve worked hard all week and you deserve a reward.  You decide to treat yourself to dinner with friends at a nice restaurant, the kind you typically don’t go to on a weeknight.  Once seated and handed a menu, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy the company of your companions, order a nice meal you don’t have to cook yourself, and let the stress melt away.  Even the atmosphere helps to set the mood.  Or it would, except…what is that, a dog?  Some obnoxious woman, mere seats away, has snuck a buggy-eyed Chihuahua-looking thing into the restaurant, using a large purse as concealment.  You watch as she portions some of her own food into small bites, depositing them into the snapping mouth that protrudes from the handbag.  But all that mouth does is eat.  It doesn’t bark, whine, or chew on your shoes.  In fact, you might not have even known it was there were it not for your careful scanning to see if any noisy children were present.  And, since the dog doesn’t seem to bother you, you can enjoy your evening like you’d planned all along.  So, what would be the harm in allowing dogs in restaurants?
            There are some who are certain dogs are naturally incapable of this (Anderson).  A large establishment with no dog restrictions might have, say, ten dogs inside, seated with their owners.  Those against allowing them believe these dogs would inevitably begin to bark at each other, even engage in vicious brawls mid-salad course.  Not to mention, there’s the possibility of dogs choosing to relieve themselves inside the restaurant, or getting their hair in customers’ food.  And what about people who are afraid of dogs, or miserably allergic to their fur?  Don’t they have a right to enjoy their meal just like anyone else? 
            To answer all these questions, it is important to consider what paying restaurant customers want.  Most notably, they would prefer to eat somewhere that is clean.  This includes wiped down tables, tidily swept floors, and a pleasant food smell untainted by garbage odors or overpowering scents.  In addition, they enjoy environments with a reasonable murmur of chatter, not too loud as to deafen other patrons, but not too soft as to require everyone whisper self-consciously.  Of course, the food is of utmost importance, so it must be sanitary and appealing.  All these components are part of what makes a good restaurant good, and a lack of one or more will cause some paying customers to turn away, choosing to take their business elsewhere.
Even English Bulldogs can have excellent table manners.
           So what would happen if dogs were suddenly part of this scene?  While some claim they are uncontrollable barkers, this is simply not true.  Any dog can be taught when it is okay to bark and when they should be silent.  An increase in the number of dogs may excite them to where they may like to bark, but again, they can be taught to ignore dog distractions and focus on being obedient.  Part of this obedience is controlling their bodily functions, and just as they can be trained to not relieve themselves inside the house, they can similarly be trustworthy dinner guests as well.  In addition, a well-behaved dog would remain calm at the owner’s table, either lying beneath it or sitting at quiet attention, reliably above any inclinations to jump or otherwise bother guests and let their fur puff throughout the dining area.  (Their hairs are no more likely to end up in the food than yours or mine.)  In short, dogs can be taught to behave properly in a social situation, including how to be respectful of strangers and keep to themselves.
            It is certainly true some people are allergic to dogs.  It is also true some people are allergic to perfumes, pollen, and some commonly encountered foods.  Allowing dogs in restaurants would not significantly impact these unfortunate few because some dogs are already allowed to go anywhere their owner can go.  These dogs serve those with disabilities, such as guiding the blind and alerting the deaf.  They occur where fearful and sniffly people go, and so far have coexisted without any big scenes.  Thus, the presence of other, similarly well-behaved dogs would not increase their discomfort, as they have already made any necessary personal adjustments for the inevitable service dog.
            Regardless of these efforts, some irresponsible dog owners have chosen the selfish route, purchasing a vest and identification card for their pet and claiming it is a service dog (Shah).  Without the years of work and training that go into the real deal, these imposters have created a negative reputation for actual service dogs and well-trained pets alike.  It has gotten to the point where either the out-of-control “service” dog is allowed because the restaurant owner cannot tell it is disguised, or the real service dog is denied because they cannot tell it is legitimate.  To top it off, there are other careless owners who will act like celebrities, smuggling poorly trained dogs in their purses and ignoring its aggressive displays.  These obnoxious diners ruin the meal for everyone else, and hinder the possibility for respectful dogs to accompany their owners out to eat.
            But what if they were all good?  Over in Europe, there are already many restaurants and stores that welcome the well-trained dog, often offering water and treats to these canine companions (Khuly).  So far, there seem to have been no complaints, and since it is still an existing practice, businesses must remain successful as well.  It would not be difficult to follow their lead and include the polite dog at the table, allowing dog owners the opportunity to bring their furred friends with them on errands and to social outings.
This guide dog calmly waits beneath the table
 at a nice restaurant. (Rothman)
            By allowing only the obedient dogs, restaurants can help foster dog obedience.  The Americans with Disabilities Act states that proprietors cannot discriminate against a disabled person and their service dog, but proprietors may have the dog removed if it is deemed to be dangerous or a nuisance.  What if the law included all dogs, not just those in vests and harnesses?  Business owners could police their own establishment, judging which dogs are violent or an irritant and which are suitable dinner guests.  Dog owners would have a greater incentive to teach their dog good behavior, while disruptive dogs would be shunned from public eateries until they have learned to be good.
            I understand some may object to allowing dogs in restaurants.  They may worry about the reliability of dogs to do what they’re told, or that the scent of all that food would return them to some sort of primal, wolfish state, and they would start jumping onto diners’ tables to steal their meals.  While there are always going to be dogs that will disobey, it is because they have not yet been taught self-control.  It is entirely possible to teach a dog to remain calm while food is being passed around on the table above their head.  They can absolutely learn perfect obedience, staying put even when you have to leave the table.  They can even learn to ignore the accidentally dropped bits of food that land near their face.  The proof of this is in the already existing and restaurant-frequenting service dogs, who, when properly and completely trained, can even behave better than most children.
            I have spent many hours reading article after article on this subject, navigating the back-and-forth of online comments and opinions.  While there were some, regardless of their side, who were respectful and insightful, there were disappointingly many that were typical internet arguers, strengthened by anonymity to state opinions as fact and base their arguments on insult.  They are the kind of people I would not like to have to sit near in a restaurant.  A well-behaved dog, on the other hand, wouldn’t bother me at all.  Unfortunately, he is not allowed, and until we open our minds to the possibility of good dogs, we’ll be stuck with “Yappy” the fake service dog and “Smuggles” the contraband purse hermit.

Anderson, Lessley and Jason Krause. Why Aren’t Dogs Allowed in U.S. Restaurants? CBS, 2007. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
Khuly, Patty. Should we be more like the French and invite dogs to dinner? Gannett Co., 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
Roberts, Donna Twichell. Cover from Good Food Cookbook for Dogs. London: Quarry Books, 2004; print.
Rothman, Carly. Commercial by Morris Twp. group highlights rights of visually impaired. NJOL LLC, 2008. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
Shah, Khushbu. Diners With Fake Service Dogs Could Face Jail Time. Vox Media, 2014. Web.  12 Mar. 2015.
United States. Department of Justice. ADA Title II, Pt. 35, Subpart B, § 35.136 (a). 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

20 Things to Balance All That Negativity

In other words, things I like.  Which is mostly food.

1. The smell and feel of marshmallows.
2. Boxed mac and cheese.
3. The smell of raw meat.
4. Crawling over sidewalks and construciton when driving a Jeep.
5. When the deer follow me to work in the morning.
6. Stocking/organizing yogurt, Jell-O, milk gallons, and spices.
7. Talking about my fish.
8. Kale, for its fleshy crunch that I often crave.
9. Little Cesar's cheese pizza.
10. Feeding the ducks.
11. Popcorn, tortilla chips, and fries, all without salt.
12. Little cookie cutters.
13. When cats fall asleep on you.
14. The way a grocery cart looks when it's full of fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs.
15. Food in glass bottles and jars.
16. When calves suck on your fingers.
17. Those first tiny bits of green from seeds sprouting.
18. McDonald's derpy cheeseburgers and mushy fries.
19. Soft serve vanilla ice cream in a cake cone.
20. Making dinner for my husband (especially when he likes it.)

20 Things I Don't Like (That Will Probably Offend People)

Why?  Because a lot of them have come up lately.  And it is so good to get it out.

So, in no particular order (okay, maybe a little bit):

1. Feminism.  
2. Anyone that calls you a monster for eating animals.
3. Large groups of women.
4. Visiting teaching.
5. When people closed-mindedly challenge my beliefs.  Such as evolution.
6. When you sit in the back by yourself to be alone on purpose and someone thinks "That poor girl is all alone, I should sit next to her and NEVER. STOP. TALKING."
7. When, if I'm knitting something, anything, people ask "What is it, a scarf?"
8. When recipes call for wine and I'm too young to buy it.
9. When people finish a conversation with "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
10. When people defend those people by saying "They're just trying to be nice."
11. Using "against marriage equality" to describe those that don't support gay marriage.
12. That I am "Partner B" on my marriage license, not "Wife."
13. When movies ruin books.  (Looking at you, Thief Lord, Eragon, and Narnia.)
14. When people think dishes need to "soak" in the sink.
15. BYU baked goods.  Especially the mint brownies and fruit things.
16. Hipsters.  
17. When people try to talk to me during a movie or show while characters are talking.
18. Oven mitts.
19. When employees at Petsmart preach false doctrine.
20. And feminism.  Again.  Because it is that annoying.

Friday, December 7, 2012

She No Nuts, She's Crazy!

Pies?  Pies are easy.  Even the crust.  Cupcakes?  Oh, please.  I barely even think about them. Bread?  Rolls?  Cheesecake?  This is me we're talking about.

Cookies?  You mean sugar cookies?  Yeah, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep now.  Mkaybye.

Sugar cookies should be pretty easy, right?  I mean, how hard is it to make a cookie shaped like a leaf?  There's a law out there somewhere that says something like: "The more you need to find something, the less likely you are to find it."  In this case, the more you need it to look like a leaf, the less it is going to resemble a leaf.  

Batch #1: Things started off relatively normally.  I was making these Thanksgiving place setting cookies well in advance, a few days early.  This way I could have plenty of time to make pies.

What's this?  The cookies spread?  I must have done something matter, I'll just make some more.  I have plenty of time.  In fact, I'll try this new recipe from a blog that has some of the most gorgeous cookies I've ever seen.  Piece of cake.

Batch #2: What is happening?!  These cookies are horrible!  They are massively puffy, burned/browned on the edges, and still undercooked on the inside!  They don't taste good, look good, nothing!  I'm never making these again!  Even the royal icing recipe tastes bad!

Okay, back to my original fall-back "no fail" Cow Cookie recipe.  The first time may have had issues, but this time will definitely work.  No problem.

Batch #3:  What's that, friend?  You need some help?  Sure, I'll turn my attention away from my precious baking cookies for just a seco- COOKIES, Y U NO COOK PROPERLY??  This batch is underdone, these ones are burnt, there aren't enough of the last batch...screw it!  I'm trying again!

Maybe I'm overthinking this.  I've made plenty of these Cow Cookies, and they've always held their shape wonderfully.  I'll just make them again, pretend like nothing has ever gone wrong...

Batch #4:  Huh...these are pretty good.  They're acceptable.  They're even attractive.  Sure, there's a little bit of browning, but no one will notice.  And this royal icing recipe I've used before worked great the first time, so I'll just use that.  Yeah.  And you know what...they look pretty good.  I think all that baking was worth it.  Sure, my roommates thought they all looked fine and that I'm a weirdo perfectionist that throws away cookies, but it was worth it.  Even finally going to bed at 3am Thanksgiving morning was worth it.  They're my cookies.

And even though Mom and Dad couldn't celebrate with us...

So, why did I go through all this just for some place settings?  Because I knew I could make them look amazing, I knew I had that ability, and I wouldn't settle for anything less.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Baker's Foil (and Cats)

[This fantasy of mine is in the possession of the dear sweet SugarBelle, whose collection of cookie masterpieces had me sitting at the computer for hours, putting off actually making my own cookies because I couldn't stop looking at all of hers.]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Nothing Can Ever Be Simple

[I want everyone to know that I had this completely written out and the save button lied, so all my clever quips had to be replaced by not so clever quips.  Creativity can run out.  And what's there now is nothing like what I wrote the first time.  That is all.]

Remember the witch in the story of Hansel and Gretel?  She lured them to her gingerbread house, stuffed them with sweets until they were fattened, them cooked them up and ate them.  This past Halloween, I was that witch.  It's what happens when a baker celebrates Halloween.
I made three kinds of cookies: gingerbread, chocolate, and basic sugar cookies.  All accounted for, this meant about a hundred cookies, the preparing of which was spread out over a few nights.  Decorating them took over four hours on its own.  Was it worth it?  You tell me.

I didn't really have Halloween-y cutters.  I had a few animals, some tools, ninjas, and a mustache.  Mom sent me some ghosts and a wolf/cat/bear cutter just in the nick of time.  (Thanks, Mom!)  There had to be a way to make these sufficiently Halloween-y.  These are some of my "normal" attempts.  Pretty basic.  With a hundredish cookies, sometimes you have to be.  But I'm not a simple person.  I have to do things differently.  Or something.  These were just too cute.  I like puppies just as much as the next person, more so, even, but with something as tempting as animal cookies for Halloween, I can't just leave them so...ordinary.  I tried to be good.  I tried to be normal.  Instead, I got creative.  My macabre side (which isn't very hidden) came out in full.  I worried about what my roommates would think.

I also worried if I might be excommunicated or reported to the proper authorities.  Is this normal?  The frog is practically vomiting gore.  Those tools were clearly weapons of murder.  The butterfly is made of anatomically-correct bloody phalanges.  (Not the one in the picture--a different one.)  The cow is a carcass.  The chicken will feast on your soul.  There was another certain cookie, but it was too bad for even me, and I had it taken care of promptly.

I have to wonder about my sanity sometimes.  Do I have too much fun?  I once made a Christmas cookie look like Frankenstein's monster.  A Christmas cookie.  It was a basic pine tree, but with a bloody gash held together by sprinkle stitches.
I suppose it's time to admit I have a problem.  A delicious, high-calorie problem.  And I enjoy every minute of it.

P.S.  Ignore the unfortunate ghost at the bottom of the picture.  Sometimes cheap-o plastic baggies just can't handle piping.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How to Know You're Growing Up

It's been a year (and a little more, but let's not split hairs) since I started college.  I've learned a few more things.

1. Everything has loopholes.  If they say you can't have pets in the apartment and then take the time to specify what they consider to be a pet, anything they don't point out is therefore not considered a pet.
2. The only cooking supplies I like are the ones my mom has.  Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore.
3. Do the extra credit.  Those little bitty points will mean a whole lot more in the end.
4. There are a lot of people in the world that really do not know how to cook.  I'm finding out that a lot of them are women.
5. Washing someone else's dishes is much easier than washing your own.
6. It's okay to be nerdy.  Almost everyone is, anyway.  Just don't take it to hipster levels.
7. Try new things.  Ice blocking is terrifying, but you'll be glad you at least tried it.
8. Friendships are fleeting and usually last only a semester.  Solid friends are hard to come by.
9. You don't have to share everything.  Still, it's nice to leave cookies for your roommates.
10.  There really are some bad teachers out there.  Not sure what it is...they're just bad.
11.  There's also some amazing teachers that really get you psyched for lecture.  They somehow make up for the other teachers' inadequacies.
12.  No matter how small your kitchen is, you can always make beautiful things in it.
13.  It's okay to let other people help you.  Sometimes they can save your bagels.
14.  Bacon is delicious and good with maple syrup.  It is also sharp.
15.  One of the greatest tools you can have in your kitchen is a pastry cutter.
16.  It's okay if people don't hire you.  It's okay that they don't even tell you they're not going to hire you.  Keep looking.
17.  Changing your major is okay, too.  Those classes for the other major do come in handy.
18.  Some classes, like public speaking, aren't required.  That doesn't mean they aren't useful.
19.  Sometimes the desserts you put the most time, effort, and planning into won't be as fawned over as the mess of peanut butter and marshmallows someone else threw together at the last minute.
20.  Of all the people I see in a day, I don't remember what any of them were wearing or how their hair looked.  I remember what they smelled like.  Focus on what's important.