No, I haven’t retired! I had a busy few weeks, but now I’m back.
Sukkot was great: I had my kids, my adorable granddaughter Arielle, and my granddogs Murphy and Penny, along with my brother and sister-in-law. Also joining us was my husband’s daughter, her son and Jerry’s son. It was a full house, and I had company for some of the meals as well.
After the first days of Sukkot, my daughter and son-in-law headed off to Israel to spend the rest of the holiday with her in-laws. And you know what that means: I got to have Murphy, my daughter’s mini goldendoodle, for a week.
We always have a great time when any of the granddogs stay with us, and I’d like to think that they enjoy their stay as well. Since they both live in the city, they don’t have the freedom to run around a backyard or take long walks through tree-lined streets hunting squirrels, cats, and birds.
Then my son-in-law Dan told me that Murphy would be staying with us until Sunday before going to his friends, the Gold brothers, for the last days of Sukkot.
“What do you mean, he’s staying with your friends?” I asked. “He’s already going to be upset that you’re not here, although he’s very comfortable with us, and then he’s going to be shipped off to another house for three days before you get home? It’s going to be Simchat Torah, your friends are single and they’re going out for meals, probably drinking, they won’t get back in time to walk him, I really don’t think it’s a good idea.” Dan assured me that his friends were very responsible, Murphy knew and liked them, and he would be fine.
I wasn’t convinced. I thought it was a terrible idea. Dan, with whom I generally have an amazing relationship, was a little annoyed at me for overreacting. When Saturday night rolled around, I was resigned to Murphy leaving the next morning.
Was I really making a big deal out of nothing? Dan thought I was. He explained again that Matt and Josh Gold, as well as Josh “Stock” Weinstock, who would be staying there too, really loved Murphy and he would have a great time. They were always asking for Murphy to stay over and this was the perfect opportunity.
I called Josh Gold to find out what time they were going to pick up Murphy, and half-jokingly told him that I was nervous about handing him over. He explained that I shouldn’t be nervous: they were going out to dinner the first night of Yom Tov, and they were taking Murphy along. The next night they had been invited out, but without Murphy, so they had declined. They would walk him a few times a day and Murphy would sleep in bed with him.
Suddenly it didn’t sound that bad. The next morning I prepared everything for Murphy. I packed his snacks and food in individual labeled bags. I wrote out a list of emergency numbers, including his vet and the hospital that did his hip surgery. Dan had told me that he had told his friends to just stand there and nod and say “Yeah, yeah, yeah” when he came to pick up Murphy. OK, so shoot me, I’m an overprotective dog grandmother. I felt the same way I did before my kids left for sleep-away camp. Stop snickering at me as you read this; I can see you!
When the boys arrived, Stock called out to Murphy and said “Come on, let’s go.”
“Not so fast,” I said. “I want to give you guys all the instructions and his bags.”
“Instructions?” Stock asked. Josh knew how nervous I was, so he listened carefully and said “OK, no worries.” (He didn’t nod his head and say “yeah, yeah” as Dan had told him to.) When I reminded him not to let Murphy have human food because there were certain things he couldn’t eat, he told me that he had already grilled fresh chicken for him with no spices. I realized then that Murphy would be in good hands. Josh’s mom trained him well — thanks, Sharyn!
I had hoped Murphy wouldn’t be too upset when they took him. Usually he doesn’t like to leave anyone behind. Even when his parents pick him up, he will walk halfway down the path, turn around, and stop dead in his tracks if he sees me at the door. To my surprise, he ran down the walk after the boys, and never looked back. Jerry and I looked at each other as if one of our kids were leaving to college. Murphy appeared to have adjusted perfectly well … better than Jerry and me.
Twenty minutes after they left, I received a photo of Murphy lying on a blanket in the car, looking just fine. Two hours later, I got a text from Josh letting me know that Murphy was settled in, all the food was put away and everything was in order. He sent along a photo that made me laugh out loud. Josh was sitting on the couch with Murphy on his lap, reading the list of instructions I had given him.
In the end, Murphy had a great time. Matt, Josh, and Stock — you did a great job … and thanks, Stock, for being a faithful fan of my column.
Chicken Murphy (I kid you not!)
I substituted margarine for butter. Peppadew peppers can be ordered from Amazon if you can’t find them in stores. The next-best option would be sweet red peppers. Recipe from Gonna Want Seconds.
1 lb. chicken, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup +1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (divided)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 lb. Italian sausage, casing removed
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
16 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 large cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Peppadew pepper brine
1 russet potato, 3/4-inch diced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup Peppadew peppers, cut in half
2 Tbsp. margarine
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1. Season chicken cubes generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add 1/4 cup flour to a shallow bowl and dredge chicken pieces in flour, shaking off excess.
2. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil, in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add floured chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
3. Add sausage to skillet and cook over medium heat until just browned. Remove sausage to the plate containing chicken and set aside. Remove skillet from heat and pour off all but enough fat to just coat the bottom of the pan.
4. Add onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook on medium for 6 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle skillet with remaining 1 Tbsp. flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer vigorously, until the wine has reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
5. Add Peppadew brine, chicken stock, russet potato, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, Italian seasoning, and Peppadew Peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes just tender, about 20 minutes.
6. Stir in margarine and add browned chicken and sausage, and cook until heated through and edges of potatoes are slightly crumbling. Serve over cooked angel hair pasta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.