Sunday, December 21, 2008

Zeke's First Christmas Part 2

Zeke's First Christmas
Written by: Dr. Robert Darnell
Part 2

Still, there was the skunk. The choir singing "Silent Night" on our stereo seemed to be holding their noses as they recounted the traditional events of that holy night.
Constance scooped up baby Zeke as she bolted to the bedroom and called over her shoulder, "Bob, get that skunk out of here."
Her words halted my escape.
I had already started to run behind her.
I stopped, looked at the skunk and imagined him saying, "Yeah, Bob, get me out of here."
The concept of removing a skunk from the house was clear. But viscerally I was frozen with the intrinsic dread of handling the stinking beast. I couldn't just reach down and pick him up. Nor could I kick him. A shovel? What would keep him from lifting his tail at me while I carried him?
The skunk and I had a big problem. We stared deeply into each others' eyes. Leo broke the silence with an exasperated whimper. She looked from me to the skunk with a fretful expression that begged, "What do we do now, Boss?"
Encountering a truly wild and unpredictable creature in the house had set us all on edge. The dog's thrill reminded me of how she behaved in the field when we hunted together. A fresh idea penetrated the stench, Leo will obey me.
As the skunk seemed to wobble, I ordered, "Leo, get the skunk!"
She ran to the skunk, picked him up without hesitation, brought him to me and dropped him at my feet like a good retriever. The skunk, still dazed, toddled under the Christmas tree. It must have seemed a familiar haven in an otherwise threatening circumstance.
"Whoa girl," I whispered as she snapped into a perfect bird dog point with her nose aimed at the prey under the tree. Then, "Fetch!"
As my German Shorthair sprang at the critter, I moved toward the door. She clamped her jaws around the skunk and trotted proudly toward me with her prize. "Good girl," I cooed, "bring him here."
The skunk chose that moment to cry out. I'd never heard a skunk voice before and was startled by the sound. It resembled a chortling baby. Was the creature laughing?

I hope you are enjoying this heartwarming story. I've read it several times and smile everytime I read it.

Your family will have their hearts and tummies warmed with the following recipe. It was given to me maybe by my sister several years ago. Originally, it was the Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole recipe from one of those websites that figures out the signature recipes from favorite restaurants around the U.S.. But, it has evolved with a tweak here and there into my recipe. Sometimes I add a couple tablespoons minced chipotle with adobo to add a little heat, but really it is delicious on its' own.

Hash Brown Casserole
Serves: 8-10

1 16 oz container sour cream (full fat, no light or fat free)
1 can cream of celery soup (low sodium, healthy choice, they all work)
1 stick butter (no margarine!yech)
1 cup chopped onions (can use green onions or chives)
1 bag shredded cheese (2 cups) (I use a cheddar/jack blend)
1 bag hash brown shreds, frozen do not thaw out (I use Ore Ida)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together with a spatula or big spoon, the sour cream and celery soup. Put butter in a small bowl and melt in microwave (high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes). Mix melted butter into the sour cream mixture. Stir in onions, and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir in frozen hash brown shreds (if they are thawed, you get a mashed potato-type of casserole).
Dump into a 13 x 9 x 2 glass casserole dish. Even out and smooth the top. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top. Cover with foil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole edges are bubbling.
This is good for breakfast with sausage and scrambled eggs.
Freezes well. I portion it out and freeze. Then, pop the microwaveable container in the microwave. Hit "reheat" and it comes out tasting as good as the day I baked it.

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