Cookery Maven Blog

It's All About George


This is a first for me -- publishing a blog post because I just found a great photo of George. But really, it is a helluva photo of our handsome boy. I took these photos on a late fall afternoon -- the  viscous, golden light (perfect lighting for a yellow Lab) inspired me to grab my camera and capture a few shots from the Dougherty compound. 


Michigan Island Camp

Spring is in the air, even though it's mid-February and we should have a couple of feet of snow on the ground, and that means a couple of things: I start to plan the garden and Ted starts to plan our May BWCA trip. In honor of this annual rite of spring-in-the-middle-of-winter, I thought I'd share some photos from our August trip to Michigan Island.

It was a momentous trip -- Will was leaving for his freshman year in a few weeks, it was our first time camping as a family in the Islands and it was the first time George and Gus had been invited to come along for the ride. A trifecta of 'firsts' played out on one of our favorite islands. We packed the Karl with enough provisions to last a couple of days and headed out on the Lake. 

Ted is a big, and I mean BIG, fan of camping preparation and that means he has bottles, jars, packages, stuff sacks and baggies for everything you can think of.....including Ulf's curry powder. Our friend, Ulf, makes his own curry powder in Washburn and it's the gold standard in our kitchen and in camp. 

Bordeaux, red vermouth, whiskey and a roll of paper towel -- essentials for a Dougherty camping trip. 

George and Gus took to the camping life remarkably well until they realized I left their bed at home and they had to sleep on the ground. That was clearly troublesome for our two little princes but they managed to find ways to cope -- like sitting on top of the picnic table. 

Michigan Island has a single campsite and it's a sweet one. Tucked back from the beach among the pines, it had two level spots for the tents and a fire ring with huge pieces of driftwood re-purposed as benches. The bear locker made a great cooking surface and the picnic table was a nice touch. My camping experience is limited to the BWCA (where tables are improvised) and I have to admit, there's something about a picnic table that seems mighty civilized when you're in the woods. 

We got up in the morning and headed out for a walk down the beach. While I'm not the biggest fan of camping (sleeping on the ground and pit toilets in the middle of the forest require a open-mindedness I'm not always ready to embrace), I do love the slower cadence of life outdoors.  We spent three hours exploring the beach, watching the fishing tug pull their nets and hollering for George (who was having the time of his life eating seagull poop...more about that later). 

It started to rain while we were walking on the beach but we were resolute in our commitment to camping. Well truthfully, Ted and Charlie were resolute --- Meg, George and I were ready to abandon ship. But Ted set up a tarp, George got up on the picnic table and Meg and I decided to play was actually quite pleasant until George jumped up on the table and sat down on our game of gin rummy. I think Meg put him up to it because I was winning. 

Gus needed a helping hand to get around the logs that littered the shoreline. He's a sturdy little dog but swimming, given his short legs and wide girth, is not his idea of a good time. 

You'd never know it from this photo of George, looking oh-so-regal and self-composed, that he threw up sea gull poop (that he was eating on our morning beach hike) in our tent at 2 AM in the middle of a rainstorm. There's nothing quite like a heaving 80 pound Lab, a bunch of zippers (between sleeping bags, tents and rain flys...camping is a zipper-lover's dream), pouring rain and utter darkness to get your heart pumping. It was yet another unforgettable experience thanks to Handsome George....hopefully he'll go back to rolling in poop instead of eating it. 

The time flew and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home. Will had to get packed for Madison, Charlie had soccer practice, Meg's iPhone was out of juice and I had a serious hankering for a shelter without zippers. With the smell of wood-smoke in our clothing, we loaded the Karl and headed home. Even with the rain and George's puke-a-thon, it was a good way to mark Will's last week at home before he started his new life as a Badger. The islands and Lake Superior have been the backdrop for many funny, tender, chaotic and trying Dougherty stories and thank God, we're still composing chapters in our tome about life in a northern town. 

Honest Dogs At The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races

That's how it all started, a bunch of sled dogs for an epic birthday present in 2001— seems like a reasonable way to start a kennel to me. Don't forget, Julie is the woman who decided paddling to the Arctic Ocean in a canoe and spending the winter in a cabin without running water on an island (read all about it here) was a good idea.

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A Dog Sledding & Skijoring Photo Safari

Last week was one for the record books— goat midwifery, Jack's first solo dog sledding run and skijoring. A beautiful, sunny, warm-ish March afternoon spent with some of my favorite people (and dogs) in the world was about as good as it gets.

Okay, I have to admit I have a favorite sled dog— Vader, the lead dog and enforcer of orderly behavior (as he defines it). He's nearly as photogenic as George and Viv and certainly more useful in the 'working dog' department. I met Vader two years ago at Good Thyme— Julie and Charly brought the dogs to the restaurant for a dog sledding field trip for Meghan and Caroline's class. I barely knew Julie, let alone a pack of what seemed to me to be feral, wild sled dogs but as I watched them pull the kids around, I fell in love with their smiling faces. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and an introduction to a bunch of honest dogs.

I wasn't exactly sure what a skijoring/photo safari entailed but I knew a bunch of handsome Siberians would make for some seriously awesome pictures. The pictures did not disappoint, the Honest Dog kennel is such a handsome crew.

There were some good-looking humans as well. Jackson isn't the biggest fan of having his picture taken and I'm completely baffled how I captured his beautiful smile. I think he was distracted by lobbing snowballs at Sadie and Gina. He's such a good kid.

They all came racing back with smiling faces (dogs and humans, alike).

Jack and Bisoux— a perfect match.

Jack took off towards the kennel and we headed back to Bayfield. It was definitely an afternoon for the record books and another reason I thank my lucky stars I ended up in Bayfield with the greatest group of friends and dogs a girl could hope for. Julie and Jill, bloggers extraordinaire, wrote about the afternoon as well— check it out: Honest Dog and Garlic Pig.

Sweet George & A Full Moon

The Sweetness of Dogs (Fifteen) Mary Oliver


What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.

The Many Faces At The Sled Dog Races

Julie and Caroline raced in the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race this year and I was the official dog petter/photographer of the Buckles/Ray team (read all about it here). Talk about an expressive bunch of dogs— it was a brilliant way to spend a few hours on a beautiful winter afternoon.

This guy was resting up before the race— talk about calm, cool and collected.

Bisoux was the picture of composure (until she got her harness on).

I wish I knew this guy's name— he stole my heart.

Pronce— striking a pose.

Holstein in a very, very rare moment of quiet contemplation.

Bisoux is one loving girl with a serious side of bad ass— don't cross her.

Juliette, the one eyed, geriatric husky, kept up with the young-uns with a smile on her face— pure Husky bliss.

A Dougherty Snow Day

It turned out to be a splendid day. We were all looking forward to a snowy Sunday but as the hours marched on towards Monday, I started to lose hope. The weather people had been downgrading the storm all day and by 8:30, I d resigned myself to a measly dusting of snow (while my family in Minneapolis was literally rolling in it).

An hour later, we were celebrating. Jack came downstairs with the most marvelous news— a new winter storm warning had been issued and there were 5 to 9 inches of snow on the way.  I love a snow day like a George loves his Chuck-it and judging from Charlie's happy dance, I think he does as well. I couldn't wait to wake up on Monday morning to a world of white.

The kids technically had school but we live 12 miles away, the roads were bad and it was still snowing when we woke up; I decided a Dougherty Day was in order (a Dougherty day is an unplanned day off to lounge around the house and play hooky). Last week was a blur— between ski team, volleyball and Christmas Carol, we were running around constantly. Today was a much-needed break from the treadmill of commitments the kids have each week. We played with the dogs outside, went for a walk downtown, baked cookies, played cards and assembled Christmas treats. It was a perfect Dougherty snow day.

Bayfield loves a fresh coat of snow, it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting today.

My two girls in the snow. We went for our walk before we spent the afternoon in the kitchen. I'm not much of a baker but we decided to tackle some Christmas cookies and treats. Overall, it went well. We have about 2 million mints, I misread the directions and ended up quadrupling the recipe. Thank God the kids like butter mints.

George was acting horridly on the way down to the dock so I decided to let him loose rather than fall flat on my face because he refused to stop tugging me along. He took off and didn't look back, that dog knows how to have a good time.

George prefers to handle the leash himself.

This may be kind of a lame Christmas treat but it's totally within my skill set and it's a big hit around here. Who doesn't like pretzels dipped in almond bark and rolled in crushed candy canes?

Butter mints are going to be the name of the game around here for a while, we have a lot of them. The combination of my utter disregard for reading recipes and lack of reading glasses resulted in a miscalculation with the powdered sugar.  We have a lot of mints to eat, give away, vacuum pack, pave the driveway get the idea. The good news is that it's a super easy recipe and they remind me of the mints my Grandmas Duffy always had at her house.

Butter Mints(From Williams Sonoma Holiday Cooking With Kids)

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp peppermint extract, plus extra as needed
red and green food coloring

Put one cup of the sugar, butter and 1 tbsp of water in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Slowly add the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 tsp water, continuing to beat at medium speed until the mixture is smooth. The sugar mixture should be soft and not sticky. Add more water if it's crumbly and if it's too sticky, add more sugar. It should have the consistency of pie crust dough.

Remove dough from the mixer, separate it into 1 to 4 smaller balls, and add one ball back into the mixer. Add the food coloring of your choice to the ball by squirting the droplets on top of the dough (careful when you turn on the mixer), and paddle on low-speed until coloring is well-blended. Coloring will not blend completely into each and every speck of dough if examined extremely closely, but overall, mix until color is uniform.

Wash the mixing bowl and the paddle in between each color change and repeat until all the balls are colored. After the dough has been colored, either wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to be rolled out later or roll it immediately.

Place a golf-ball sized amount of dough in your hands and roll dough into long thin cylinders about 1 centimeter wide. Place cylinders on countertop and with a pizza cutter slice cylinder into bite size pieces. You can make any size or shape of mint that strikes your fancy— go crazy! Store mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they will keep for many weeks.

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits For The Boys

I'll be the first to admit, Dougherty dogs have a pretty nice life. In fact, I doubt they are aware they're of the canine persuasion— they definitely prefer chairs at the table and riding shotgun (with the seat warmer on) to the floor or back seat. After my persimmon bread mishap, I decided homemade dog treats are the way to go— the target audience will always appreciate the effort and they are super easy to make. Since Thanksgiving is in a couple of days and pumpkin pie is too messy to feed to the dogs, I found a recipe for pumpkin dog biscuits. The boys were pleased.

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats from

7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough out to about a 1/2 inch thickness and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until hard.

Goat Cheese Pasta With All Sorts of Good Stuff

I like to cook but there are days when I just want to eat dinner, watch a movie and call it a day. That's where pasta and a fridge full of delicious but disjointed ingredients comes in handy— dinner in less than 30 minutes and two dirty pans.

Goat Cheese Pasta With All Sorts Of Good Stuff

1 pound pasta 6 - 8 ounces goat cheese (I used Sassy Nanny Lake Effect) 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced 1 red pepper, sliced 1 package of mushrooms, quartered 6 - 8 slices bacon 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4 cup white wine

Preparation Cook pasta. Drain, reserve 2 cups of pasta water (keep warm) and return pasta to pot. Add a little olive oil or butter to pasta to keep it from sticking.

Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan until crisp. Remove the bacon and reserve 2 tbsp of bacon fat. Add the onion, red pepper and mushroom to the pan and sauté over medium heat until vegetables softened and onions are starting to caramelize (about 8 - 10 minutes). Add the garlic and wine and continue to cook until most of the wine has reduced by half.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add whole chicken breasts and cook thoroughly. Slice and keep warm.

Place the pasta and goat cheese in a large bowl, add enough warm pasta water to make a creamy sauce, add vegetables, sliced chicken breasts and crumbled bacon, toss and serve immediately.

Totally unrelated to goat cheese pasta but I looked down while I was preparing dinner and saw the dogs totally cashed out in a row. 'Falling back' from daylight saving time has been a hard transition for my little men.

A View From The Top

I celebrated a birthday in October and we walked up to the top of Mount Ashwabay for a photo safari. It was the perfect way to usher in my 43rd year— a bird's-eye of the lake, the last russet and gold leaves, a brilliantly blue sky and of course the kids and dog (George was the only dog invited). Sadie, George and I opted for a kinder, gentler stroll up Swiss Miss but Meg, Charlie and Caroline went big and decided to head straight up the Drop. We met at the top, took a hiatus to catch our breath and take in the view. It's truly one of the best views up here and well worth the climb.

As I sit here at the kitchen table (three weeks after this beautiful afternoon), listening to the election results roll in, I can't begin to imagine the spectrum of emotions each candidate must be feeling. After months of campaigning, it comes down to the individual votes of millions of people throughout the country. I was the 75th voter in Bayfield this morning and while I'm far removed from the spotlight of Cuyahoga County in Ohio, my vote counts. Of course, I would love to wake up tomorrow with President Obama in office for another four years but it's out of my hands and into the collective hands of everyone who voted today.

One of the gifts of aging is my deep understanding of the power and sense of peace that comes with surrender and fully living in the present moment. As I move into my 43rd year (and away from a divisive and often ugly campaign season), I intend to embrace what's surrounding me every day— my raucous, loving family and friends, free thinking dogs, fantastic dinners and wine, good books and great stories, Lake Superior's water and beaches and the trees who watch over me. Lord knows, it'll be a challenge but it's enough.

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened sound from the outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life —

What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

William Stafford

Persimmon Bread Repurposed As Dog Treats

It was a good idea gone awry. I bought 4 persimmons at the grocery store because that deep orange color was a siren's song and I couldn't resist. I knew there were other orange fruits out there but there was something about that particular orange that grabbed me. I had one small problem— I had never cooked, cut into or eaten a persimmon. They sat on my counter for four days until I googled 'persimmon recipes' and found this James Beard recipe on David Lebovtiz's blog (recipe here). However, I made one game changing misstep— I forgot the baking soda.

I had hoped to impress two women with my persimmon bread— my Mom and Paula Deen. My Mom was coming up for the weekend and I thought a slice of a slighty exotic quick bread with her afternoon tea would be a lovely. As for Paula, I had planned to submit my blog as a contestant in her Deen Team blogger contest; as proof positive a woman from the northernmost (almost) tip of Wisconsin knew what to do with Southern fruit like a persimmon. Well, onto plan b, as in biscotti. Yet another game changing step— I forgot about the 'biscotti' in the oven and left to go to a six course dinner and wine tasting.

I got home at 10:30, walked into the kitchen and thought, 'gee, it smells so nice in here'. That lovely thought was quickly followed by, 'oh my god, I forgot the biscotti (aka quick bread gone awry) in the oven'. At that point, I started to reconsider my choice of blog post for Paula. Maybe I should showcase my low country shrimp boil, my love of butter, my nicoise salad in a jar on Long Island or the night I met Emmylou? Then I looked down at my feet, saw Seamus and thought, 'dog biscuits' and that was that. If Paula didn't like it, I knew four dogs who would be thrilled.

I owned a restaurant for four years and there is a common thread among people who cook for others. We know that food is so much more than sustenance— it's about nurturing, ritual, community and a pause in an otherwise noisy life. I moved to Bayfield five years ago to re-open Good Thyme Restaurant and I learned so much along the way. I learned living near one of the world's largest bodies of water is a blessing, community provides precious structure to my daily life, knowing where your food comes from is more important now than ever before and watching my kids set down roots in a place I hold dear means the world to me. As Gabrielle Hamilton said, in Bread, Bones & Butter, 'And that, just like that, is how a whole life can start'. My whole life takes place in a town of 490 people and the depth and breadth of every day's cadence is astounding. Hopefully, Paula will agree.

Mister Loki Goes To Bayfield

It's always best to start every story at the beginning, even if there is a cute puppy at the end. I met Jeannie, Eric and Dakota right after Meg was born. My Friday nights would start with a stroll down D dock, while simultaneously trying to navigate the dock cart, make sure no one fell in the water and attempt to keep Guinness from leaping off the dock for a swim. In the midst of all my chaos, I saw Jeannie waiting on the gas dock with her very well-behaved Golden, Dakota. Eric pulled up in their Whaler and they took off for parts unknown. It seemed so civilized and glamorous compared to the traveling circus I was trying to manage. This tableau played out for a couple of months and finally, Jeannie and I had a chance to talk (I think Guinness got off his lead and ran over to see Dakota). That was the beginning of a beautiful and treasured friendship.

Dakota lived a good, long life and walked on when he was 17 years old. Loki has big shoes to fill but after spending a couple of hours with him, he's going to do just fine. Jeannie and Eric had kept us up to date with Loki's (formerly known as Mr Teal) journey to Wisconsin and we were anxiously awaiting his Bayfield début on Saturday. We all got up, got dressed and walked downtown on Saturday morning with George to meet Bayfield's newest canine resident. George was brilliantly behaved and made all sorts of good choices with his newest friend.

As I'm sure you've figured out, I am a big fan of dogs. I literally can't imagine my life without at least one or two (or five) dogs following me around. Given the choice between a dinner at Neptune Oyster in Boston or a European Golden Retriever puppy— I'd take the puppy every time. Since the family consensus is we are maxed out on dogs, it was pure bliss to have Loki around. He's going to have an amazing life— full of beaches and islands, scones from Big Water, dinner on the patio at the Pub and play dates with Uncle George. What a lucky little boy.

A Tale Of Three Cavaliers & One Carcass

Thought I would post a couple of pictures of the clean and shiny Cavaliers. Yesterday we had a little incident— Gus decided it would be a good idea to roll around in the yard with a dead mouse. Since I wasn't sure if Seamus or Henry were participants in the carcass fun, everyone had a little spa day. Goodbye smelly, feral dogs and welcome back my little Lord Fauntleroys.

Joyous George

George went on the Sunday photo safari with us and judging by his expression, he had a lovely time. He spent two hours, running up and down the stream bed with complete Labrador abandon. What can I say other than I love this dog??

Henry's Table

I took these pictures of Henry last night. He has always preferred sitting on chairs, he takes the whole Cavalier King Charles thing very seriously. A year ago, I had to board all the dogs at a kennel and when I asked if they could put a chair in the kennel for Henry— they looked at me like I was crazy. He had to rough it with an elevated platform, they told me he handled his reduced circumstances admirably.

I bought him when he was a little over a year from a breeder in Southern Wisconsin, who would choose a 'dog of the day' and serve them breakfast and dinner at her table. He staked his claim at our dinner table from the beginning and we went along with it. Henry is a 'finished' champion show dog and expects treatment in line with his special status. Plus he knows how to roll his tongue— not sure if that contributed to his success in the show ring but it's a good party trick.

Morning On The Beach

I woke up at 6:44 today. George sleeps on a chair in our bedroom and the minute I open my eyes, he is at my side and ready to start the day. Needless to say, we were all up at 6:45, how can I say no to a yellow lab with such an eager face? I found the leashes, George found his tennis ball and we headed to the beach. Gus took off after a butterfly, Seamus found a feather, George was in the water and Henry stayed at my side— a glorious way to spend Thursday morning.

This raven has become a touchstone for me— he reminds me to surrender, be grateful and remain open to unseen but deeply felt forces.

One of the gifts of an early morning walk on the beach is the artifacts left over from the previous day— sandcastles, stick structures and footprints in the sand.