Life on Regal-Hill: Feb. 10, 2010

Our dog Buster, a Beagle mix, has finally decided to come in the house. He came here about eight years ago. He actually picked us by showing up here at the farm and wouldn’t go away once George saw him and fed him.
As he stayed here Buster would obey George and not bark at him, but he would always bark at anyone else, even me. It was nice to know if someone else was around, but whenever any of us would be outside he would bark at us until he got tired or saw someone else to bark at.
Besides barking at everyone he saw, he refused to come in the house, even when it was zero degrees outside. He would stay on the porch on his blankets or go over to the haymow and sleep among the bales. He could sleep in the stable but if you left him in the stable, once he woke up he would either bark until someone came and let him out, or would go back by the barn cleaner where George had stuffed the space between the chute and the barn cleaner with old hay to make it warmer in the barn, and dig a hole so he could get out. Then it would get cold in the barn, raising the danger of frozen water pipes.
Over the years when it would be wintertime and so cold outside, George would try to coach him inside but he would never come; if he were carried in he would go right back out.
Finally, this year when we got that real cold weather, George brought him in and carried him downstairs along with his blankets and food. He looked around and as long as George stayed there with him he didn’t come upstairs. George tried to sneak upstairs, but it wasn’t long until we heard him coming up the stairs that first night. He went up and down several times but didn’t ask to go out until morning. Since then he has been staying in nights.
Recently he has begun to spend time in the house during the day, especially if George is in. He even climbs on the couch but he mostly stays on the carpet and snores so loudly you can hear him in the next room.
Maybe when he realized our cat, Spunky, was being allowed the comforts of being in the house he thought he might as well enjoy them too. Besides, he is really beginning to show his age, graying and moving slower, but he can still go up and down the cellar stairs and climb on the couch. And, of course, bark!
Valentine’s Day is Sunday. What are you planning to do to celebrate this special day? Remember, children like this holiday as well, so include them in your celebration. Whether it is preparing your family’s favorite meal or making heart-shaped cookies or individual cakes, do it and I am sure it will be appreciated. If sweets can be a problem for young children, try to limit it to one cookie or cake each. Enjoy!

Valentine Heart Cakes
Frosted Cakes
Slice a cream-filled sponge cake diagonally in half widthwise. Slice another cake diagonally in the opposite direction. Assemble cake halves on a wire rack over waxed paper, forming two hearts.
Place 1/3 cup canned chocolate frosting in a bowl. Microwave in 5-second intervals, stirring after each, until slightly thinned. Tint canned vanilla frosting pink, if desired.
Spoon chocolate frosting over cakes; let stand until set. Repeat. Gently transfer cakes to dessert plates. Pipe pink frosting onto cakes as desired.

Sprinkled Cakes
Slice a cream-filled sponge cake diagonally in half widthwise. Slice another cake diagonally in the opposite direction. Place two oppositely cut cake halves together, forming two hearts.
Heat a small amount of corn syrup in the microwave for 15 seconds. Brush over cakes.
Press sprinkles over cakes to coat.
Each sponge cake equals two hearts.
Taste of Home Simple & Delicious January/February 2010

Chocolate-Frosted Heart Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
4 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped
Chocolate, red and pink sprinkles
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, orange peel and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Divide dough in half. Shape into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 3-in. heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Repeat with white chocolate. Frost half of the cookies with semisweet chocolate and the remaining half with white chocolate. Immediately decorate as desired with sprinkles. Let stand until set or place in the refrigerator to set faster. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: 3 dozen
Taste of Home Simple & Delicious January/February 2010