Miso White Wine Sauce
I heard a story about a grocery store employee with cognitive special needs who died of coronavirus and it crushed me.
Of the 40 thousand deaths to date, this woman loved her job and her black and white service dog -- a Jack Russell Terrier.
I couldn't help thinking that this kind soul took great pride in her work. She was willing to face the danger of a customer-facing job during a pandemic because she loved helping people. I was humbled by her courage and passion.
But I also thought about the service dog.
Jack Russells need jobs. They are high energy, smart creatures bred to do the job that hounds can't -- when the fox gets chased down a hole, in comes the Jack to root it out. Losing her master, who was the focus of her being, had to be devastating.
So, as sad as the death of this kind-hearted grocery store worker was, I was crushed about that fierce little dog.
We lost our fierce little dog just over a week ago and I'm haunted by her memory. The crematorium sent Pinkie's ashes in a box, which sits on our window sill. Her toys and leftover food remain in a bag at the bottom of the stairs. And her little white hairs still stick to my black sweaters.
She's gone. But, in truth, she left us years ago. She had been slowly declining, with the bad days outnumbering the good. Still, we held on because she had her moments.
Facebook memories pop up from six or eight years ago when she was this quirky little snuggle bunny who never left my side. I rescued her a few weeks after I lost my first Jack Russell, Wylie. She barked way too much, but she filled the huge void that Wylie left. Within months of losing him, I lost my dad and in the next year, my horse. Pinkie's incessant barking saved me from the numbing silence of grief.
After a couple of years, I met Jeff and she dutifully followed me into a life with a new husband, house and three kids.
I was worried that she wouldn't take to him. After all, she was my dog. My fears were quickly squelched by the sinking reality that she had fallen completely in love with him. The tables had turned. She was now his dog.
I was tolerable when I offered her food, but otherwise, Jeff was the focus of her being.
Pinkie had come to me damaged. I don't know what the first five years of her life looked like, but I knew that someone had hurt her. The pain in her hips only intensified with age. We kept her comfortable but it was increasingly clear that she was deteriorating and the inevitable would come sooner than later.
I knew that while Jeff would support me, he would never have the courage to make the decision himself. We aimed to take her on a Friday but moved it to the next day to buy a little more time. That Friday was one of her worst. She barked and growled at nothing and snapped at us for no reason. We had to throw a towel over her to pick her up, which sucked. Then, the morning we took her to the vet she was peaceful and she let me hold her. I carried her outside for one more pee before driving her to the vet with the windows down.
And that was it. She was calm as we carried her in. She seemed totally at peace. She was ready to go, and we were ready to let her go. For all the voids she had filled for those two years of grieving, I owed her the dignity of being set free from her pain.
Miso White Wine Sauce
2 T Yellow Miso Paste
2 T Butter
1/2 C White Wine
salt/pepper to taste
I've been leaning on this recipe for pastas, fish and chicken. It's got a warm, umami flavor profile, which has been soothing my soul during this crazy pandemic. I've gravitated to the kitchen because of the order and discipline required of cooking. With that said, you can play around with this recipe and come up with your own proportions (more miso, less butter - whatever suits you). It's as much the method of making it as it is the taste that brings me joy.
As a sauce on it's own, combine the miso and butter in a pan on medium high. Stir until mixed. Then turn it up to high and pour in the wine. Let it cook down to a thick sauce (scrape the backside of a wooden spoon across the pan and see a trail).
In a dish like pasta primavera, show here, or braised chicken, cook the ingredients in a pan until nearly done and then drop in the miso and butter, stir and then pour in the wine and cook the entire dish down.