VERNON COUNTY - I’m in love with a man who loves his dogs.
When I met Dane I noticed right from the get-go that, just like me, he loves to eat. A perfect match, my kinda guy. This doesn’t mean, we like all the same foods, but in general we agree on what we feel is good. For the most part, we try to eat healthy foods, we care where our food comes from, and we believe in treats. Dane leans more toward beef than I ever have, even before my non-meat days. After all, his family has raised beef cows his entire life.
Dane is tolerant of my periodic food tangentsno meat for a few years, no bread for another year, no sugar for a couple of days. I’m not a big fan of deep-fried or heavily processed foods, so when we attend county fairs and festivals, eating gets tricky for me. Never for Dane. Dane could probably live on hot dogs. While I say no way, Dane says hooray!
Dane likes to cook, and I’m learning to love cooking. But he might tell you that I tried to kill him the first month we were officially dating.
Back in those outhouse days (no running water in my off-grid home), I made Dane a breakfast of homemade pancakes served with local Kickapoo Gold maple syrup. There are two things I know now about Dane that I didn’t know in our perpetually-nice-just-newly-dating season. One is that he doesn’t complain, and the other is that he finishes everything on his plate.
To keep it simple, let’s just say I served Dane a few too many heavy, thick, gluten-filled pancakes, smothered in syrup. He ate every last one of them. Turns out he may have a touch of gluten intolerance. He spent the rest of the day outside in the outhouse or writhing in pain on my couch. “Bellyache” doesn’t come close to describing what Dane suffered.
Over the years, I’m certain I’ve made Dane other meals that he didn’t particularly enjoy. But because he finishes everything on his plate and doesn’t complain, I often have to guess. I do know he has no desire to try veggie burgers over ground beef, eat zucchini noodles rather than regular noodles, or substitute margarine for butter.
We spent a recent Saturday morning hiking on a trail that turned out to be difficult and took longer to complete than we’d expected. We followed this with errands we both needed to do in town. By the time we were done, it was late afternoon and we hadn’t had lunch. As we drove the long country roads back home, I surprised Dane by telling him we could have hot dogs for an early dinner. I said I’d start cooking them when we got home, and we could cut up some fresh onions, and have them on bread with pickle relish, ketchup, and mustard. I watched his eyes light up. I think his heart started to race.
Getting home at my place means a quick check on all the animals; we needed to dump and refill water dishes, and make sure everyone had hay and feed, an afternoon snack, and a few pats and scratches. Once insid,e I started a pot of water boiling. Dane cut up onions and all was well.
When the meal was ready, Dane ate two hot dogs and I had one. I watched and waited. After Dane finished his hot dogs I asked how they were.
I said, “Well, did you like them?
"What didn’t you like?"
“I don’t know—for one, they weren’t cooked enough. And I didn’t like the taste.”
On and on this went until I finally admitted they were Smart Dogs, vegetarian hot dogs made out of soy protein. I thought I was so clever. I’ve successfully served him vegetable pasta for spaghetti dinners, and tofu in stir-fries, but there’s no fooling a man who loves his hot dogs and knows his beef!