While we’re on the subject of dastardly dogs I’m reminded of a New Years Eve I spent at the local hospital.
When Archie and Arabella were younger we lived in a house high up in the canopy of gum trees overlooking part of a beautiful waterway called Pittwater. It was within walking distance to a small, remote beach but not so small there weren’t any laws to abide. Unleashed dogs were prohibited and dogs on the beach itself were prohibited.
One NYE when Arabella was a newborn and Archie not quite two, Carl and I were going to see in the New Year on a boat on Sydney Harbour while watching the fireworks. It had been a beautiful day and before we had to leave for our NYE event we decided to take the children for a quick outing to the beach.
Archie had been given a Little Tikes wheelbarrow for Christmas along with a watering can and a few plastic tools and he was desperate to try them out in the sand. We left the house and I pushed the pram, Carl carried all the gear and Archie ran along with his wheelbarrow. The beach had a strip of grass where you could sit under the shade of a gum tree so we parked ourselves there and Archie moved onto the sand to dig with his new toys.
We became distracted when a woman we knew spotted us on the beach and came up to wish us a Happy New Year. That was when a couple living locally walked by with their small scrappy dog that was not only unleashed but on the beach. The dog raced along ahead of the elderly owners and sprinted towards Archie who was walking down to the beach to put some water in his watering can. In a completely unprovoked attack the dog leapt on him and bit his face. Archie was in shock and didn’t make a sound but came running back towards us.
That was when I saw blood running down his face from his right eye. The owners of the dog stood near us and said and did nothing. We were in a state of shock as it looked pretty serious and we knew we had to take Archie to hospital for urgent treatment. We left the beach in a huge hurry with Carl now carrying all the gear and Archie, and me pushing Arabella up the steep hill.
Once home I put Archie in the car and took him to the nearest hospital. Archie was examined and the doctors were concerned that because the bite was so close to his eye, there was a possibility he could have orbital fractures. As it was a weekend and also New Year’s Eve, there was only one radiographer on duty and a lengthy wait. I phoned Carl to let him know our tickets for the harbour cruise were now up for grabs. We also realised we had left Archie’s new toys down on the beach. They weren’t there when we went back to retrieve them.
Archie had his x-rays and fortunately there was no evidence of fractures. He had a few steri-strips placed on the puncture wounds to his eye and we arrived home just in time for the count down to the New Year.
We didn’t ever hear from the owners of that dog. Not one breath of an apology. And two years later I saw the same man with the same unleashed dog on the same ‘dogs are prohibited’ beach and he gave me a very wide berth.
One of the best things about this little beach was that very close by was a fabulous fish and chip shop and so we’d often go down late in the afternoon and enjoy an early dinner.
Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Quick and Easy Tartare Sauce:
Degree of Difficulty: If you have a deep-fryer keeping the oil at a steady temperature, 3/5. If you are like me and have to heat your oil in a saucepan and try desperately to keep the oi at the same temperature, 4/5.
Cost: Purchasing the oil can make this costly but I had oil on hand so this meal for four cost less than $20.00.
For the Chips:
- 4 large floury potatoes such as King Edward or Russet
- sunflower oil
Dry the potatoes with kitchen paper and cut lengthways into chips about 1cm-thick. Half fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with oil and heat to 160°C. (If you don’t have a deep-fryer thermometer, test a cube of bread – it will turn golden in 30 seconds if the oil is hot enough.) Fry chips in batches for 5-7 minutes or until soft but still pale, then drain. The chips can be prepared to this stage ahead of time.
When ready to cook the chips, heat oil to 190C. Drop chips into the hot oil in batches and cook until golden. Drain, sprinkle with sea salt and serve with the fish. (The chips can be kept warm in the oven if you are now going to cook the fish).
For the Fish:
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 330ml good quality beer
- 12 flat-head fillets
- lemon wedges
Place the flour, salt and some freshly cracked black pepper into a large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Slowly start pouring the beer into the well, whisking to combine, until all the beer is added and a smooth batter forms. Strain batter through a fine sieve to remove any small lumps of flour. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Heat oil to 190C. Dust the flathead fillets in the extra flour. Dip into batter, one at a time, allowing excess to drain off. Carefully place into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your fryer, cook fish in batches. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper.
For the Tartare Sauce:
- 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 tbs each of chopped capers, cornichons (see note) and flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbs sour cream
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
I found these recipes on Taste.
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