baking, cake, gluten free
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well, that stinks

where skunks meet cinnamon: plum cake on a raisin + a porpoise

my nose smells

Hi, fellow dog-owners! A couple of helpful hints to share with you quickly.

  1. It’s spring and many of our sleepy woodland friends are becoming more active. If you live in a rural area, you may want to keep a few common household items collected and handy, in case your companion animal gets tangled up with one.
  2. If you just sat down to dinner and one dog is still outside, then yes, that was a skunk he was barking at.
  3. Here it comes. Like ten hundred million onions but not fresh ones.
  4. It’s more of a noise than a smell. As close as a smell gets to a noise. However you say ‘deafening,’ but for a stink.
  5. How little chance there is that the skunk sprayed in the yard but missed the dog makes the question basically not worth asking.
  6. Isn’t it fortunate that you remember that some brilliant samaritan pioneered a formula which combines hydrogen peroxide + dish soap + baking soda, and you have all the ingredients? Feel smug about that for a second.
  7. You mustn’t get that stuff in the dog’s eyes, says the internet.
  8. Why do they say the recipe is to “remove skunk scent from dogs and other pets”? Does this happen to hamsters and parakeets? I feel like hamsters are smarter than this.
  9. Determine, at no small personal cost, that the bulk of the skunk hit was concentrated along the ear-to-whisker and forehead-to-sneezer axes of the dog’s face.
  10. Eyeball country, basically.
  11. Are there dogs who approach skunks with their elbows leading? Why give me a skunk odor removing formula that I can’t use on the part of the dog that the dog uses to goose the skunk? Nobel committee will be hearing about this, buddy.
  12. Remember to wear rubber gloves! Very important because as soon as you get that skunk juice into solution with the foamy stuff, dog will shake skunk smell all over your head.
  13. Return to the internet while dog freezes near solid in his watery coating on porch.
  14. You can use a douche on the dog’s face! Who among us can remember the dark days before the internet made such miracles known.
  15. The drug stores are closed but the grocery store is still open.
  16. You expect to encounter a wall of options in the feminine needs aisle but there is literally not one douche. There are 19 personal washes, including lavender nighttime wash and island splash daytime wash, both topics for another time, but no douches. Next to the washes (so many washes!) there is a shelf tag for a douche product, just the one, but there is nothing there. All gone.
  17. How many times have you now said the word douche, even just in your head, against any earlier personal record that you can recall that did not involve an unpleasant guy in a nightclub.
  18. In your twenties could you have ever imagined your life would come to this, on a Saturday night.
  19. This is a small town. A rank-smelling woman tempted to rush a supermarket employee while urgently requesting douche-locating assistance would do well to consider the long-term implications of her actions.
  20. Oops.
  21. Have a little chuckle with the manager, about it’s fun to have dogs in the country! And, hmm, strange we are all out of douches—“not sure what could cause a spike in need there.” That is an actual quotation verbatim word for word straight up because you can’t forget a statement like that.
  22. Drive all the way across town to the other grocery store.
  23. Can you tell where this is going?
  24. They are all out, too.
  25. Is this a horror movie. What is going on in this town.
  26. Go home with a fresh bottle of peroxide. Double down with the foamy stuff and an old toothbrush, applying eye ointment (to dog) before you begin.
  27. This is not a dog who relaxes into grooming jobs. Think Wrestlemania X, but with splashing and bad odors.
  28. Other people in the house are going to be all over you with help because you are making it look so fun to be involved with this. STOP WITH THE HELPING, you might have to not say even one time.
  29. Believe you have gotten the worst of it off the dog.
  30. Ha.
  31. Understand, in the morning, from across the room without even interacting with the dog, who had to sleep in his crate, much to his dismay, that you believed this only because the scent receptors in your nose and eyeballs (need to confirm with MD friend but pretty certain there’s a bunch of them in the eyeball too) were scorched, and because you wanted to go to sleep.
  32. Remember the last time he did this (also research: do dogs have learning curve?) how you didn’t do a good job rinsing off the peroxide before you put him into the crate, and like the victim of some slow, awful Vegas magic, the black dog who went in the crate the night before was a brown dog when he came out in the morning.
  33. Approach crate slowly, fearing shiny black animal may have been replaced with Courtney Love.
  34. Nope.
  35. Phew.
  36. Use less peroxide and more baking soda, so it’s like a paste and you can really glomp it on the non-eyeball noggin areas with some precision.
  37. He probably shouldn’t eat the stuff either but you try explaining that to him.
  38. Isn’t this fun.

Finally: tomato juice is a lie. No faster (legal) way to make your bathroom look like a crime scene, and it has zero effect on smell of dog. Zero. I appreciate the sentiment, but please do not speak to me of tomato juice, even in jest. IT IS TOO SOON.

where skunks meet cinnamon | plum cake on a raisin + a porpoise

Plums and cinnamon and butter and sugar smell good!

Here is a cake. I know I just posted a cake. Tant pis. Here is another one. Fasten it over your nose and mouth (and eyeball) and breathe normally.

My mother taught me to freeze prune plums, split and pitted, when the plum trees were feeling generous, so plum kuchen could be had in winter. This isn’t a kuchen in the way she makes a kuchen, but it smells good and that carries a lot of weight around here for the nonce. Maybe (and I will admit that this seems likely) you do not have a bag of split and pitted prune plums in your freezer like I do. Do you begrudge me that? With the stink-faced dog? Anyway if you don’t have plums in the freezer you can use some other fruit. A stone fruit is ideal but I bet a firm-ripe pear or something would work fine, as would subbing in AP flour for the oat and tapioca options here, if gluten is your friend.

Have a nice day.

where skunks meet cinnamon | plum cake on a raisin + a porpoise

plum cake

  • 6T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2T extra virgin, extra good and fruity olive oil
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1t vanilla
  • 2/3 c oat flour
  • 1c almond meal
  • 2T cornstarch or tapioca flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1t baking powder
  • 2T milk
  • 4 or 5 prune plums, split and pitted, or a firm ripe pear, cored and sliced
  • 1.5 t cinnamon
  • a very hearty twist (or five) of black pepper
  • 1T sugar

Heat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9″ tart or spring form pan (removable bottom is a plus).

Using a mixer, cream the butter and olive oil very well, then add the sugar and beat for several minutes, until quite creamy and smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating very well after each and scraping the bowl down well in between.  Add the vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, salt and baking powder. Alternate the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in two, scraping the bowl down well in between additions.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Toss the plum halves or pear slices with the spices and remaining sugar. Tuck these into the batter, neatly spaced, and sprinkle any extra spice mixture over the top.

Bake 35-40 minutes, until the top and edges are nicely browned and the center is set.  (More fruit will make this take longer).

Cool about 15 minutes before removing the pan’s sides.  Take it neat or with a dollop of creme fraiche on top.  And keep an eye on that dog.



  1. OMG, yes, also dying. Thank you! Hilarity plus you offer a good recipe. You are much too generous! I am all over storing plums for stuff like this. I think cinnamon sugar and plums are one of my favorite combinations.

    • janet says

      Plums and basil are really my jam (sometimes literally!) but plums and cinnamon are a hot contender, I agree.

  2. Tania Hansen says

    I was going to say tomato juice until you said don’t say tomato juice. Blech!! The whole thing is disgusting and it burns your eyes! I cry hot steaming tears for you!

    The Kuchen looks delicious. I wish I could make one, but the child in our family with the rare allergies of all stone fruits, apples and pears is living at home right now. It will have to wait until later. Or maybe raspberries…

    I’ll send a clothes pin for your nose if fresh air and Spring time doesn’t come around the corner soon enough to dispel your skunky cloud.

    • janet says

      Oh my–that’s a challenge. Berries would be good, though, I think. Thank you for the tears and the offer of a clothespin. As luck would have it, nature brought me a rotten head cold in lieu of spring weather, but I can still smell the skunk!

    • janet says

      I wasn’t in yoga because of my rotten head cold, which came on like a freight train. And the young feller is FRAGRANT. But there’s plenty of cake.

  3. Lynne says

    All so true. We had a skunking event last fall where our girl dog was determined to kill it and got sprayed full in the mouth, ears…and everywhere else! (Household hint: squirts of non-sweetened ketchup in her food made a dent in her breath, finally.) Older, wiser boy dog was an unfortunate bystander, but he slipped by our frenetic activity on the deck through the dog door and onto the sofa and then up to our bed.

    Still the after glow lingers on these moist warming days, five months later.

    • janet says

      Oh, the BED. And in the EARS! Ugh. And aagh, how it lingers. If only that were related to the learning curve!

  4. One does not encounter a skunk in California unless one is a dog sleeping illegally in a rental house at Sea Ranch. I hope the statute of limitations for breaking a Sea Ranch no-dogs house rental contract is past though my memory of the smell you describe is not and never shall be. May the fresh douches be delivered soon. Perhaps this could be a toast we use on festive occasions forevermore.

  5. Kathy says

    WONDERFUL! As a lifer who lives in skunk country (skunks can not resist fallen avocados, you know) and who also is and always has been the owner/caretaker of very large dogs and things, this story delighted me so much that the mid-day migraine-hangover has been almost pushed away, Thank you!

    • janet says

      Golly! I never knew they liked avocados, possibly because I never lived anywhere that those fell from the sky. And I’m very glad your headache and its aftermath are in retreat!

  6. Donna says

    This is so funny! I don’t have a dog, but I do live in the country and I do have a skunk who lives (yes, I said ‘lives’) *in* my front lawn. He has been living there for at least three years, and I know technically there are ways of humanely catching them but no, I’m not going there. So yeah, I’ll be on skunk alert every time I’m outside my house, now that winter is over.

    • janet says

      If your feelings about the skunk shift I happen to know, thanks to my sister and the animal expert she consulted re: how to humanely trap HER yard skunk, that what you want to bait the trap with is marshmallows. What you do next is not something I paid much attention to, though.

  7. Bucky Farquhar says

    Thanks so for the laugher. I have a friend living in the Cow Hollow part of San Francisco. Their block, an 5 sided block with yards facing into each other creates a lush micro environment for skunks! Their lab Cisco had gotten spayed 3 days before I arrived. And his nose pad still smelled sharply of skunk as did the parts of furniture he rubbed against after being sprayed. In the confined environment of his city block the scent is so- potent. I grew up on the the east coast so had my own family dog experiences of skunking.
    Even tried de-skunked skunks for pets, not successful. In the northwest where I live now there are spotted skunks. They look quite different!

    • janet says

      Three months later and my dude still stinks! Do spotted skunks also smell different than stripey ones? Like, better? Or less potent? Because that’s worth relocating for. Thanks for reading!!

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