Friday, March 23, 2012

Foodie Friday :: Canine Edition

Last summer, while enjoying the on-foot scenery cruising by my in-laws’ beach house in an upscale coastal Southern Jersey community, an old friend of my MIL’s stopped by. She waited to be introduced to her friend’s family.

“This is my oldest,” I gestured to the beaming tween, who’d grown a foot taller at the introduction.
“…and my middle,” I continued, as my sassy 8-year old did some sort of gymnastics move on the concrete porch.
“…and my swan song,” I cooed at my 5 year old, who’d shocked and delighted us with her conception, as she posed and postured for approval.

“And THIS must be your baby!” she said. We all looked around. She was looking at Rocco.

Rocco is my pug.

“Oh. Him? Nope. He’s our dog.”

MIL’s friend: Confused and horrified.

I was a stranger in a strange land, where poodles have pink bows, sleep in bed with their owners and participate in doggy playdates. I stood solidly among the minority.

I am not one of those pet owners who call my animals “furbabies.” My pets came after my children, and therefore, are simply pets.

I would apologize for this except that I am a decent if not exceptional pet owner. I love my pets, and my pets love me. My cats I largely ignore except to feed them, which makes me a perfect housemate as far as they are concerned.

Rocco, only the second dog I have ever loved and therefore stalked until its owners agreed to let me have him (yes, twice in my life I have fallen in love with a particular puppy who belonged to someone else and rallied hard to adopt, successfully), is my faithful companion. I am his master, his mistress and his guru, which is why dogs are (wo)man’s best friend.

As his caretaker and his alpha female, however, I do something that only pet owners who also dress their dogs in argyle sweaters and matching rain boots do. I make food for him.

Okay, not meals. I leave that to the wonderful Wellness brand dog food – the brand his previous owners made us swear up and down we would continue to feed him. We have friends that laugh at us for making that promise and actually following through, but I am nothing if not a woman of my word.

But like ladies who lunch in beachfront communities, I like to make dog treats for him. Because I love to bake and be in my kitchen but I certainly do not need to be making batches of cookies that have to survive on the counter for several hours until my kids get off the bus (as though that is even ever gonna happen), I have resorted to scratching the baking itch in a new and innovative way. I make treats for Rocco.

However, while I would love to give you a recipe, I have none. Except to offer you these guidelines:


Take a bowl. Find whatever leftover dinner you have frozen in a random Tupperware or ZipLoc bag in your freezer. Extra points if the meal has been there so long it no longer qualifies as something you would feed your family but you hate to throw it out.

Beef stew? Meat lasagna? Tomato overflow from last summer’s garden? Or even better- the sludge from last night’s pot roast or baked chicken. Don’t throw it out! Feed it to your pet J

If you have a food processor, you’re psyched. Makes the job easier. Otherwise a mixer or blender will do.

Throw in some beef or chicken stock if need be. Throw in some favored veggies – Rocco loves carrots and sometimes, butternut squash. Some butter if you need a fat. Maybe an egg or two… Hard-boiled and past their prime? Yes! Perfect dog food.

Once you have a sludge fit for a Rottweiler, mix in whole wheat flour until it’s gooey enough to spread, or doughy enough to roll out if you want to cut out dog bone-shaped treats. I find Rocco could care less if they’re pretty.

Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet, and if possible make knifed grid-marks in the size you want so that it’s easier to break apart later.

Final step: cook the bejeezus out of it at 225-degrees. Until it’s hard as a rock and barely recognizable as food. This could take all day. I don’t know. I trust your judgment, Curvy Girl reader.

I wish this recipe could be more concise, just as I sometimes wish Rocco had an owner that spooned with him at night.

He doesn’t – he just has me and my oldest and my middle and my swan song loving him endlessly, and hubby too who loves him like the son he never had. And we care about him, and we want him to be well and live a long life so we can love him up and down and sideways until he needs a freaking break from it all.

But he’s our dog. And he’s a curvy dog. And even curvy dogs need a treat from time to time.

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