Cooking

Take a bite: Home Cooking and a BalanceIt Giveaway!

Lots of people like to cook for their pets, but most people don’t do it every single day. Of those who do, most do so because they have to, a pet with kidney disease who also has food allergies and diabetes, that sort of thing. Occasionally there is the person who just likes to do it, like the chef who makes seared sea bass for his two incredibly spoiled schnauzers every day. I admire that dedication, which is significant.

More common are people like me, those who do it every once in a while for giggles at times like Thanksgiving- and yes, I’ll be coming up with something for the dogs because why not, it’s a holiday. And then they will go back to their regular food until Christmas, when I make them gingerbread. Because cooking is a show of love, even if you only do it twice a year.

Gingerbread 2010

(Yes, I made those both last year in a peppermint induced fit of insanity.)

For those sorts of occasional treats, balance isn’t a big deal. But when you are making a maintenance diet, a complete and balanced diet is vital.

I recently wrote an article on the topic of home cooking for Good Dog Magazine, and rather than re-invent the wheel I’ll just give you the link because I worked on it for quite a while, and I’m very proud of it, and it has tons of information about how to go about the process if home cooking is something you’re interested in. I had to interview a bunch of people for it, which as you know is a show of journalistic effort I don’t undertake on a regular basis, so you know it’s something special.

For the article, I interviewed Dr. Sean Delaney of BalanceIt.com. Dr. Delaney is a board certified veterinary nutritionist who just happened to be a resident in training when I was a senior student at Davis, and he remains just as friendly and knowledgable and excited about nutrition as he was that day one hundred million years ago when we were in a cramped room in the hospital annex with some Flintstone-era nutrition software doing nutrition consults.

We talked about food. We talked about online recipe sites and books. We talked about kabocha squash (did you know it caused neurologic signs in a group of labradors? Brand new info here, guys. You heard it here first.) I kept the poor doc on the phone for an hour but it was so interesting, and I love nutrition topics, and I know you do too.

Dr. Delaney has since developed newer web-based versions of nutrition software that creates custom recipes for veterinarians as well as for consumers. BalanceIt has about 500 recipes to choose from, all designed by a board certified veterinary nutritionist and best of all, balanced. When clients tell me they want to cook for their pets, this is where I send them because I know they’re getting information from a trusted source. After the melamine fiasco, I’ve been mentioning this site more times than I can count.

It’s a neat site because, as you can see above, you can really customize your options. You select the protein source and the carbohydrate source, enter your pet’s age and weight, and out comes a list of choices that fit your criteria. If your pet has a medical condition, you can ask your vet to create an appropriate recipe on the section of the site that is just for veterinarians.

So here’s their gift to you all: with the holidays bearing down, perhaps you are looking for a little something special for your dog or cat’s festivus plate. Dr. Delaney is offering all pawcurious readers one free recipe from the Pet Lovers BalanceIt site- a $20 value! The diets can be made using BalanceIt supplements or human supplements- you’ll get options for both.

Just enter the code “pawcurious” at checkout. And don’t forget to give them a like over on Facebook and tell them I said hi!

Will you get the English dinner? The Surf and Turf? Which recipe are you going to try? Have you ever cooked for your pet?

Filed: Blog, Cats, Cooking, Dogs, Fit Life, Giveaways, Health, Lifestyle, Pawcurean Tagged: , ,

Breakfast in a post-apocalyptic world

Hey, if the stores are closed and the zombies have shut down the Target, you won’t have access to kibble. Do you know how to cook a healthy meal for your pet? Here’s a great dog-friendly breakfast recipe courtesy of Tasha Ardalan at Foxy Treats:

1 large buttercup squash
5-6 eggs
1/4c broccoli florettes
2tsp nutmeg (Dr V note: there are some reports of nutmeg causing toxicity; you may want to substitute another dog-friendly spice like a small amount of cinnamon)
shredded cheese, any kind

Cut off the stem of the buttercup so that it sits flat when upside down. Cut a hole around the blossom end of the squash (where it starts to look like a turban). Remove the cap and scoop out all of the seeds and “innards, ” leaving just the “meat” of the squash. Par-bake the squash for 30min at 350ºF. Whisk eggs and nutmeg together. While the squash is hot, fill cavity with broccoli and pour eggs into the buttercup. Top with shredded cheese. Replace the cap and bake an additional 25min. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Slice into wedges.

For more about how to cook for your dog- an AMAZING and EXHAUSTIVELY researched magazine article in Good Dog Magazine, check it out here!

 

Filed: Be The Change, Blogathon, Blogathon 2011, Cooking, Pawcurean Tagged: , ,

Balls Done Two Ways: Schweddy Balls and Puppy Pops

Cake pops for pups

Let me start with a warning: If you are in the camp that was offended by the legendary SNL Schweddy Balls skit, skip right on over the first half of this post and proceed straight to the G rated Cake Pops for Dogs portion of this post, because you’re going to hate the first half.

Still here? Good.

I have been searching my local grocery establishments high and low trying to find this ice cream to no avail. I don’t know if it’s because they have refused to carry it in protest of its saucy title, or because it’s flying off the shelves faster than they can keep it in stock. Based on the Facebook chatter I’ve seen, I’m going with the latter. Nonetheless, it was a great inspiration for me to come up with today’s Baking With Brody Segment, Balls Done Two Ways. (more…)

Filed: Baking, Blog, Cooking Tagged: , ,

Baking With Brody: The Puppy Cuppy

Puppy Cuppies

I am, to put it mildly, really into cupcakes. I think they are amazing. Adorable, teeny tiny little bites of cake heaven in a portable handheld form. When cupcakes started coming back into fashion a couple of years ago, I sighed, knowing my waistline was doomed. In their sugary clutches, I am powerless.

I’ve sampled some of the wares from local cupcakeries, most recently the Sprinkles that opened up about a half an hour from my house- which is a relatively safe distance. This week, I discovered Pubcakes, a cupcake bakery and coffee house, a couple of blocks from one of my favorite local bistros. This could be bad.

You might think the combination of beer and cupcakes an odd one, which I did at first, so I had to sample for myself just to prove how horrible they were going to be. I was sorely disappointed in how not-bad they were when I went on Tuesday, so I had to go again on Saturday just to verify that they were, in fact, amazingly delicious. This is definitely bad.

Good for the dogs, though. With all these cupcakes around and me in a cuppy state of mind, I decided that the dogs deserved a little something for all the longing looks they were throwing me when I was most decidedly not sharing any of my people cupcakes with them. So I decided to give this recipe a whirl: (more…)

Filed: Baking, Cooking Tagged: , ,

The Pawcurean Presents: Reese’s Peanut Butter Pupsicles

This whole thing started out simply enough. I blame it all on the Zoku, that instant popsicle maker that I finally broke down and ordered last week after coveting it for the good part of a year.

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Filed: Cooking, Pawcurean Tagged: ,

The Honest Kitchen Giveaway: Brody’s Surf Shack

Congratulations to the winner, Leigh!!

When Brody’s not catching aerials or checking out Bettys on the beach, he’s thinking about eating. At least, I think that’s what he’s thinking about.

And since we just had a big special occasion, we decided to celebrate his surfing success with the penultimate California snack: fish tacos.

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Filed: Cooking, Giveaways, Pawcurean Tagged: , ,

Happy Valentine’s Day: Bronuts Edition

Ever since I bought the original doggie donut for Emmett back in the day, I’ve been trying to figure out how to reproduce the results. Donut in shape but granola in texture, crunchy, dog-friendly perfection. I’ve done zucchini donuts and banana donuts and granola bars, but this latest incarnation is my closest yet to perfection.

Here’s how: (more…)

Filed: Baking, Pawcurean Tagged: , , ,

Have Blendtec, will veg

I have decided, after a bit of time off the wagon, that I again need to re-commit to a vegetarian diet. I did it once for a year, felt great, then got lazy, overcompensated with pasta and unhealthy stuff, and just decided to throw in the towel.

But I didn’t feel good about it. I did it for health, yes, but also because I wanted to make a more conscientious choice about what I eat. I wanted to avoid contributing to factory farming and the multitude of ills it visits upon the world. Finding humanely sourced meat is a big challenge in our area, and rather than making the 45 minute drive to Whole Foods I ended up going to the grocery store and getting whatever.

Vegetables

I don’t want to do that anymore. To be honest I don’t even really like meat all that much, at least not as much as I think I once did. I really don’t have a good reason for eating meat and lots of good reasons for not doing it. So there you go. Meat galore for the dogs and the cat, and none for me.

It’s a tremendously personal decision how one wants to nourish oneself, just as fraught with debate and self-righteousness as the decision as to how one should feed their pet. So while I am never going to be one to tell someone else what to do with their food (except my kids), I’ll be happy to ask advice from those who have been there before.

My challenges are this:

  • Son and husband dedicated carnivores (though the daughter could easily go veg, I think).
  • Staying organized enough to prepare in advance
  • Choosing beans and kale when mac and cheese is oh, so delicious

I hesitated to even put this on the blog because then it seems like OH NO AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT NOW I’VE DONE IT but really, what better motivation is there than a public proclamation?

So there you go! Done! Now I need you all to keep me on the straight and narrow, and if you’ve done it yourself I am happy to accumulate a list of favorite blogs, books, sites, lay it on me.

Photo credit: Vegetables, by Professor Bop on Flickr
Filed: Blog, Cooking, Daily Life, Musings

Well thank God that’s all over

Christmas is a bit of a surreal experience for me. That is by design. I was brought up in a house that transformed the day after Thanksgiving from a normal abode to a tinsel-filled glittery elftravaganza of kitsch, Rudolph figurines, and a sudden lifting of the No Sugar After 4 pm Rule. In short, December was magic.

Now that I have a 6 year old and a 4 year old, I’m beginning to understand why my mom worked as hard as she did to create that. It is kind of awesome to see a little kid shriek in delight at the sight of a candy cane dangling from the ceiling, to sing along to the Heat Miser song at the top of her lungs in the car, and to giddily warble through ‘Jingle Bells’ even though neither of my kids knows what a sleigh or snow is. It is cacophony of the finest degree.

I find myself needing that joyful lunacy more than ever the older I get, needing a little bit of holiday magic- even if I’m the one who had to make it. Life can be hard and ugly, and if you dwell too much on the despair without allowing yourself to just let it all go and be happy every once in a while, well, then the light goes out, and it’s hard to get back. So in my house, when it’s December, you’re gonna be jolly, dammit, even if I have to prod you out to the holiday light show with a candy cane in order to to do it.

I will march my kid and my dog in a parade with a bunch of other like-minded people in the 75 degree heat.

Escondido Christmas Parade
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Filed: Blog, Cooking, Daily Life, Photography, Picks of the Litter Tagged: , , , ,

The Pawcurean Presents: Turbacon

As we’re winging our way to the Thanksgiving holiday (get it? winging?) I decided to dedicate some thought to what I would include on the holiday menu for the pets.

It’s only fair, right? I’m going to spend all of Thursday and most of the week leading up to it in the kitchen preparing a feast the likes of which this kitchen sees only once a year, and the most the pets can usually look forward to is a sliver of turkey expertly slid under the table by Grandma (then Grandpa, then the other set of grandparents, then the kids…OK, Thanksgiving really isn’t all that bad for them.)

But in the spirit of true pawcureanism, I figured if I’m going to spend an hour perfecting a cranberry sauce no one wants to eat, the least I can do is come up with something good for the dogs.

I thought about making some sort of actual turducken derivative, but since I’d never consider making a real one anyway I stuck with something we’d actually give to the dogs. The idea was to make something impressive enough to silence even the most critical twice removed uncle in the room, but still use stuff you’re going to have on hand anyway. So without further ado, I present:

Turbacon 3

What’s eating you? (I’m full of ‘em today.)

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Filed: Cooking, Pawcurean Tagged: ,

WE HAVE VIDEO!! Iron Chef Pawcurious is LIVE!

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you the long awaited infamous CAT LITTER EATING POST.

I ate cat litter.

I made up recipes.

I filmed it on video since Ustream wouldn’t work. In hi def (ugh)

I had to edit it because YouTube won’t load anything over 10 minutes. It still needs more editing, but that will take several days.

I even added a jingle. A JINGLE! If that isn’t worth a couple bucks donation I don’t know what else to do. I am too old to go for naked blogging so this is the best it gets, guys.

Thank you to Drew and World’s Best for the raw ingredients and the support!!

YouTube Preview Image
Filed: Blog, Blogathon, Blogathon 2010, Cooking, Features, Pawcurean, Picks of the Litter, Videos Tagged: , , , ,

The Pawcurean Presents: Peach Gobblers

It’s been a heavy sort of week. Lots of seriousness and such in these parts. And though I have perhaps just a little more I should be saying, I’ll wait until next week because I think everyone could use some frivolity to lead into the weekend, yes?

I had a large box of produce I needed to use up this week, including a big handful of some truly delectable looking peaches. I had an epic fail earlier in the week with my Pawcurean Beety Treaties which failed to convince both humans and dogs that they were edible- back to the drawing board on that one! No matter. Peaches are a lot easier to work with than the much maligned beet.

peach gobbler
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Filed: Baking, Cooking, Pawcurean Tagged: ,
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