Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On my soapbox: dinner for doggy

I enjoy cooking.  Over the years I've expanded my repertoire with varying amounts of success: grilling, baking, stewing, soup-making, touching on nearly every ethnic food there is.  It's fun, often tasty and always rewarding.  Of course it helps to have a well-stocked kitchen (Yarn Widower often grumpily complains that we own every kitchen gadget there is; he's prone to exaggeration) and a good chunk of time to devote to home-cooked food (a rare luxury in this day and age).

I love food.  I could go on and on about the importance of it, the subtle nuances of flavor, the heady aromas of spices, the emotional and physical ramifications of preparing and eating truly good food.  But not today.  Today I want to talk about my latest cooking venture - cooking for my dog.

Maybe this sounds like overindulgence.  But the more I learn about food (see Food Matters by Mark Bittman), the more I pay attention to what actually goes into food.  And as far as kibble and canned pet food goes, it's usually not good.  According to Food Pets Die For by Ann Martin, the stuff that goes into most commercially available pet food is the detritus of the food industry - roadkill, diseased livestock, and massive amounts of chemicals to prolong shelf life and keep down costs.  In other words, it's not really food.

Of course, there are some dog food companies that are more interested in nourishing your pet than making cash at the expense of your pet.  Do an internet search of "pet food ratings" and you'll find tons of information.  One site that I really like is  They offer in-depth reviews of dog and cat food companies.  After conferring with the pupster, we switched from Science Diet to Taste of the Wild dry dog food.  He likes an equal part of kibble to an equal part of "moist" food.

Which brings us to the cooking portion of this program.  Pup-cakes.  I make a big batch of these the same day I make a big old meatloaf for me and the Yarn Widower (similar ingredients allows me to buy in bulk).  I freeze what I can't use in the next few days and Bennan is one happy well-fed dog.

makes about 24 muffin-sized portions

2 lbs lean ground beef (15% fat or less)
1 large sweet potato or yam, cut into 1/2" cubes (no need to peel)
2 stalks of celery, cubed
1 apple, cored and cubed (no need to peel)
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
3 eggs
2 Tbsp of minced flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbsp of dried kelp powder (optional, available in health food stores)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Oil muffin tins.
2. Mix all the ingredients together.  I use my hands but you can use a large wooden spoon.

3. Pat the mixture into the individual muffin tins. 

 4. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.  Allow to cool completely before serving or storing.  Keeps for 1 month in the freezer.

Are they cool yet?

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