Tag Archives: natural food for dogs

JUST SIMPLE FOOD

The more I work in a restaurant, the more I crave simple food. Fortunately, I work for a company that made local, seasonal, sustainable and organic its mantra long before it became fashionable. But as much as I enjoy 3 Michelin star restaurants, complicated dishes with seven components to them and all manner of molecular gastronomy “tricks”, I am more content with a bowl of perfectly grilled vegetables, a flaky tart, a simple pasta. Last night my meal was a hunk of good break with a chunk of Point Reyes Toma cheese. Delectable.

I have often fantasized on how a modest place of my own would look like and what it would offer. It would be a little bakery/cafe serving a community or neighbourhood, Intelligentsia coffee, rustic fruit and vegetable tarts, bowls of granola, bread fresh out of the oven, crostatas, buttery cookies, fresh salads and all the things I like to eat and make in my time off. In an age of colorful macarons and cutesy cupcakes, I imagine stark white walls and rustic food.

Funnily enough, my inspiration comes from two places I have never visited. The Rose Bakery, that started in London and then expanded to Paris, is the brainchild of an English/French couple whose cookbook is a constant source of inspiration.

Rose Bakery in rue de Martyrs

My current favourite from the Rose Bakery

And recently, my friend Sue sent me a link to the Vergennes Laundry, a bakery in Vergennes, Vermont that, not only looks very much like what I have in mind, but also serves food I would be very happy to produce on a daily basis (and their coffee of choice is Intelligentsia).

vergenneslaundry.com

So if you happen to be in Paris or Vergennes and come upon these two establishments, drop me a note and let me know if they are as good as they look. I would be prepared to bet I am right on the mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A DOG’S PERSONAL CHEF

My little canine cancer patient was having a hard time eating and I didn’t have the luxury of time, waiting for the appetite stimulant drug to kick in. Rachel was already too skinny. Her palate is severely compromised and soft food is easier for her to ingest but I had run the gamut of available choices – different kinds of canned food, soups, baby food, turkey and beef burger, nothing seemed to interest her. She would take two licks and then her head would start a song and dance like a two-year old throwing a tantrum.

Out of ideas, I tried to think what she could like so much she couldn’t refuse. I went to work doing what I do best and here is what I came up for difficult dogs the world over. It’s healthy, nutritious and dog gourmet.

RECIPE

10 Chicken thighs

2 Large carrots, peeled

2 Celery ribs, cleaned

1 C Brown rice, slightly overcooked

 

  1. Place the chicken thighs and the vegetables in a pot with the vegetables and 8 to 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about two hours. Let cool and when cold, skim any excess of fat that might have formed over the surface.
  2. Remove the meat from the bones and, using a blender, puree about half of it with 1 cooked carrot, 1 cooked celery rib and 1/2 cup of rice. Proceed in the same manner with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Feed it as is or add some kibble or other solid food to it.

 

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HOME MADE DOG TREATS

Dogs are coming to tea

Today my friend Lin made me feel better about slaving at the stove for the mighty Ottie. Apparently, I am not alone in this madness and she sent me some mouth-watering recipes I will have to try in the future but she was wondering about dog cookies.As I was lying on the couch, literally holding my belly, after an uncharacteristic binge of sweets, I wished that some of the $30 I left at Bouchon had been for the dog treats, if nothing else to limit my gastric damage.

It was Sherry Yard, of Spago’s fame, who inspired me to bake cookies for Ottie and other dogs at large. Easy and tasty (or so he says), they can be packaged and become inexpensive and cute gifts for any dog lover.

The original recipe can be found in Sherry Yard’s “Desserts by the Yard” (which I would recommend for many more reasons other than dog treats) and I sometimes modify it to include oats or peanut butter. The dough can be made by hand and will be very stiff.

RECIPE – yields about 24 large cookies

2 Eggs

1T Canola Oil

1 T Peanut Butter or Honey

3/4 C Low Sodium Chicken Stock

3 C Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 C Cornmeal or 1/4 C quick-cooking oats

 

  1. Whisk the eggs, honey or peanut butter, canola oil and chicken stock. Add half the flour and mix until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and the cornmeal or oats. Knead the dough – it will be very stiff. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough to 1/2” thickness. If you have bone shaped cookie cutters, it’s a good time to use them. Otherwise use any other shape. Re-roll the scraps until all the dough has been used.
  3. Place the cookies on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and bake in the lower third of the oven at 350F. If you wish, you can egg wash them prior to baking but your dog won’t care or notice whether his treats are shiny or not.
  4. Rotate the sheets after about 12 minutes and bake for a total of about 20 minutes, until nicely browned.
  5. Let cool and serve within 2 days or, else, store them in the fridge.

 

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DOG’S DAY OF SUMMER

If you were to come to my house at around 5 every afternoon, you could be forgiven for thinking I were intent on making dinner for  a family of ten. Turkey burgers cooking on the stove, blender purring, pureeing vegetables, pots of rice and oats being stirred. In fact, I am cooking for the mighty Ottie who, these days, gets gourmet meals compared to my endless bowls of cereal.

After being diagnosed with an ulcer, looking like an Auschwitz dog and refusing his kibble, eating only what I would put on top to make it more palatable, against the better judgement of most dog owners, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Common thinking suggests that a dog will not willingly starve himself and that the proper course of action is to leave the food out, retrieve it if not eaten, and keep on putting it out until the dog finally gives in. That might all be good and well, and it is possibly (surely) true I am spoiling my 8-year-old puppy but I was tired of obsessing over his protruding ribcage and his apparent depression. Armed with information gathered on-line (most of it shoddy and approximate) and an old-fashioned paper book on feeding dogs a natural diet, I figured out that the 50 pounds of His Royal Canine Highness needed a pound of meat a day and half that in starch and vegetables, some calcium in the form of yoghurt or egg shells and off I embarked on this adventure of feeding Ottie without the help of processed food.

Being a picky eater, vegetables need to be pureed or he will push them aside, but he loves rice and oats, not to mention turkey, chicken and beef. Not to break my bank, I do add some canned food to what I make, which is still cheaper than buying 7 pounds of meat a week. If all this sounds like madness and, trust me, it is, in three weeks Ottie slowly started to put on weight again, he eats with such gusto I have never seen before and, best of all, he has gone back to sprinting and bolting after birds and coyotes in a way he hadn’t done in the last few months. He walks around with a smile over his 8-year-old face.

In truth, I am not planning to continue all this prepping, sautéing, steaming and pureeing forever but I don’t think I will completely go back to feeding him 100% processed food. I am more inclined to trust his intuition that kibble day in and day out wasn’t good for him. By the way, the stomach gurgling and the offensive farting that would  send me running outside every time I sat down to watch tv have stopped completely.

We are both navigating middle age as gracefully as we can, Ottie and I, and we have both come to the place where good food and a healthy diet help us feel better. Now, if I could only find the time to cook a gourmet meal or two for myself….

 

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