Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mikey Biscuits on the First Try

I did it! On the first try.  I made dog biscuits and Mikey liked them.
I received my dog-bone shaped cookie cutters, the ones I bought for $4.50 on Ebay, in the mail and had to try them out.
So I conducted my first experiment. Oatmeal cookies like the ones I can’t resist had to have some ingredients suitable for dogs, so I proceeded to test my very first recipe.  I used only a little bit of butter, eggs with the shells (for calcium), dried plums (because I didn’t have any other dried fruit besides raisins, the doggie No No), oatmeal, a little brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice (because I like the smell of it), 1% milk, pecans (the only nuts I had in my refrigerator), some salt and baking soda, and I put my trusty Cuisinart machine to work.
The only problem with my Mikey Biscuits is that they look like they are chocolate, thanks to the dried plums, but they look good, smell good, and, best of all Mikey likes them. They came out of the oven in under 30 minutes and I had to taste them…mmm…they tasted good to me, but I’m not as picky as Mikey.
Then Squawky, my very noisy hawk headed parrot, started in on his “Nut, Nut, Nut” plea. He thinks everything that tastes good to eat is a nut but he gets his point across. I’m convinced that parrots smell what I’m cooking. Even when my three don’t even know I’m cooking and can’t see the food, they demand samples. After I thought about the ingredients in my Mikey Biscuits, I realized that everything would be fine for the parrots.
The parrots loved my Mikey Biscuits. Every time they see me give one to Mikey, they ask for a bite. Parrots can safely eat more foods than dogs, so I may be on to something. They don’t like dog food, but I never thought about giving them dog treats.
As an aside, if you question my inclusion of brown sugar in my Mikey Biscuits, I believe that the sugars in fruits which are safe for dogs and birds are not very far removed from brown sugar so I concluded that a little sugar wouldn’t hurt either the dogs or birds. If we continue to think we’re not eating sugar when we eat fruit, we’ll continue to consume lots of sugar calories. Sure, we’re better off with the fruits with their fiber and vitamin content, but sugar is sugar.
Years ago, too many years I fear, I decided that I wouldn’t give my children fruit juice to drink. I always thought they were better off with the whole fruit and, if they were thirsty, water and milk were the right choices. My children accused me of child abuse and drank all the orange juice and apple juice in their friends’ refrigerators, but, what a concept, I’ve been proven to have been correct.
The dog biscuit experiment was a success, but now I have to make the people food equivalent, my favorite oatmeal cookies. I hope my willpower holds out because I love oatmeal cookies. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Will Mikey Like It?

Mikey is the King of our Castle.  A pretty impressive title for a four legged creature that we found on the street at six weeks old, covered with ticks, fleas, dirt, and assorted vegetation.  We know his age because he was so young; as long as there are still baby (puppy) teeth, a vet can determine the age of the pup by simply counting the ones that remain. Mikey had every tick and flea-borne illness known to dogs, but he had "that face."
Mikey smiles.  He smiled then and, eleven years later, he’s still smiling. His smiles are not merely in our own heads. When Mikey takes us for a walk, people who see him say “That dog is smiling” even before they ask what kind of dog he is.   
What breed is Mikey?  We wish we knew. Our answer is usually “He’s a Mikey.” Then comes the discussion: “He looks like an Airedale, No he must be a Scottish deer hound” (Scottish deer hounds are much bigger than Mikey.) “He’s some kind of terrier.” Our vet hasn’t done much better; his guess is that somewhere in his lineage is a German Shepherd.  
It doesn’t matter what he is. Or maybe it does.  Mikey is eleven years old and is irreplaceable on all levels.  Has anyone cloned dogs yet? With every day, each day that adds to Mikey’s age, I have to continually quote I don’t remember whom: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  We lost Harley, our beloved Tibetan terrier whom we also found on the street, over five years ago and I still haven’t gotten over it. Do we ever? 
Fortunately, with lots of time, love, medication, and hospital stays, we did cure Mikey’s illnesses. It must have cost us thousands, but we prefer not to engage in calculating money spent to preserve the life of someone we love. When Harley started to fail due to his congenital heart condition, we kept him alive and happy for six extra months. Why are veterinary medications so expensive? 
You can ask any of my children about King Mikey. When our daughter visited from California, she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t sit next to her father.  No, that was Mikey’s seat.  She tried pushing him, tempting him with treats, and calling him.  No dice. Mikey won. 
Mikey might be the smartest dog we’ve ever lived with. (Our many Dobermans didn’t even show up on the chart with Mikey.) Mikey is capable of two stage thinking. When I asked Mikey (You don’t tell Mikey what to do.) to get his “baby,” one of his many stuffed animals all named “Baby,” from the lawn and bring it into the house, he dutifully picked it up, unlatched and opened the front door, put Baby in the front hall, and stood in the doorway smiling, wagging his tail and saying “That was easy, now give me a hard one.” No, I didn’t use any body language to tell ask Mikey what do. And I have a witness. My granddaughter is still telling everyone how smart Mikey is.
I could go on and on with tales of Mikey. But…Mikey does have his downside. He never heard or believed “Mikey Likes It.” He doesn’t like much and, when we think we’ve found something he will eat on the first try, the $12 plus that we proceed to invest on the same treat goes to waste. Mikey doesn’t like anything for very long. 
I’m determined to find something that Mikey likes. I’ve always been a crazy cook. I have had a cooking school, used to make my own ravioli, sausages, and even tried my had at homemade couscous, and I have more than 200 cookbooks on my shelves. I know the contents of each, but have extracted and altered, at the most, one or two recipes from each cookbook. Think of the space I could save if each cookbook were reduced to one or two pages. 
Everyone I know calls me to ask me how to cook all sorts of things. The most memorable call was from a good friend who described her surgeon husband’s very neat surgical repairs to the skin of the duck while she was trying to follow my recipe for Peking duck. No, you don’t have to be a surgeon to make Peking duck, but you have to be prepared for the incessant barking of your dogs as the ducks sway back and forth while they are drying.  
And then there were the fresh noodles that I left hanging on a laundry drying rack in my kitchen. The dog ate all of those, right off the rack. Making noodles is good exercise so I made some more, but made sure to keep the dog away. 
I want to cook or bake or prepare dog food and dog treats from the same ingredients, barring those that are known to be bad for dogs, that I use in my daily cooking.  It will take lots of experimenting, but I know I can make dog biscuits while I’m making oatmeal cookies. I’ll just separate the dog’s portion prior to adding the doggie no-no’s. When I prepare our meals, I can do the same and feed Mikey the same foods as we eat.
Will Mikey like it? I sure hope so.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pets Really Can Eat People Food

     When I checked our last few supermarket receipts, I realized that Mikey (The King of our House) eats as well as we do. I know there has to be a better way, both economically and practically. 

     I cook dinner most nights and usually have too much food. (When I first got married and asked how to cook for 2, I realized the absurdity of the question.  So I cooked for 4 and we ate it.) I have wanted to feed some of my meals to Mikey, but always feared the consequences.
o       How do I know how much to feed him?            
o       How do I know what he can eat?
o       How do I know if the food will be dangerous?
     I know there have to be answers to my questions so I'm on a quest. I've always been a crazy cook and own over 200 cookbooks. Cooking is more a hobby to me than a chore. When my children were small and I used to send them to school with sandwiches on my homemade 7 Grain Cereal Bread, they would often trade them away.  They used to have meetings on our front lawn about the best house to get Wonder Bread.

     I used to have a cooking school and have amassed a collection of my own recipes. Now I want to figure out how to cook for King Mikey using the same ingredients as I use for my family.  I also want to make my own treats.  Even if I can't save a lot of money, I know Mikey will be better off if I know what is in his treats.

     First I have to do the research and determine the requirements for each type and size of dog. Then I'll figure out the calorie content in each ingredient. I'll come up with a diet fit for a King.