Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now open for Dog Biscuit Business!

Sleeping Dog Bakery - now open for Dog Biscuit Business!!! :-)

My friend Steph and I are both interested in feeding our dogs the best food we can. Gracie, Steph's dog, is a rescue mutt of mixed origins - perhaps border collie and papillon? She is on all-natural Kibble and sometimes enjoys both Kefir and eggs as part of her diet.
Kane is on an all-natural raw diet. I feed him things like chicken backs, leg quarters, chicken necks, turkey necks, turkey wings, ground beef and sometimes we get lucky when my friend Maggie supplies us with rabbit. The amount he gets is based on his current weight and how much physical exercise we are doing at the moment. More about Kane's diet in the future perhaps, or on his Schutzhund Adventures blog.

We looked up a few recipes online and in a book I have and settled on a salmon "cookie" recipe and a baked liver treat. Both dogs WOULD NOT leave the kitchen while we were baking. They were smelling something good, and they were going to make sure they did not miss the taste-testing that could potentially happen.

The salmon treat recipe was made with canned salmon, whole eggs, parsley, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and potato flour. Recipe can be found here.

It was quite easy, and only took some time because I wanted to make pretty cookies using cookie-cutters. :-) Hey, dogs need pretty food too!!! :-)
We used doggie bones, hearts, stars and palmetto trees (for South Carolina.)

The second treat we made was done with chicken livers, molasses and parsley. It truly stunk up the kitchen, which means the doggies LOVED it! :-) The end result was a dried liver treat kind of thing.

Grace and Kane - eagerly awaiting the taste test.

We were really excited that they liked the treats. Both dogs are known to spit out purchased so-called "Gourmet" dog treats and it feels good to know what goes into the treat I give my dog.

What's your dog's favorite treat?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Simple Country Bread

Simple French country bread. But country is country, right? :-) I suppose I should have taken a picture with some lavender next to it....
(Makes 1 LARGE loaf or 2 small ones, I doubled the recipe for my giant loaves above)

3 tsp instant dry yeast (this is equal to 0.9 oz fresh yeast (you lucky dog if you have it!) or 3 3/4 tsp active dry yeast)
2 heaping teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2.5 - 3 cups all purpose white flour
Another 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour for kneading and putting on top of bread before baking.

Combine the water and honey in a bowl and add the yeast.
Mix the salt in a little of the WW flour (to not kill the yeast), add it and all the WW flour and the AP flour. Mix until you have an even, pretty loose and sticky dough.
You can use a mixer or do it by hand with a wood spatula.
Put a towel over your bowl, place in a warm area, and let it rise for an hour.

Pour the dough out on a well-floured table. Add another 1/2 cup or so of AP flour into the dough and knead it for 5 minutes. You need plenty of flour on your hands! At this point your dough should be nice and non-sticky.
Shape the dough into a large round (or make 2 small ones if you'd rather have that). Move the loaf onto a baking sheet (non-stick or covered with parchment paper.) I have 2 Brotforms (Breadform in German) that I got for my birthday last year and they are great. They are hand-woven cane bread rising baskets from Germany and give your bread that rustic look. I love mine. I dust the Brotform with flour before I put the dough in there which adds to the rustic look.
Let the bread go through the final proofing for another 20 minutes while your oven heats to 475 F.

Bake your bread in the middle of your oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 400 C and bake until done, usually another 40 minutes or so. Let your bread cool, preferrably on a cooling rack.
You can spray some water into your oven before your put the bread in as well - that gives you a crustier crust. :-)

This bread is delicious with stews, soups and it makes a great picnic/hiking bread.

Aaaahhhh....simple things are good.

This recipe is slightly modified from one of my favorite Swedish cookbooks called "Love, Thyme and Olives" - well, it's written by 2 Swedish women, but the food is all mediterranean. :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oatmeal Alternative

I admit it. I've tried to love oatmeal, but it's no use. I can't do it. I've tried with brown sugar. I've tried with maple syrup (but the idea here is to have a HEALTHY breakfast!) I've tried with blueberries. It's no use.

Weeeelll....I take
that back. I did try it with canned pumpkin, butterscotch chips, toffee chips and dark chocolate chips.....and it was ok. I even had it twice that way. I found that delish recipe here. But then again, who wouldn't eat something that tastes like a pumpkin, butterscotch, toffee and chocolate pie. For breakfast!!!

So, I decided to share what I love to eat for breakfast. It's healthy, but in a different way from oatmeal. Plus I make
it myself. Sort of.

Here's how I make Kefir from milk and a box of culture that I picked up at the local Earth Fare store. Once you have a batch of Kefir, you don't really need the culture again. You can just keep a little of your old Kefir and use it to make the new batch.

Water boils at 100 C. Milk boils when you turn your back.

1. Pour a gallon of milk into a pot and slowly bring to a boil. It helps to have a thermometer here...(which I do not because I bought a cheapo one at that W place, and it broke....) If you do not have a thermometer, please watch the pot closely. Burned Kefir is not nearly as good as the non-burnt version.

2. Once your milk has been brought to a boil, take it off the burner ( don't let the milk boil for more than a few WILL burn!).

My kefir taking a cold bath

3. Prepare a bowl in an icewater bath. This usually involves placing a bowl in the kitchen sink and filling the sink with ice and water. Pour the milk into the bowl and let it cool to room temperature. The little bacteria guys (and gals!) in the Kefir do not like it hot - they like warm room temperatures.

4. Once the milk has cooled, it's time to add the Kefir grains. Take out about a cup of the milk and add the grains to it. I like using a small whisk to make sure it all dissolves well. Then add the cup of milk + grains back into the big pot of milk and stir.
5. Add plastic wrap to your bowl and let stand at room temp for 24 hours.

6. At the end of 24 hours, you should have a nice jello-like Kefir in your bowl.
7. I pour mine back into the (now cleaned) milk jug and label the cap with a big "K" (because, let me tell you, some people are not happy about pouring Kefir into their coffee or tea when they were expecting milk!)
This is how I enjoy my Kefir breakfast. With freshly ground flaxseed, 1/4 cup Kashi 7 whole grain cereal and a heaping spoonful of whatever jam I have on hand - in this case, strawberry. Kefir does have a bit of a sour taste to it, which is why I prefer to add some sweet jam or fruit to mine.

Kefir is a probiotic and contains many of the good bacteria such as lactobacillus. You can read more about the health benefits of Kefir here:

Wikipedia: Kefir
Lifeway Kefir (a brand of Kefir - you can find this in some grocery stores)

So - what's for breakfast at your place?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poetic about "saft"

Saft is the Swedish word for "juice". Back home we have many varieties of saft, such as orange, raspberry, strawberry, pear (my favorite!), cherry (so not my favorite!), black currant, red currant, lingonberry, blueberry, rowenberry and I'm sure many more.
Rowenberry saft is what my great grandmother, Ida, used to make. There are stories still being told about her in the old neighborhood about how she would cart a big ladder down to the playground and pick the rowenberries from the trees in order to make saft. What a sight that must have been!

My paternal grandmother, Lillemor, (hej farmor!) makes use of the red and black currant bushes that grow at their home. She sometimes even mixes in raspberries depending on what that particular year's crop was like.

Having a glass of saft in the summertime at my grandparents place is one of my favorite things. Not to mention the fun games you can play with saft, ice-cubes and straws. :-) All of us "kids" (me,
my brother and cousins) would each get 2 straws, and then my grandfather said "Go!" (well actually he said "Nu!") and we all positioned our straws against the icecube and (for lack of better description) sucked until we had made it through the ice-cube to the other side. The winner had to bring up his straw with a dangling ice-cube to prove that he/she was first. Yes, we still compete whenever we have the chance to get together... Last summer I decided that it was high time that I learned to make it on my own.

My mom conventiently told me that she happened to have a never-used "Saft-Maja" that I could probably use. Well, turns out Saft-Maja is the Swedish brand name of a steamer.

Many minutes went into pondering what kind of Saft to make. In the end, it was easy. I forgot to mention rhubarb saft up top. Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits (is it a fruit?). Too bad they don't grow very well down where I live, but once we get some better soil, we may try it anyway. The local farm stand down the road (the Bush n'Vine, yes, really, that is their name.....can you believe it? In SC nonetheless!!!!) is a Strawberry grower, 1 gallon buckets for very cheap. And very yummy. So I decided to make strawberry rhubarb saft. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is after all fiances favorite kind, and we do like to keep him happy.

The recipe I used:

1 litre strawberries
500 grams rhubarb - rinsed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4-6 dl of sugar (less if you are freezing the saft)

All of these are layered in the top part of the steamer while the water is boiling at the bottom. Here's a picture:

Then you take clean, sterilized bottles (I sterilize mine in the oven and boil the caps in water on the stove) and open the rubber hose to let the saft run out into your bottle. I read a good tip somewhere to place your bottle in a pitcher with a handle so that you don't have to burn your hands on the bottle or spill hot saft anywhere on you or anywhere in your kitchen. Quite handy!

Here are my finished bottles:

Aren't they pretty? All in a row....

I kept these in a cool spot and we finished them within 2 months. This year I will probably try to can them in hot boiling water to get them to last us longer.

Got a steamer? If you do, I'd love some more ideas on what to do with it!