PUMPKIN DOG TREATS

Jill is on a belated vacation this week with a good friend, so it’s just me, the cats, & this one at home right now.

Dolly Marie Carroll Mehra (credit for the above photo goes to Sonya Cuellar) is our approximately twelve-year-old, spoiled, demanding, loving, ridiculous lap dog/rat terrier/child.  We adopted her from a rescue organization just over three years ago, after she had been found, emaciated, wandering the streets of Portland, Oregon and eating trash.  As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember, Jill and I had just said goodbye to our sweet old yellow lab, and our house ached with that absence.  We knew we wanted to adopt an older dog, the ones who often have the hardest time finding a home.  The minute Jill received a text message from Dolly’s foster mom, we fell in love.  A week later, we had her flown to Houston and she’s been our girl ever since.

The dog is profoundly thrown by the fact of Jill’s absence; since Jill works from home, Dolly has grown accustomed to having a lap to lie in pretty much all day.  And someone to throw the ball for her whenever she wants.  Not to mention someone to feed, cuddle, walk, & pay near-constant attention to her.  My mom, who works with infants for a living, swears she has never met a human baby as high-maintenance as our dog.

Of course, as any crazy dog person will tell you, our little creature gives to us at least as much as she requires of us, probably more.  While Jill was doing her chemotherapy treatments last winter, Dolly protected her like a fierce little jackal, snuggling with Jill on the couch for hours.  When I drive home later today, her head will be in the front window, ears up, barking to announce and trumpet my arrival.  We’ll walk out to get the mail, throw her favorite two-tennis-ball rope toy, build a fire, and cuddle on the couch while watching Glee.  I’ll sing one of the dozens of silly songs I’ve invented for her, with one of her equally ridiculous nicknames woven in: BooBoo, Doll Boo, Boo Bear, Boo Bear McScoo Bear, Wina Bina Augustina & Sabrina, Punkin’ Boo, etc.  It’s entirely possible that we will dance around the kitchen to Lady Gaga.

Our little dog lived a hard life before she came into our life.  Lord only knows what she’s been through or seen.  She’s an old lady now, and we are all too happy to be her retirement home.

PUMPKIN DOG TREATS
courtesy Marilyn Naron, Simmer Till Done

I cook for the people in my life, in order to show my affection for them.  Why should the dogs in my life be any different?  These were a snap to make and Dolly, who as I’m sure you gathered by now can be quite choosy, LOVES them.  I plan to make another big batch this weekend to send out along with other (human) treats for the holidays!

These have kept for two weeks in an airtight container (I doubled the recipe).

ingredients:

2 eggs

½ cup canned pumpkin


2 tablespoons dry milk


¼ teaspoon sea salt


2 ½ – 3 cups brown rice flour *

oven: 350°
pan: cookie sheets, no need to grease or line

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth. Stir in dry milk and sea salt.  Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough to ½ inch thickness and use a biscuit or other shape cookie cutter to punch out the dough, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go. Place shapes on cookie sheet.

If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are firm and lightly brown on the top. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 15-20 minutes.  (I checked mine at 15 to see that they weren’t getting to brown).  Allow the biscuits to cool before feeding to a dog!

*In the original recipe, Marilyn points out that many dogs have a gluten insensitivity that makes brown rice flour a better choice.  I had no trouble finding a Bob’s Red Mill version in the Natural Foods section of my regular grocery store, but you could also use whole wheat flour if your dog has no trouble digesting wheat.

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HOMEMADE DOG TREATS

***GIVEAWAY UPDATE***  Thanks to all who entered; we love hearing about everyone’s doggies, and were tempted to just send you all treats!  However, the random number generator did not suffer from such emotional entanglements & chose commenters 10 & 11, Cheryl & Christy, as our lucky recipients.  They’ll be receiving their treats later this week.  We promise to do this again soon, and in the meantime, urge you to give the recipe a try yourselves.  xx, BJG

Allow me to introduce you to the Blue Jean Puppy.

LD anticipating a biscuit

Pup-pay!  I know, she’s freaking cute, right?  Calling her a puppy, though, is a total misnomer as our L.D. (which stands for Lucky Dawg—we didn’t name her, okay??) is fourteen-plus years old, which for a yellow lab means she’s approximately 107.

I did not grow up with dogs.  In fact, I didn’t have pets of any kind until I met Jill.  At the risk of vast cultural generalization, I’m like most Indian kids I know this way.  Our parents came from a context where it’s tough enough to feed your kids, let alone an extra, alien mouth.  In India, as in many parts of the world, wild dogs run in packs on the street, largely ignored or dodged by citizens.  Having a pet in India is, for most, a status symbol of opulent, extreme wealth.

My parents also fended off any potential begging-for-pets by making it very clear that my mother was allergic to dog & cat hair, so it wasn’t going to happen.  Given this, I made do with vicarious enjoyment of my neighbors’ and friends’ animals; it was never a serious “upset” for me that I didn’t have pets.  As it turns out, the “your mother is allergic” bit was all a ruse!  Oh the lies we tell our children.

Of course, now that I live with this sweet thang (& two very sweet cats in addition), I can’t imagine my life without animals in it.

in the backyard with the dog

We’re probably not going to have our LD for too much longer.  I don’t like thinking about it, not one bit.  Since she’s my first pet, she will also be my first pet death, and I’m not looking forward to that.

I try to stay focused on the fact that our old dog is happy, healthy, and aside from having to wear a diaper these days, enjoys an excellent quality of side-angle dog biscuitslife in her twilight years.  Including these homemade dog treats.

These treats are incredibly easy to make, and they’ve never met a dog they didn’t like (LD, Tillie, Kathleen, Digby, Doodle, Penny, Dillon, Gunny, Murphy, & Buster can all attest!)  And, you don’t have to feel guilty giving these out, because they’re full of only good stuff.

To share the love with some canine friends of Blue Jean Gourmet, we’re having our first giveaway! I’ll be baking up a fresh batch of dog treats this weekend and mailing them out to a few lucky dawgs (c/o their BJG reader-owners).

If you’d like to enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling us about the dog(s) in your life by the end of the day Monday (June 29).  We’ll draw a couple of winners on Tuesday (June 30) morning & notify them via email.

In the meantime, I’m going to go ahead and post the recipe for these treats here, because should you win, your dog may well become addicted.  I’m just sayin’.

PEANUT BUTTER DOG TREATS
adapted from a recipe generously shared by Denise Duncan (who makes them for Molly, Max, & Sophie!)

2 eggs

dog biscuit makings sideways

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup water

¼ cup peanut butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

optional: We keep wheat germ in the freezer to add to smoothies & breads, so I always throw a dash in for puppy health benefits.

preheat oven: 400 degrees F

Combine flour & oats in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly, using a large spoon or your hands.

At this point, you may need to add extra water or extra flour depending upon the texture of the mix.  If you plan to roll out the treats, you’ll want the dough to be pretty stiff and so add more flour.  If you plan to make drop treats, a wetter mixture will do.

(option 1) Roll out the dough in two batches, using more whole wheat flour for the counter.  Somewhere between ¼ – ½ inch thickness is best to insure that the treats stay crunchy but don’t burn.

Use cookie cutters or just a knife to make desired shapes.  Place on a well-greased sheet pan and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Check for browning on the bottom of the treats; cool on wire racks until they’re a safe temperature for your puppy to sample.

(option 2) If you’re thinking, heck, my dog couldn’t care less what shape these things come in, he/she just wants to eat. them. all. now!  then you can either roll the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls or just scoop out about a tablespoon’s worth at a time onto well-greased cookie sheets, placing them about an inch apart.

Flatten the treats out with a floured palm and bake for 20-25 minutes (because they’re a little thicker than the rolled-out version, they’ll take a bit longer).  Cool on wire racks; let the dog or dogs in the house taste-test for you to assure quality control.

LD crunching on a biscuit

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