Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Goes to the Dogs

A Guest Post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

Valentine's Day is my birthday. I say bring on the gifts!

Okay, it's not my real birthday; no one can remember that day. It's my "designated" day as per the Management. I believe I'm five in human years, and I don't care about candles, but since dog years are longer, why isn't my birthday isn't celebrated once a month? This is a point I must present to Management. And would someone please explain the point of holidays without self-indulgent food gifts?

I digress. When I came to this house as a puppy, I saw lots of photos of this pretty girl basset. Her face peered out from practically every frame around the room. As a contrast, I saw only one picture of my old mentor Abe with one blue eye. Who was this perfect girl? Some kind of pin-up hound? She certainly knew how to work the camera. And those soulful eyes . . . The best part was she posed with food in a number of photos. It gave me ideas and set me on my path.

When I found out who she was, I was jealous. Jealousy is an accepted emotion in the canine world, as long as physical fighting isn't involved. I studied the photos, positive I could learn to be coy and work the camera, too--if only the right opportunities were dropped into my lap.

Hunter working the camera.

Hunter the poser

Her name was Hunter--the same old bitch who rode home with me on the first day. Can you believe it? I'd never expected that deaf-as-a post, white-faced dog, who died a few days after I'd arrived in the house, had once been this camera-ready model. I heard no job was too small for her when she was young, but when I knew her, she was sunk into her own world, and when she died, Abe, my cranky mentor, cried and pined for the rest of his life.

I never would have guessed this was the same dog. But botox and hair dyes aren't status symbols in the canine community. And don't even get me going about face lifts. An eye lift might not be bad for old basset hounds, but it's a good thing canines are more impressed with scents than looks.

Eventually I noticed that Hunter had appeared in calendars and books. And the calendars haven't stopped coming. Just a few months ago a calender featuring her modeling a yamaka arrived with a letter that said, "Congratulations, your dog has been selected . . . " That dog should be me, but canines can't compete with a ghost.

Barks around the water bowl had revealed that Hunter had been Management's favorite dog for years. No surprise with all those framed photos.

Hunter had gone to show school as a puppy, but had no interest in beauty pageants. She took a job sitting near a demo table in pet stores and on weekends she cruised the farmers' markets with the Management. Hunter ran with her pack at the dog park on Wednesdays. Her every whim was indulged--prime position under the dining table and the word around the house was she slept with Management to get her position. But people were crazy about the way she looked, unlike Abe ( Hunter's "brother") who frightened little children and barked at the drop of a paw.

When I was a puppy, I'd gone to a farmers' market and I overhead someone above me say, "I wish Hunter was still around." The remark didn't bother me, I was there for the carrots under tables, but if I'd been a Yorkie, I might have been devastated.

Sadly, there is much prejudice against dogs at farmers' markets today and not even sweet Hunter could bark her way in to most of them.

Here's a picture Hunter in this cookbook I found. That's where this dog biscuit recipe originated.

Apparently she was the inspiration for this canine biscuit section in this book, because Hunter was very sensitive to many foods. Much of this section is about alternative flour and how to use it. For me, the "Healthy Canine Dog Biscuit" chapter was most amazing section in this entire cookbook.

She was also featured in this old magazine--had a big two page spread.

All I could think about at the time was if this is the stairway to the easy life, I could smell my life's path stretching out before me. (to be continued)

The Biscuits

These biscuits come out quite crisp. One friend cuts back the amount of tapioca flour, but I like them crisp. And if you want to make them with Northwest ingredients, the word is Nash's Organic Produce has grains on sale this month. Freshly ground buckwheat flour is on sale for $7.50 for (I think) 3 pounds. Pastry, hard wheat, triticale and rye flours are also on sale at the farm store or Seattle farmers' markets. Also you could substitute Holmquist hazelnut butter, and if you are thinking of sharing these with humans as we do here, realize that they are very, very crisp. They could possibly be the most perfect teething cookies ever.

Peanut Butter Buckwheat Biscuits (or Crackers)
(Makes about 76 biscuits)

3 to 4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed yam, sweet potato or pumpkin
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey or molasses
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Optional)

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Place yam, peanut butter and molasses in a blender and puree, gradually adding the hot water. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, adding more hot water, if necessary. Continue stirring until a stiff dough is formed. (FYI: Oil your hands before attempting to work with the dough.)

3. Place the dough in a covered container or plastic bag for up to a week if you want. When you are ready to work with it, preheat oven to 350F. Flour a cutting board. (FYI: It's easier to work with half of the dough at a time.)

4. Roll out to 1/4-inch and cut in your favorite shapes. (FYI: These biscuits are easier to cut if the cutters are simple like hearts and not complex like tiny hands or animals with tails.)

4. Place parchment paper over a baking sheet and fit as many biscuits as you can on the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 and continue to bake for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cookies to cool before removing them. These crisp cookies keep well for a week, but for long term storage place them in the freezer.

We don't need long term biscuit storage around here.

Much better than a cake with silly candles. Go ahead share them with friends if you want.

Birthday and Valentine's Day--you can't beat that!

Best gift so far was a giant bag of tiny carrots with plenty for me and my favorite sister Chloe.


Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
I can't wait to make these awesome treats for little Jaque, he is going to love them! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a fabulous week.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Miz Helen, I hope your little Jaque loves them. They are quite crunchy; I have eaten all the biscuits we made and am hoping for more soon.