Monday, April 29, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-Our Favorite Kibble

Over the years our mom has fed us a lot of different kibbles, from the not so good: Iams to the good: Nature's Variety to the great: Orijen and she has read about a zillion pages on the subject of dog nutrition.  In her heart of hearts mom wants to feed us raw and for a brief time she tried it.  However, it just wasn't practical our small, easily flooded basement did not really accommodate a freezer.  Mom felt more comfortable feeding us high quality pre-made raw and that was super expensive for all five us, plus Dad was never keen on the whole project.  Mom still feels that a raw diet is the healthiest option for most dogs, so as a compromise mom started feeding us Orijen.

Basically Orijen takes this concept:

and turns out a domestic version.

We get our Orijen delivered month from Mr. Chewy:

"Ohhh there is something tasty in here!"

Mom likes Orijen because its one kibble that really tries to approximate a species appropriate diet.  This basically means that Orijen tries to duplicate the diet of wild candid, like a wolf.  That means lots of meat, some fruits and vegetables, and no grains.   The meat is also included in the kibble in what Orijen calls whole prey format, meaning that the liver, tripe, cartilage, and marrow of the animal sources is also included in the kibble.  The fruits and vegetables provide an antioxidant boost and the kibble also includes botanical ingredients (flowers and weeds like those that a wolf might graze on in the wild), vitamins and minerals, and amino acids.  Here is the ingredients list from Regional Red the food we just got from Mr. Chewy:

Fresh deboned wild boar, fresh deboned lamb, lamb meal, russet potato, fresh deboned pork, peas, salmon meal, whitefish meal*, herring meal, fresh deboned bison, fresh whole eggs, potato starch, fresh deboned salmon (a natural source of DHA and EPA), alfalfa, sweet potato, fresh deboned walleye, salmon oil (naturally preserved with vitamin E and citric acid), pea fiber, psyllium, pumpkin, tomatoes, carrots, apples, cranberries, Saskatoon berries, black currants, chicory root, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile flowers, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary, organic kelp, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, zinc proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, iron proteinate, vitamin B6, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, selenium, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.

"The ingredients look good, Bob."

 The regional in the name comes from the fact that all of Orijen's meats and vegetable ingredients come from local Canadian Farmers.  You can read about all the farms on Orijen's website (link.)   The meats in Orijen are cage free or free range and the fish is wild caught, which mom really likes.  She tries to eat those kinds of meats herself and wants to do the same for us.  

 Orijen food is packaged in Canada in a safe facility to make sure no contaminates can get in the food.  All of their foods get a five star rating on dog food advisor.   They have also been named pet food of the year by the Glycemic Research Institute for three years running.  High glycemic foods like corn and potatoes have been linked to health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cancer.  Orijen is one of the few pet food companies that avoids high glycemic foods in their kibble.

At our house mom rotates are kibble between the 6 fish, Adult Dog ,  and Regional Red  varieties.  That way we get an even more varied diet and a range of protein sources.  Mom also adds frequently adds fresh foods to our kibble and lots of supplements.  
"I wonder what flavor we will get next month...."
 Orijen is not cheap, its one of the more expensive kibbles out there at about 90 dollars for a 28.6 pound bag, but with its quality ingredients its worth it.  Plus mom thinks we eat a little bit less of this food then we have of others.   A 29 lb bag lasts the five of us about 3 weeks.  Of course how much your dog will eat depends on how their unique metabolism and exercise level.

"I am totally worth it!"
We give Orijen our highest rating 4 paws, plus a bonus paw because its so fabulous!

National Shrimp Scampi Day

In keeping with the nautical spirit of this post a picture rom the archives.  Its a very old picture of Tubby and Ping, about 6 years ago when they were young and spry and their coats untinged with grey, sigh....

Did you know today is National Shrimp Scampi Day?  Neither did I until I discovered the awesome: The Nibble website with its list of food hollidays.  When I was little I used to think Shrimp Scampi was the most sophisticated dish.  These days I am not as crazy about it.   I still thought it would be fun to make it this weekend and I found a  recipe in The Mafia Cookbook which I got years ago at a library book sale and never made a recipe from.  It was pretty tasty, its also super fattening.  As the author of the books says Mafiosas are not super concerned with weight or cholesterol.  For the rest of the world Id say once a year for this dish is enough.

Shrimp Scampi from the Mafia Cookbook  

2 1lbs shelled large shrimp
2 sticks butter
2 cups sour cream
1 minced shallot
3 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp minced chives
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 1lb spaghetti

 Melter the butter and add the shallot and garlic and cook over low heat for five minutes.  Whisk in the sour cream, pepper, and seasoned salt.  Cook over low heat for 30-45 minutes until thickened.  Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta in.  When the sauce is almost finished cooking preheat the broiler and put the shrimp on a foiled lined baking sheet.  Broil for 3-4 minutes, watch closely to prevent over cooking.    Toss the sauce, pasta and shrimp together and serve.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mom's New Phone (and a recipe)

Despite having a blog our mom is not always the most tech savvy person, she had what was pretty much the oldest phone ever, not only was it a bar phone, but the back had fallen off and mom lost it.  We told her we needed a cool phone so we could network with east but for months she didn't listen.

Finally last week she got the I-Phone 5

"Cool mom, now I can tweet, and post, and Instagram from anywhere!"
Mom is really liking Instagram (we can't seem to easily embed photos in our post so if you cant see them in the post there is a feed on the side of the blog):  If you are on Instagram maybe you could follow us, right now we have only 2 followers which is kind of sad (we have a little link on the side of the blog).  It took mom forever and numerous false starts but she finally realized how to put her  Instagrams into this post.  I think you will agree the ones of us are best.

Now for the recipe, even though its poisonous to dogs.  Mom and Dad really like Rhubarb and as Rhubarb season is pretty short mom likes to take advantage.  This morning,  she made Rhubarb Scones the recipe is from Food 52, but mom changed it a little, (she also thought the instructions where a big vague).

Rhubarb Scones

3 stalks of Rhubarb sliced thin (or diced if you are not going to use the food processor) 
2 1/2 cups cake flour plus 5 tbsps
1 tbsp baking power
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, diced
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (you can make vanilla sugar by putting a vanilla bean in a tupperware container or jar with some about a pound of sugar and leaving at least over night, it will last forever.  Alternatively if you don't want to make vanilla sugar you can add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to the dough).
3/4 cup heavy cream plus 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mix the rhubarb with 3 tbsp vanilla sugar.  Mix the flour and salt and baking powder together in a bowl or in the food processor.  Add the butter and cut in with two knives or pulse in the food processor, the mixture should have chunks of butter about the size of small peas.   Add the sugar and pulse or mix quickly.   Add the rhubarb and pulse a few times or mix.   Add the cream and mix or pulse gently until the dough comes together.  Transfer to a floured surface and pat out into a 9 inch round with floured hands.  Slice the circle into about 8-10 triangles.   Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet  and bake 20 minutes, rotating once, until just barely golden.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Park Day-Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ

For Park Day we decided to write about a park we visit almost every weekend, Liberty State Park in Jersey City.  The park is only about five minutes from our home so its super convenient.   The park is about 1200 acres (big for a city park) and it was established in 1976.  Since its a fairly new park there are not many big trees, but there are plenty of big grassy fields and there are amazing views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.  Most of the  park is on an old landfill from the New Jersey Rail Road, which is why you can see abandoned train cars.
This picture is from about four years ago.

There is also a section that is a marshland preserve, this part is mostly fenced of but you can see plenty of birds about the park.

You can take Ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (although dogs are not allowed on Ellis Island or on the Ferry).

There are also a lot of monuments in the park including a tribute to those lost in September 11, a memorial to the holocaust, and flags for all of the countries in the United Nations, and the Bridge of Nations which is meant to symbolize the connection between Italy and America.

Unfortunately the park was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy and was closed for months.  Some parts of the park (including the section with the abandoned trains) are still fenced off.
Damage on a waterfront walkway

Here are our pictures from a recent walk in the park (remember a good section was  closed).


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Still Point of The Turning World

This book review is not about a dog focused book. Its about a loss focused book, a state that all of us humans, pet owners and not pet owners will face.  The author, Emily Rapp, includes this quote C.S. Lewis:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I decided to read Emily Rapp's book when I read her article in Bark magazine (a version of the article is here on the blog Little Seal that is the basis for much of the book)Ms. Rapp visited the Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary  with her baby son Ronan.  The animals all have significant physical disabilities and illnesses and the sanctuary is meant to be a peaceful place where they can live out their final days.     Ronan, though a baby, was also near the end of his life.  He had Tay Sachs disease, a brutal disorder that causes babies to stop developing at about the age of 6 months and then regress losing all their skills, suffering seizures, blindness, paralysis, difficulty eating and swallowing, and finally inevitably death.

The book is not written in a linear fashion, its more of a collection of Rapp's thoughts and experiences as she parents Ronan and confronts her grief and thinks about the meaning of mortality.   Its also refreshingly unsentimental.   She is not overtly religious, but is spiritual and respects the religious beliefs of others and participates in a number of religious ceremonies and activiites with Ronan.   She regularly takes Ronan to a Mexican Catholic shrine, for example.  As someone who does not subscribe to a particular belief system myself I liked this aspect of the book.  I am neither an atheist nor religious and Rapp seems to match my mindset in that way.  I am fairly content with the mystery of it all.

Throughout the book Rapp points out that parenting Ronan is not all misery and heartbreak.  She talks about experiencing moments of great joy.   Ronan lives in the moment, and he forces his parents to do the same thing.   Rapp acknowledges that due to his disability her son experiences the world in much the same way as a dog, one reason that she brings him to the animal sanctuary.   She knows his experience is sensory rather then introspective so she tries to appreciate that with him.

The book is certainly heartbreaking and  I've read comments on Good Reads 
by reviewers saying it was simply to depressing to read, but in a way I thought it was rather hopeful too.  There is so much emphasis in our culture about living longer and stretching out our life as much as possible, but Rapp asks what happens to just appreciating our lives rather then obsessing over extending them.

While I am by no means relating the loss of a baby to the loss of a dog, although Rapp herself says there is no hierarchy of pain and loss,  I can related a bit to what Rapp is saying.  When you fall in love with a dog you are in love with a creature whose life span is undeniably abbreviated when compared to your own.   As the owner of 3 senior dogs, I often find myself  fixating on how much time I have left with them.  I regularly wake up on Monday morning and feel so depressed at the thought another weekend is over.  On each birthday and Holiday I can't shake the nagging fear that it is their last.   I know plenty of pet owners feel the same way and to all of them I would enthusiastically recommend the book.

Below is a picture from the blog of baby Ronan with a dog at the sanctuary: 

Image link

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-Fish Delish

Fish has lots of benefits for dogs its got heart healthy good fats and plenty of antioxidants and I give all five of my dogs salmon oil every day.  I also try to give them treats and chews with fish in them on occasion, and when I do they are a universal favorite.   One of the best fish treats on the market are Cod Skins from Polka Dog Bakery.  

Like all Polka Dog Products Cod Skins are made from USA human grade ingredients.  The cod is caught by fisherman in Maine and Alaska and is dehydrated and hand twisted at the Polka Dog factory.   My dog love these treats so much that I had a hard time even getting a picture of them eating them, they crunch them right down.  (I will say that Cod Skins are not a long lasting chew.)    You can see in the picture below that Weasley is blurry because he is hopping about with excitement for his Cod Skin. He runs right into his pen to eat them (I always feed these treats with the dogs separated since they are so high value I don't want any disagreements.)

If the dogs where going to have a fishy treat I decided I should too.  Its soft shell crab season now and I love soft shell crab (my husband not so much).  So I made a soft shell crab sandwich for one.

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich adapted from Ina Garten
1 soft shell crab, cleaned
about 1 cup buttermilk
2-3 tbsp mayonaise
a tsp of chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp minced capers
1/2 tsp minced gherkins (optonal)
1/8 tsp anchovy paste
1/8 tsp whole grain mustard
1/8 tsp white wine vinegar
1 cup flour 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil 
sliced tomato 
butter lettuce
roll, I used a brioche roll

Soak the crab in a shallow bowl in the buttermilk for 15 minutes, turning once.  Meanwhile combine the mayo with the dill, capers, gherkins, anchovy paste, mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl.   Heat a the butter and oil in a skillet over medium  high  heat.   Whisk the flour, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow bowl and dredge the cab in the flour mixture.  Add shel side down to the skillet and cook three minutes per side.  Its best to wait the crab down with something like a cast iron skillet while it cooks.   While the crab cooks slice your roll and spread it with the mayo mixture and layer on the butter lettuce and sliced tomato.   Put the crab on the roll and eat immediately.  Delicious! (no matter what husband says)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Product Review-Tags from Very Vintage

Nearly everyone would agree that having a tag on your dog's collar is an essential component of being a responsible owner.  Too often a dog can slip its leash or squeeze through a gap in a fence and find itself lost.  Not long ago I found a grey male poodle in my yard:

  His extremely unkempt appearance led me to believe he was a throw away but if he did have an owner it was impossible to tell, while he had a harness on there were no tags attached.  Luckily the story has a happy ending due to the dogs friendly demeanor and the fact that there is a wait list for small breeds at the local shelter he quickly found a new home.

The experience underscored the importance of tags to me though, all of my dogs have multiple collars and I make sure to have tags on each one.  As I have written before I really like Fetching Pet Tags  .  They are high quality and the opportunity to create custom engravings of fun sayings is lots of fun, unfortunately they are also a bit pricey, particularly if your dog or dogs have multiple collars.  Not wanting to forgo doggie fashion, I'd never be content with a plain old pet smart tag, I found Very Vintage  on Etsy.   They offer charming, and affordable pet tags, in a variety of styles.  I got a luck penny tag for Weasley and an Old English carved circular tag for Tubby.

The tags arrived quickly and are beautiful and functional (the number is is on the back of Weasley's).  I particularly like that they are nice and light weight for small dogs.  

As far as were concerned this is definitely a four paw product!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday-Honey Bacon Birthday Cake

If  you ask Bob the best, indeed the only essential part of a birthday celebration is the cake over his 6 years with us he has sampled his own birthday cakes and those of his siblings plus any other celebratory dog cakes I've made.  By  my estimation he has sampled some 35 cakes during his life time, and enjoyed them all thoroughly.
Knowing what a conisseur he is I wanted to make something special for his 6th birthday.  I decided to include honey since 6 is the birthday I associate with Winnie the Pooh

and bacon because what dog doesn't love bacon.

Honey Bacon Birthday Cake

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup Kefir or plain yogurt
  • 3 eggs, preferably organic
  • 6 tbsp honey, divided
  • 4 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled (reserve one slice for the frosting)
  • 1 8 oz package low fat cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a cake pan with non stick cooking spray.  Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a large bowl.  In another bowl whisk together the oil, applesauce, kefir or yogurt, eggs, and four tbsp of the honey.   Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix well.   Mix in three slices of bacon, crumbled.   Bake for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting mix the cream cheese, the remaining 2 tbsp of honey, and the last piece of crumbled bacon together.  Frost on the cooled cake.

Bob enjoyed his cake so much that we had to remove his sibling from the room, he was on the verge of getting a bit posessive.   Also he was absolutely vibrating with excitement so the pictures are a bit blurry.  

(Note: If you make this cake for your dogs you want to be careful.  At one point I feared Bob would choke and not wanting to end the festivities with a trip to the animal ER we removed the cake in order to pace him.)