Paying For Saturday

I did a whole lot of nothing yesterday, other than wash our bedding and knit. Today has been much busier. Morning house chores, got a batch of dog treats in the dehydrator (Super easy two-ingredient “recipe” HERE), wrangled work email, figured out how to use my new scanner and scanned and emailed some photos, and I have a huge pot of pasta sauce simmering so I can assemble a couple of pans of lasagna to take to a family gathering out of town tomorrow.

Now, while the sauce simmers, I can finally knit! I am still working on my super-long rainbow scarf, but started a new one yesterday that is still small enough to take with me tomorrow. So far…

It’s a feather and fan scarf (pattern HERE), using Premiere Serenity yarn by Deborah Norville, in the “sea” colorway. I love this yarn. I made a window treatment with it several years ago, found a ball of it in my stash over the winter, and ordered a bunch more. I’m also using my brand new Knit Picks Caspian wood straight needles, and I love them. The surface has just the right texture for a 2 weight yarn, not as slippery as metal, but more grip than regular bamboo.

There’s a marathon of Season 8 of The Walking Dead, and I’ll alternate between that and a re-watch of an old favorite, Eureka, while I knit. Tonight is the season finale of TWD, as well as the premiere of the new season of Fear the Walking Dead. I can’t wait! I host a live chat on Facebook, and it’s sure to be a ton of fun tonight.

It’s raining off and on, with storms expected later, so it’s a good day for cooking, knitting, and TV. Even rainy, though, it’s a huge step up from our old home in Minnesota, which we fled 4 1/2 years ago. They got over a foot of snow yesterday! Nope, I don’t miss that even a little.

Lazy-Mom Dog Treats

I’m extremely picky about what I feed my dogs. I worked in vet clinics for many years, and managed a holistic practice the last five years of my career. One of my specialties was canine nutrition. I keep Mozzie and Oliver–and every other dog I’ve had for the past dozen-plus years–on a diet of half grain-free kibble and half raw food.

But finding good grain-free treats is tough. They’re also very expensive. Dog-parents have to balance budget versus the time it takes to make your own treats, and recipes are also an issue. Most have whole wheat flour or other grains in them, and others might be grain-free but are messy, smelly, and a huge hassle.

Mozziver dad day

Did you say TREATS?

I try to be a conscientious dog-mom, but I’m also extraordinarily lazy. If it involves a lot of ingredients and prep and clean-up, forget it. But I’ve found the perfect solution. Two ingredients, and totally healthy!

Here you go…

  • One pound RAW ground turkey
  • One RAW sweet potato

That’s it.

Chop the sweet potato into chunks. Toss it in the food processor and chop it to smithereens while the twitchy Mozzie flees the room. Add the ground turkey and process until combined. If you need Mozzie, he’s hiding in the back hall.

Make into patties an inch or two in diameter in the dehydrator, ignoring the poodle at your feet hoping you forget he’s there, trip over him, and drop the raw treat mixture. I dehydrate on 145 degrees for 5-6 hours until they’re crispy and break easily, with maybe a bit of chewiness in the middle.

treats

Turkey and sweet potato treats

I store in the fridge and keep a few on the counter and break a bit off to give the boys when they come in from outside.

You can switch it up a little also. I tried ground beef, but it dries too oily, so I stick with turkey, but today I made a batch with green beans and blueberries instead of sweet potato. It was a lot more moist and squishy than the sweet potato, but they came out well. They took a half hour or so longer in the dehydrator.

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Turkey, green bean, and blueberry treats

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could also do in the oven, on the lowest setting. I’ve never done this, but you probably better keep an eye on them and check them. Maybe turn them after a couple of hours.

And that’s all there is to it! A whole bag of treats lasts me 7-10 days and costs only a few dollars, as opposed to a small bag from the store costing $8-12, depending on brand and size.

You can also simply cut chicken breast or tenderloins into strips and dry them, or beef liver. These make great training treats.

Do you have favorite, easy, low-hassle dog treat recipes? Please share!

What’s Cooking?

For years, I said I couldn’t cook. This wasn’t really accurate, though, because what I meant was I didn’t cook. I always worked outside the home, and cooking simply wasn’t very high on my priority list. There was a period of a year or two when Tom worked only a mile from the house, meaning he got home well before I did, and often had dinner waiting. That was pretty awesome. But typically dinner was my responsibility, and I relied on packaged products or quick and easy recipes with minimal ingredients.

When I started working from home in 2010, I vowed I would “learn to cook.” This actually meant I’d bother to find recipes and acquire ingredients and turn them into tasty, home-cooked delights.

demon

This hasn’t happened yet, but it could. I remain hopeful.

I’ve never understood people who claim they can’t cook. The internet is full of recipes and video tutorials. All you have to do is take a minute to read them, follow the instructions, and–voila!–food.

But then I remember math, and consider things from a different perspective. People claim math isn’t that hard, because numbers are clearly defined and behave in certain ways, and as long as you follow the steps, it always turns out. I beg to differ. Numbers are sneaky, slippery, tricksy things, and we have a longstanding animosity dating back to third grade when I was forced to learn multiplication and fractions. But if I can have some form of (undiagnosed and possibly imaginary) mathematical dyslexia, I guess people can be culinarily dyslexic too.

While I was once known to look into my pantry and sigh, “All I see here are ingredients, but nothing I can actually eat,” I do now cook, and not too badly.

I also bake, though I’m currently forbidden to do so. Tom is watching what he eats, and when I make six dozen cookies, it’s up to him to eat five and a half dozen of them, because I’m a gastric bypass patient and can only tolerate a small amount of sugar.

I don’t do anything fancy. I see friends’ posts of gourmet meals they’ve prepared, with exotic ingredients and complicated presentations. I’m not going to be seeking out specialty markets to procure organic saffron or truffles or imported albino hummingbird eggs or whatever foodies do. But I can produce above-average meals, and in a pinch can peruse the pantry and freezer and come up with some combination of the available options we won’t mind eating.

fine_dining

My dinners will never look like this. At all.

The problem is there are only two of us. While broiling two steaks and baking two potatoes isn’t difficult, most meals end up being large enough to feed a dozen starving Teamsters. If I’m making soup or chili, I learned long ago to just start out using the enormous soup kettle, because by the time I get done adding everything I want in there, I’m going to need that kind of capacity.

This means leftovers. For days. And days. At first, I felt badly about feeding Tom the same thing four days in a row, but he swears he doesn’t mind. He’s thrifty, and the comfort of knowing we’re not wasting perfectly good food makes him happy. Once I got past the feeling I was somehow failing by not cooking fresh meals every single day, I could totally get behind this concept, because it means I might only have to cook twice a week.

santafe

Slow cooker full of Santa Fe Chicken. This usually takes care of dinner for about four days, until the risk of botulism outweighs the bother of cooking something else.

While I’ve realized I most certainly can cook, I’d still rather not. Even though I don’t have to brave the Out to go to work, I do still have a full workday with managing the editorial department, all the managerial admin stuff, and editing for my clients. When I meet my goals for the day, I’d much rather crochet and watch Netflix than trash my kitchen making dinner.

The other challenge is finding things we’ll both eat. Tom prefers lots of meat, rice or potatoes, and if vegetables are nowhere to be found, he’s 100% fine with that. I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like, or a bread, and I prefer most dishes without any meat at all. I’m happy with peas, artichokes, olives, mushrooms (all of them), eggplant, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, or avocados, all things that make Tom pinch his nose and flee to the other end of the house.

The latest “holy crap, how many days will we be eating this” situation involves ham. Tom can’t pass up a bargain, and he found a Smithfield spiral-cut ham on sale for roughly half price. It is a 12-pound ham. Twelve. Pounds. Google tells me the proper ratio when serving ham is 3/4 pound per guest. My handy-dandy calculator on my phone tells me this works out to 16 people. For the two of us, that would mean eight days’ worth of ham. I know I could freeze some of it, but I hate our freezer. It’s ridiculously small and the compartments are stupid, and it always feels too full. Plus, Mozzie is afraid of it, and every time I open the freezer drawer, he runs from the room.

Fortunately, I exist largely on sandwiches, and I’m doing my best to work my way through Hamzilla. The downside is it makes me thirsty, and my kidneys are starting to wonder what the hell is going on.

What about you? Can you cook? Do you enjoy it? Do you have favorite dishes or kitchen tricks?

And now…time for a sandwich. I still have about eight pounds of ham to eat.