Wheat-Free Dog Treats

Yeah, I’m now making my dogs their treats. I went there.

I went there for a few reasons. One, treats are expensive. Two, treats that are grain/wheat-free are stupid expensive. Three, there’s a lot of crap in treats that have been recalled lately and no thanks. Four, I mean really, is anyone surprised that I started making my dogs treats? I didn’t think so.

When my little brother gave me the recipe he used for his dog I was in, with some modifications to make them wheat/grain free. Winnie became spay incontinent around a year or so old. The only option we could find was to put her proin and that was my last option. It was taken off the market for humans, so I wasn’t too keen on giving it to my pooch. After some holistic research I came across a woman who said she started feeding grain-free food on a whim from a tip and it stopped the incontinence.

Sure enough, Winnie stopped losing her bladder when she was sleeping within a week of changing her food over. Years later we’ve realized that if she has some grains she’s fine (oatmeal doesn’t bother her), but if she is consistently fed food with wheat grains then forget it. We will be cleaning up sleepy-dog-pee. I’m not a vet. I’m not even close to a vet. I only know what works for us, so I made these treats grain free.

Winnie however, likes to make her own winter specialty wheat-free treats. Snow, mud, and grass. Delicious.

DSC_1346-01Wheat-Free Dog Treats (modified from Dog Treat Kitchen)

Like most of my recipes, measurements are approximate. Also, if your dog has an actual wheat allergy or serious sensitivity you may want to use rolled oats that are certified wheat free or just skip them out for some other grain-free alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 1C Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 to 1C Flax Flour
  • 2C Garbanzo Flour (I throw dried garbanzos in the vitamix and whip up while plugging my ears. It’s loud, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper)
  • 1/3C Peanut Butter
  • 3/4 to 1 1/4C Hot Water

DSC_7686-01Ignore the cookie cutters. This doesn’t come to cookie cutter consistency. At least mine didn’t and I didn’t care. Let’s face it, they are dog treats. I don’t even use cookie cutters on human cookies normally. I originally bought these for crackers which is about the only thing I use cutters for. The A-Z cutters are because I was going to try a kid-cracker-goldfishesque-recipe and what the heck, teach them letters while feeding snacks. Seems like a double whammy to me. Let’s be real though, I’m going to be the one eating them and I might cut them specifically so I can spell certain things and make myself laugh. I don’t know how I keep it classy so much.

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350*.
  2. Get a cookie tray and line it with parchment paper. It helps with release (and you don’t have to wash your pan after, hooolllaaaa).
  3. Mix your dry ingredients.
  4. Mix your wet ingredients. Start with only a 1/2 cup of water. You’ll add more as you go. It’s easier than remedying a super wet recipe to dryer again. Not that I would know anything about these sorts of things.
  5. Mix wet into dry ingredients. Combine. Add more water if needed until they sufficiently hold together but aren’t really sticky.
  6. If you can roll yours out, awesome. I grabbed what would be a small scoop, rolled it between my palms into a round ball and then slightly smooshed between the heels of my hands to slightly flatten them. I had to wash my hands a couple times (with just water) to get the residue dough off my palms. I just kept going until I was done.
  7. Put in your oven until the cookies feel completely dried. You don’t want any moisture in these or they will mold easily. I think mine were in for 45 minutes. Not kidding.
  8. Let the cookies completely cool before you put these in a container. You don’t want any moisture whatsoever or it will make them soft and mold in just under a week. I made the mistake. I caught it in time and put them back in, re-dried them and left them on the counter for an entire day to really make sure they stayed dry.

DSC_7691-01 DSC_7696-01The dogs love these and frankly, act the exact same as the store-bought treats. Also, these seriously took almost no time to throw together, maybe 20 minutes?

Hope you enjoy them! If not? Well, just don’t make them again. Or alter it yourself too. My feelings won’t be hurt. All love, all the time.

xo,

Heather

That One Time We Ate Maple Syrup Over Snow And It Was Delicious.

Hey friends! I just realized it’s not Wednesday. Literally, as I was about to write “It’s Wednesday!” I realized it was Thursday. Excuse me while I place my palm against my face. While this week has clearly been busy for me, this weekend was super laid back and relaxing so let’s discuss what happened. There will be lots of photos coming your way.

DSC_2668-01My mother-in-law lives in the mountains and we decided it was time to get away from renovations and head on up there to meet up with my sister-in-law, her husband and my mother-in-law. In other words it was time to eat a bunch of food, make fires outside to cook on, and oh, there were four dogs. It was perfect.

DSC_2740-01One of my favorite parts of this weekend included tapping a few trees even though it’s the end of maple syrup season. We knew we wouldn’t get much and it would be a tiny boil down since we had about 5 hours of flow, when you minus out that sap doesn’t flow when it’s below freezing. We knew we would have just enough for some syrup over snow and pretty much that’s all we cared about.

DSC_2584-01We went on a hunt for sugar and some red maples on my mother-in-laws land, but stayed close to home so we didn’t have far to transport it. While we don’t have any snow left down here, there are still feet upon feet at her place. Truth be told, I was just excited to go snowshoeing. I’ve been on God’s great earth for almost thirty years, and I have always lived in the Northeast yet somehow I had never strapped on a pair of snowshoes. All it does it keep you from sinking into the snow since it disperses your weight but none-the-less I had a great time searching for trees, walking through the woods, and taking in the views with my husband and brother-in-law.

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DSC_2609-03After we finished tapping trees, it was time for waiting, cutting trees down, hanging out, cooking, baking, beer,, a hilarious homemade kazoo and singing around a kitchen table to hits of the 1990’s, and more relaxation.

DSC_2564-01DSC_2620-01Wait, you want to know more about the homemade kazoo? Or my husband rapping Warren G. and Snoop Dogg? I so wish I could show you but I respect the fact that Andy doesn’t share every single thing he does while I’m the over-sharer. So, out of respect for him I will tell you it was hilarious, loud, and we were in tears. Wax paper, a comb, Grooveshark and a responsible amount of adult beverages make for a very funny night. Then again, funny people make for funny nights and this is a group of funny people. So while you try to imagine that scenario, let me back up and delve into some photos of earlier in the afternoon.

What do you do when you’re smoking meat outside and it’s nice out?

DSC_2645-01You hang outside while looking good. Some people just have it. Don’t hate.

DSC_2622-01The dogs enjoyed finding fun places to lay down…and jump. You know your snow is high when this happens.

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DSC_2697-01So in other words, we’re classy.

Our dogs pretty much love each other but Rosie and Champ have a special affection for each other.

DSC_2673-01 DSC_2674-01 DSC_2677-01 DSC_2678-01Thankfully they completely zonk each other out as well.

DSC_2636-01 DSC_2656-01 DSC_2659-01 DSC_2666-01Rosie could barely keep her eyes open and was resting everywhere.

DSC_2750-01With a fun day of hanging out and hi-jinks the next day we had a nice breakfast, collected the sap and boiled it down. For most of the collections the guys were able to just grab the pails and bags no issue, except for one of the ones up the hill. Clearly this was the best way to bring it down. We were really going for the professional aspect of sapping on this super small, ridiculous, run of boiling.

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How professional were we? Look at this boiling rig.

DSC_2681-01I know it’s really hard seeing this level of class and wishing you could be part of it. With enough effort and classes, you totally can be.

DSC_2686-01Truthfully Andy did a good job using his Yankee ingenuity to put something together to boil this little bit of sap. It’s not anywhere near the evaporator and system used by my brother-in-law during his big (and much more serious) boiling he does at his house.

To boil down sap isn’t super hard at a very small basic level. Obviously, you can see the photo above. This isn’t rocket science people. Pour in the sap through a mesh strainer, skim it when it gets foamy, wait until it gets low and a nice amber to it and it drips of a spoon while still coating it and then strain again. If there’s fresh snow around, eat it on the snow. You won’t regret it but. If you do regret it then I need to seriously evaluate your judgement skills. Let me show you in photos.

DSC_2709-01 DSC_2716-01 DSC_2724-01 DSC_2747-01  DSC_2752-01 DSC_2755-01 DSC_2756-01 DSC_2758-01 DSC_2769-01 DSC_2783-01 DSC_2785-01 DSC_2789-01 DSC_2791-01I think my brother-in-law shows the deliciousness of this best.

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DSC_2808-01 So pretty much, yep. Do this.

DSC_2795-01 DSC_2797-01Also, be prepared to resist faces like this.

DSC_2814-01DSC_2812-01All in all we had an awesome weekend and came home with everything smelling like sweet smoke. Even my camera body still smells like smoke. It was exactly what we needed. Now, back to house renovations.

Which trim….which trim….

RenovationRecap_040313 (5) RenovationRecap_040313 (6)

xo,

Heather

The Annual Wild Berry Harvest

As I’m writing this, I’m watching Primrose out by our old apple tree. It was here, and far overgrown, before we moved in. For no discernible reason it has full sized apples on it in July and August of every year, but they are too high for us to pick. They aren’t great quality, so once dropped on the ground the dogs run out to eat them. Any left overs are bagged up and given to the cows. It makes me laugh every year when I watch the dogs excitedly run to the tree and pick up apples. This year, Rosie has learned she can often carry more than one in her mouth. It’s a funny balance to watch her try and pick up one, only to have the other fall out of her mouth. She’s learned how to carry two, and she’s working on figuring out how to carry three.

For them, this is good food. They know how to harvest what nature gives them to supplement their diet and they enjoy every moment of it. In our house it’s the same way.  We of course have our garden, but we also try to take advantage of the wild harvests in our area from sorrel for salads, to grape leaves. Our favorite harvest though, is the annual wild berry harvest.

Each year around this time, the blackberries, black raspberries and raspberries are starting to explode all around us. We go out weekly at first, and then daily, to harvest the berries to make jam with, freeze, turn into a variety of other items or, our favorite, just eat. This year I even found a few wild blueberry plants. There are always more berries than we can even come close to harvesting, even when we go out multiple times per week.

Where we harvest isn’t something we often disclose to people. We’re certain at least a few more people around here know about it, but we’ve never witnessed anyone else out collecting. There are a few reasons I personally love this spot. For starters I’ve never seen this level of wild berries anywhere. Second, the dogs can run free and wild without worrying about vehicles. Third, I love all of the wild flowers that surround the area this time of year. This is where I picked the wild flowers in this post.

Normally this is a family activity, but with Andy on renovation duty it meant I was the sole harvester this year. Well, with the dogs. The dogs and I have an agreement to make it fair: I get the higher berries, and they get the lower ones.

Rosie is also willing to thrash through the thorny vines if it means she might get a succulent raspberry stash, often found past the blackberries.

We had been watching these berries for weeks, just waiting for the first one to turn black. On Friday night I saw the first one and came home with a palm full of berries for Andy. On Saturday I started the first harvest. It was pretty hot out in the morning when we went, and after about a 1/4 of a gallon bag the dogs started panting heavily. I hadn’t anticipated the heat, or that the water would be dried up from the spot we go, so I had to walk the dogs home but not before they managed to find some thick mud to romp through.

I hadn’t even touched 3/4 of the area we harvest from, but of the bit I did harvest the dogs often beat me to the berries first. As is typical, Rosie stays behind to keep picking at a bush while Winnie runs far ahead to find the next batch before I can get to it.

Though we had to call Saturday morning early, we still got a decent harvest. There will be plenty more harvesting days though before the season is over, which doesn’t last very long. It means I’ll be out just about every night this week picking berries, and of course eating as many black raspberries (my favorite of the bunch) as I can while I harvest.

It takes time, and it can get tedious, but they payoff is totally worth it. Harvesting wild food is incredibly satisfying and nature does all the work for you. There’s no weeding, no watering and no mulching. It’s permaculture at it’s finest, and I for one am happy to partake.

Here’s to more berries, more meals and realizing that if we just stop and look around that the good Lord provides if we’re willing to put in some sweat equity.

xo,

Heather

The Secret Orchard – Part One

If you saw my last post about my dilemma choosing white paint, you might have noticed something was amiss when you saw the picture showing our house. Why are all those tree’s cut down? What’s with all the stumps?

The secrets out. We’re taking down some big old (dying, dangerous) pine trees to make room for a beautiful orchard and berry patch. It’s completed in my head, and trust me – it looks good.

On Sunday morning, our yard looked like this.

Late Sunday morning, while I shoved my face with this unbelievably delicious Farmers Market Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, from Keough Family Farms in Paris, Maine, Mr. A was up to no good. Or rather, lots of good. Lots and lots of wonderful pitchy loud noisy good.

No, I didn’t eat that entire pie. Yes, I did eat the rest of it. In the morning. I have no shame when it comes to Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

By early Sunday afternoon our yard looked like this. Mr. A had to stop using his chainsaw for about an hour while the neighbors grand-kid got married in her yard. Who doesn’t want a chainsaw ripping in the background of their wedding?

Let’s get a better perspective a la Mr. A and the point-and-shoot.

Throughout the week Mr. A worked hard digging up stumps, in the rain.

Have I ever mentioned I love him?

I do.

Today my yard looked like this. By the way, that brush pile is massive. Using Mr. A and our tractor as a gauge still does it no justice. Yes, that tire is coming off the brush pile.Yes, that is our ‘lumber yard’ in the background. We actually do use it. You should have seen it before the barn was started.

So, as of 7:00 on Wednesday night that’s where we are now. Mr. A back-hoeing the stumps out. Tom Cruise judging carefully analyzing his every move.

Winnie and Primrose enjoying their bones, not caring a bit what’s going on in the background.

And finally me, who completely forgot to make dinner because I was so excited to see my Orchard come to life that I’ve been dreaming of. I ended up making some soup and egg salad sandwiches. Ok, I admit I only made the egg salad, I heated up some soup. It however, was delicious.

On a side note, have I ever mentioned Primrose’s ridiculous ears she does when she’s incredibly excited/cheeky? I’m not sure I have.

Until next time my friends. In the mean time, I will be sure to keep clicking photos, hopefully not forget to feed my hardworking stud-muffin and you can rest assured I will be eating lots, and lots, of Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

Happy Landscaping and Pie Eating,

Heather

Two Little Birds, Sitting on a Cake, K.I.S.S.I.N.G

When we first got engaged I was going to hand make everything. Then I came to my senses. Even Primrose was clearly unimpressed with my original idea. It was seriously going to cut into her play time. Not. Happening.

So when it came to the cake I was going to buy the topper. I really was, promise. Thanks to Mr. A’s awesome-super-spectacular sister and brother-in-law over at Mason Street, we are receiving a particularly delicious home made simple carrot and chocolate cake.  After perusing Etsy for the perfect cake topper, and a multitude of other sites, I re-evaluated and decided I had to make my own. Not only were the unique ones I loved incredibly expensive but my heart and head kept saying “but I can maaakkee that”.

When both your head and heart and everything in you agrees – listen to it.

I started sketching ideas out. For whatever reason I kept being drawn to birds. Simple, sweet &  little humorous birds. We live in a relatively country area and since we love hearing them in the spring it just seemed to fit. Okay, let’s keep it real. Birds are way easier to make than people and dogs and all that jazz, but if anyone asks it’s totally because we live in the country and love birds. Ahem.

With the plethora of reclaimed wood we have, paints, a simple scroll saw Mr. A got me for Christmas that I luh-hove, I knew this would work. I chose my sketch, transfered it freehand onto the wood and went to work. In about 5 minutes I had them cut out. Next I painted them. Finally, we were going to dowel them, but decided to rest them right on the cake instead. As our cake is going to be so perfectly basic, I didn’t even paint wings on this pair – I wanted to keep them super super whimsical and simple.

Check out these little cuties.

Poor Winnie, she was bred to be a hunting dog, and this is what she gets. I owe her one, big time.

Happy Trying Not To Craft,

Heather