Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The cook, her helper, the critic and the old fella.

You know how, sometimes, things conspire to make you feel like a lazy, bad, good-for-nothing person?

On Tuesday, I met a lovely lady who politely refused to let me give her dog a tiny piece of schmackos because she considered them no better than plastic and poison.

On Wednesday night, I found a note on my facebook wall from a friend, Ms Amy, who told me she'd baked her dog, Millie, a birthday cupcake.
In fact, 2. One with icing, and one without.
HaPpy * BiRthday, Millie!
Millie looked very happy that someone loved her enough to bake her a birthday cupcake.

On Thursday night, I found 2 simple recipes for liver treats on My Little Dog, a blog that had just become Fwiend #28 the day before. How's that for timing? Ms Didi had posted a liver cake recipe. Ms Pamela had shared another way to do liver in the comments section.

More coincidence. I had a bag of liver in the freezer. It'd been there for a couple of months because The Person Who'd Bought The Stuff didn't want to cook it for himself. 

It was obvious what the cosmos was trying to tell me. Who was I to argue?

On Friday, I dutifully spent the morning making liver treats for my doggies.

This 1st recipe was from the comment that Ms Pamela from Something Wagging made on My Little Dog. It took her 2 lines to share the recipe.I'm going to try to do it in under 300 words and with a lot of pictures.

Slow-Baked Liver Treats For Dummies.
The bag in the freezer had a mix of chicken and pig liver, plus 2 chicken hearts [in right hand bottom corner]. I trimmed off the fat and sliced them into pieces of more or less the same thickness.
"I think you may have thrown some bits away by mistake."
 "THERE! See?"
"Let me get it for you."

Start time.
Temperature in Centigrade.
"Hmmm. Are you sure the oven's hot enough? It seems to be taking a long time."
30 minutes into baking, things got a bit pungent and I found myself taking quick shallow breaths. Unless you're a fan of foods like fermented tofu, dried reindeer and haggis, you might too. 

1st Memo to Self: Open all windows and doors before cooking liver.

As the liver slowly cooked, I hung out the laundry, swept the yard, pruned a few bushes and did some ironing.

2 hours later, it looked like this. 
I flipped the pieces over. The undersides looked as pale as a Brit backpacker on Bondi beach.
Flies started to swarm into the kitchen. I wanted to take a picture of them but only 1 obliged by staying still.
2nd Memo to Self: Liver treats are best made on cool or rainy days when there are less flies around.

I decided to put the liver back into the oven so the undersides could brown up too.

After a while, it hit me that they didn't smell bad anymore. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd think I was grilling ribs.
After 3 hours, I started to wish I was smart enough to calculate if it was actually worth 3 hours of electricity to make a little container of liver treats.

3rd Memo to Self: Make a bigger quantity next time. Maybe a kilo.
After 3 and 1/2 hours...
Of course it was worth it! Look at them! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside! Pure liver! Still warm from the oven!

The slow-baked liver treats were a success! Not only with Georgia and Rufus, but also with The Other Half [who came close to eating a piece himself].

Duly inspired, I set out yesterday morning to try Ms Didi's exciting liver cake recipe. Never one to take the easy way out, I'd also googled more liver recipes over the weekend. I found a site called dogtreatkitchen [which now sits on my sidebar].

Rufus has pancreatitis. And both dogs have had woffly tummies lately, so I decided to compare all the different liver-based recipes on offer and come up with my own "safe" concoction. Being a hopeful rather than accomplished cook, I had no clue if the combination of ingredients would work.

My This, That & The Other Offal Cake Biscuit Brownie
250 g chicken liver
125g chicken hearts
2 eggs
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1 and 1/4 cups oat flour
1/4 cup unprocessed bran
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
I didn't have any oat flour so the 1st thing I did was to grind up some oatmeal [mixed with bran].
After that, I started working on the offal and carrot. This was my 1st ever attempt at pureeing offal. I won't lie to you. It was pretty awful.
Rufus isn't allowed egg yolks anymore. So I used 1 full egg, and 1 egg white. I think 1 yolk, spread over a whole batch of cake that he'll only get, a bit a day, should be fine. I discovered, by accident, a neat way of separating the egg white from the yolk - make a hole in the shell rather than crack it open, and drain the white out.
I added the oat flour and bran to the pureed liver, hearts and carrot. I tried my best not to look at it too much because it wasn't pretty.
It didn't look much better after blending in the eggs and chicken stock. It was also ridiculously sloppy.
Interestingly enough, there was no smell. I'm wildly guessing here, that the oat and bran flour absorbed the smell. Go on. Laugh! if you're the clever scientist type.

Thanks to the chicken stock, the final mixture was quite runny. This was completely intentional. I figured the oat flour would need to absorb quite a bit of moisture while it was cooking.
 I set the temperature at 180degreesC, fanforced, and the timer for 30 minutes.
5 minutes later, I had a hairy moment when the mixture started bubbling up. I thought it might pop, overflow and splatter all over the oven. That would have made me quite cross. But it didn't happen. Maybe I'd chalked up enough brownie points with the cosmos by then.

4th Memo to Self: Use a deeper pan.
Meanwhile, the customers were getting angsty.
"This place has very slow service."
 "Very slow indeed."
After about 20 minutes, the top was a nice brown and the cake had shrunk from the sides of the pan so I took it out.

It was the flattest cake I'd ever seen in my life. At this point, I decided to rename it a "biscuit".

It was cooked but still soft at the bottom. I wanted it more crisp, so I cut it into pieces...
...flipped them over...
and put them back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
Everyone's a critic.
But not every critic is harsh.
A few pieces later...

 "Okay, that wasn't too bad."
So now, we have 2 little containers of homemade liver treats sitting in the fridge. They must be consumed within the next 7 or so days because they have no preservatives. I'm guessing Rufus and Georgia won't have a problem with that. I'm a bit perturbed at the farting that went on last night and hope it didn't have anything to do with the treats.

All in all, I'm quite chuffed with myself for being a good dogmom and hope the cosmos leaves me alone for a bit.

Pity I didn't have time to cook dinner for us humans too.


Here's some interesting reading I discovered while googling liver recipes.

1. It's best to use organic, hormone-, steroid- and antibiotic-free liver. I didn't this time, but I will from now on.

This is what The Old Fella had to say, "Rubbish! Why?"

Here's why:

2. There are lots of common foods that are NOT okay with dogs, or okay ONLY in small doses.

This is what The Old Fella had to say, "Rubbish! What do you mean no macadamia and beer?"

Here's the list from 2 different sources:


Update Thursday 24th February  Ms Karen kindly shared these  recipes on her Doggie Stylish blog :) 

If you're completely new at making liver treats [like I am], you'll find a few more good suggestions in the comments section below, by people who have more experience, thank goodness! Based on one of those comments, I've also changed the "biscuit" to "brownie". I think this more accurately describes the texture of the treat as they are now [the few that are left!].

If you do try these recipes, I'd love to hear how they turned out.

Good luck, and as always, xox


Sage said...

Wow--what dog wouldn't like those treats? I told Mom I need to move closer to you!!

Pamela said...

Thanks for the shout out. Your pictures and words captured the process of baking liver perfectly. If you ended up with too much, it freezes pretty well.

I guess I should have mentioned that I never make liver treats in the oven during the summer. I save that for the winter. In fact, I never turn my oven on at all in the summer.

However, I did try sun drying tomatoes once on the dashboard of my car. I guess you could try that with the liver (cover it with cheesecloth to keep the bugs away) but I can't say what your car would end up smelling like. Let's just say the police would probably be contacting you about all the unsolved murders around town.

Once again, a great post with lots of good information that made me laugh out loud. How do you do it? And at 3 a.m. yet?

Jen said...

I make liver treats all the time for my dogs, so thank you for sharing that link to a liver cake! My pups will be ECSTATIC!!

Anyway, I do my liver treats a bit differently- I boil them first, for about 20 minutes or so, until they are mostly cooked. Then, I throw them in he oven for 30-40 minutes until they are mostly dried up and browned on the outside. Flip once, half way through or so. Oven at 200F. It migh shorten up your cook time and accomplish the same thing, I am guessing!

I also know a lady who does her liver treats in a slow cooker, but I have no idea for how long!

Jen and the Black Dog Crew

Anonymous said...

"I flipped the pieces over. The undersides looked as pale as a Brit backpacker on Bondi beach."

love it

georgia little pea said...

@Pamela & Jen - thank you for the tips!

I will definitely try your method next time, Jen. Sounds much more manageable, time wise.

I will definitely NOT be trying YOURS, Pamela. I'm still wondering whether you're serious that you made sun dried tomatoes on your dashboard. You certainly think outside the box! :)

amy.s said...

Thank-you for the treats millie loved them! No photos yet but there are plenty of treats left so I'll get a shot for you :)

I'm definitely not dedicated enough to cook for millie, she gets mince!

georgia little pea said...

Oh goodie, another satisfied customer :)i'll update this post when i get the pic so make it look like she'd kill for more, ok?

DawgBlogger said...

Yummy! We equipped ourselves with a food dehydrator. So we make treats in there. It's a industrial one from an auction, so it makes quite a batch, so probably energy more effective. Either way, those jerky treats are highly popular :-

Kristine said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting these great recipes. I love baking for my dog but am much too lazy to come up with anything on my own, so thanks for coming up with all this for me. I have bookmarked this page so I won't even have to spend much time looking for it. With all the agility stuff happening, I am going to need the best treats I can find.

Your photos crack me up. I love your dogs, especially Georgia. If only I could borrow her for a little while.

Chandra said...

Wow, you have racked up some serious DogMom points!

GLP looked incredibly worried that RTB had commandeered the area directly in front of and around the oven! Loved the action photos of the taste tests and the trio of shots in your "1st memo to self" actually made me queasy - well done!

-c at ddy.

georgia little pea said...

@ Jana - oh lord. i owe you something! soon! an industrial dehydrator sounds awesome and what every loving dogmom needs.

@ Kristine - send me your address please. i will send her as soon as i find a big enough box.

@ Chandra - perhaps i should have included a coffee and blogroll warning again! Çp please don~t ask me what that sign means, my computer is just chucking it out. HELP!

Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe said...

Those liver treats look great! And we bet they would be enjoyed by kitties, too!

ceekay said...

You're soooo lucky, Georgia. Your SAHH obviously loves you a lot. Most days I don't even get a nice, warm hot meal to come home to after a long, hard day at work. You think I should get a new SAHH?

georgia little pea said...

@T,L&SJ - you know, i~ve been thinking the liver cake-biscuit smells just like fish food flakes. so i~m going to say YES!

@ceekay - be careful what you wish for Ç) see: the computer is sick again. why::: those were supposed to be question marks.

houndstooth said...

You're a brave, brave woman! I hate liver and I don't know if I could stomach the smell of it baking in the kitchen! :P I enjoy baking for the dogs sometimes, but liver is where my love has its limits!

georgia little pea said...

hello houndstooth, thank you for being #34 :)

i hate liver too so i surprised myself. i think it can only get easier from here. right? 5th Memo to Self: Do not eat before cooking liver.

Karen Friesecke said...

Nice treats! I like the second recipe so much that I might make it for Jersey.

Janeen McMurtrie said...

So I'll take you up on that email offer.

Just found your place surfing around and how could I not love a post about 'offal cake'!

I am the clever scientist type and while I (currently) have no idea how oat and bran flour might absorb offal odors (pun intended) I do know enough about metals and toxicology to explain that livers are designed to bioaccumulate nasty toxic things like heavy metals. So if you're going to use much liver - you're right, it is best to use liver from organic or wild animals.

Janeen McMurtrie
Red Wing, MN

georgia little pea said...

heloooo... i'm so happy a clever scientist dropped by. it's so much more believable when you use words like "bioaccumulate" :) if you ever find out about the offal odors [pun intended too], please do let us know. THANK YOU!

p.s. this comment thing is offal isn't it? :p

Anonymous said...

Well done and thanks for sharing so many photos. Your original liver 'mixture' is very interesting, but it seems to have worked.
I take it from your memos that you didn't like the smell very much? :D I don't either, all windows plus the back door are always open when the smelly stuff is in the oven. I haven't found a better solution to deal with the odours. Yet.
I was chuffed to see the 'customers' lying in front of the oven like I thought they'd do. And I'm even more pleased that they liked the final product.
Thanks for the useful links at the end of the post. I'll check them out later.

Jean said...

Okay, now I know Charley and Sadie will be leaving me and heading your way - dried liver treats (and liver brownies, which are a popular homemade dogtreat here, though I don't make them myself) are their absolutely, positively, most favouritest treat in the world.
Love the shots of Mr. R. Thumper taste testing them. I'm glad he decided to give them a second chance.

Anonymous said...

Back in the former house I used to bake treats on a regular basis. (They do not turn out as well with an electric oven. - for me.)
Before you even mentioned it my first thought (memory) was do it on a day when the windows can be open, preferably with a gentle breeze.
Looks like this recipe may be an acquired taste.

georgia little pea said...

@Jean - BROWNIES! Is that what they are? I think that may be a much better name for it. 2 days later, they're definitely more brownie-like in texture. No more crispiness. They also don't smell liverish at all. More like a Bakers Delight vegemite scroll. R&G are fans alright :)

Lavinia said...

I came over to thank you for the good ideas about making a dog "wait patiently". I'm trying to teach Aschiuta the "wait" command, but she can only last a few seconds (and only for treats).

Enough about that... I couldn't help reading this post and I'm really happy you went through all the trouble of taking pictures and helping us learn from your mistakes. I hope the treats were a success with the critics in the end :)

georgia little pea said...

Well now you can make your own treats for Aschiuta :)

Yes, they're a great success, not only with Rufus and Georgia, but also with their friends at the park who've been lucky enough to score some!

melf said...

I think I'm going to try the second recipe out. The first one sounded like it smelled too bad and being that it''s winter here I can't imagine what I would do outside for 2 hours.

Loved the pics and commentary. As always, you make your blog so fun to read. Great humor.
Thanks for sharing the recipes!