BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Save Strummer!

The news landed in my inbox like a bombshell detonating upon impact. Cancer, that most insidious yet omnipresent disease, had struck again, wrapping its sickly fingers around yet another loved one. It’s one of the realities that I fear most, in my heart of hearts, so deeply that even saying the word feels like a punch in the face. I have experienced its destructive wake firsthand, losing someone so kind and compassionate that it seemed like the most perverse twist of fate. Let’s be honest, it still does, and it still stings bitterly. It still reams me out every time I think about it.

Hearing that this horrendous illness has touched another loved one, no rhyme or reason to its cruel selection, is difficult to process. Especially when that person is actually a dog; the smallest dog I’ve ever known or loved. Strummer, the endlessly loving pup cared for by Melisser, has the uncanny ability to connect with everyone she meets. It’s impossible to understand how such a terrible hand could be dealt to this gentle soul.

But cancer is not a death sentence, and I’ll be damned if the whole world isn’t fighting alongside this tiny pup. Small but mighty, she has the heart of a lion, handling treatment with grace thus far. To help pay for medical bills, Melisser has put out a call for assistance, offering up prizes as a thank you for contributing, although I get the sense that the prizes aren’t even a consideration for most donations. Stunningly, the goal of $3,000 was clobbered within 48 hours of opening up the fundraiser, and still the love and support continues to pour in. Any additional funds will be sent to an animal sanctuary, so there’s still a reason for kicking in a few dollars if you can.

Up for offer as one of the raffle prizes will be my Green Goodies. Wholesome dog treats for sharing with your own beloved pup, they’re made with power-packed spinach and green pea flour, among other more humble superfood ingredients.

We’re all rooting for you, Strummer! For those who can’t donate or don’t win these treats, the recipe is as follows. It’s worth the investment in time to share with the pup you love.

Green Goodies (Dog Biscuits)

1/2 Cup Fresh Spinach, Packed
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter or Tahini
2 3/4 Cups Green Pea Flour
2 Tablespoons Whole Flaxseeds, Ground
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silpat.

Place the spinach and 1/3 cup of water in your blender. Blend on high until thoroughly pureed and as smooth as possible. Add in the applesauce, peanut butter or tahini, and pulse to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, mix together the green pea flour, ground flaxseeds, and parsley. Once all the dry goods are well distributed, pour the wet mixture into the bowl. Use a wide spatula to combine, and switch to mixing with your hands when the dough becomes too thick to stir. The resulting dough should be very stiff, but if you can’t fully incorporate all the dry ingredients, add the remaining water while stirring, one tablespoon at a time.

Sprinkle a generous coating of pea flour over a clean surface and pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Use small cookie cutters (approximately 1 inch wide in any shape you desire) to cut out the biscuits. If the dough is too sticky to manage, dip the cookie cutters in pea flour first, and then reshape the biscuits after removing. Transfer the shapes on your prepared baking sheet, placing them close together as the treats will not spread or rise. Repeat until all the dough has been cut into treats.

Bake for 28 – 32 minutes, until golden brown and dry to the touch. Let cool completely before storing in an air-tight container or sharing with your furry friend.

Makes 3 – 4 Dozen Small Biscuits

Printable Recipe


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Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen is typically the year that one bridges the gap from childhood to adulthood, coming of age through the lens of tradition. Though not much really changes, aside from the ability to achieve legal employment, the number symbolizes great expectations for any young pup. But what about an actual pup? Age ain’t nothing but a number, especially now that my old lady clocks in at 77 years old in dog years. She may not be on the path to a promising career at this rate, but she does still have plenty to look forward to, like cake, for starters.

Inspired by the need for softer treats to better suit her particular dental situation, cake-like cookies seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Cookies aren’t quite enough to celebrate such a significant event, though, so I turned to my favorite cookie with an identity crisis: The whoopie pie (or in this case, “woofie” pie.) It’s definitely not a pie, despite the name, and much more like a mini-cake than a sandwich cookie, but semantics aside, they’re hard to resist. Using carob to keep them dog-friendly rather than chocolate, they look just as delicious as their traditional counterparts, but you might want to stick to the classic to suit a human palate. Added sugar is something my baby simply doesn’t need in her diet, so these treats look much sweeter than they actually taste. Additionally, dogs shouldn’t get excessive amounts of salt, so you’ll notice that it’s lacking in this formula as well. Regardless of what it does and doesn’t contain, Isis didn’t care much as she wolfed down her birthday surprise in record time. It may not be as grand as the plated dessert I lavished on her a few years back, but I’d like to believe it was met with equal appreciation.

Woofie Pies

Carob Sandwich Coookies:

1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Carob Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Cup 100% Carrot Juice or No Salt Added Vegetable Stock
1/4 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Cream Filling:

1 Cup White Potatoes, Peeled, Diced, Boiled, and Mashed*

*Potatoes are safe for dogs to eat, but you must be very careful about their preparation. The potatoes must be thoroughly and completely cooked- Never feed a dog raw potato. Likewise, never use any potatoes that have any green parts, as those are highly toxic to dogs. For a more complete list of foods to avoid when cooking for canines, check here.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silpats.

Carob can be rather clumpy, so be sure to sift it before measuring if necessary. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, carob powder, baking powder and soda, distributing the dry goods equally throughout the mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the carrot juice or vegetable stock, vinegar, pumpkin puree, and oil, stirring lightly to break up the pumpkin. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix with a wide spatula just until the batter comes together with few lumps. There’s no need to beat it completely smooth, but make sure that there are no pockets of flour remaining.

Use a small cookie scoop or two spoons to portion out equal, walnut-sized dollops of the batter on your prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 6 – 9 minutes, until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly. Let cool completely on the sheets before filling.

For the cream filling, simply mash the cooked potato until it’s completely smooth and spread about 1 – 2 teaspoons on the flat side of one cookie. Top with a second, and repeat until all the cookies are filled. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 24 Cookies or 12 Filled Woofie Pies

Printable Recipe


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Age is Just a Number

Aside from the benign lumps and gently clouding eyes, my darling puppy really isn’t showing her age, and is greeting the oncoming years [for the most part] with grace, just as any mature woman should. If you ask me, she doesn’t look a day older than 8. One would never guess that my little sweetheart has just turned 14 years old a few days ago!

Can you believe it? Supposedly, that’s 98 in dog years; Quite the milestone, indeed. While I would have loved nothing more than to make a big to-do about the event, and fuss over some elaborate treat for the birthday girl, that was simply not in the cards this time around. Between the book release, final exams, and a couple new projects still up my sleeve, it’s been challenging just tending to Isis’s everyday needs (such as letting her outside and then inside 50 times straight, refilling her water dish, and repeating that cycle over and over until the sun goes down.) However, I couldn’t let the day pass without some sort of special snack…

Think of a popsicle without a stick, made especially for the canine palate, and you’d have the Pup-sicle! Peanut butter-flavored, with a sprinkle of ground flax seeds for nutrition, this is one chilly treat that will be even more of a hit in the hot summer months. I can’t share the recipe just yet, as it has something to do with one of those upcoming projects I mentioned… So stay tuned for more details!

Ever cautious, Isis took a few preliminary licks when presented with this birthday gift…

…And quickly deeming the frozen biscuit not only edible, but highly tasty, she happily wolfed it down in a few large bites.

Happy Birthday, Isis- We’ll just have to celebrate the next one twice as much!

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