Sunday, 26 February 2012

Homemade Dog Biscuits

One of the more interesting debates amongst vegans and vegetarians is what to feed our pets (never mind the whether we should have pets debates!)

I have vegan friends who feed their pets a vegan diet; I appreciate and admire their commitment.  Megs, however, has a meat filled diet and I have no plans to change it.  For me, the issue is made a non-issue by two things; her heath and her choice.  We nearly lost Megs a couple of times, as a puppy, to a series of bladder and stomach based infections.  Research afterwards pointed to a BARF diet as being her best option to keep them from recurring.  Megs is a carnivore's carnivore; her whole existence revolves around meat and bones and more meat and more bones.  I am fairly certain that I could put her on a vegan diet (she loves lettuce and my homemade tofu dog biscuits) but I am equally certain that she wouldn't be as happy or that if a piece of meat were to be put down as an alternative option, she wouldn't go for that first time, every time.  The only happy alternative for my dog would be the pizza crust diet!

Given a choice, Megs would eat meat; and I'm a stickler for choice.  I've made my choice, it is informed and I know and have weighed up the pros and cons.  I have that capacity, Megs does not and so when I make a choice for her, I have to do so based on what I think is best, and most satisfying, for her; not what I my ethics would prefer.  In just the same way, we feed her very well; locally sourced products where we trust the product and natural treats.  Just as I wouldn't feed a child junk food every day, I don't feed my dog overly processed crap in a bag.

So, thanks to my freezer defrosting itself, on another lovely early spring day with all the kitchen windows wide open and a restorative cider in hand, I found myself knee deep (or so it felt) in defrosted liver!  On it's own, Megs is not too keen; in biscuits, she loves it.  This is more a "by eye" recipe than a measured one, the end result will always be appreciated!  I had approx 900g of liver to use and made generous dollop biscuits; I can no longer stand to handle liver so wimp out and use a couple of spoons rather than roll and shape the dough as I used to.  With dollops ranging from the very-generous-keep-her-busy-for-5-minutes to pocket treats, this amount made 65 biscuits; with the amounts given below, rolled and shaped, I could get approx 30 1.5" diameter circular biscuits.

Liver and Herb Biscuits.
My poor dollops, they don't look pretty, do they!

300g liver
300g wholemeal flour (I use Allisons Wholemeal with Seeds and Grain)
1 tbsp EVOO or sunflower oil
1 egg (beaten and poured in slowly, you may not need all)
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tbsp dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the liver in a bowl and, with a handheld blender, blend till smooth; you will miss bits, but don't worry, they add a little extra texture to the finished product!  Add the herbs and flour and mix loosely together.  Add the oil and the egg (I combine them first) a little at a time, until the mixture has formed into a loose dough.  It shouldn't be dry or the biscuits will split/crumble in the oven but if it's too wet it will be hard to work with. A texture similar to a pizza or bread dough is best.  If it is too wet add a little more flour.

If cheating, like me, dollop your biscuits onto a greased baking sheet, or roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to approx 8 mm thick and cut shapes out.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the biscuits in there overnight to harden.  Once finished, store in an airtight container and, if they last that long!, they should be good for 3 weeks.

PS Having now fed the dobe a few, she loves them I am pleased to say, these biscuits are as hard as I hoped they would be and actually require some chewing!  My dollops are, in some biscuits, over an inch thick and for smaller dogs or older dogs, I would definitely roll the dough out or shape them into small, thin sausages.

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