Posts Tagged by Baking
|June 8, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Recipes, Soul food, Videos|
Shhh…. Can you keep a secret?
My Rusty has a rep to uphold: that of a maniacal cat-chasing poodle. Unbeknownst to him, his favorite treats are – gasp! – cat treats. Shhh…. Please don’t tell him about my beastly betrayal. He’d never forgive me. Or I’d be eating cat food. Or both. Probably both.
Kitty treats are the perfect size for my little guy.
He loves Grizzly NuTreats for cats; Organix cat treats; and simple, small cubes of poached chicken breast – which, of course – are a canine & feline fave. While processed dog treats aren’t healthy for your cat, the reverse is fine. Just don’t go overboard. Look for a short ingredient list, preferably organic with few or no grains, sourced & made in USA. Healthiest of all, barring any allergies, is a single-ingredient, human-grade treat. Basically, you should be ok eating your pet’s treat. So go ahead & simmer some chicken. And save the broth. I hear it’s good for the soul!
Determined to satisfy Rusty’s taste buds & not leave our, well, my feline friends out, I baked a batch of cat-friendly goodness.
These beauties are uber-easy & hella-healthy. Yes, I taste-tested them. So did Elliott’s mom, who happens to be a nutritionist. In fact, it was her idea. She thought they looked yummy & was curious. How awesome is that? While we agree that tuna-flavored biscuits aren’t our thing, Rusty & Elliott couldn’t get enough of them!
Rusty’s Crazy-Tasty Tuna Treats
Ingredients (use organic wherever possible):
One 5-oz. can of tuna, no salt added & packed in water – drained
1 cup oat flour (Buy it prepared, or simply make your own by grinding old-fashioned oats in a food processor.)
1 large egg
1 Tbs olive oil
1 heaping Tbs fresh parsley (I used Italian, but Pup might like curly parsley’s milder flavor. For Kitty, use 1 Tbs dried catnip.)
Place rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for later.
In a food processor with the blade attachment, blend all ingredients until a smooth dough forms.
This adorable dough is easy to work with – not too sticky. Roll it into 1 1/4 ” balls. Arrange the balls on the lined baking sheet. Use a skewer to press an “x” into each ball.
Bake for about 17 minutes, until the treats are dried on top & slightly browned. Cool completely before your pet (or you!) dig in. Store them in an airtight container in your frig for up to 7 days.
~ Gently tweaked from Joy The Baker~
I don’t put catnip in Rusty’s treats because, quite honestly, we haven’t had the ‘nip talk.
But you should have that chat with your cat. Sit Princess down & have a heart-to-heart. Let’s face it, if you don’t tell Kitty about catnip, who will?
Rusty & I agree on many things:
First, if you have oat flour left over, you should make the dog treats below, too. Second, we choose our baked goods by their aromas. Third, we won’t eat cat poop. Also, we love to laugh. Finally, we’re easily driven to distraction. So, even if you don’t make Alton’s stinky treats, watch his fun little vid ’til the very end ‘cuz…… SQUIRREL!! LOL & BOL ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|February 9, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Worthy reads|
Sigh. My cholesterol’s high.
Not disastrously so, but it surprised my doctor & I @ my last wellness checkup. How could that be? My doc gave me homework, “Check your family history, and change your diet.” While my diet’s not off-the-hook horrible, I can certainly make changes. I won’t be guzzling 6-packs of highly caloric Ensure anymore, as I did a few months ago to survive my 2-week complete appetite loss that followed the news that my husband’s divorcing me. And I won’t be stress eating the quickest sugar-laden, simple carb within reach, as I did once my appetite returned. I will reduce saturated fats & increase fiber. Upon recheck, my cholesterol’s down but still a tad high. Good news! I’m on the right track, but, as it turns out, I have work to do on two fronts: self-care via diet & battling genetics.
I just finished reading “Am I Being Kind?” by Michael Chase.
It’s a lovely book; you should read it. I intend to revisit it @ least twice a year. Each read will impact me differently as I journey through my life’s recent & rapid changes. In the book, Michael recommends asking yourself as you go about your day if you’re being kind to yourself, others & the Earth. Being kind to yourself is a must, if you wish to give kindness to others. In short, wellness matters; it’s self-kindness. So now when I eat, I ask myself, “Am I being kind to my body if I eat this?”
I also recently read Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine“.
My take-away (one of many) from her science-based, must re-read gem is that our minds contribute to good health or a lack of wellness. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create & compound illness. So, for example, if I walk around thinking that I’m bound to have high cholesterol because it runs in my family, then I’m more likely to have it. If, however, I genuinely believe (& I do) that I can affect my health in a positive way by reducing stress & improving my diet, then that’s quite possibly my future reality. Since my numbers & my family’s history both surprised me, I’ve got a real shot @ positively thinking my way to wellness.
I plan to thrive, not merely survive.
I choose a life of happiness & kindness shared with friends, family, pets & clients. I would give nothing less to Rusty. Now, I promise me that I’ll give nothing less to me. Wellness is now a priority. Having said that, I delight in good food & wine. Baking feeds my soul; I believe in real butter, cream & dark chocolate. What’s a high-LDL gal to do? Moderation, variety & creativity, of course!
Pears? Not so much.
Yes, they’re in season. Yes, they’re adorable. So much so, they’ve inspired countless artists’ still lifes. I want to take them home & fill a bowl with them – or bake with them – or drink them. I cherish a nice pear cosmo. And, a chocolate-pear scone would be divine but not kind to me now. But to eat a plain pear is dicey. While Rusty loves them, I detest their fuzzy grittiness. It’s a texture thing. My challenge: make fiber-rich, fat-free pears visually and tastefully appealing to me. How? You’ll see….
Ruth’s Spicy Chunky Pear Sauce
8-10 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher. (If you want a smoother sauce, wait for it to cool. Then use an immersion or upright blender or a food processor.)
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in glass containers (healthier than plastic) in the frig for up to a week. To keep it longer, freeze or can it. Pear-fection!
~Tweaked from Two Peas & Their Pod~
Rusty LOVES the pear sauce as much as I do.
I picked the currants out of his portion. (No grapes, raisins or currants for dogs. The spices in the sauce are dog-friendly.) If you have pears but aren’t feeling saucy, just share them with your dog as is. (Don’t let Pup have the core or the seeds. Give one cube a day, as a little fiber for Fido goes a long way.) Or, pop them in the oven as I did to make Rusty’s Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 375°. Peel & cube pears to desired treat size. Put pear chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until pear pieces feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Roasting makes them sweeter (not gritty) for you & Pup!
Moderation, variety & creativity are truly the spices of life & wellness.
My pear sauce is undoubtedly heavenly on fiber-rich oatmeal. It’s amazing on fat-free & yummy Cardamom-Pistachio Biscotti. But this girl knows a good thing when she tastes it: spicy pear sauce, warmed & spooned over coffee ice cream makes me do a happy dance! Listen, wellness isn’t about deprivation, ‘cuz YOLO. It’s about respecting and nurturing your body & soul. Pear-fection, indeed!
How do you strike a balance between health & happiness?
Please share your stories & recipes. We’re drooling with anticipation! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|December 13, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
Cue music: “These are a few of my favorite things”….??
Well, sort of. If I catch a whiff of patchouli from a lovely earth-muffiny gal while browsing my local health food store or farmers’ market, I like it. I just wouldn’t wear it. After 20 plus years of working with pets, I’ve learned to go scent-free. Perfume can irritate, scare and even agitate animals. I do love earthy (not floral), realistic scents, though. I adore Thymes’ Frasier Fir candles. They smell uncannily like an evergreen tree, which is lovely year round. If I’m not working with animals, I’ll wear Aveda’s Stress-fix. It’s a calming, soothing blend of lavender & sage – and it works! I certainly can’t get mad @ a non-regifted, artisanal fruitcake. (They DO exist.) Heads up, fruitcake haters: the best uniquely similar, yet way yummier treat I’ve ever had was the house-made Panforte di Mendocino @ Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, CA. (Follow the link to order it online.) So there you have it. Now you really know a few of my favorite things. I feel like Oprah!
Cranberries. We love ’em, right?
How about pecans, oranges & currants? (NOT raisins – icky to me & toxic to pets.) All ok? No rum-soaked, candied green things here – what are those, anyway? Assuming you’re on board, Rusty & I are going with the cranberry theme. His fave treats are Honest Kitchen’s Smooches. They simply contain barley flour, chicken, molasses, water, eggs, coconut oil, cranberries & Parmesan cheese. (Remember: If you are giving your pet processed treats, look for ones made in the USA with the shortest ingredient list. Organic is better, if you can find it. Homemade, of course, is always best.) I like HK’s Smooches because they are only 2.3 calories each. Plus, their larger size and rough texture help clean my little guy’s teeth. Rusty has another cranberry product on deck to taste test: Cranimals Gold. It’s a supplement that contains only cranberries & seaweed. It’s packed with antioxidants & omega 3. I’ll put it in non-fat, plain organic Greek yogurt as a healthy treat for him. Yum!
Prepare for tasty goodness, friends.
I discovered a cranberry quick bread to die for. It’s a seriously simple, one-bowl recipe. The most muss & fuss you’ll do is cutting 1 1/2 cups of cranberries in half. Patience, grasshopper. It’s worth it. Or – delegate to someone who’s not dangerous with a knife. Pop the batter in your oven, & your whole house will smell like the holidays. That’s way better than patchouli, peeps.
Ruth’s Not-a-fruitcake Quick Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed OJ (I prefer satsumas, but naval oranges are fine. Not store bought OJ, please!)
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen, sliced in half
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, toasted & cooled slightly
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.
Place flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt & baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk well. Add OJ, melted butter, egg & vanilla. Stir until just combined. Fold in cranberries, currants & nuts until evenly distributed. Don’t over stir.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners & smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, in about 65 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely — if you can wait that long!
~Adapted from Chow.com~
I hope we helped you finish your holiday shopping & baking!
BTW: The quick bread makes a great gift, as does my cranberry granola. Now, please sit back & let the ugly truth fly: How do YOU really feel about fruitcake and/or patchouli? Do you have favorite holiday treats (for pets or peeps) that you buy or make? How about a fave scent? Please share links & recipes! Funnier yet, we’d love to hear about the tastes & scents you hope Santa forgets this year!
Happy holidays, y’all! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|August 9, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
MJ is having a great summer with her 2-year-old American bulldog buddy, Ronin.
As much as she loves Ronin, it’s visiting pittie, Harley, who stole her heart. Of Harley, MJ says, “I haven’t felt love like that since Maggie was alive.” Sweet!
Mike hits Hawaii’s beaches regularly with Cooper. (Lucky boys!)
They make quite a team. Recently, Mike wrote about good times with Cooper, who regularly reminds him to let go of negatives and savor life’s gifts. That’s a precious lesson that we can all learn from our pets, our teachers.
“My saving grace, this loving, joyful creature. He dissolves any anguish, fear, self-doubt and reminds me that its time to swim, go to the park, create frozen yoghurt treats or play with 100 tennis balls or the best, ride with the top down, the ocean breeze flapping through jowls and floppy ears.”
Lovely. And since you can’t keep an artisan baker out of the kitchen, Mike got busy making Bouchon Dog Biscuits for his buddy, Cooper. (The recipe is from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery“, and the tasty treats are served @ the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.) Mike adapted the recipe as follows:
“Get the good bacon, chicken livers, cornmeal, flour – a pound of each – and chicken broth to wet. I added a large handful of (non-instant) oats. Saute & puree. Add cornmeal, chicken broth and flour into a workable dough. Roll out, use a doggie bone cookie cutter, and bake at 250 until hard. Mix egg white and 3 Tbl ketchup [for a] wash and brush on. Finish in a 200 [degree] oven for half hour. Done!”
Mike joked that these goodies go well “with afternoon tea or champagne”. I don’t doubt that @ all. I suspect Cooper’s humans sampled these right along with him. Since Rusty’s tummy doesn’t do pork, I’ll trust that the biscuits passed human & canine taste tests with flying colors. Bone appetit!
So how’s the summer going for you & your pets?
Please share in the comments….
There’s still plenty of summertime left for us all to live vicariously through your adventures – or – to give them a go ourselves!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|June 4, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle|
I’m honored to welcome Mike Lee as a guest blogger for The Soulful Pet!
A bit of bio on Mike, in his own words: “In my professional roles as executive director/nonprofit consultant; my avocation as artisan baker and slow food gourmand; and my vocational roles as friend, kindred spirit, lover and family, Cooper is my constant companion.” I first met Mike when I coached his family during handsome Cooper’s puppyhood. Cooper was a 50th birthday gift for Mike, and his first dog. Of Cooper, Mike says, “He inspired my second childhood.” Now that’s a great gift! Mike’s devotion to Cooper, friends, family and artisan baking inspires me, so I invited him to share his thoughts on life-as-Cooper’s-dad with you. When he wrote this, Mike had just spent 10 nights in the intensive care unit with his father, who had suffered a heart attack, and he was missing Cooper’s companionship. Very thankfully, Mike’s dad is well now, and Cooper’s been reunited with his dad.
“A Message to Cooper” by Mike Lee:
“You beautiful creature, I miss you so being an ocean apart. Yet when I close my eyes, listen and hold still, I feel our foreheads touch, our calm breaths meet, our hearts beat-thump-thump, beat-thump-thump, together. I feel you near me, Cooper, and we’re communicating through the cosmos, crystal clear. You beautiful creature, I see the joy and mercy of God in your loving eyes.”
Mike & Cooper, thank you for reminding us to savor the sweet things in life.
Friends and family (2 & 4-legged) are cherished gifts, not to be taken for granted. Warm hugs and baked goods made with love nurture the soul; they’re downright therapeutic. Wishing you, your father and Cooper continued health & joy, Mike.
Readers: If you’d like to honor your pet (past or present) with a story, note and/or pics, just let me know. If you’d like to respond to Mike’s post, please do in the comments. I’m sure he & Cooper would love to hear from you!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|May 22, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Recipes, Soul food, Uncategorized, Videos|
Let me begin by saying: Vegas hurts my brain.
It’s soul-suckingly devoid of depth & charm. It’s especially sad to see women trying too hard to be Vegas-distorted versions of themselves. Too made up, too drunk, too-tight & too-short everything – all that posing’s just not cute. It’s like watching a parade of regrets-in-the-making. Thankfully, I’m immune to the din & lights that seduce gamblers. So what’s left to love about it?
My hubby thinks my Vegas aversion is weird.
He loves watching the human train wreck parade. He’s energized by it all. Give the guy a gin & tonic and a blackjack table, and he’s a happy boy. I don’t get it, but I like to see him happy. So imagine his surprise when I told him I wanted to go to Vegas for my birthday. What? Vegas, baby?!
Before you write me off as a buzz-kill prude, know that I have layers. And an id.
What you see isn’t always what you get with me. I’m working on letting my layers rise to the surface more, which means that my id gets a little fresh air. I can go to Vegas with a purpose. My birthday purpose was P!nk. I’m a huge fan. So’s my id.
Why P!nk? The short answer: she’s a genius. The long answer: she has layers, too.
She’s a gifted lyricist, singer & musician. She’s also an animal advocate, a yoga enthusiast, a mostly-vegetarian, & a happy new mom. She’s incredibly smart, with a wicked sense of self-deprecating humor. She’s the first to describe herself as socially awkward and shocked that she’s a cover girl. (I’ll stop soon. I can hear my hubby saying, “chick crush much?”. Yeah, just a bit.) Under her “tough” exterior is a softie who’s overcome major heartaches & obstacles beautifully. She’s refreshingly uncensored, honest & outspoken. Take her or leave her, she’s no poser. She sings from her soul, and she inspires me, so I’m sharing her with you.
Take a listen to P!nk’s acoustic version of “Who Knew”.
(Adorable when she interrupts the song to talk to her baby girl, off screen.)
For years I couldn’t listen to this song without crying about my sweet boxer boy, Gumbo, who I’d recently lost. Recently, on Palladia’s Storytellers, P!nk said that this song’s meaning changes for her depending upon what’s up in her life. At times, that’s included departed dogs for her, too. Who knew?
The morning after Just hours after P!nk’s killer show, we trudged into the hotel’s breakfast buffet with low foodie expectations.
In the midst of mystery concoctions that my tummy didn’t want to meet @ that moment, I stumbled upon a yummy gem of a granola parfait. Determined that this wouldn’t stay in Vegas, I recreated it @ home so I could share it with you (& Rusty), too. Here it is, healthier and with a twist of lemon:
Ruth’s Vegas Zen Granola Parfait
In a glass, layer honey (or maple syrup), plain Greek yogurt, honey, granola, mixed berries, and Lemony Whipped Cream. Dig in!
In the wake of a recent granola recall, I started making my own again. My fave recipe is “Power Granola” from Cooking Light magazine. It’s easy, delish, tried-and-true. If you’re a coconut fiend, you’ll love Deb Perelman‘s “Big Cluster Maple Granola“. For this granola, I dialed back the sweetener in the parfaits by using less maple syrup. Tip: When you layer your parfaits, use the same sweetener that you used in your granola.
Lemony Whipped Cream
Using a whisk attachment on your mixer, beat 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 Tbs. store-bought lemon curd on high speed until it’s creamy, smooth & thick – like yogurt. Or – Using your finger tips, rub 1/2 tsp. lemon zest into 1 Tbs. granulated sugar until it smells like lemon candy. Beat 1/2 cup whipping cream, as above, for 1 minute. Add the lemony sugar. Beat again until soft peaks form. Tip: This whipped cream keeps for about a day, refrigerated in a sealed container. It’s best to make small batches, as needed. And you’ll NEED it.
Yes, your dog can enjoy your parfaits.
Just deconstruct them before you share. We’ll taste test doggy granola recipes and report back in a future post, so stay tuned. Minimal sweeteners and no whipped cream or overly caloric human granola for your pup. What to share? Rusty loves plain, non-fat yogurt. Berries are an acquired taste for him. If I cut a blueberry in half, he might eat it. But combine the two in his “Beat-the-heat Treats“, and he’s poodle putty in your hands!
Long story shorter, I finally found an elusive oasis of non-posers in Vegas.
They were all waiting in line for the zen-master’s concert, which was awesome. I can now say the cliche, including the t-shirt part. Best of all? My husband, confident in his manhood, confessed that P!nk “put on a great show”, and we’re going again for our anniversary. Zen on! Who knew?
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|May 3, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Recipes, Soul food, Videos, Worthy reads|
So that’s what a midlife crisis looks like. Who knew?
I watched in fascination as Michelle Obama explained her bangs.
She was adorable, as always. But the bangs were bangin’ cute. Suddenly, I realized that a midlife crisis could be a good thing. I choose to redefine my own experience as a beginning, not a bitter end. I’m celebrating my midlife crisis & its accompanying burnout as an opportunity to more fully explore life. Lesson learned: When your work defines you, it also limits you. No more.
I had considered bangs, pre-FLOTUS. Really.
Sometimes a girl just needs a change, and that time had definitely come for me. Thanks to a friend who’s an uber-talented hair stylist, I took the leap, and I love them!
What else changed? I’m returning to the things that I love.
I forgot how they feed my soul. Nature, hiking, trail running, friends & family, baking, gardening, and reading – all had been on the back burner. Even my patient husband had been waiting for me to put the leashes & clickers down. He knew before I did that I was ready for a change. (He’s still not sure about the bangs, though.)
I’m thankful that the baking bug bit me again @ the same time that I returned to hiking/running.
Otherwise, my summer reading list would be a dangerous one. I’ve dedicated my reads to women who inspire me because they followed their bliss & their passions. It’s a lovely eclectic list that includes: Chelsea Handler, Lissa Rankin, Joy Wilson & Deb Perelman. For this post, I’ll highlight the bakers in the bunch….
Joy Wilson & Deb Perelman feel like kindred spirits.
They are self-taught cooks & bloggers. They weave stories around their recipes. Normally, I’m a get-to-the-point type of person when it comes to cookbooks. But not with these ladies. They are funny-smart and a bit self-deprecating. The unexpected success of their passionate blogs turned into book deals. (I’m often asked if this blog will become a book. Who knows?)
Deb Perelman’s “The Smitten Kitchen” is an instant classic that begs for a sequel, asap.
In her forward she discusses her insistence on cooking in an NYC kitchen that was so small its functionality was in question. Why would she cook in a city where any craving could be satisfied with a phone call? A friend advised her that NYC stoves were for sweater storage. Thankfully for us, Deb’s can-do, slightly obsessive persistence prevailed. I appreciate her casual delivery of detailed instructions (the hows & whys). My hubby & I approach cooking very differently. I learned to cook by baking, so I’m a recipe girl. He cooks intuitively, by feel, like I work with animals. Nothing wrong with that. Yet, I felt validated when Deb advised don’t let people “tell you you’re less of a cook if you need to look @ a recipe”. Her book is packed with are-you-kidding-me recipes. What ultimately won me over? I’m a pie girl. That began when my mom & I baked together. She’d offer to make a pie if I made the crust – always a fair deal. Deb makes her “Deepest Dish Apple Pie” in a springform pan, and she celebrates National Pie for Breakfast Day. Enough said. I want to hang with this chick. We could be besties.
Joy Wilson’s “Joy the Baker Cookbook” is an absolute treasure. Her bangs are pretty cute, too.
Her blog hooked me when she called her adorable cat, Jules, a “monster” who “terrorizes her in the dark” and a “jerk” who “lights up her life”. Then she celebrated his birthday by baking him a cat cake. C’mon. That’s inspired! Her book is just as wonderfully quirky. She spiked her grandma’s treasured banana bread recipe with bourbon, explaining, “I’m young & restless”. I support that. In the forward she affectionately recalls her dad sharing his baking enthusiasm with her. This rings true for me. My dad inspired my love for nature, via fishing. And he planted the baking seed. I fondly remember visiting his aunt & uncle’s Danish bakery in Pottsville, PA, with him. We were always greeted by my uncle’s handsome smile & hearty hug. Together, we sampled whatever goodies were still warm from the oven. To this day, I love the smell of freshly baked macaroons. So far, none have matched my uncle’s. And I like it that way.
Keeping it healthy is important. So is a sense of humor.
FLOTUS is spreading the word on fitness & a healthy diet. And so is my new fave, not-a-book-yet blog, Thug Kitchen. I’m a self-confessed foodie, and an enthusiastically amateur baker & photographer. Obvious, yes? I will sit outside with Rusty & a glass of iced wine (yes, that’s right, wine snobs: ICE), and cover-to-cover read a cookbook. But only if its author can write & make me laugh, too, as the ladies above do. So it was with great joy that I discovered Thug Kitchen. The incognito Thugs dispense sound nutritional advice via some hella colorful language. (Here’s my take on swearing: If it’s funny, go for it. If you’re swearing just to swear, stop it. If you’re easily offended, don’t read it. Don’t complain about it; just move on. Censoring sucks.) If you find yourself saying, “Who needs another cookbook?”, visit their FB page. It’s hysterical, the recipes won’t disappoint & it’s not dumb. The Thugs aim to “drop some knowledge on your ass”. The vibe is contagious to their fans, whose comments are also seriously, refreshingly, off-the-hook funny. I’m SO hooked. I can’t wait to read their cookbook!
Don’t worry, Rusty will benefit.
I just whipped up a batch of Thug Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Jerky Treats for both of us. (Super yum, no dehydrator required, & no Chinese toxins in sight!) Next up: Joy’s Crunchy Cat Treats. (Perfect for the poodle, too.) I also have some new biscuit trays that are begging to be filled with fresh garden & farmer’s market goodies. Rusty’s my little garden helper & taste tester. A fido foodie, if you will. As I bake & we sample, we’ll report back. Yes, I said “we”, and I mean it. If you can’t/won’t eat your dog’s food, there’s a problem, isn’t there? I hate the term “human-grade” for ingredients. It implies that our food should be superior. I question that. So does Rusty. To quote the Thugs: “Show your dog you f*cking love them.”
So what’s next?
Maybe I’ll go ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarian again. (Don’t worry, I won’t drag my dog or my husband along with me on that.) Maybe I’ll get some chickens. (Did you know that you can clicker train chickens?) Maybe I’ll take a yoga class. Maybe I’ll master the perfect cat eye. Maybe I’ll rent a house on the bluffs of Mendocino & invite my girlfriends to join me there. Maybe I’ll shock the hell out of my hubby & greet him, Mad-Men style, @ the door – in a dress, with a cucumbered Hendricks & tonic. (Never mind the anti-feminist throwback scenario I just painted. The dress would be the stretch for me. We’ll see.) I’m enjoying the exploration. What’s next? Who knows……
Have you tried something new lately? Assuming it’s legal, please share. 🙂 I’m always looking for inspirations!
|April 4, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Pup culture, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Training/Behavior, Videos|
It’s a relaxing, rainy spring day. I’m cozied up on the couch with coffee & my little guy, Rusty.
It’s also a work-at-home day, so I’m in sweats & fuzzy socks. (Not pretty, just cozy.) I’m writing about “easy” being better. So that should be a no-brainer @ this point, right? Nope, not @ all.
If I listen to that little voice in my head, I’ll start believing that I’m lazy.
We all have that voice. She’s the one who never cuts you any slack. I call her my little gremlin. Basically, she’s a bitch. She’s quick to point out this morning: “Look @ lazy you: you’re not dressed, you didn’t comb your hair, and your couch is your office today. In fact, Gremlin incessantly nags me to clean my actual office. Every second that I’m not doing that seemingly insurmountable task, I feel worse about myself. Why such a hater, Ms. Gremlin?
It’s been an uphill battle for me to learn that easy is better.
I’m slowly beginning to ignore my gremlin. Who does she think she is, anyway? There’s a nicer voice that’s getting louder; she’s kinder & wiser. She’s my coach in this life lesson. (Before you conclude that I’m schizophrenic, Lissa Rankin calls that kind voice that we all have inside our “Inner Pilot Light“.) Here’s my theory: The nasty, nagging, confidence-busting voice is society. The gentler, more accurate voice is your soul. At this stage in my life, I choose to listen when my soul speaks.
We’re plugged into our fast-paced society 24/7. Work is valued, not relaxation.
Society says if it’s not hard work, it’s not worth doing. But we’re stressed & sick. So how’s that really working for us? It’s self sabotage. Enough of that stress, and your soul might have to scream @ you: “Stop, slow down & listen to me now. I know what’s best for you.” You’ll know it if it happens; it’s hard to ignore: frequent sighs, illness/aches & pains, burnout, panic attacks. Listen to your body (& soul) sooner rather than later. (Not sure how stressed you really are? Take this stress test.) Be true to yourself first, not society/family/friends. It’s not selfish; it’s healthy. What comes easy & makes you happy? Ignore your gremlin, fire up your pilot light, and just go do it! Make it a habit. Your new-found, genuine energy will infuse all that you do. You’ll be happier and more successful. Your enthusiasm & inner light will shine on the people & pets around you. It’s contagious & everyone benefits.
So easy is better. Easy isn’t lazy. Easy is in the eye of the beholder.
Think about it: Just because something’s easy for you, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. So, if it’s easy for you, maybe that means you should be doing it, instead. Maybe you’re a natural @ it. Maybe it’s a gift that shouldn’t be ignored. Why swim upstream to do something that’s soul-suckingly hard for you just because other people think you should? Because Gremlin said so? Please.
Sometimes, you have to tease out the “easy-for-you”.
It’s there, ready to come to the surface, but it needs the right setting to express itself. For example, I think best around flowing water. (Such a cliched Aquarian here, really.) I get clarity & ideas in the shower, on a hike by a stream, by my backyard fountain, or on a barefoot beach walk. In fact, I silenced my pesky gremlin today by taking a shower, where this post wrote itself before I turned the water off. Easy doesn’t flow around that 24/7 societal din of TV, phone, computer, etc. Unplug & find your flow.
Go with the flow to find your pet’s “easy”, too. It enriches your time together.
If you want to teach something new to your pet, begin with something they naturally, easily, do well. For example, catch is not an instinctive game for many dogs. There are trust issues there. Why in the world would you want to keep your face (& sensitive nose) in the direct path of a flying object? I taught Rusty to catch by 1st playing his “easy” game with an “easy” object: fetch with a ball. Then, as that game flowed, I teased out his new “easy”, catch, by gently tossing that ball in the air, past him – not @ him. As his confidence grew, he caught it face-on. You can tease the new “easy” out of your pet in other ways. For example, if your dog loves walks, take brief breaks during the walk to teach a few new commands. If your pet’s invented a favorite game, play their game. Then build on it to teach new games. Remember: Take it easy. Less is more. End while everyone’s still having fun.
Watch Rusty’s easy play:
He taught us his “roll it!” game. We intersperse it with “catch!” and varied play locations. Good times.
When you embrace “easy” as worthwhile, it becomes a lifestyle.
I was baking banana bread the other day, contemplating this concept. Baking is a bit like flowing water for me: an inspirational gremlin-silencer. Suddenly, I decided to make the “easy” variation of the recipe that I’ve followed without fail for 10 years. It tastes better than the original! So why didn’t I do that sooner? It’s a process, people. But I’m getting there. So will you.
Ruth’s “Easy” Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 mashed, ripe bananas
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons plain, low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup dark (70% cacao) chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, & level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, & salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place sugar & butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add bananas, eggs, & yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat @ low speed just until moist. Fold in chocolate chips & walnuts. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Dig in!
~Adapted from Cooking Light~
Go with your flow. Find your “easy”.
Feed your soul. (Try the banana bread.)
Fan your pilot light until its glimmer silences your gremlin. That game or walk you enjoy with your dog? That might just be your water where ideas flow. Easy comes naturally to animals. Let your pets tease the easy out of you!
©2013 The Soulful Pet