Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking the first steps as a dog chef

I knew it was just a matter of time before I would start cooking for Hootie.  When he first came into my life late last May, the previous owners gave me some kibble that he'd been eating along with several cans of dog food.  He didn't seem to like either one, but I thought his rejection of the food may be part of the adjustment period to my home.  After all , he'd been one of seven dogs in his previous home, and his mother had just been killed.  I'd lose my appetite in those circumstances so I thought he might have done the same.

But time went on and he didn't like the offerings.  By the end of summer, the vet found Lyme disease in his blood sample, so I started giving him pills.  He rejected peanut butter on the first, second, and third tries.  Friends recommended that I hide the pills in little raw ground meat balls, which I did.  He practically inhaled those.  And that's when I started giving him people food.  For a few months, actually until just yesterday, I fed him cooked chicken, pork, beef, and fish, and he ate all of it.  I mixed the food with kibble so he wouldn't get foul breath, but he cleverly flicked out the kibble while eating the real food.

But I began to worry about a balanced diet.  About a week ago I made a delicious Peruvian chicken soup that had pieces of chicken along with rice, peas, and carrots.  When I put the chicken in his bowl, I added a few of the vegetables and he ate them.  Which got me to wondering how I could cook balanced meals for him.

And then I came across a recipe for doggie meatballs, which he scarfed down in nanoseconds.

They're unbelievably easy to make, and give a better mix of food than just plain ground beef.  Here's the recipe:
1 lb ground beef, chuck, or sirloin
3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 carrot, minced fine (I shredded mine)
1 c bread crumbs (I used Panko)
3 T tomato paste
2 eggs whisked

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together all ingredients and form into small meatballs. 

Place on cookie sheet or its equivalent (I use Slipat on my half-sheets) and cook 15-20 minutes.

Store in plastic container and refrigerate.

I made the meatballs quite small but since Hootie is a small dog, I found I had to cut them in quarters for him to eat easily.

I ordered two "cooking for pets" cookbooks that should be here in the next day or two.  Stay tuned for more doggie suggestions.  Woof!

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