Join Me in the Kitchen with Vicki McGraw

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Vicki McGraw, owner of Elegant Edibles.

Happy New Year, dear readers!

As many of you “regular readers” know, I tend to speak frequently about my family…I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, two terrific sons, and a beautiful daughter-in-law (and come spring a wonderful Grandbaby!!), but I do have another family member I don’t often write about. She is just as loving as the rest, and actually listens far better. She never talks back, asks for money, complains about what I plan for dinner or stays out past her curfew. She is always thrilled when I get home at night. She meets me at the door with a kiss, a wiggle and a sniff…I believe she thinks I’m a walking snack, since I generally come home smelling like all the tasty foods I have spent the day cooking. As I’m sure you have by now surmised, my fourth child has 4 legs! She is a lovable 3 ½ year old Bulldog/terrier mix named Bailey. After our beloved Buster passed away a few years ago, I said “no more dogs”. I replaced the old stained carpet, painted the walls and declared the house pet free. That lasted about a year, and then this precious little puppy came into our family and we were smitten! I might add, I also have two darling Grand-puppies…Millie is a gorgeous standard Golden Doodle, and Bentley is a very rambunctious mini Golden Doodle. When my three furry children get together it is nothing if not fun (and loud!).

As anyone with a pet knows, they are not really “just pets,” but beloved members of the family. Many of us treat them as such, spoiling them as we would a child…sometimes they are the favorite child! Having grown up with a St Bernard named Scruff, I have a penchant for big dogs, so when I decided to get my first dog, it was a husky mix I named Oscar, and later, along came Buster the Boxer. Bailey will not be the big beast her furry brothers were, but she is a solid 50 pounder. I’m not a “toy pet” kinda girl, I guess. The only catch with big dogs is that they have big appetites! With a small pet you can buy pet food in little bags or cans. For my furry, four-legged children, the food comes in 50 pound bags!

As with the rest of our family, we want to feed our pets healthy, nutritious food, but don’t want to break the bank doing so.

As most any vet will tell you, while we may treat them like people, pets need pet food, not a lot of people food. Just like humans, some pets need to watch their weight, as well. The occasional treat is fine, but a steady diet of table scraps not only makes for a chubby pet, but can also cause health issues, not to mention tummy troubles! There are times, however, when the vet has suggested I feed my dogs a temporary diet of boiled chicken and white rice when they have had intestinal issues.

While I watch what I feed Bailey, I like to be able to give her those occasional treats, and found some terrific homemade dog snacks that are easy to make, nutritious and tasty, too! Made much like cookies with ingredients you probably have in your cupboard, they will satisfy your pooch’s cravings, but not put a dent in your budget. Bailey gives these two big “paws-up!”

Peanut Butter & Banana Dog Treats

1 over-ripe banana, peeled
1 cup flour (wheat or oat flour, if you have it)
2/3 c rolled oats
½ c parsley (for fresh breath!)
½ c peanut butter
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 300*

Mash banana; add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.

Scoop (about 1 T each) and roll dough into 24 balls. Place on parchment lined baking tray and gently flatten with a fork. Bake until firm and golden brown on the bottom, about 40-45 minutes.

Cool completely; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You just might want to mark the container “dog treats” because they smell good enough to eat!!

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.