Thursday, 8 December 2016

Healthy Christmas Dog Biscuits

The big event is almost here (as I am sure you know and do not need to be told by me!). Honestly, it is like planning a wedding every year. all that prep and deciding who sits where and which present will be the best for whom and all that. Then a large meal and it is all over. Just like a wedding.

Well in my house, the dogs are important and must have a share in the festivities too. They have stockings around the fireplace and there is dog appropriate food too. I am sure that I am not the only person in the world doing this so I thought that you might like to share one of my dogs' favourite treats - Christmas star dog biscuits!

They are easy to make and they only use a few ingredients. The dogs love them as a treat - I use that word quite deliberately. They are a treat food for your dog, just as biscuits are for us. I tend to give them to mine, one each before they clean their teeth for bed at night. They really look forward to it and won't let me go to bed without them. There is no help for me if we run out either!

I have just made a plate of these for Daisy's school Christmas breakup party this week. All of the other members have made human food. The dogs cannot go without!

Okay, here we go....

These are things that most of us have in the fridge or freezer or can get quite easily. Spelt flour is an ancient grain but that is not actually the reason that I use it. I like it because it is a little chewy and not so processed as white. If you cannot find it, any other interesting flour will make nice biscuits too- but remember that if you use something like rye flour, it is actually better to mix it half and half with something lighter.

By the way, it is worth mentioning that if your dog is lactose intolerant or you are not sure, back off on the cheese and likewise, if there is a problem down the business end, the oil could be a problem too. Add less flour and try another egg in that case to help it bind.

As you can see, there is no salt and naturally no sugar. NEVER give sugar to a dog or anything with sugar in it and there is enough salt in the other ingredients - additives mostly please us, not the dog! They will love the biscuits without additives and colourings.

Get yourself a big bowl - this recipe yields 100 plus biscuits. You will need a rolling pin and a cute biscuit cutter too. These cookies freeze well when cooked and I put them in in zip lock bags and then get a few out at a time for my girls. They will go mouldy if left out because there are no preservatives. Freezing does the trick though. They last for ages.

I have used a star cutter because it is Christmas but you can use any one and don't forget to use a smaller cutter if you have a wee doggy.

Begin by adding the grated cheese to your bowl

Next comes the spinach...

Grate some carrot

and then put that in too

the eggs and the oil next...

Time to get in there with your hands now - honestly, it is the best way and very therapeutic...add about three cups of flour

Mix well to combine the ingredients. After a bit of this, turn the dough out onto a floured surface...

Keep kneading and adding flour until you have a dough which can be easily rolled out.
A word about flour is important at this point. Because of seasonal things like more moisture in the carrots and spinach and what a 'medium' egg means, the flour needs are vague and you will possibly have some left over. 

The trick is to begin with a few cups and then add more until the dough stops being sticky and it easy to roll. Dust the surface with some flour and it doesn't matter if the dough has some on it when it goes into the oven. It looks more artisan that way!
Here is what the dough looks like when it is ready to roll...

Roll it out so that it is about 1/2 cm (1/4") thick

Then get busy with the cutter!

I like to prepare a couple of baking trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to moderate. These biscuits will not spread so you can really load the trays.

Keep cutting while they are baking too so that you are ready to go again

Bake in a moderate oven until they are brown. Turn them once during baking so that they crisp evenly.

TIP: you can see that mine are a bit piled up on that tray? Once they have been in the oven a while and are a bit dried (so that they do not stick to one another anymore), you can pile them up for the rest of the baking. Not too much of course but this does speed up the process and you can get on with the rest of them.

When they are browned and firm (they will harden slightly on cooling), put them out onto a wire rack to cool away from probing noses...

By the way, if children and husbands steal them, they will not come to any harm - there is nothing inside that humans cannot eat too!

Put some in the fridge in a nice tin for a bed time treat and the rest into the freezer. As I said before, the yield is high but it will depend on the size of your cookie cutter and also the thickness when you roll them out. I got 125 when I used a medium star.

Well that's it! Merry, Christmas doggies and enjoy these treats well into the new year!

Thank you so much for stopping by
love and hugs

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Powerful Chocolate Keto Smoothie - Kill Those Chocolate Cravings!

I know that this is mainly a sewing blog but I am guessing that sewists need to eat too and they also like healthy treats (stop reading now if that is totally wrong....).

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I or anyone else can remember but I have got it licked now with the help of the Keto diet. Now it is beyond the scope of this blog to go into that in huge detail at this point - it may happen at a later date. Suffice to say that at this point I should come out of the closet and let you know that in my past life, before writing sewing patterns, I was a respectable scientist and my masters degree was in food science so I can claim a bit of knowledge.

Anyway, the Keto diet works in wonderful ways and I know that the adherents like to have a treat from time to time as much as anyone and they also suffer from....cue dramatic music...chocolate cravings!

Some forms of the diet allow certain high cocoa variety chocolates and others add caution but I have come up with a delicious smoothie to solve all of the issues at once. It is quick and easy too so all good!

So why is it powerful? Because it fills you up for ages and it is so creamy and well, smooth that it feels like cheating. It isn't cheating though and it has a lot of healthy fat. So what do we need?

I like to use the frozen avocados from Tesco in the UK but supply is extremely uncertain. They are convenient and just as healthy as battling with a fresh one. But by all means use fresh. You can also buy and freeze your own - great rainy sunday activity.

The equipment that I use is a Magimix blender (powerful enough to make this REALLY creamy) and it has a mill attachment. You can buy these mill attachments and the reason that i love mine is that when I read in the manual that it could be used to prepare baby food, I realised that it could also be used to make a smoothie for one! I hate the thought of using the big jug just for one person because it is a lot to wash up and I am tempted to make the smoothie larger to make up for the washing up and then I will eat it all!

So start with the avocado (thaw it first)....

Then add cashews...

Now in with the cocoa...

And add the milk...

Basically, put the ingredients into the mill attachment bowl, put the lid on and then get blending! Give it a bit of a shake before blending, I find that this helps to get everything to where it needs to be.

You will have to gently hold it down (this is normal for this attachment) and set it on the smoothie setting and it will do the rest for you.

Honestly, if you are in the market for a blender, this is the one. If you have another sort, this will still work although the results may vary. Have a play with what you have. You will still get a smoothie.

And there we are! Put it into a nice cup and enjoy! 

Those of you who are paying attention will see that it is not sweetened. I am a bit from the old tough love school of human nutrition and I do not believe in pandering to our taste buds by adding Stevia and other things like that because our insulin will recognise this as a sweetener and the last thing that you want is an insulin response. Better yet, train yourself to expect less sweet stuff and you will have a better chance at sustaining weight loss.

I am going to freeze some of this next to see if that works so watch this space!

Thank you so much for dropping by. I hope that you enjoy this and it helps you along your journey.


Friday, 9 September 2016

My Felt Cactus Crush

Sometimes, I am a late adopter. I fought the crochet craze for nearly forty years before giving in and then becoming addicted.

Now it is cacti. In felt. In pots. I love them but that hasn't always been the case. My parents had a beautiful real cactus bed in the 70s when we lived in Australia and I hated it. I didn't see the point. I thought that it was right up there with people who kept reptiles as pets. Or amphibians. I just didn't get it.

Well something had obviously changed because, me being me, I am very quickly becoming obsessed.  And I thought that you might like to become obsessed too so with that in mind, I have designed this little fellow for you.

The great news is that you need very little to make it. Aaaaannnndddd it is super easy!

Gather together-
-green felt. I have used a pure wool green melange because I am obsessed with that too.
-some pom pom trim (great way to use off cuts)
-polyester stuffing
-hot glue gun
-cute pot

This has no print out pattern so it will be a lot easier in a way. Make the template by drawing a rectangle about 8 cm x 13 cm and then rounding the top with a cup or something similar.

Cut out 6 pieces from your green felt...

Take two of them and place them together. You don't need to pin them because the felt fibres will grip a bit. Sew around the outside with a half normal seam...

Trim if necessary and repeat for the others. you now have 3 double units which will yield 6 'arms'.
Place the three units on top of each other and line them up well...

Clips work particularly well for this. You do need something this time to stop slipping. Those felt fibres are not THAT good!

Now lengthen the stitch on your machine and sew right up the middle....

Now it is time to get stuffing! Stuff each arm with your polyester stuffing until very full.

Use a pencil or a chopstick to really get the stuffing into the top.

Stuff the other arms too.

It is starting to look like a cactus now.

To be honest, you could leave it at that but I like the idea of flowers on the top. I wanted something different so I thought about pom pom trim pulled apart. This stuff...

Cut the little pom poms off and then hot glue them to the top of the cactus in a ring starting on each seam line....

Keep going until there is a ring....

From the top it looks like this...

Trim and make everything look natural. The next job is to pot the little guy into his new home.

Put it into your chosen container. And then back fill with gravel...

You can lift the cactus a bit as you fill to get the height that you are after.

And that's it! Apparently these cannot be killed by people who traditionally have a bit of bad luck with indoor plants. I am sure that I can do it but I will let you know. If it is a successful relationship, there may be more felt cacti in our future!

Thank you so much for stopping by. See you next time!
Love and hugs