Came for the dog treats, stayed for the story

Let me begin with a disclaimer and a horrifying admission.

Disclaimer: The first half of this post goes against the normal self-deprecating humor and oozing sarcasm and gets pretty serious. If you want to skip that part, scroll until you see photos.

Horrifying admissionI have literally zero maternal instincts. Babies do nothing for me. I see them, and I think, “That one looks like the one I saw the other day. Is it the same baby?” Try to hand one to me, and I treat it like an atomic bomb. Handed to me, your baby will be held at arm’s length, straight out in front of me, as the baby and I make the same exact “WTF?” face with slight head turn at each other. People unwaveringly grab their babies back quickly after handing them to me.

Kids are a bit different. If the kid can hold a conversation, I’m usually fine. If she can’t, I don’t really know what to say or do with them. So, I guess, in other words, I’m not great with them either.

Actually, I take that back. Kids between the ages of 6 and 14 who are into sports love me. There’s no magic to it; I was once one of them and some habits die hard. If I can get on a baseball diamond with a group of kids, I could pied piper them right into the pit of hell if I wanted.

Don’t worry. I don’t want to. I may not be much for kids, but I’m not a total monster. In fact, I’m actually a hell of a coach. I can connect with them through the game without really trying too hard. Kids aren’t stupid, though. If I can’t find common ground, they catch on pretty quickly.

I’m also pretty sure they like me because I have a history of losing money to them. I once bet a kid $10 he couldn’t start a golf cart with his foot. Really. It wasn’t the first time I’d lost money to a kid.

See, it was a new MLB Pitch, Hit & Run season, and I was just getting to know the players. This one was one of the coaches’ sons. I should have known better than to challenge him, but there I was, waving a crisp $10 bill in front of a 9-year-old. Another time, though. This post is really not about kids.

I guess technically it’s about a baby. Lindsay and Bjork’s baby. I don’t know the couple, but I use Lindsay’s recipes at Pinch of Yum quite frequently. This time, I popped over to see if she had any dog treat recipes because she does have an adorable dog named Sage I imagine probably hangs out in the kitchen hoping something delicious will drop.

There was an amazing-sounding dog treat recipe, which I highly recommend and which I will talk more about in a moment.

If you just want to get to the dog treats, scroll down until you see photos. I forgive you.

My plan was to make the treats the next night, but while I was reading, I got to thinking, “I use this site a lot. I wonder what these two are all about.” So I clicked on Lindsay’s bio. Then I clicked on some recent posts. Then I kept clicking. Clicked some more. Geez. I won’t tell you the whole story because I’m not here to exploit a very hard time for a couple trying to keep all their plates spinning and their sanity (besides, it’s better when you read it directly from her), but I will say their story about the love and loss of their baby made me think, “I’m going to the store right now and making these dog treats tonight. It makes absolutely zero difference in the real world, but I like Lindsay, this stranger who cooks amazing things and spouts positivity through a soul-crushing time in her and her husband’s life, and I want to honor her by spreading this recipe to my dog and to my readers. Let’s do this! Lindsay, here we go! Dog treat bonanza!”

Back to that baby thing, though. The point in sharing how I don’t have a mom-gene was to explain that I will never be able to connect with the specific heartbreak Lindsay and Bjork experienced. At the same time, we can all think of a time when something utterly floored us. I can name two moments in my life that took more than the wind out of my sails, but this is not the space.

Yet, we carry on. Much of what Lindsay writes in a post entitled The First 40 Days Without My Son is relatable to anyone suffering any kind of loss. For example, she writes:

And then between the waves, in the periods of stillness when I come up and catch my breath, I look around and see a wide expanse of open sea in every direction which brings its own type of panic. Here I am, stranded, in the middle of my own ocean of sorrow and confusion. Where is everyone? Just a minute ago, I was on solid ground, safe and naive, and now it will be years before I ever make it to shore. Wait, will I ever make it to shore?

The thing is, if you read her posts (and you really should), you get the impression she will make it to the shore, that maybe she already has in some ways. She carries on. The shore will be different than expected, but she carries on.

It’s the same for anyone who hits a wall at a thousand miles an hour. The source of the stages of grief are not necessarily the same, but the emotional roller coaster is still relatable. So while I can’t even begin to connect with the loss of a baby, I can relate to the positivity and strength Lindsay projects even through the most difficult moments in this chapter of her life. A couple days ago, she wrote a post called Now What in which she focuses on the necessary forward momentum.

That’s why I found myself making dog treats until 10 PM the other night. I was inspired to do something loving for one of the sources of forward momentum in my life when things go awry. I normally cook for the other sources (my family), but this time, I figured the greyhound could use a little kitchen love, too.

Thanks, Lindsay, for your dog treats and for your strength. For the rest of you reading this, put Pinch of Yum on your daily blog reading rounds.

Now it’s time to talk about those cookies. For those of you who skipped the serious stuff, start here.

All human grade ingredients. You’d THINK you might want to try these cookies, but I promise you, you do not.

Now, looking at that picture, you might think, “Well, these will probably taste good.” To your dog, that’s true. To you, it is not. Please don’t eat them. There’s something that just does not work for the human palate about bacon, pumpkin, and peanut butter together. All separate? Delicious. In a cookie, nope. Not good. Why do I know this? Come on. Same way you’ll learn I’m right. Seriously. Like you aren’t going to try one.

Overall, Lindsay’s recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. However, I live underwater so making dough is not so easy here as it is in Minnesota. Remember holiday cookies? I knew there would be a humidity factor for these so I made the necessary adjustments in preparation. On the other hand, if you are not making these in the Challenger Deep, just follow her instructions. If you are, consider the following steps:

  1. Applesauce instead of oil. Well, this one didn’t have as much to do with humidity as it did with just a preference. I knew applesauce would add to the moisture, though, so proceed to step 2.

    The wet ingredients before I started toying with the amounts.
  2. Only half the amount of oil (applesauce). I also found you can adjust bit by bit as you mix. If you have any experience with dough-making, you can do the same. If you do not, stick to the original recipe.
  3. ¼ cup extra flour. This stiffened the dough some so I could work with it. Also, Lindsay says to mix only until everything is just blended. Do not overmix; that adds to the goo factor and results in unmanageable dough no matter your humidity level.
  4. If you use natural peanut butter (which I did), use a bit less of it or just make sure it’s very thoroughly mixed before putting it into the recipe. This is true for both the dough and the drizzle. Since it’s not as stiff as the processed type of peanut butter, it can be a bit runny (another thing that contributes to gooey dough).
  5. Mixing the flour and playing with the amounts

    Stick ’em in the freezer. Here’s something I thought of later (partially because there’s not enough room in my freezer to do this). Roll the dough before you freeze it, cut out the shapes but don’t pull them. Then put the whole thing in the freezer. That way, you’re freezing the individual cookies, cut out and intact, and can probably peel them off a bit more easily in their somewhat frozen shapes.

  6. Or make peace with not cutting them into adorable shapes. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did. After freezing the dough, it was a race against time to roll it out and get it cut into shapes before the heat and humidity took effect again. I lost the race and just made balls. The up side to this was that I got almost a hundred total treats out of it. Now I can bribe the other dogs in my life with little bags of cookies.
  7. When you make the drizzle, use more peanut butter and less bacon grease than it suggests. It was a little more liquid than I expected it to be, so I upped the peanut butter content and that thickened it sufficiently. I also put them in the fridge so the drizzle would set (again, humidity).
  8. In the end, your dog does not know. More bacon grease? He has no idea. Less applesauce? She won’t question. The combination of canine taste favorites–bacon, pumpkin, and peanut butter–means your dog is going to do new tricks for these and growl at the cat when he comes anywhere near. That’s all I wanted.
Before freezing. I thought I might be able to beat the humidity with extra flour. I could not.
After leaving for the gym and letting it freeze for a couple hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the rest of the process in photos.

I bought a whole pack of bacon just to make these cookies. I mean, who keeps bacon grease around, right?
Delicious, uncured bacon that my brother freaked out about when he thought it was going into the cookies. No, dude. You can eat this. I only need the grease.
You go ahead and wait right here in the freezer. I give up.
How I spent my time waiting for the dough to harden in the freezer. Hello, Spring Training. Also, don’t judge my slow speed and low incline. It was the end of my session.
After a few attempts to roll them before the dough softened again, I ended up settling on peanut butter cookie shaped treats. Now I want peanut butter cookies.
This is when they stopped looking appetizing. Pumpkin made them a bit orange, and the peanut butter-bacon grease drizzle did nothing for me. Good thing they’re for the dog.
Apparently, they looked good to someone. Look at that concentration.
This was his first one. He doesn’t look fully convinced.
Oh, no. They’re a win. Don’t worry. Now he’s doing tricks for them. (Man, he needs his nails trimmed.)
This was right before the cat came within a foot of him and he growled at him. Trust me, Dusty, no one here but you wants that cookie.

All in all, these were a win. Lindsay usually provides only wins so I wasn’t surprised. Just keep in mind the particular idiosyncrasies of your geographic location when you make them. Please do make them. Also, please do read Pinch of Yum.

For now, I’ll be busy distributing these to the neighborhood dogs and the dogs at work as part of my life’s mission to make all dogs love me. I think this might just be chapter one in my pet treat making adventures (maybe some for the sister’s cat next time if I can figure out what he likes to eat. He’s so weird). A woman I work with told me about her go to dog treat. When she’s making biscuits, she adds a little bacon grease and cheese to the dough scraps, bakes them with the biscuits, and gives them to her awesome golden retriever.

Say hello to Chaucer, my second favorite dog.
And this is Prince, my other second favorite dog and the third recipient of pumpkin-bacon-peanut butter cookies a la Lindsay at Pinch of Yum. (All dogs who are not Dusty are my second favorite dog.)

What’s your go to dog treat? Or did you try Lindsay’s recipe? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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