Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Doggie Stew

I mentioned doggie stew in my post about bear stew. Just to be clear- we don't eat doggies. We cook stew for the dogs. We currently have a female black lab, about 5 years old, Ebony. Her daughter, Cindy, is a yellow lab/collie cross. And Waldo, our 4 month old pup, is another black lab cross.

We've always fed table scraps to our dogs, but this winter I decided to try doggie stew. An online friend told me how she makes hers. 1/3 protein, 1/3 vegetables, and 1/3 starch- rice or noodles.

Our stew isn't measured that well. It probably works out to about 2/3 starch, and 1/3 protein & vegetables. It works for us. Cindy does get a little thin through the winter, she's an outside dog, so she still gets some crappy commercial dog food. Waldo & Ebony are both doing well on straight stew. Before you try our blend though, keep in mind in our northern climate the dogs burn a lot more fat just to keep warm.

It's been 4 months now since I started serving doggie stew. Through the winter I kept the pot on the woodstove. Once the weather started warming up, I moved it to our stove. That was a pain. I was considering buying a large crockpot just for doggie stew, when I found a counter top stove burner on sale for $15. It works great, although I do seem to be constantly lowering the heat. It gets a little too warm. But it allows me to make a huge batch, using a huge stew pot.

I'm making a fresh batch today. I start by taking the old pot off, scooping out the remains into the dog dish, and then letting the dogs preclean the pot. Then I wash and scrub. There's usually a bit burned on the bottom after a week or so of cooking. Then I fill it about half full of water. I chop celery- the trimmings that I save from all the celery we eat. Usually three or four large carrots. Three or four egg shells crumbled into the mix. The calcium does them good. I'm hoping to get enough eggs from the chickens this summer to be able to add the whole egg for extra protein. For now, I check the fridge for leftovers. Any food that I'm sure my family will not be finishing off goes into the stew pot. Usually there's a couple varieties of meat. Today they get the remnants of a pork cottage roll, and a beef & chicken hash. That includes about three potatoes. There was a small dish of leftover beans, so in it went. It still looked a little light on the veggies, so I threw in a handful of frozen turnip.

It's still light on the protein as well. Sometimes I'll buy meat on sale- often chicken livers or pork steaks. I cut them up and freeze them in doggie stew portions. Just to give it a good base of protein to start the week. I also save parts of meat that we butcher ourselves to add into the mix. At the moment though, I'm out of both.

Finally, I'll add either 8 cups of rice, or a bag of rotini noodles, depending on what was on sale most recently & I have plenty of in the pantry. Today is a noodle day. I use rotini, because we eat rotini more than any other noodles ourselves, and also because it seems to get bulkier when cooked than other noodles. I also tend to forget to check how much I have at home when it goes on sale, so I buy another six bags and wonder where I'm going to store them afterward.

Throughout the week, we keep adding water. It dries out as it continues cooking. We add potato peels, veggie trimmings, and bits of leftovers that won't go into another meal or lunch. Crusts of bread that have gone stale. I drain the water off of noodles, rice and veggies into the doggie stew. The starches help to thicken it, and the water is full of nutrients. I add the fats and grease from meats, all the trimmings, bones, skins. All of the scraps that they used to get go into the doggie stew. A potful usually lasts 7-9 days.

They get two servings a day, of about 4 cups each.

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