Tag Archives: Pets

Happy Birthday, Harold!

Tuesday (September 3) was Harold’s FIFTH birthday.

FIFTH!

That means it’s been five years (or 35 years in dog years) since Harold was born.

Five years since I was a senior in college.

Five years since I lived in Gainesville, Florida.

Five years since I was able to sit in the student section at Gator games (legally).

Five years since oh-so-much debauchery.

Happy Birthday, Harold/Hal/Roldy/BooBoo/Bub!

Let’s start this post by a little trip down memory lane so y’all can ooooh and awwwww at how adorable Harold was/is.

And yes, my hair is crazy short.  Focus on sweet baby Harold.

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Oh em geeeeee isn’t he the cutest?

Biker baby Harold.

Biker Harold, Christmas 2009 | Oysters & Pearls

Squeeeeeeeeeeeee

Harold, Christmas 2009 | Oysters & Pearls

I’ve already told you he should be a dog model.

Bristol Family Christmas Card 2009 – with Auntie Anna Jo, cousin Willie, Uncle Louie and Uncle Babe.

2009 Bristol Family Christmas Card | Oysters & Pearls

Over all these years, Harold’s been all ovah the place.

From Gator gamedays in Gainesville…

Harold, Courtney, & Natalie in College | Oysters & Pearls

To Jay’s Catfish Christmas parties at Lake Talquin….

Catfish Christmas | Oysters & Pearls

To car rides home with Brittney to see MoFro in Tallahasee…

 Brittney & Harold | Oysters & Pearls

(Yes, he used to insist on riding on your shoulders.  It was totally cute, until he weighed 13 pounds.)

To pounding Bud Heavies on the roof at Clayton’s house…

Harold Pounding Bud Heavy | Oysters & Pearls

To beach and lake days with terrible hair cuts…

Harold at the Lake | Oysters & Pearls

All the way to Georgia with his new dad…

Wheat & Harold | Oysters & Pearls

And a rough near-death experience…

Harold After His Accident | Oysters & Pearls

To blogging…

Harold Blogging | Oysters & Pearls

And all the way to his new kitty-brother, Wallace!

Harold's New Kitty-Brother | Oysters & Pearls

Harold is the very most adorable, sweetest, cutest, best ever pup there ever was.

Don’t even argue with me.  I will fight you.

So he is TOTALLY deserving of a ridiculously time-consuming and labor-intensive homemade dog treat recipe from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for his birthday.  Duh.

So Wednesday night, I whipped some up.

Bouchon Bakery Dog Treat Recipe  

(just barely adapted from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook)

Makes approximately 40, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

ingredients

– 453 grams/1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch wide pieces
– 370 grams/13 ounces Chicken livers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
– 130 grams/3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fine cornmeal (not self-rising)
– 450 grams/3 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 235 grams/1 cup chicken stock

for ketchup glaze

– 50 grams ketchup
– 13 grams egg whites

instructions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over medium heat, cook bacon until done but not very crispy.  Pour into a colander over a bowl and let drain.  Return a small amount of bacon grease to your skillet and cook the livers for about five minutes, mashing them and turning them often.  Put the bacon into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, then add the livers and process until fully combined into a “pate” of sorts.   Put the pate in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and add the cornmeal and mix on medium speed.  Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the flour in until it turns into a sandy-looking mixture.  Turn the mixer back up to medium and very slowly pour in the chicken stock and mix until the dough forms around the paddle.  Pull the ball of dough out and place on the counter and roll it out to about a quarter-inch thickness.  Note: Thomas Keller recommends using plastic wrap or parchment paper to roll out the dough on your counter (between two sheets), but I found that this dough was extremely easy to work with and didn’t really stick to the counter at all, even without putting down extra flour under it.

Using a 2-inch or so dog bone shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many “cookies” as you can!  The scraps re-rolled out really well.  For about a million adorable dog bone shaped cookie cutters, click {here}.

Thomas Keller also recommended lining baking sheets with parchment papers or Silpats, which I did with two of my sheets, but the third I didn’t line at all and the bones didn’t stick in the least little bit, so I’d skip this step next time.

Anywho, put your cookies in the oven for 3 hours.  Take them out and turn the oven down to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Using a pastry brush, glaze them with the ketchup/egg white mixture, then return them to the 200 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Voila!  Gourmet dog treats.

Just warning you folks who are squeamish: there are pictures of chicken livers and bacon in this post.  Scroll straight to the bottom if you don’t want the step-by-step on this one.  It won’t hurt my feelings.  I promise it’s really not that bad, though.

Now, the few people I saw on the internet who had made these dog treats said that cooking the liver inside your house make it STANK.  Thus, me being what I consider a smarty-pants, I got Wheat to set up his gas burner outside for me to cook the bacon and liver.  Thought I had it all figured out, I did.

Cooked Bacon | Oysters & Pearls

Cooked the bacon, drained it in a colander, added the livers and cooked them through…

Cooked Liver for Bouchon Bakery Dog Treats | Oysters & Pearls

And brought it all back inside to put together and bake.  It didn’t really smell bad, and I scoffed at those other fools.

I processed.

Bacon & Liver Pate for Bouchon Bakery Dog Treats | Oysters & Pearls

I mixed.

Mixing Bouchon Bakery Dog Treat Dough | Oysters & Pearls

And I mixed.

Bouchon Bakery Dog Treat Dough | Oysters & Pearls

And I rolled them out, cut them out, and put them in the oven.

Bouchon Bakery Dog Treats, Pre-Glazing | Oysters & Pearls

And then, things got weird.

Once they got hot, our house reeked of hot milk bones.  As bad as it smelled to us, it made Harold CRAZYYYYYYYYYYY.

He was prancing all over the house like he literally had ants in his metaphoric pants.  It was too funny.  And finally, late Wednesday night, Harold got a warm crispy dog treat fresh out of the oven.

Harold's Bouchon Bakery Dog Treat | Oysters & Pearls

The verdict: he LOVED it.

While I was trying to take another picture like the one above, Harold proceeded to snatch it out of my hand.

Harold's Bouchon Bakery Dog Treats  | Oysters & Pearls

And promptly gobbled it down.

Harold Enjoying His Bouchon Bakery Dog Treats | Oysters & Pearls

Thomas Keller created, Harold approved.

Now you are absolutely positive that I’m a crazy dog lady, and I couldn’t care less.

And with that, Happy Friday, y’all!  We have some cousins coming to Bristol to do some lake bobbing (weather permitting), but other than that, we have no big plans.

Harold, on the other hand, has big plans to eat approximately 40 gourmet dog treats.

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Smoke Under the Oaks Recap

I had planned another post for today, but I thought I’d go ahead and give you a run down of how the BBQ competition went this weekend!

All the BBQ was awesome, and there were some pretty serious competitors out there, both in the “Backyard” and Professional divisions.  Our Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society booth was located in some prime real estate – between the ice cream vendor and the stage!

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Pictures of pictures of puppies!

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We sold some t-shirts, talked to lots of really nice folks who walked by our booth.  It was neat to have people stop by who were from other places but involved in their Humane Society or local Shelters at home.

We even had a couple of furry friends stop by our tent!

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In between taking admission money in the parking lot and hanging out at our booth, I got a chance to take a quick break to survey the competitors and stop by a couple tents belonging to some friends.  Remember Karri and her door decor?  Her dad entered the professional division of the competition.  I was fortunate enough to sample some of his ribs and his brisket!  Unbelievably good!

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As evidenced by all that was left: nothing.

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Check out that smoke ring!

The Big Green Egg was the major sponsor of the event, and they had a booth set up where they were demonstrating the plethora of food items you can cook on an Egg and were handing out samples.

Moral of the story: Wheat and I really need a Big Green Egg.  And I haven’t gotten any calls telling me they drew my name in the raffle, so I hope Santa is listening.  Or that Wheat wins his fantasy football league this year.

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They sold all of these gently used Eggs at a discount that day.  They sold every. single. one. Crazy!

Speaking of the raffle, Stone’s, our local hardware store, generously donated a Big Green Egg for us to raffle off.  Wheat’s fantasy league draft party started at 5:30, so we left just before the awards at 5:00.  I still haven’t heard who won… any locals know?  I can only assume it wasn’t me… :(

Anyway, Smoke Under the Oaks was a great success by all accounts.  There was a whole lot of good food, good music, and all for a good cause.  We are so grateful the community came out to support it, and for all the judges and professional teams that traveled to come.

It’ll be back to your regularly scheduled kitchen-themed programming tomorrow.  Have a great Monday, y’all!

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Cherry Hand Pies

When I posted about my homemade almond extract project on Monday, I suppose I was putting the pit in front of the cherry, so to speak.

I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world I did with all those cherries I had to have eaten to get to all those pits?

Ate them by the bowl-fulls, mostly.

However, when I realized that the last of my plethora of cherries were a little past their peak, I decided to do something else with them.  Cooking something is a really good way to disguise the fact that it’s not super fresh.  Shhhhh….Don’t tell Wheat that.

Over-Ripe Cherries | Oysters & Pearls

First, I had to pit them all.  After reading the many suggestions on Chowhound for how to pit cherries quickly, and trying a few different methods (seriously didn’t get the bobby pin trick?!), I came up with a pretty dern efficient way to get ‘er done.

Easy Way to Pit Cherries | Oysters & Pearls

I scrounged around in my college kitchen remnants and found a funnel flask.  I tried an icing piping star tip and tried to pit cherries a la Martha Stewart, but I just ended up bending the tip.  The funnel worked MUCH better.  It’s sturdy, stable, and fit perfectly.

Just place a cherry (stem removed) stem side down on top of the funnel and push it down!

The pit almost always stayed in the tip of the funnel, and the cherries (mostly) remained intact.  Beware though – this is a MESSY process.  I highly recommend an apron.

Anyway, I was left with a bowl full of pitted cherries!

Pitted Cherries | Oysters & Pearls

And their pits!  Into the freezer went the pits for future almond extract.

Cherry Pits | Oysters & Pearls

Now what to do?  I wanted something easy.  I decided to go with cherry hand pies!

Semi-Homemade Miniature Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

Semi-Homemade because I didn’t have the time nor the energy to make the pie crusts.

After a decent amount of Googling, I came up with a super simple recipe for cherry pie filling based on probably 8 I found and liked online.

Cherries, Sugar, Salt, & Vanilla for Pie Filling | Oysters & Pearls

Simple Cherry Pie Filling

ingredients

– approximately 2 cups of pitted fresh cherries
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon (a little overflowing) vanilla extract
– 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (I eyeballed half of a 1/4 teaspoon – aka just a pinch!)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (aka 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water (again, 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons)

instructions

Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water and set aside.  Add the cherries, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat for about five minutes, or until the cherries really start to release their juices.  Re-whisk the cornstarch/water mixture and add it to the cherries.  Stir together and bring to a rapid boil, stirring often.  Remove from heat (just after bringing to a boil).  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Boiling Cherry Pie Filling | Oysters & Pearls

Cherry mixture boiling (above) and the finished pie filling (below) for reference and pretty pictures.

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | Oysters & Pearls

To make the hand pies (aka tiny, hand-held size pies), I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts.  Just call this post Semi-Homemade with Nata-lie.  #foodnetworkjokes

Using a Vintage Biscuit Cutter to Cut Mini Pie Crusts | Oysters & Pearls

The first round I tried using an old biscuit cutter to cut out circles, which I filled with about 1 tablespoon of filling, then placed another one on top and crimped the edges with fork tines.  I do not recommend this method.  It is messier and has more chances of leaking, and I didn’t think they were as cute as the second method.

Round Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

Second go-round I tried using a much larger scalloped cookie cutter and then folding that in half.  Winner winner!

Fold Over Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

For whatever method of hand pie formation you use, to create an egg wash, I mixed two egg whites (or if you save egg whites in the fridge like I do, two tablespoons of egg white) with one tablespoon of cold water.  Use a pastry brush to brush the egg white wash over all the hand pies.  I then sprinkled some sugar on them for a little sweetness and sparkles.  Oh, and don’t forget to use a sharp paring knife to cut slits in the top.  Otherwise, your cherry hand pies will most definitely explode.

Bake on parchment paper or a Silpat (I only had one Silpat, so one baking sheet has parchment paper and one has a Silpat).

Side note: Silpats are awesome.  I want 20 of them, and if you bake or cook a lot, so should you.  They are French silicone non-stick, non-slide, awesome baking sheet liners that are also perfect for rolling out doughs.

I baked these at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  They could have stayed in a minute more, but they turned out REALLY tasty!

Miniature Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

And what doesn’t taste better in miniature form?

Semi-Homemade Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

I went a little crazy with the pictures.

Mini Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

This was on Sunday, and Wheat came home from playing golf to a house smelling like cherry pie, and I won the wifey of the year award.

I barely. did. anything.  Again, do not tell Wheat this.

Cherry Hand Pies | Oysters & Pearls

Make these.  Go forth and impress people, y’all.

Harold, however, was unimpressed, as he did not get to taste-test any cherry hand pies.

Worn Out Pup | Oysters & Pearls

Sorry, Hal.

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