Pickling Cucumbers

After spending the 4th with family, Brian and I decided to spend our Saturday inventorying our fridge and figuring out what we’re going to make for this week.  We get a weekly CSA share, which means our fridge is inundated with veggies and fruit, and it also forces us to be creative in our culinary endeavors.

We decided today to make pickles.  Here’s our final product.

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Loads of dilly goodness!  We sterilized some mason jars we had by boiling the lids and throwing the jars into the oven (225 *F for 25 minutes).  We had about two pounds worth of cucumbers that we washed, drained, and sliced.  Meanwhile, we put 2 cups of water and 3/4 cup of vinegar on the stove to boil and added a package of dill pickle seasoning we picked up at the local Mennonite store.  After the seasoning had dissolved and the mixture came to a boil, we packed our cucumber slices in the jars and poured the hot liquid on top.

We ran out of the dill mixture, so we made some extra by just repeating the water-vinegar mixture and adding some dill, red pepper flakes, garlic, peppercorns, and salt.  We’ll see how they compare.

While we were cleaning up and starting on dinner, Loki decided he had to protect us from a visitor.  He is a big, brave dog.

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It’s a good thing we have him around.  Otherwise, we’d have to protect ourselves from this monster…

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Yep.  A big, bad deer.

 

Alton Brown’s Stinkin’ Dog Treats, Pt. 2: The Reaction

I think the tail wag says it all!
I think the tail wag says it all!

 

Day Two: Still loving them
Day Two: Still loving them

 

The treats are successful! The dogs love them.

Dog Rating:

1 = Celery (they both hate it)

10 = Bully Stick (their fav–dried beef tendon!)

Dog Rating: 8

This morning they clearly took a bully stick over a biscuit, but they gobble these up happily and will also enter their crates if we lure them in with these.  It would have been a 9, but Snap and Loki both appear uncertain of how hard they are.  Perhaps next time, we won’t let them rest in the oven as long.

Human rating: 7.5

These were easy to make and the dogs seem to love them. The only drawbacks were the sticky dough and smell.  Overall, this is a great dog biscuit recipe.

Yep. We’ve got some happy dogs on our hands.

Meanwhile…

I'm still waiting for my treats...
I’m still waiting for my treats…

Biscuit Challenge 1, Pt. 1: Making Alton Brown’s Stinkin’ Dog Treats

We spoil Loki and Snap a lot; they eat specialty food (grain-free, expensive specialty food) and they get expensive, specialty treats as a result. But, grain free specialty dog treats don’t grow on trees, but ingredients for them tend to.  We give them a ton of sweet potato as treats, because of its cost, and because they absolutely love it.  A lot, and I mean A LOT, of sweet potato is put in with their meals per week.  Happy puppies mean happy humans.

So, since I teach, and since I have some time off, I’m trying out some of the dog biscuit recipes I’ve seen floating around.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find one that our pups enjoy, does not cost an arm and a leg to buy, and that doesn’t spend an hour in the oven heating up our house in the summer.  I’m going to go ahead and let them decide which they like the best.

The first biscuit challenge is Alton Brown’s Stinkin’ Dog Treat.  Check out the recipe and blog above or the video.  Added bonus on the video?  An adorable corgi!

So…we cook!

Cookie wants to know when I'm going to make her cat treats.
Cookie wants to know when we are going to make her cat treats.

We popped the sweet potatoes into the toaster oven (Alton Brown nukes his, but we were cooking sweet potatoes for the week).  Brian ground the oats and set a cup or so aside, etc. We basically followed the directions.

Making oat flour
Making oat flour
Egg, sweet potato, and sardines, oh my!
Egg, sweet potato, and sardines, oh my!
This stuff stinks. The name says it all.
This stuff stinks. The name says it all.
Making the hubs blend it
Brian processes the ingredients
A sticky mess
A sticky mess

So, this where we ran into some issues.  The 1 cup or so of oat flour left over really was not enough to combat the stickiness of the dough. We couldn’t get it to roll out properly, and perhaps if we were better bakers, we could have gotten it to work.  It could be the brand of oats or oat type I bought, or it could be that we did not process the oats long enough. Brian also guesses it might be that we baked our potatoes instead of microwaving them. It could be that the recipe doesn’t work as advertised; however, we’re assuming that baking the potato led to a higher moisture content.   We really aren’t sure, and this is no test kitchen.   If the pups like it, we’ll re-evaluate the oat flour/potato baking situation.

Instead, we looked sadly at our dirty food processor and decided to throw caution to the wind…and pulled out some good ole fashioned all-purpose flour.

It worked!
It worked!

Also, unlike Alton Brown, we don’t own cute corgis or bone cookie cutters. In fact, we couldn’t even find our stash, otherwise the dogs would have gotten star or Christmas tree biscuits.  Instead, we found our small measuring cup and used that.  This, too, worked.

Things work!  Again!
Things work! Again!

At one point, I got overzealous in my cookie cutting and the dough became stuck in the cup.  I tried shaking it, and sometimes that worked. Eventually, I just hit the top like a ketchup bottle.  The best measuring-cup-as-cookie-cutter tip I can give is to sort of wiggle it down.  Be gentle, or, as we tell our dogs when they get crazy, eeeeaaasssyyyyyy.

BAM!  Excited hubs.
BAM! Excited hubs.

Brian put the biscuits into the oven and then quickly started on dishes.  How did I luck out on this?  For those of you who are on clean-up duty, the dough easily breaks apart and goes down the drain.  Clean-up on this one is relatively easy.  The ingredients are common ones and easily found in the grocery stores.  The actual mixing of the ingredients was quick and simple, but if you don’t own a full-sized food processor, you probably want to choose a different recipe. The oat flour needs a food processor; you might be able to use a blender, but you wouldn’t be able to mix the dough in it.

Lightly browned
Lightly browned

After 30 minutes, we took them out and checked the bottoms to make sure they were lightly browned.  The biscuits were a little soft in texture, but we figured the hour rest in the oven would harden them.

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Basting the biscuits

Brian basted the treats and put them back into the oven to rest.  The entire process, aside from resting the biscuits, took about an hour, with half of that being bake time.

Tomorrow, we’ll try them out on the pups and see if they approve.