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Week 21: Farm Food for Our Furry Friends


10/18/2019

As members of Moutoux Orchard, we get to see the benefits of having access to the full-diet CSA. We know our farmers, know how the food gets to the table and know the work put in to make it happen. I’ve recently seen the same health benefits that I’ve noticed in myself in my foster dog, Leslie.

Leslie girl

Brian and I welcomed Leslie into our home ~1.5 years ago. Leslie came to us a hot mess – 7 pounds overweight, oily coat that would leave a film on your hands, soft stools, anxiety through the roof, and shedding beyond anything I have ever known to be possible. The first summer we had Leslie, we got into a rhythm of long, frequent brush sessions, vacuuming every other day, and monthly baths for the oily stank. We took tons of walks and played in the yard, but she was still overweight. She was also itching and scratching so badly her belly and armpits were bald. Solutions offered by the vet were medicated this, prescribed that, and allergy shots. We decided to try a different approach and first change her diet. We moved her to a higher-end, white-fish and potato-based dry food and I started making her farm-fresh doggy treats – dehydrated sweet potato chips and dehydrated organ slices (recipes below). The excess weight fell off, the scratching stopped, bald patches grew hair, the oily stank went away, and her bowels improved.


The shedding continued and we accepted it was from her anxiety and genetics. Brush, vacuum, brush, vacuum. We began giving her a few tablespoons of Moutoux yogurt with her food and not only did she love it, her digestion and bowels improved dramatically. Then there came a few-week stretch that I could not made it to the farm and we had no yogurt to spare. Through some online research, I confirmed she could have a little of our kefir instead. She gobbled it up as usual, and so went the next week or so with the kefir addition. The next brushing session came and there was no more hair coming off her after 10 minutes of brushing. Now mind you, I usually brush this girl for 20-30 minutes and there is never an end in sight with the hair. I was so confused and was racking my brain as to what was going on. And then it dawned on me – THE KEFIR. I witnessed a dramatic change in Leslie’s health for a not so dramatic change in her diet. To this day, her shedding maintains at normal levels.


I do not know the exact cause of the improvement, but the effect is real. Something major changed in Leslie’s health. The benefits of an improved diet, healthy treats, and a little something extra especial with the raw yogurt and kefir we get from Moutoux is a benefit to not only us humans but to our furry friends too. This goes without saying: Pets cannot eat everything us humans do, and that includes dairy products for some. Make sure to fully research additions into your pets’ diet as well as consult with your veterinarian.

LESLIE'S FAVORITE SWEET POTATO CHIPS


Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes, sliced ~1/4" thick (peeling optional)

Directions:

  1. Use a knife and slice sweet potatoes into coins. Try and keep around 1/4" thick.

  2. Arrange in a single layer on dehydrating tray(s) or baking sheet(s).

  3. Bake at 250F for at least 3-4 hours and flipping once halfway through. OR dehydrate between 110-140 F for at least 8 hours.

  4. Check periodically. When fully dehydrated, allow to cool and pack in an air tight container.

Notes: Chips dried crisp will last longer than chips dried to chewy state. Chewy chips should be kept in the fridge and eaten in the next few days. Crispy veggies can last several weeks in an airtight container.

ORGAN MEAT DOG TREATS

Ingredients:

  • Organs, thinly cut into long slices

Directions:

  1. Line baking sheet or dehydrator tray with parchment (optional) for easier cleanup.

  2. Arrange in a single layer on dehydrating tray(s) or baking sheet(s).

  3. Bake on lowest heat setting OR dehydrate between 145-155F 12-14 hours.

  4. Check periodically. When fully dehydrated and snap crisp, remove and allow to cool.

  5. Store in an air tight container.

Notes: Beef and pork organs preferred because they are larger and more pungent Slicing the organs is easier if partially frozen. Be warned that your house will have an "organ" smell while dehydrating but will quickly dissipate when done.

And for us humans:

HOMEMADE GIARDINIERA


Recipe courtesy of https://www.daringgourmet.com/homemade-giardiniera/

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets

  • 10 stalks of celery, diced

  • 5 carrots, diced

  • 2 large bell peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 1 cup sliced green pitted olives

  • 4 jalapeno peppers (or more)

Spices for EACH pint jar:

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds

  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns

  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional for hot giardiniera)

  • 1/8 tsp celery seed

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half

  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

For the Brine:

  • 4 cups white wine vinegar (must be 6%)

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 TBSP kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Place the chopped veggies a large non-reactive pot or bowl. Pour 1/4 cup kosher salt over the vegetables and enough water to cover them. Let the vegetables soak in the salt water for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  2. To prepare the jars, place the spices into each of the jars, reserving the garlic and olive oil until after the brine is added. (I like to make some jars hot and some mild by adding/omitting the red chili flakes).

  3. Thoroughly rinse and drain the vegetables before dividing them up between the jars. Pack the vegetables in as tightly as you can. Place the garlic each jar.

  4. To make the brine: Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Pour the boiling brine over the vegetables leaving a little more than 1/2 inch headspace from the top. Pour the olive oil over the top. Wipe the rims with a wet paper towel and seal the jars.

  5. If you plan on using the giardiniera within two weeks let the jars sit at room temperature for a day or two and then transfer them to the fridge. The flavor only gets better with time so wait at least 2-3 days before eating it. Will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

  6. If you're canning the giardiniera for long-term storage, seal the jars with the lids and rims and prepare a boiling water bath. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours before moving them.

Notes: Makes 8 pints. Pronounced “jar-din-air-ah” and is an Italian condiment that is very well known in Chicago. Put on hot dogs, sandwiches, burgers, nachos, antipasto platters, pasta salads, and roast beef. If processed in the water bath, the giardiniera is best consumed within 6 months but will keep for at least a year. Alternatively, you can omit the oil during canning and add it later to your giardiniera when you open the jar.


10/18/2019

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