Like most modern dog owners, I sometimes wonder about the food that I give to Toby. On the whole, we’ve just carried on with the diet he was originally given by his breeder, figuring “if it ain’t broke” – but the increasing variety of options available has often momentarily stayed in my hand as I go to grab a new sack of his #basic biscuits.
Unsurprisingly, Toby doesn’t seem too bothered whether he’s eating designated dog food or chunks of truffled pecorino from a dangerously low-level cheese board (true story), and will happily chomp down on any old thing. We often joke about setting him up a street food blog where he could dispense hipsterish reviews of the rank flotsam and jetsam he picks up off the tarmac: “Old tennis ball – 4/5. Get here before the crowds do.”
Despite my dog’s inability to either confirm or deny his interest in fancy food, I can’t help but be drawn to the beautifully designed packs of organic, raw, 100% chemical free, artisan, gourmet-style dog chow that seem to be constantly encroaching on regular dawg food’s shelf space.
One of my first forays into this world resulted in a bulk purchase of Lily’s Kitchen Bedtime Biscuits. I know I’m a sucker for cute packaging but I mean – just LOOK at them. Even though my eye-rolling inner cynic was frothing at the mouth about the ingenious marketing involved in expanding my dog’s “biscuit occasions”, giving my new puppy a special bedtime treat in the evenings made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Plus Toby had no complaints, as he was now getting a delicious biscuit before heading to bed. One Sunday, while cooing over the lilting copy and quirky illustrations on the box, I started looking closely at the ingredients and thinking: how hard would it be to make these myself?
“These artisanal biscuits are made with delicious organic ingredients including organic oats and organic rye flour. The organic chamomile and passionflowers in these treats have wonderful therapeutic and nutritious qualities. We’ve also included organic probiotic yoghurt to help digestion. Our hand-baked biscuits do not contain any chemicals or anything artificial.”
Now intrigued, I had a quick nose around our kitchen, read a few blogs for guidance on things one shouldn’t ever feed to a dog, then started experimenting: and these homemade dog biscuits are the result. Not only are they thrifty, they’re crazily, embarrassingly quick to rustle up (making them useful if you’ve run out of shop-bought treats) and can help you use up dog-friendly odds and ends in the fridge.
toby’s totally triffic tuna treats
ingredients: 1 small tin tuna, in oil 1 half cup of oat flour (blitz up porridge oats in a blender) or rye flour get creative: what else you got? mashed sweet potato? a spoonful of yoghurt? grated carrot? an egg yolk spare sunflower/olive oil just in case method:
- Preheat the oven to 180° C.
- Open the tuna and add to a mixing bowl. Blitz it with a hand blender until you’re left with a terrifying fish paste. Chase tuna-hating other half round house with bowl of gory fish ooze. Return to kitchen, chuckling evilly.
- Add the oat flour and other ingredients, and start mixing. If it seems dry, add a little water or oil. If it’s too wet, add some more oat flour. You want to be left with a stiff, dry dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball, cover it, and leave it to rest in a fridge overnight. Only joking! I’m sure an hour of rest would improve things but really – just get stuck in.
- Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until it’s about 5mm thick.
- Start cutting bite-size shapes! Stars, triangles, squares – whatever you fancy.
- Arrange your shapes on floured baking trays.
- Once your tray is filled with shapes, pop it in the oven. Check after fifteen minutes – you want the edges to be browned and the centre to be firm to the prod. Sounds daft, but you’ll know they’re ready when they smell like biscuits.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Resist eating.
- When cooled, feed one to your dog. Feed another to your dog. Think about eating one yourself: feed it to your dog instead.
- Smugly revel in your Nigella-esque dog ownership: you’re on another level now