A Dog-Eat-Peanut Butter World

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I have a colleague named Erika, who has a dog named Bubu, who lives the life of a king. Bubu gets home-cooked meals and homemade treats (recipe below). Whoever said “It’s a dog’s life,” clearly has not met Bubu.
I have a dog named Teddy. We rescued him from a shelter, and he has been grateful to us ever since. I like to think we treat Teddy pretty well – he’s now dining on Rachael Ray’s “Delish” and he gets walked every day, has his own comfy bed and gets plenty of love. But he certainly doesn’t live like Bubu, and he has to put up with a lot, like my teen daughter calling him “Princess” for reasons unknown, and putting socks on him and painting his toenails. When these happen he often looks at me as though thinking, “I just can’t believe I have to put up with this,” but he remains calm and gracious.
One of my favorite memories is bringing Teddy home, when my youngest daughter Shoshana was just a few years old. She liked to play hide-and-seek with him. First she would hide and let him find her, then she would tell him to hide. If he moved at all, she would say, “Good job finding a hiding place, Teddy!” and pretend to go look for him.

Bubu’s Favorite Peanut Treats

In large bowl mix the following:
2.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup yellow corn meal, 1 cup milk, 2/3 cup peanut butter (I use organic, creamy, no sugar), 2 slightly beaten eggs, 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1/3 cup real bacon bits (optional).
Best to use your hands for mixing. When the dough is done, roll it to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutter. It will fill about three big cookie sheets.
Bake in pre-warmed oven at 375 degrees until the cookies are golden brown. It takes about 30-35 minutes. I turn them over after 15 minutes.
Cool the treats on a rack. DO NOT leave unattended! (Unless you have a tiny dog that cannot reach the counter top.)
Store in the bottom drawer of the fridge in a sealed bag or box.
For the health-conscious or chubby doggies, the peanut butter may be replaced with 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce and low-fat cheese can be used.

Bubu’s Second Favorite

The basic ingredients are the same as above. Replace the cheese and the peanut butter with 1-1.5 cup of liver-pasta:
Drain a 12-16-oz box of chicken liver, and saute it over 1 tablespoon of oil with a clove of shredded garlic or a teaspoon of garlic powder. You may need a tablespoon of water. Keep stirring on medium heat.
When it is fully cooked (about 5-6 minutes), let it cool down and puree it in a food processor. (If you don’t have one, just break it up with a fork.)
Mix it with the dough and prepare as above.

No doggy can resist this!

It’s Yogurt Time!

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I know that Greek Yogurt is supposed to be very healthy, but the only one who likes it in our home is my husband. The rest of us are really creeped out by the texture. I don’t even want to linger on the thought of it for too long; it’s like something out of a Steven King novel.
But I love Kefir (especially in Birthday Cake flavor, which is ridiculously difficult to find) and regular yogurt.
Have you ever made your own yogurt? It’s so yummy, and easy. Give it a try!

Homemade Yogurt

1-1/3 cups whole milk
¼ cup plain yogurt with active cultures
2/3 cup heavy cream

Heat the milk and cream until they just boil. Then remove from heat and let cool to about 115-degrees (slightly cooler than tap water). Whisk in yogurt then strain (I used a dishcloth). Pour mixture into a 2-cup container and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and leave for 8-10 hours.
I know I shouldn’t admit this, but I add sugar (what my health-conscious sister used to call “white poison”) to mine. I just sprinkle it on top and dive in. Delicious!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I live in Michigan, and this past winter it seemed to have snowed every day for eight consecutive months. Truly, it was endless.
When my children were little, we built snowmen and painted our snow creations with water made beautiful with food coloring.
My daughter Talya, now 17, absolutely adored the snow. Every morning after her big brother and sister went off to school, she would put on her snowsuit and run outside in the front yard. She was just a tiny girl, a few years old, and she would play by herself, making sort-of snowmen and catching snowflakes and spinning around and around in the falling snow.
Across the street there lived and older woman and her husband, Arnold, a nice man who had Multiple Sclerosis. They had many workers who came to help clean and run errands and assist Arnold with daily living. One was a thoughtful, middle-aged African-American woman who once told me, “I love watching your daughter play in the snow.”
This past winter we expanded our menu, usually reserved only for snow ice cream, to include these snow fritters. They’re delicious!


Snow Fritters

1 egg
1 cup milk
Dash salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cup flour
2 cups snow

Beat egg, then add milk. Slowly mix in flour and beat for a few minutes. Add vanilla and snow, carefully stirring until everything is mixed. Fry by spoonfuls in hot oil, cooking until golden.

Celebrity Recipes

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Many years ago, while I was still working as a journalist, I did a story about the favorite Jewish foods of celebrities. What fun that was! I remember that golf great Jack Nicklaus wrote to tell me how much he liked bagels, and TV legend Aaron Spelling told me he loved blintzes. I also heard from Dick Clark, Mr. “American Bandstand,” who sent me his recipe for brisket.
I’m a vegetarian, but everyone for whom I prepare this absolutely adores it. I use the same recipe for tofu, and it works well, too.

Dick Clark’s Brisket

2 packets onion soup mix
2 Tbsp. each oil (any kind), red vinegar, sugar, dry mustard and paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients and spread on both sides of the meat. Wrap meat in foil so that it is thoroughly covered on all sides.
Refrigerate overnight.

The next day:
Slice four onions. Add to the meat, then reseal foil, making certain it’s tight.

Place in a 350-degree oven for four-five hours. Meat will be very tender!

Note: You should check on the meat about halfway into the cooking time. If necessary, add a bit of water, though probably the meat will be doing just fine in its own juices.

The Best Potato Kugel You Will Ever Eat

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So Pesach (Passover) ended last week. It’s a pretty demanding holiday if you do it right (which is why I haven’t been posting anything). Clean, cook, eat – that was basically my schedule for eight days.
But I loved the seders, held the first two nights, when we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. All my children were here, and we stayed up talking late into the night. (Well, they stayed up, anyway; I’m always the first to fall asleep.)
Most people know about matzah and Pesach, but for me, the potato is the most important food of the holiday. It substitutes for everything (like pizza crust), there are a zillion ways to prepare those babies, and who doesn’t like potatoes?
Potato kugel is one of my favorite fool-proof Pesach recipes. We also often enjoy this on Friday night, for Shabbat.

The Best Potato Kugel You Will Ever Eat

½ cup oil (we like olive, but you can use just about any kind)
8 medium potatoes, peeled
1 small onion
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. sugar
5 large eggs, beaten (or you can whip them up in a food processor, which is what I like to do)

Preheat oven to 425-degrees.
Place oil in a 9×13” baking pan and set in the oven.
Meanwhile, puree onions and potatoes in a food processor, then add other ingredients and mix until just combined.
Once the oil is sizzling hot, carefully remove from the oven.
THIS IS THE CRITICAL STEP: Carefully (I can’t say that enough, obviously) pour potatoes into the hot oil (yes, oil MUST be hot) and gently stir until oil is absorbed into mixture. This hot oil is what makes the kugel soft and fluffy.
Cook uncovered for one hour.

Sweets for Little Sweets

I found this recipe in Hadassah magazine, which adapted it from the Naomi Cookbook.
It’s very sweet, but also yummy.
According to the magazine, this candy was made in Ukrainian orphanages during WWII, using condensed milk sent by Jews from the United States.

Ukrainian Orphan Candy

1 12-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Place sweetened condensed milk in a non-stick, 10” sauté pan. Add salt, then sift cocoa over pan. Stir to incorporate. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until cocoa is dissolved, then until liquid thickens and becomes difficult to stir (about 12-14 minutes). Remove from heat, add walnuts and completely cool mixture, about 30 minutes. Working in batches, roll about 3 Tablespoons of cooled mixture in confectioners’ sugar. Form into a ball, then roll out on lightly sugared countertop, forming 1” longs. Cut logs into 1” pieces.

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Chomp, Chomp, Chomp

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When you’ve got a really monstrous appetite but don’t want to consume, say, an entire woman from the 1950s, here’s a great salad (and I do mean great!) with a long history.
This recipe is more than 100 years old, and the story is that it first became popular with men working the iron furnaces in Pennsylvania. What a terrible job that must have been, spending all day in the charcoal dust and smoke and heat.
At lunch, finally, a break – and this salad would have been the perfect treat. Supposedly the name for Chomp comes from the sound made when consuming it.

Chomp

2 large cucumbers, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 green pepper, diced
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
½ cup vinegar
¼ tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vegetables. Mix remaining ingredients for dressing, then add to vegetables. Chill at least an hour before serving.