I am one of those eccentric folks who likes to bake my own dog biscuits. Oh sure, I buy commercially produced ones, but I also enjoy baking. And so, it was with enthusiasm that I approached the You Bake 'Em Dog Biscuits Cookbook by Janine Adams. I was not disappointed.
This 112-page paperback presents approximately 60 simple recipes in a down to earth, conversational manner. Chatty lead-ins to the recipes themselves offer simple tips on everything from watching a dog's weight, to smoothing relations between kids and dogs, to throwing a doggy party or dressing up homemade cookies to make them more festive as gifts.
Simplicity is this book's greatest strength. One doesn't need to know a thing about baking to follow these recipes, and no special equipment is required (although a food processor is recommended). Most of these recipes would be ideal to use when helping a child make cookies for the family dog.
Practical concerns like storage are addressed, with most of the treats requiring refrigeration and prompt consumption. Amusingly, the author comments on the "ick factor" of some ingredients like liver with its less than delightful aroma. Anyone who has ever cooked the slimy stuff will smirk at her suggestion to wear latex gloves rather than handling it directly.
Although the "Trader Joe's flyer" artwork is appealing from a decorative perspective, there are neither instructive illustrations, nor are there any photographs of the treats themselves. Omitting photographs keeps the book's production costs down, no doubt, but some readers might regret being unable to see what the finished product looks like. This isn't a coffee table style picture book; it's a practical guidebook.
Cookbooks aren't really written to be read, per se. They're meant to be used, so before I wrote this review, I baked seven of the recipes as follows. Click on any of those treats to see how mine turned out.
It wasn't until I actually started baking that I realized how incredibly user-friendly and simple the recipes are. Substitutions are easily made. Ingredients are few. Directions are clear. I had a lot of fun making these treats, and I did them all on the same day. My dogs went wild for them all, but my dogs do not have discriminating palates!
All of the recipes are intended to be healthy and natural, with some specifically intended to address special needs. These include lower fat and grain free treats. My only real difficulty was in locating the garbanzo bean flour that is used in the grain-free recipes. I couldn't find it anywhere, so I ended up using wheat flour instead. That's not a problem for my dogs, but it does defeat the purpose of a "grain free" recipe. Happily, most of the ingredients called for are not so obscure.
If you're looking for a simple recipe book, either for yourself or to give as a gift, this book is ideal.
Kate Connick |
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