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Ten years ago, I barely understood the purpose of an oven. Where I grew up, home cooking involved mostly range tops, steam baskets and stir fry, and the oven was just some place to store extra pots and pans. After living a few years in Taiwan, where household convection ovens are rare and street food cheap and ubiquitous, I had to reacclimate to American life by learning to cook for myself. Thus, I finally learned to incorporate the oven into my repertoire. With my relatively newfound appreciation for both baked goods and home-cooked diets, I attempted my first batch of canine munchies.

This grain-free liver and blueberry recipe is adapted from this recipe at Dog Treat Kitchen. Actually, what I’m posting isn’t so much a recipe as a document of an experiment. None of my measurements are strict. It’s probably better if you don’t do exactly as I say, and adjust proportions according to your own expertise and needs. If any baking experts want to chime in and offer suggestions as to how to improve my technique, I’m all ears.

Ingredients:
– approx. 1 pound beef liver *
– 1 egg
– 1 cup fresh Michigan blueberries
– 1 1/4 cup sweet potato flour
– beef broth (I made 1 cup, only used about 1/4 cup)

* We’ve been staying away from all processed beef and chicken for Bowdu’s allergies, but I’m making an exception here for the sake of these treats. Hope this doesn’t totally set back his skin issues…

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Baking instructions are found at the link to dogtreatkitchen.com posted above the ingredients list. Instead of potato flakes, I used a packet of sweet potato flour. I did not add this to the blender, as I thought it already sufficiently powdered. The cup of blueberries, a gift from my visiting parents, was a bonus that needed to be consumed or frozen right away. So I think my puree had more moisture than the original recipe expected, diminishing the necessity of additional beef broth. I didn’t put in garlic, as the combination of garlic + blueberry just seems weird to me (as if liver and blueberry weren’t already a strange enough pairing?).

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Poured and stirred the liver and blueberry puree into a pile of sweet potato flour. One 8 ounce package was exactly 1 1/4 cup, as the original recipe called for. It was hard to completely disintegrate all the miniscule clumps of flour, so the finished product still ended up with some visible white balls.

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Photo taken 8 August 2010

Bowdu tried to convince me that baking was not necessary, and that I should just put the whole mixing bowl down for him. He plied quite a moochface, but was not persuasive. (Bowpi doesn’t come into the kitchen when I’m cooking, which is to her credit.)

My finished cake was spongier than expected. I’m not sure if this was meant to have a firm or crunchy texture, or if the type of flour made a difference. It was easy enough to cut into pieces when cooled. The smell was indeed pungent, and probably not for the faint of heart. I didn’t realize until I was done that I had held my breath during most of the cutting process. Bleghk…

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Both dogs accepted their fresh-baked samples without complaint, and even greedily nosed my palms for crumbs. Success!

One small snack-sized pouch was reserved for the cookie jar, one sandwich-sized pouch for the refrigerator, and two more sandwich pouches + a mini plastic tub in the freezer. This should last quite a while, especially since it’s to be doled out in minimal portions. It is said that too much liver is not good for dogs, though I still don’t really know how much is “too” much. It’s not like they’re going to tell me.

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