Saturday, March 19, 2016

Baking Dog Treats

Cooked kabocha squash

I got some left over kabocha so I decided to bake some kabocha peanut butter treats for the pooches. They love eating kabocha straight, but I don't want them to have diarrhea from eating too much of it. One of my favorite dog treat recipes is peanut butter and pumpkin dog treat.  Today I substituted canned puree pumpkin with cooked kabocha. Dog treats are super easy to bake. Unlike human cookies, you don't add butter or sugar.  Cracus and Kelsey went crazy just from the smell of the ingredients mixing together.

I got some very cute paw shape cookie cutters a while back, but I probably won't be using them anymore unless I was making human cookies. The dogs can careless what the shape of the treats are. If I was going to use the cookie cutters, I would have to get my rolling pin out. I would then have to wash the cutters and the rolling pin. The cutters also make the treats way too big. I just use my hands and roll the dough into small balls and flatten them a little with my hands.  While the treats were baking, Cracus and Kelsey refused to leave the kitchen. As soon as they were done and cooked down, I left them have a few. As you can see from the clip below, I could not get Cracus to sit at all. He was just too excited over the home baked treats and practically bit into my fingers as he took the treat.  I tried a piece of the treats, too. It tasted like a piece of very healthy cracker.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Old Tree Out, New Tree In

Back in October, 2015, I ordered a 4" Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry Plant from Hirt's Gardens via I have ordered other plants from them in the past and highly recommend it. If I had the time, I would try to grow everything myself from seeds or cuttings, but time is scarce these days. For nearly five months, I have kept this 4" mulberry plant in my kitchen where I setup a table as an indoor plant area. It really doesn't seem to have grown much at all.

I have been thinking of transplanting it outside now that spring is coming and weather is getting warmer.  I couldn't think of a nice spot for it, and getting rid of the useless tree on the far end of the garden seemed to be a major project until a couple weeks ago.  The useless tree suddenly fell over one night. Although I was a little sad about it, I was also happy at the opportunity to use that area for a more useful tree, a tree that produces food.  After removing the fallen tree last weekend, I spent more time in the garden to transplant the 4" plant into its new  home. So far so good. I just need to make sure the dogs stay away from it, and the soil gets good drainage. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fallen Tree

 Last Tuesday evening was very windy. In the middle of the night, I heard something but didn't think much of it. When I got up on Wednesday morning and looked out of the window, I was surprised to see the tree as shown in the photo above. Initially I was a little sad because it was a big tree, and now it will need to be removed. We had more rain in the past few months than the past several years, and its shallow roots got wet rot. It didn't take much for the tree to fall over.

Rotted roots

During the weekend, I started breaking the small branches apart. For bigger branches, I used my Silky Pocket Boy to saw them apart. My wonderful next door neighbor came over with his electric saw on Sunday afternoon and saw apart the biggest branches. He's saving those pieces as firewood for summer camping. After all the tree parts were removed, he came back with his lawn mower and gave my overgrown backyard a complete makeover!  See how nice it looks now in the photo below.

I ordered a very small dwarf mulberry tree a few months ago. I will work on improving the soil condition and transplant the mulberry to where the tree was before.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Smoke's Poutinerie

Someone told me about Smoke's Poutinerie in Downtown Berkeley a while back. Poutine is a Quebec classic consists of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. At Smoke's, they have over 30 varieties of toppings in addition to the traditional cheese curds. They have grilled chicken, steak, bacon, scrambled eggs, pulled pork, Korean BBQ, with BBQ sauce, cheese sauce, chili, sour cream, Sriracha, etc., etc., the combination could be limitless, and you can even design your own. I love french fries and anything else that can possibly come with them.  Smoke's is right in my old hangout, but sadly it took me over a year to make it there. This is the sad part about growing up and having a job. You just don't have time to explore your own neighborhood anymore.

I made a special trip there today on President's Day since I have the day off from work. I got there 15 minutes before 11 o'clock, when they open. I was lucky to find parking right across the street from it. Since it was my first time there, I wanted to try the traditional poutine, which is called Traditional Veggie Poutine, with fries, rich brown vegetable gravy, and Quebec cheese curds.

While I waited for my poutine, I looked at their wall of poutine news. How exciting!  It reminded me of my trip to Middle Earth, when I took the time to explore each street and local eateries. 

I ordered a snack size poutine, but it is enough as a meal. The cheese and gravy are both great. The gravy has mushroom bits in it. Of course I love the fries. I hope to return and try other combinations.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Once a Mushroom Hunter, Always a Mushroom Hunter

One beautiful shaggy mane

It had been over a year since the last time I went out hunting for wild mushrooms. I often think about those delicious morels.  I was walking around Lake Merritt today with the pooches, and suddenly I saw a fresh full size shaggy mane sticking out of the grass. Coprinus comatus, commonly known as shaggy mane or ink cap, is one of the wild mushrooms that I am very familiar with. It is very distinctive with the scales on its cap. This mushroom is unusual because it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after being picked or depositing spores.  Another sure way to identify the mushroom is to cut it in half as the photo below. The cross section of shaggy mane has a unique kite line. It's hard to see from the photo below, but I have a better photo I took years ago in my wild mushroom photo album.

The biggest one started to turn black

I walked through the grass over to the shaggy mane and found 3 more smaller ones next to the big one. I took a photo before plucking all of them off the ground. I didn't have anything to put them in, and suddenly I remembered that I had doggy bags in my pocket. Perfect!

After taking them home, I sautéed them in some olive oil with some baby spinach then sprinkled some gorgonzola cheese on top. It was delicious!  We are supposed to have more rain. I can't wait to find more presents like this while out walking!