Family

Win-Win!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a Redmond Pressure Multicooker in an online competition! I was absolutely thrilled – couldn’t quite believe my luck, to be honest – as I had read some food bloggers’ reviews on the new Redmond Multicooker and been very impressed. As you know, I bake for my dogs and I also bake for family visits on Sundays, and I love to cook, but it’s just the 2 of us at home now that DD has  moved into her own place with her partner.Even though we have solar panels, electricity is so expensive and I am very aware of how much energy my fan oven and hob use, so I try to limit my baking and washing to sunny days… That can be tricky in England because our weather is nothing if not unpredictable! That’s why I wanted a Multicooker – far more energy-efficient and they can steam, bake, fry, cook, deep fry – all in one gadget that uses a mere 900 watts.

So, I was super-excited when my Pressure Multicooker arrived…

RMC-110E-2

Isn’t it beautiful??!! Look at all the things that come with it….

redmond-RMC110E

A 4.8 litre cooking bowl (totally non-stick); a trivet and steam basket; spoons; a measuring pot; a deep-fry basket and a 100-recipe book. This cooker has 55 automatic programmes, but you can use the “Multichef” settings to cook the way you want to and for how long you want. I haven’t used a pressure cooker for about 30 years, so I was a bit intimidated at first!

My first meal was a gammon joint, baked from frozen, followed by roasted potatoes and root veggies. Look at this!

RMC-gammon

That was incredible… the meat was cooked to perfection, in half the time it would have taken in the fan oven and the veg were perfect too! My next venture was the Meatball soup following the recipe in the Redmond book:

Meatball-soup

Super-tasty and nutritious, cooked in 20 minutes. This is the life – chuck it all in, press a few buttons and forget about it! A couple of days later, I was craving something sweet. I don’t eat biscuits or cookies as such, but I enjoy a slice of cake, so I decided to bake a Victoria-style sponge cake. That’s a great favourite here and I didn’t have all the ingredients required by the recipes in the book, so I winged it, using my basic sponge recipe and adding some coffee and stem ginger curd left over from a hamper I won at Christmas! Fingers tightly crossed, I pressed the appropriate buttons and left it to cook/bake!

RMC-CoffeeCake1

When it was cooked, this is what it looked like. I tipped it out onto a plate, (put the plate over the top of the bowl and up-ended it!) – et voila!

RMC-CoffeeCake2

A large, round, super-fluffy cake, dusted with icing sugar!!

RMC-CoffeeCake

As light as a steamed pudding and it tasted amazing – Bravo, Redmond! I can’t tell you how delighted I am – oh and not forgetting my husband, who is dining like a King lately!! The cake was incredibly light and moist and stayed that way until we demolished the last 2 slices  4 days later!

Today is Father’s Day and I am treating us to steak – with some vouchers courtesy of the Tesco Orchard Programme – #TriedforLess, which will also be cooked in the Redmond. However, I did use the oven today to bake the dogs some peanut butter, carrot and oat cookies, and I have mini meringues baking now for our dessert with Tesco’s fresh berries – also #TriedForLess!!

Zeus and Flake had me virtually pinned to the oven when their cookies had finished baking… Understandable, as they really did smell great!

PeanutButter-dog-cookies

So that’s it from me today – do you bake for your dogs too?

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Baking for my dogs

I really enjoy baking and baking for my dogs is a big part of that. People are always surprised when I tell them that I bake my own dog treats, but see the reason behind it when I explain that a) I have 2 Staffys and b) a lot of commercial dog snacks are full of additives and hydrated stuff. Baking your own treats is pretty quick and simple, usually you have the staples in your cupboard anyway and the dogs are so grateful, sometimes more so than other family members!!

Today I baked them apple and carrot dumplings:

Baking4Dogs1

Grated carrot, grated apple, flour, oats, poppy seeds (for extra crunch), 2 eggs, molasses and a few walnuts. The food processor did all the work!

Baking4Dogs2

I just popped spoonfuls of the sticky mix onto a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. The dogs think the oven is the “Baking Channel” and are quite happy lying on the kitchen rug whilst their treats bake! I leave them in the oven to dry out and then pop them into a container when they’re completely cold. 🙂

I must admit, we are all missing Dad (Nick), who is fishing a big competition this weekend and won’t be home until Sunday. It makes us all restless and we don’t sleep well without him, so keeping busy is the only cure!! This is Flake’s sulky, “I miss Daddy” face yesterday…

Flake-notgettingup

Definitely didn’t want to get up, bless her!

Tomorrow I’ll post another of the Loving Homes Dog Rescue dogs looking for their Forever Home… Have a good weekend 🙂

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The dogs enjoying the sunshine!

Zeus and Flake have had a lot of fun sunbathing, playing and sleeping lately. The weather has been gloriously sunny, although the air temperature has dropped considerably now… Here are a few fun photos the kids managed to get on Sunday of Flake, and yesterday, of Zeus. Both dogs appear to be enjoying posing in sunglasses…

Flake's "Robert DeNiro" look...

Flake’s “Robert DeNiro” look…

They're both gorgeous!

They’re both gorgeous!

Hello!!

Hello!!

Dis is mah smug face.... 'cos I has swagger!

Dis is mah smug face…. ‘cos I has swagger!

Priceless! I am so thankful for the modern technology that makes these memories for us. Such happy faces! 🙂

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More Pawsomeness!

Well, the dogs were over the moon with their Pawsome Box… It contained a tug rope with a ball, which kept them both occupied for a couple of days, and was the first item that Flake removed from the box!

pawsome9

There was another toy too – a pink squeaky pig, which was very soft rubber and rather cute. We gave that to Ambs for her kitten, Mr Pies. Our dogs’ jaws are too strong for this cute piggy and I’m sure they’d have eaten the squeaker too!

Zeus often gets “itchy ears” and we had to take him to the Vet’s with a couple of ear infections, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of Ear Cleaner liquid in the box – that will come in very handy indeed! Every other week we clean out his ears to keep them free from infection, so this is a godsend.

pawsome-box

The little red item with a black cross in the centre is a very clever poo-bag dispenser with a plastic clip on it for bagging “doodies” when you’re out walking – another little treasure. The dogs also enjoyed the “Fresh Breath Rolls” – yummy, was the verdict! I like the cheesy chicken strips too – they’re thin and chewy, can’t be swallowed whole, which is always a bonus if you have greedy dogs – and Staffies are notoriously greedy!! Ours will do anything for a treat, literally, but go deaf on “commands”!

Loving-Flake

Flake and Zeus were really tired after lunch, all thanks to the excitement of a visit from Ambs and the Pawsome Box arriving, but they did allow time for a few photos!! This is loving girl, Flake… and next, Zeus with his Happy Face on!!

Laughing boy!

Laughing boy!

I’ve been baking for them too and will share some more photos and recipes in the next few days. Although the wind is cold, the advent of more sunny mornings makes it plain that Spring is here and that means spring-cleaning, decluttering and preparing the garden for container growing of salad and herbs. I’m comping madly to win enough to pave the stony area and replace the rotting decking. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Pawsome Box is awesome!

Just a quick post, as I’ve been having photo lessons from my daughter today and my brain is fried! Zeus and Flake’s Pawsome Box arrived today and they had a lot of fun with the contents…

pawsome-collage

Her’s a collage of us and the contents – I’ll post properly tomorrow with a full description of the contents, and my views. We won this lovely box in a competition last month, so I feel very privileged to have received it! 🙂

Amber introduced me to some new apps for my smart phone and iPad Air, – Retrica, Pic Collage and Be Funky – which means I shall be taking and editing a lot more pics of the dogs and posting more often now I know some tricks and shortcuts!!

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2014 in review…

Zeus has been with us for almost a year now… and having got through Christmas without blubbing because our beloved Thor wasn’t around, we remember him fondly and I still catch myself calling the pupster ‘Thor’, especially when he’s under my feet!

I’m looking forward to 2015. 2014 ended up being a good year for us as a family: DD found herself in a new relationship which developed rapidly and resulted in her leaving the nest and setting up home with her new man – both are hard-working young people and look to become a very successful and loving couple, with a great future ahead of them.

Nick’s battle with skin cancer continues, although it’s become active again in his nose and I foresee hospital visits again next year, but on the whole we are both 100% healthier than we were last winter. We’re eating well and sensibly (well I do love to cook!!), regularly taking multi-vitamins and we had flu jabs this year too. I discovered the Nutribullet this year and decided that if I couldn’t win one (did I mention I’m an avid comper?), then we’d treat ourselves to one for Christmas. And we did… We’ve been having our “Nutriblast” every morning at about 11-ish and feel better and more energised for it even though it’s only been a couple of weeks. My main aim is to boost our immune systems and get as much cancer-fighting material into Nick as possible, without setting off his IBS, poor man!

As far as our two rescue dogs are concerned, they are now inseparable. They play and squabble and sleep together, just like siblings and take it in turns to be the “dominant” one for the day, hour, whatever… Zeus is only crated when we go out, or Nick takes me/picks me up from work, or if he’s in real need of a “Time Out”!

I’ve stopped baking treats/biscuits for them more than once a week because the last thing they need is to become overweight. Seriously, I still spoil them, but they get a filled Kong each once a day* which is very good for them, probably way better than so many treats – even if they’re home made!

Filled Kongs: Chopped apple and cream cheese, banana and peanut butter, frozen stock and cold meat (a bit like a lolly!!). I also bake a sweet potato for them when I use the oven and that lasts them 3 days added to their food bowl.

I don’t really make “resolutions” as such, but my intention is to blog more, post more photos and shoot more video of our fur-babies, so do pop in and see what we’ve been up to, won’t you? Now I’m off to shower and change before DD and her BF come over to spend a few hours with us this evening. We’ll be devouring some lovely Party Food from the Tesco *finest range which I got to try out for less through the Tesco Orchard Programme… They give me vouchers to spend on new products and I review them and share on Social Media – good for us, good for them too! #Triedforless

#Triedforless

#Triedforless

Will share pics and my thoughts next time… Happy New Year! 🙂

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Omg, we got snow!

Well, Christmas has passed now, and a great time was had by all. Zeus was a little confused and took a dislike to the little Xmas tree once we had lights on it, but that only lasted a day or so. I gave little sample treat bags of home baked doggy biscuits to some of my colleagues and they were a hit! I made brownies (dog-friendly, of course) for the fur-babies so that they too had a festive nibble, and Nick and I have quite a bit of extra, luxury food in the cupboard as I was lucky enough to win two hampers in the Christmas Advent comps this year! Woo! ☺️

However, let’s put that aside for a minute as I tell you that we have had 4 inches/10cm of snowfall in 12 hours. It was stunning in many ways: We weren’t expecting it, the dogs are confused, we are snowed in and the dogs love playing in the snow! The end of our road out of the estate is quite sharply sloping and without snow chains, impossible to negotiate in these conditions, so we’re stuck here until it thaws. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow again… After all I have work on New Year’s Day!

here’s a couple of minutes of video I captured on my iPad of the two dogs enjoying themselves in the snow, play-fighting! Happy New Year to you all! 🙂

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New dog biscuits!

Today has been an emotional roller coaster in a lot of ways. Becoming an “empty-nester” is proving to be quite a trying experience as we approach the festive season, although adjusting to cooking for two plus the dogs is coming along nicely.

Nick asked if we could have stews and casseroles more often this winter as he finds them filling and warming, so I made beef stew for us in the oven.

Are they all for us?

Are they all for us?

While it was cooking away on 180C, it seemed the ideal time to bake some savoury treats for the dogs – 2 birds, 1 stone… I’ve been wanting to try out another of Jamie’s recipes for crunchy biscuits, so away I went!

The dogs both reacted quite badly to the liver cake I tried first, not having realised that liver is a natural laxative, I gave them too much because I couldn’t resist their pleading eyes! So, this time I used 2 tins of sardines (in oil) instead. I had forgotten to buy cornflour, so I had to substitute self-raising flour instead. I think the addition of semolina and poppy seeds make this a drier, lighter biscuit. The dough was great to work with but the first batch I probably made a bit too thick, as they needed a few more minutes to crisp up. The next lot I rolled the dough thinner and these turned out great! You can see the look on their little faces as Dad holds the tray up for me to get great pics…

I shall forever be grateful for finding Jamie’s blog and introducing me to home made biscuits for dogs. 😊

 

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New cookie cutters!

In the quest to have different-shaped treats and biscuits for the dogs, I bought a sun, moon and stars set from Asda yesterday. It has 8 different cutters and cost me £2!

cutter-set

They’re quite sturdy, so I managed to cut through the banana biscuit dough quite successfully, despite the grated carrots in it. I’m very happy with the result – as are the dogs!! They love the little biscuits as much as the big ones, so I have the chance to make biscuits for different-sized dogs as well as different purposes!

bananabiscuits

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Catch-up!

Well Zeus turned 1 year old last Friday. Where did the time go? I can’t believe we’ve had him almost a year now. He and Flake are bestest buds and my dilemmas are now all about sharing things with both of them, getting them to play with toys without fighting over them and trying to move them out of the kitchen when I’m baking! They watch their treats baking like a pair of greedy vultures! You’d think the oven door was a film screen, they pay it that much attention… Oh and Zeus, clever trickster that he is, can open the oven door if I leave it ajar to harden their biscuits, and pull the baking tray out far enough to get his mouth round a treat and sneak off with it! 🙂

"Are they done yet?"

“Are they done yet?”

He’s grown so much – he stands shoulder to shoulder with Flake now, has a suspiciously wavy streak of coat near the base of his tail (like a Rottweiler), and is still very wrinkly round his face. I keep wondering if his head will grow in proportion to the rest of him – it’d be nice if he broadened out a bit!

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

They’re asleep in the centre of the bed here – Flake normally sleeps in her bed on the floor at the foot of our bed, but Zeus won’t stay there. He usually waits till we put the lights out and then sneaks onto the bed…

Pork scratchings for dogs

Pork scratchings for dogs

These are from the lovely Jamie’s blog and they were really yummy (hot!). The dogs love them, but I have a habit of giving them too many new things at a time, so Flake had a bit of a loose bum, although Zeus could eat a tray full before it affected him! I have to be more disciplined!

Apple and carrot dumplings

Apple and carrot dumplings

These apple and carrot dumplings came from a recipe book that was sent to me by a doggy friend who also helps out with Loving Homes Dog Rescue. They have apple, carrot, flour, egg, oats and black treacle in them – much loved by both dogs! I try to alternate so that they have a sweet/fruity treat and a fishy or meaty one – sweet and savoury snacks as a reward.

The dogs do very well, but then I do love baking for them… it’s an addictive pastime. Nick says they eat as well as we do – well, they’re also family, so it seems only right, doesn’t it?

I have a few more posts to share with you, so expect more frequent updates… 🙂

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