TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (2024)

Grass fed beef liver plus rice in a gentle mix, great for boosting the nutrition of neglected dogs.

Subtitle: Tenderness, Liver, Cardio and/or That Liver Concoction

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (1)


I have a recipe for dogs today--though cats of people certainly could eat it [folks, add salt, pepper, and/or onion to taste]. It may seem weird for a local foods blog to have a dog food recipe, but the key ingredient is liver. I buy my beef from my neighbor's friend, a quarter beef at a time, and I get all sorts of parts in that quarter beef. Some, like the tongue, were initially new to me but have become desired cuts. Others, like t-bone steaks and liver, tend to sit in the freezer until I come up with a way to cook them.

Yes, I just put t-bone steaks and liver into the same category. It's not them, it's me. See, I can confidently take a package of ground beef and make Green Tomato Bacon Jam Burgers. I know how to cook them and they turn out great--better than I can get at a restaurant, though Five Guys runs a very good second to me (and their fries are way better than I could ever do). A t-bone steak is scary. I worked at a steak house in college, and I've eaten in fancy-pants steak houses. I know what a good steak should taste like, how it should turn out. I have not mastered the technique of cooking it enough-but-not-too-much. So I bypass the scary packages. The liver I leave just because I keep trying ways to get the family to like it, and my neighbor keeps giving me hers so I've got plenty.

With this train of though--local liver is in my house and I need to find a way to cook it--liver is now akin to the beets, turnips, or kohlrabi from my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share and therefore excellent blog fodder. It's possible I'll add a beef liver category to the Visual Recipe Index [my son just asked me where the chicken category was] but for now I'd like to share WHY I'm cooking that liver concoction.

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (2)

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (3)

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (4)

I'd like you to meet Robert Barker. I met him last month when I went to the Humane Society to donate leftover composting pig food and bedding after Crystal died. [As an aside, I think folks who join a CSA should get a pair of composting pigs for their living room. It's a win-win situation and I loved the near 5 years we had Quartz and Crystal after we adopted them from MGPR.] I had no intention of getting another dog when I casually asked, after filling out the donation paperwork, if I could peek into the dog room. Robert Barker immediately caught my eye because, and I'm being totally superficial here as my son pointed out, he's a good-looking Basset hound.

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I grew up with Basset hounds. When I say I grew up with them, I mean I do not have a childhood memory without a pack of hounds in it. One family story is of a race to see who would learn to walk

down

[my mother gently correct me, it was up the steps] the steps first--toddler me or our first Basset pup. The dog won. I got my last hound as a sophom*ore in high school and lost him when I was in my mid-twenties, and though I went in a new direction with my next dogs (short ears and long legs) I've always had a soft spot for Bassets.

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While Robert Barker's good looks caught my eye, his story tugged at my heart. He was picked up by animal control after a neglect complaint and weighed 18 pounds when he arrived at the humane society. He wasn't yet available for adoption due to the court proceedings but I was smitten. I went home and told my spouse about him (though at the time I didn't even now if Robert was a boy or a girl). The next day my spouse left work early so we could return to the shelter and visit Robert again. That started a week of calls and trips to the shelter with trumped up excuses [here's the application I emailed last night, I was in the area, how does the dog react to the uniform, etc]. I bought a new dog bed and a used dog bowl and left them in the car 'just in case'. The animal control officer came for a home visit, met Vincent and Simon, and said that Robert would make a good addition to our home. I'd like to think that photo of cute little me with puppies in the whelping pen helped our case.

The next day Robert was released from medical hold and came home with me. His weight was up to 33 pounds but he was barely more than skin and bones. His fur was dry and missing in many areas, he could not maintain a crouch long enough to pee without sinking down into his puddle, and he was such a sweet and friendly dog. I took him to the vet and in addition to a course of meds she told me he just needed TLC. The shelter had been feeding him prescription canned and dry dog food, and our vet said we could gradually switch to over-the-counter food.

Looking at the ingredients in the canned dog food aisle I was struck by all the flour and flavorings used. When my spouse commented 'this one has Animal Liver . . . doesn't even specify which animal it's from' I decided to use what I've already got on hand and make my own version of TLC--That Liver Concoction. I ran my recipe by the vet and got an OK to get started.

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (7)

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (8)

We've been feeding Robert about ⅓ to ½ cup of this concoction with breakfast and dinner for the past several weeks. [Simon and Vincent get a Tablespoon and teaspoon, respectively, though Vincent as the Top Dog gets dibs on licking the spoon.] Robert's coat looks much better, he's got more energy to play with our other dogs, he's alert and aware of squirrels and chases them on walks, he doesn't dip down into his pee--he's just a delightful addition to our family. When I was discussing this post with my spouse I asked for help creating a backronym for TLC. Since plenty of exercise has been a big part of Robert's daily routine, my spouse suggested Tenderness, Liver, and Cardio. It works for me, and it's working for Robert Barker. He's a pretty awesome 50th birthday present, don't ya think?

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Cuddling with Vincent helps with the Tenderness part.

Robert will probably always be a food hound. In my experience Bassets are. His favorite place to hang out is with a human in the kitchen. No matter which kitchen, you'll find Robert Barker there. It's probably time for a recipe, right? Let's get to it.

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (10)

TLC--That Liver Concoction for Rescue(d) Dogs

1 package beef liver (mine come in ¾ to 1 pound packages)
water
2 cups cooked rice (I use short grain sushi rice because that's what I have on hand)

Place liver in a small saucepan and add water just to cover (2 to 3 cups). Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer liver to a food processor (a blender would do in a pinch) and add a small amount of the poaching water. Pulse several times to break the liver into small pieces, then process until it is a uniform paste. [If you're making this for folks, taste and add salt & pepper at this point]. Add the rice, and some more poaching water, and process until well mixed. I usually use all the poaching water because . . . why not? The rice will absorb it. This keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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This post is shared on What's Cookin' Wednesday, Fiesta Friday

TLC for Rescue(d) Dogs: A Recipe with Results (2024)
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