Friday, September 16, 2011

Food for thought

In light of the recent debates about over-consumerism/shopping addiction/big elephant in the room/money on the various Anthropologie blogs, I felt it probably wasn't the right time to talk about new purchases. Therefore, you all are going to get treated to a rambling debate with myself about the next new big purchase that I am contemplating.

Dog Food!

I'm such a good puppy, feed me please.

Yes, dog food. Sasha came with a giant bag of food from the shelter. We continued to feed her from it because she's used to it, and hey - it's free! However, we're down to the last box of it or so (we split the bag into several airtight - or semi airtight - boxes to try and keep it from going stale) and it's now time to contemplate a move. I don't like the current food. She's not digesting a lot of it (read: there is a lot of poop) and the ingredients on the list don't have me thrilled. I don't know what to change to, though. Nina wanted me to post pics of my puppy, and I figured since two pictures don't constitute a post, I might as well argue with myself over dog food.

About six years ago, I got my first dog, a lovely little dachshund puppy named Cally. I was so incredibly thrilled. I'd wanted a dog all my life and now here he was, my dream dog! So I was determined to be a dream owner. I marched happily into Petsmart and chose the coolest looking, most impressively labeled dog food I could find on the shelves. I was such a good owner! That was, until I went to puppy kindergarten with Cally. In one of the classes, our instructor told us to bring in the ingredients label from our dog food. And then she said ...

I won't tell you what to feed your dog, but I'll tell you some important facts.

1) The ingredients are listed in order of quantity. The first ingredient makes up the biggest portion of the food, the last one the smallest.

2) There are a lot of fillers in the food that do nothing for your dog's health, besides fill him up, such as wheat, corn, beet pulp, etc (hence the name).

3) Meat by-product is actually a lot of junk left over from the slaughtering of the animal that is ground up, rendered, or whatever they want to do with it - stuff such as feet, bones, chicken feathers, intestines.

I am probably slightly off on some of these facts (take my word with a grain of salt) but the basic points my instructor was trying to make seeped into my mind. Wheat = bad. Corn = bad. Meat by-product = ewwww!! And oh joy - they're all at the top of my current puppy food's ingredients list!

I junked that food fast.

There is more debate online about various chemicals and pro-biotics and raw diets. It makes my head spin, so I won't get into it. But the above facts were enough to spur me into searching out pet stores nearby that carried premium dog foods. This became even more important when Cally developed allergies that restricted him from a lot of foods. And now, it's carried over to selecting food for Sasha.

Disclaimer: Not trying to lecture you on why your grocery store dog food is bad or talk you out of your favorite food, just mumbling to myself over dog food choices of my own preference.

Canidae was the first food I picked up for Cally (i think it was chicken and rice). It had high reviews online and the chicken meat was from a human grade facility. It didn't contain any wheat or corn. I was pleased with it, and Cally enjoyed it greatly. I could add this into Sasha's food rotation. However, I've heard that they changed the formula since I've last used it, and some of the latest reviews have not been as favorable.

Cally moved over to Innova Evo (turkey and chicken small bites) after we finally figured out what allergies he had. This was one of the few foods that didn't include corn, beef, peanuts, barley, or peas (the pea thing killed me, really. So many foods looked good, but ended up with peas in them! Argh!). He really liked this food. I heard that Proctor and Gamble bought Innova recently. I think someone said there was a 2 year ban on changing the formula, but I am wary about what changes they might make for this, although I still like this food and might use it for Sasha.

I also fed Cally Nature's Variety Instinct Raw medallions. These were probably the love of his life. These are frozen chunks of formula made with raw meat. I LOVED the ingredients label. You could understand just about every ingredient! And it was short!! They do include some ground up bone mixed in, to add essential minerals they need, there's fruit, vegetables, eggs - everything is recognizable! I really liked this food. I am unsure about adding this for Sasha as Cally loved this to the extent that he began ignoring his kibble in favor of this - and since this food is softer, it doesn't clean teeth to the extent that crunchy kibble can. I may choose to add in more raw foods to Sasha's diet in the future, but I want to keep her on kibble for now.

Orijen is one of the samples I received from the local natural/organic pet store and was recommended by an employee who was familiar with all the agonies I went through finding food for Cally. This has rave reviews and one of the few five star ratings on There are also pro-biotics added to this food, I believe, to help digestion. Sasha is currently sampling the 6 Fish food along with her current kibble, and she LOVES it. There are comments about some dogs not doing well on such a high protein food such as this. I am strongly scrutinizing her waste to make sure she's digesting this food okay. If all goes well, I will probably start her on this.

Other samples we received included Pinnacle Holistic (Trout and Sweet Potato) and Nature's Variety Instinct (Beef and Lamb) that I also might try out soon. I am not very familiar with Pinnacle, but I'm obviously familiar with Nature's Variety Instinct (from the raw medallions above) and might try more of the Nature's Variety Instinct kibble in the future.

I love food. Have I mentioned I love food? Feed me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Creamy Polenta with Fresh Leeks and Corn

I’ve been cooking a lot again this summer, thanks to the weekly supply of veggies from my CSA. But I haven’t been all that great about posting about it because most of what I’ve been making has been really simple. For example, tonight, I fixed some Rice-a-Roni, but I added half a can of cannelloni beans and two shredded zucchinis. Actually looks like real food, but I can’t write a whole post about it.

About a week ago, I felt like doing something that was a little more involved than steaming vegetables or making a chopped salad. I’d eyed the summer issue of 30 Minute Suppers by Cook’s Illustrated / America’s Test Kitchen after seeing it in an airport or something, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $8 for it. With 40% off at one of the Borders closing sales, though, I snapped it right up. I’m actually a terrible fit for America’s Test Kitchen because they go to all this effort to find the perfect recipe, and I never follow recipes exactly and these days I don’t even bother measuring most things. But whatever, I liked the pictures in this magazine.


It was also kind of dumb because most of the recipes in the magazine involved a lot of meat, and I’ve basically stopped cooking non-seafood meat at home. But when I saw the recipe for polenta with leeks and corn, I knew I had to make it. I love polenta. I love leeks. I LOVE corn. I even had leeks from my box. And if it were last year, I’d have corn, but for some reason it’s really late in the boxes this year.