Archive for December, 2011

Lo and Behold: Cat Treats.


So today I was stuffing recipes back into my book, and turned over the dog treat recipe, and lo and behold… a recipe for cat treats.  I don’t recall ever seeing it before, in all the years I’ve owned that recipe.

This is where I’d like to borrow a fabulous expression from my witty sister Kim: “Huh.”

Since most of my friends are cat people, I thought I’d add this recipe for holiday treats for the furry ones, though I admit I have neither cooked nor tested these out. But some vet has, so go with that.

Holy Mackerel Treats for Cats

1/2 cup canned mackerel, drained and crumbled

(Like I’d buy a whole can of mackerel for… oops! Guess who’s sitting on the desk?)

1 cup whole grain bread crumbs

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or bacon grease

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon brewers years (Optional, but it adds fatty acids and B-complex vitamins and can deter fleas, says the vet. I’m not sure Mittens needs anything more to complete her fatty acids, if you get my drift.)

Heat oven to 350. (Just think… if you’re baking the dog treats, the oven’s all ready!) Combine all ingredients; mix well. Drop dough by 1/4 teaspoonfuls about 1″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year. (Or six, if you have a memory like mine. Be sure to mark the freezer bag so you don’t end up giving them to a neighbor for Christmas.)

So there ya go!

"She's never cooked for me, but sometimes I lick the butter off her toast when she's reading the newspaper."

"A fellow might like a treat every so often. One that didn't come out of a foil pouch. Know what I mean?"

Happy new year from our house to yours!

Liver Brownies for the Four-Footed.


I took a picture of all these dogs on my street corner, sniffing the air while I baked liver brownies.

Well, of course that didn’t really happen, as you can tell by the quality of the photo. If I had taken a photo of a group of dogs anywhere on earth, it might look more like this:

But anyway. You get the idea that I’m talking about dogs, right?

They love treats. I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I’d bake these for him every month.

I probably posted this recipe last Christmas, but it bears repeating. Also soothes my guilty conscience for not updating more often. Dogs love this stuff. It’s a little messy to make, but the aroma is sort of nice, and the treats freeze well and last forever, unless there’s a dog in the house. I found this recipe years ago in a veterinary magazine, so the recipe is vet approved. And dog approved, which is really more important:

Liver Brownies

1 lb beef or pork liver

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup corn meal

2 Tablespoons garlic salt

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 350. Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender. (I usually puree the liver by itself in a blender, pour it into a bowl, and mix all the other ingredients in with a spoon.) Spread the mixture into a 9×13″ greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mix loses its pink color. Cool and break into pieces. Store (covered, unless you want everything in your refrigerator to smell like garlic) for up to three weeks, or freeze up to one year.

Easy peasy.

Happy New Year to all!

PS: “I think it was a dog what stole my collar last summer. And I’d like it back.”

PPS: Pay no attention to the feline.

Merry Christmas and Everything Else.


I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and looking at pictures of incredible people who not only make their own lavish presents, but also make their own paper, ribbons, and probably their own version of Scotch tape. These homes are immaculate, decorated tastefully with fresh pine boughs, silver ribbons and tall goblets of fragile silver bulbs on linen tablecloths with gleaming china.


My house looks something like this. (Not pictured: two cats and three litter boxes):

Okay, it’s not MY house, as you probably guessed since the picture quality is too good, but it’s similar to mine.

Like most of you, I have spent the past few weeks baking, wrapping, entertaining, visiting, buying, shopping, cooking, decorating, writing cards, calling friends, going to work and trying to keep up with volunteer duties. There are no fresh mistletoe boughs, pine sprigs or pretty vegetable and brie trays adorning my dining room table. I can barely find my dining room table.

Several years ago I was a professional house cleaner. I enjoy house cleaning. Chaos makes me crazy. I like to think my house is always ready for company, including food in the freezer and clean sheets in the guest room, just in case.

But during the holiday season, it all goes to hell.

Fresh pine boughs? You have got to be kidding me. The best I could do was five clear Mason jars with citronella tea candles in the sun porch windows. Simple and kinda pretty. And completely mosquito-free!

Still, I love this season. I love writing out cards and catching up with friends and going to visit and having people drop in for coffee. Chaos be damned, it’s a great time of year.

So some time next week, the clutter will be lifted, the house will be cleaned, the cats will have fresh litter in their boxes, and all will be right(er) with the world.

Hope the same can be said for you. Thank you for being a reader this year, even if you’re just lurking. (I do it, too. But maybe leave a note next year? I will if you will.) Thanks for the presents, the cards and notes, the visits and the invites. Thanks for making the world a funner place.

Write if you get a chance.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas!

The Lettmans and Other Roadside Attractions.


Oh, the Thanksgiving weekend was such a blast! It’s taken me weeks to get over it, so now is a good time to update my blog, and this time I won’t put any tomatoes in it, as someone requested today.

I was invited to spend Thanksgiving weekend with the Lettmans at their new home in Thief River Falls, and I was eager to get on the road with my shiny new car. (New in 2004, anyway.) The weather was perfect (no coat required, which is always a good thing in Minnesota) and Highway 2 winds its way through some interesting little towns that I hadn’t seen before.

There are some great road signs on this trip, too, and places I didn’t know we had: Savanna River and Swan Lake, for instance. In Minnesota? Who knew? I also liked Pin Cherry Road, Schoolcraft Park, Gosh Dam Place, the Big Fish Supper Club (attached to a really big fish!) and, in the land of casinos, an aptly named Sucker Bay. One I particularly liked was Lost River, and I tell you, it isn’t lost at all, but right there under that bridge.

I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends” album on the trip, and “Hazy Shade of Winter” seemed especially appropriate, with that ending line, “Look around — there’s a patch of snow on the ground.” And so there was.

Where’s my friend Jean when I need her? Roadside animals aren’t nearly as much fun if she’s not there to be bitten by a lion, kicked by a stag or swallowed by a big fish. (Or lying in the grass to look up the tunic of the Jolly Green Giant, but that’s a whole other story.) But use your imagination!

Okay. So I didn’t practice cropping photos in my spare time. Sue me.

And hey: Thanks to the wonderful folks at Cass Lake who maintain a clean, well-lit and welcoming roadside rest area.  (No photo necessary.)

Highway 59 winds around lots of wide open spaces before it brings you to the town of Thief River Falls, which seems to be a small town with lots going on. But my goal was to spend time with the Lettmans, and here they are:

Let me say they are not actually that formal at home. They’re a lot more casual, and I don’t think any of them actually sit still for that long, so I’m not sure how the photographer did it. But what a great picture. And here are the 3 kids, Henry, Mahalia and Lydia, who are silly and smart and thoughtful, and fun to be around. Mahalia (in the red sweater) gave up her girly-girl room for me while I was there, and I appreciated the cozy bed and the curtains with little jewels in them that looked like stars shining in the night sky. Lydia (in the red scarf) is now a very special young lady who spent much of her time drawing; a talent those kids no doubt inherited from their folks. Henry is a bundle of boyish energy (where do they GET that?) but a good break-dancer, too.

These beautiful Lettman photos were taken by Sara K. Callavin of Two Harbors, MN, who does some very nice work. Credit where credit is due.

As soon as I arrived, I learned we were heading out to a local animal shelter to pick out two nice cats for the family. I don’t think I even took my coat off! I wanted to be screeching down the driveway before Mr L changed his mind. (Of household pets he is not a fan.) It took a while to find two that seemed absolutely right, so we brought them home, after a stop along the way to buy litter, a litter box, toys, food, dishes and a brush. Even felines require some of life’s little necessities.

The cats didn’t “settle in” so much as one of them taking over the entire house like he’d always lived there, and the other immediately hiding behind the washing machine. Your yin and yang deal.

A nice surprise at dinner was the Badger Shrine, set up in the corner of the dining room, complete with candles and an offertory. I might have missed it, but I was happy to see it as I’m pretty sure that may be the only plaster cast of a badger in the entire state. (For those of you who refuse to shop at Salvation Army, this is what you’re missing.) I did leave an offering, though I’m not sure badgers like gum.

On Saturday we were off to East Grand Forks, ND, for a day of thrift shopping. What fun! I found some wonderful treasures, including books, clothes, old embroidered dish towels, Christmas decorations and other stuff too numerous to mention. What a blast to peruse junk in another state. (SO much different from junk in Minnesota.) Just kidding. Seemed odd to me that a big college town like that (home of UND) didn’t seem to have any bookstores, or at least none that I could see. No lack of fast food places, though. (Not a complaint. Just an observation.)

I left on Sunday, enjoying a leisurely drive back home through Bemidji and Grand Rapids, and stopped often to check out shops or walk around for a bit. What’s more fun than a road trip? Nothing.

Thanksgiving comes close, though. It’s like Christmas without the presents, and this year my sister Be fixed a fabulous dinner for all of us. I didn’t take a picture of the family together, but I did take a picture of the beautifully set table before we were seated.

My creative sister Steff made this vegetable turkey, which made me laugh. I couldn’t bear to eat any part of it. I hope she still has it. Maybe she could freeze it for next year.

Here’s a Thanksgiving picture of my great niece Gabriella with her mom and auntie Katie:

And here’s a picture of my other great-niece, Madison, who could not be sweeter:

So that was my wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, reminding me again how much I have to be thankful for: a wonderful family, wonderful friends, thrift shops and badger statues, and Minnesota roads to explore. I hope yours was just as happy!

You Say Tomato…


Rick insists some tomatoes do have wings, and sent this photo as proof. I think this one had some human intervention, but who am I to say?

This one’s obviously a lady tomato. (Holy cow! Look at the… well, never mind.)

This one’s just plain confused. I think it was going to be four tomatoes, but then it got lazy, like I am about updating my blog:

This one’s obviously a bunny. I don’t know who the lady is behind it, but she seems to be enjoying the view.

And this is not a tomato, but a picture of Mittens (“Miss Pinch,” a name you’d understand if you ever tried to brush her coat) helping me get ready for a weekend trip. Which I will write about as soon as I have more time. Right now I am creating a Christmas pot that nobody is going to think came from Martha Stewart, but you can drive by and have a look. Free!

Happy Saturday!