From this..
... to this!
To make Whisky feel better I decided to cook him some treats all of his own. I found some great recipes using ingredients I already had, and this one on the Austing Astronomist particularly caught my eye! I wanted to make it as healthy as possible, so made sure I used as much veg and as little flour by sifting in flour little by little. I also added in a little honey - I wanted to eat some myself!! Finally, I popped some turmeric in there. It's a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent - so hopefully it's going to help Whisky's foot heal, who knows?

1 cup (450g) butternut squash, roasted then puréed
2 eggs
1 1/2 tbs. peanut butter
1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. turmeric.
2 1/2 cups (300g) plain flour, try rice if your dog doesn't do well eating wheat.

The quick and easy instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven 180 centigrade.
  2. Mix wets together,
  3. Mix in turmeric.
  4. Then mix in flour, bit by bit, until the mixture pulls away from the bowl. 
  5. Pop the mixture in the fridge for 30 mins to harden up.
  6. Roll it out, on a liberally floured surface, to about 1cm thick, 
  7. Cut into squares - appropriately sized for your pooch.
  8. Cook for 20-30 mins depending on the biscuit size on baking sheets. 

I made 500g of treats in total, and Whisky doesn't seem to mind if they are a little crisp or more chewy. I froze most of them into 100g portions.

I decided to do some maths - 
cost of squash - £1 per kg, so I used 50p.
cost of flour - 45p for 1.5kg, so I used 9p.
eggs - 6 free range is £1.20, so 40p for 2.
The honey, peanut butter and turmeric were cupboard basics, so I'm not really including those.
Total cost - £1 for 500g of treats. (£2 per kg). 

Wowzers! It sounds cheap, but is it really? I decided to compare my 6 ingredient treats with some shop bought alternatives. 

The cheapest treats treats I found were "Mr Happy's Marvellous Munchies Dog Treats". They are cheaper, just, by weight, at 20p for 120g - £1.66 per kg, the ingredients read: Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (Chicken 6%, Beef 4%), Oils and Fats.

A treat I have got for Whisky before, with a promise of no artificial colours or flavours is "Misfits Scruffy Bites" - costs £1.29 for 180g, £7.16 per kg. Despite the promises, the ingredient list doesn't actually give us much more information: Derivatives of Vegetable Origin, Oils and Fats, Meat and Animal Derivatives (10% Meat), Cereals, Various Sugars, Vegetable Protein, Extracts, Minerals, Milk and Milk Derivatives

The cheapest treat of good natural quality, I feel, is "Wainwright's Training Treats" at £1.30 for 140g. This adds up to £9.29 per kg. The ingredients list, the first with actually named ingredients: Salmon (min 20%), Corn, Pea Pieces (min 4%), Molasses, Whole Brown Rice (min 4%), Sunflower Oil (min 4%), Beetroot Powder.

This makes my homemade treats almost 5x cheaper than those of equal quality - i.e. an ingredients list they can share without shame. Plus, Whisky has never looked more determined to get into the treat ball - yum!
Dinner is served
(Pics to follow)

I've been asked how I made up my starter, and the truth is I just read about 10 different recipes and had a go at a sort of meshing of the lot of them. What I've found is that it's not an exact science. If you get it wrong, just add either flour or water and see what happens! It's an experiment, with bread at the end!

Day 1) 75g water 75g strong white flour into a kilner jar (mine is pretty big.. 1 litre or 2 litres.. bigger the better). Mix very well, like with a fork or a whisk. No clumps of flour allowed!
 Stick a piece of masking tape or draw a line where your mix comes up to.. this is so you can monitor progress and give you hope!

Day 2) stir it

Day 3 or 4 (when you remember) go ahead and add another 75g water 75g strong white flour. Mix mix! move up the masking tape.

Day 5,6,7) Stir everyday, and watch for bubbles. You might miss the actual rising because it could happen overnight, but you'll be able to see some residue of the mix on the sides, higher than your masking tape. That means it's working! I was adding in more flour and water every other day, and all of a sudden I got home and my starter had grown to bigger than the jar, and seeped out the sides and run all down my table. I was ELATED! hehe

I found a good trick after you've seen it's started to rise is to add in a bit of only flour or only water, whatever you need to get it to the consistency of muffin batter (quite stodgy).. because it can hold it's bubbles better that way, and I think the yeast that's growing in there likes to breath (but that might just be me). 

As for holidays - I keep mine in the fridge, I think hooch (an alcohol liquid layer on the top) is fine, you can either mix it back in, pour it away or drink it (I haven't tried the latter). Also, dormancy is fine, no bubbles, no problem, just feed it a little flour and water, I go for 50g of each every 3 or 4 days after it's first week establishing. The only thing to be worried about is mould growing on the top. Then you have to start again, but as long as there is no yoghurt in your fridge during your holiday and the starter's lid is on tight, I'm sure you'd be fine for at least a week. 
I've been distracted away from the internet...
Except to look up anything vaguely poodle, dog training, dog separation anxiety, and rescue dog advice related. Ain't he cute?! He's called Whisky and he's all ours :D Don't you love his monkey eyes? His paw pads are soooo soft, and his hair smells beautiful. 

I did find some time to have another go at making a sourdough loaf, and it went great! I'm SO HAPPY with the holes in this one, it's held it's shape really well, and the crust is incredibly crusty! I've been reading up and it turns out sourdough starters are incredibly temperamental, so I just gave it it's own time. The first rise happened overnight, and we had bread for lunch.
One last thing, make sure you check out my new ATC page on the website. It's got loads of pics of little Artist Trading Cards I've made and received from crafters around the world. 
My second time making bread - and it went much better. A shallow tray of water at the bottom of the oven seems to  help with reducing burn. 
Then my third time I also tried putting some blueberries in one roll - but they all seem to have found their way into the middle! Next time I will put all the dough into the one loaf.
Today I baked my first ever bread rolls after being inspired by a friend. 

The recipe called for 650g of strong white flour, I used 620g strong white flour, 20g milled linseed and 10g rolled oats to add a bit of wholesome flavour. I used sunflower oil, but next time I'll try melting butter instead.

I'm really happy with how these have come out -  they are more than edible! 

Just watch out for the burnt parchment paper on the base... any advice anyone?