Do you remember when you were in elementary school and the local fire department came to your class and taught you all about fire safety? They taught you how to do the life saving, Stop, Drop and Roll and made you practice in between the desks. Well, everyone had to do it unless you were one of the prissy girls who wore a dress to school that day (without shorts underneath), then you were excused from Stop, Drop and Roll practice and were marked for life as a person who could possibly burn to death in a fire due to your inability to Stop, Drop and Roll in a classroom. The firemen also taught you about the importance of having a working smoke detector in your home because if a fire started in the middle of the night you wouldn't be able to smell it until it was too late. It was this factoid that I learned in second grade that I instantly remembered on Monday night as I awoke to the result of one of my biggest kitchen blunders ever.
I decided that in the New Year, I would do a better job of selecting or making natural treats for my pups. Our switch to the raw diet has been awesome, so it only seems like the next reasonable step is to look for better treat options for the girls outside of their normal meals. While they will still get their mushy (marshallow) at night before bed, I'm going to lay off the grains and cookies if I can help it at all. I'm stuffing their kongs with chicken and rice soup, yogurt, and ground beef. I've stocked up on cans of pumpkin for the days I don't remember to freeze the kongs. There will be peanut butter upon occasion, but it won't be the staple in their kongs as it has been in the past. We're turning over a new leaf here in 2009 at GBD and I hope the girls don't mind too much.
So as I was planning my new healthy treat menu, I remembered that I had a food dehydrator that was stored in the closet where all random small appliances go to rest. Now seemed like a good time to rescue it and use it after all these years (eight or so). And what would be the first thing most anyone would want to dehydrate right out of the gate? Bananas? Nope, too easy. Apples? Nope, Seka hates them. How about liver? Perfect! That's exactly what we should make - dehydrated beef liver treats. I don't feel like I give the girls enough organ meat anyway, so making some liver treats would be a good way to give them a bit of what they are missing.
Off I go to Publix and get a pound of beef liver, because if you're going to go - go big, right? They only sell that stuff frozen for a reason, because it is so bloody and gross, so I had to let it thaw just a bit before I could start working with it. You would think that during that time I might have changed my mind after looking at what I had to put my hands in, but no. I start slicing and dicing and loading up the screen trays with the smelliest stuff you can imagine. Again, you would think I might have taken the hint. But no. I continue until the trays of the machine are totally loaded and I turn on the fan. I note the time - 8p. In 12 hours, my girls will have tasty liver treats.
At 4am I wake up unexpectedly. No, it wasn't a house fire, but I thought about lighting a match and setting it a blaze myself thanks to the rancid smell that was coming from my kitchen. What in the world could that be? And then I remembered - the liver treats. Well, I wasn't the only one who smelled the treats. Roxy and Seka were both at the bedroom door wanting to explore the exceptionally stinky smell downstairs for themselves, so I decided that I would escort them myself.
I came downstairs to my kitchen to find three cats, all standing around the dehydrator just waiting for the chance to taste a piece of what was inside. Even the cat that lives next door was outside of my kitchen door crying, hoping he would also get some. The two dogs were doing the cookie dance at my feet hoping to sample the stinky goodness that was roasting inside that noisy machine. All of this was going on as I was trying not to vomit and looking for something - anything - to get rid of the smell that had taken over our home.
The good news was the liver was drying like it ought to. The bad news was it still had four more hours to go. I'd come this far and I wasn't about to abandon this project now. As I went back to bed with two very disappointed pups at my feet, I wondered what I should store the finished product in. And then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My biggest mistake in this whole stupid project. I didn't spray the trays with Pam! I fell back to sleep with visions of my dogs licking the dried liver treats off the trays themselves for the next week.
I turned off the machine at 8a the next morning after spraying down the house with OdoBan (something every pet owner must have in their home) and lighting every candle I owned. After the trays cooled, I checked the finished product. Like I had feared the liver had dried itself to the tray. Scraping had zero impact on these smelly clumps of organ meat. So, I emptied out my freezer and stuck the trays inside for awhile, as I crossed all of my fingers and toes. After spending three hours in the deep freeze, I was able to poke them out of the trays with minimal effort.
The treats aren't pretty, but the pups could care less. They do love them. They look a little like chocolate in this picture, don't they. However, the smell of all that dried liver in a bag triggers a gag reflex, so I'm not sure I can get over to make them again. Besides, I don't have a secured and sealed room that I could put my dehydrator in to keep the stench safely inside while they cooked. I've already gone out and bought sweet potatoes, bananas and apples to dehydrate this week. Maybe they won't stink up the house.
This whole experience made me realize that maybe fire fighters should change their education brochures. It probably should read - you may not smell the fire in time to wake you up, but if it is burning raw liver in your kitchen, don't worry - you will run from your house in plenty of time to make it out safely.
Stop. Drop. & Roll. - here's your liver treat.
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