Meaty matters

I am a firm believer that if you are going to be a meat eater, you should do your best to make use of all the bits of every animal.  We do often buy meat in the form of a ‘half sheep’ or a ‘quarter pig’ and this means I use some of the less usual cuts, such as pork hock or neck of mutton, which rarely appear on supermarket shelves. Often these cuts are the ones that contain lots of connective tissue, so are tough unless cooked long and slow – something that I don’t mind doing at all, especially since they are frequently very tasty. However, I’m not a very big fan of offal, so I do struggle to put my ‘use the whole animal’ belief into practice. Nevertheless, last time we bought a box of pork from the amazing Martha Roberts, I did ask for the liver and today I took the plunge and made pork liver pate – something that Mr Snail really loves.

I chose a recipe from the River Cottage Cookbook that uses liver and belly pork. Mincing the meat up was rather messy and stretching the bacon to line the tins took a bit of time, but the results looked promising when they went into the oven. I’m really hoping that this will be a success, because it can be sliced and frozen for later use, and should go a very long way.

Anyway, it’s in the oven now and hopefully we’ll have a verdict tomorrow once it’s cool.

I noticed that the recipe on the adjacent page was for pigs trotters… I might have to work myself up to trying that!

DIY dog biscuits

Some months ago I discussed making the dog’s diet more sustainable. In the intervening time we have started feeding them more raw meat: minced offal has proved particularly popular with them and we are able to buy it from the same place that we buy much of the meat that we eat ourselves. It is organic, and the sort of thing that the dogs like is often rejected by us pernickety humans. I have to confess that I’m not a great offal fan, so being able to feed it to the dogs makes me feel a little better.

Dogs, being omnivores, cannot live by meat alone. We are fortunate that our two are fond of vegetables. Max will happily disappear off with a cauliflower stalk or a carrot for a quiet chew under the kitchen table.

Unfortunately, we have not solved the problem of dry food yet. Max suffers from Colitis and the latest research, according to our very knowledgeable vet, suggests that highly processed protein in the form of complete biscuits is the best diet. So, whilst we do give him a variety of fresh foods, Max still eats quite a lot of commercial complete dry food. There is another aspect to their diet, however, that I can contribute to. To help calm Max’s delicate digestive system, we give him (and Sam) charcoal biscuits as treats. I have always, until now, bought these from our local pet shop, but I realised yesterday, as stocks were getting low and I didn’t fancy going out because it was raining , that I could probably make these myself and thus avoid any artificial additives and simultaneously reduce our ‘dog food miles’!

Homemade charcoal biscuits - yum?!

Homemade charcoal biscuits – yum?!

A quick survey of the interweb and I was ready: organic wholemeal flour (milled at our local watermill), organic olive oil (from Spain… few olive groves in west Wales), some ground up charcoal tablets (designed for human consumption, but slightly out of date) and water. I mixed it up to a dough, rolled it out and baked it whilst I was cooking other food in the oven last night.

And the verdict from Max and Sam? Well, see for yourself:

Biscuit time! Yum!

Biscuit time! Yum!

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