StyleTails Head of Content, Laura, and her Mini Schnauzer Mahler, road test a recipe from Phaidon’s latest release – Feed Me: 50 Home Cooked Meals for Your Dog.
My mini schnauzer, Mahler, eats pretty well. His main meals consist of wet food that we receive in monthly deliveries and freeze, and we favour smaller brands for dog treats to avoid feeding him anything that is 99% husk. When I have leftover food in the fridge I make him a batch of biscuits, because as long as it’s delicious and safe for him, his vacuum-like tendencies help to avoid food waste in our household.
As that’s as far as my culinary endeavours with Mahler have gone, I was intrigued when Phaidon sent me a copy of Feed Me to try out one of their recipes for home cooked meals for dogs. Written by expert animal nutritionist, Liviana Prola, the book includes 50 recipes which claim to be healthy, affordable and easy-to-make, as well as meal plans for dogs of every age, breed, weight and activity level. There is also a section dedicated to the nutritional breakdown and dietary value of each meal.
Diligent dog owner that I am, I read all of the preamble first, which explains the value of home cooked meals, what foods should go into a healthy dog diet, and how to prepare, cook, serve and store the meals. This saved me a lot of time in understanding the recipes and helped to mitigate my surprise that foods like pasta and rice featured so heavily. I essentially live off both of these during times when midweek meals have to be cobbled together, so it was great to see that Mahler could do the same.
I was tempted by the Vegetable and Cheese Rice Balls, and Pasta Salad with Pork, Endives and Yoghurt, but eventually settled on making Rosemary Cornmeal with Pork Meatballs. Mahler doesn’t eat pork in his current diet and I wanted to finally hone my polenta-making technique.
I was relieved that, at seven items, the ingredients list was mercifully short. If you’re going to make these meals regularly, as the author suggests, it’s critical that the shopping and organisation is sustainable.
I was instructed to cook the polenta for longer than I normally would to ensure it was mushy enough for Mahler, and seared the pork on a griddle and steamed the courgettes to cook them in the healthiest way possible. With the addition of the rosemary, it smelled pretty delicious and Mahler, who usually doesn’t fuss at all when I cook, took up residence at my feet.
I came a bit unstuck in actually forming the meatballs as I found it impossible to chop the meat and courgettes finely enough to create a mixture, so Mahler ended up with pork and courgettes on a bed of rosemary polenta, but he didn’t seem to mind. It would have been useful to have been able to see a photo of the finished dish so I knew what I was aiming for.
The recipe gave me three days’ worth of food for Mahler, which is pretty good going, but by the final meals it was starting to smell a little less appetising to the human noses. There is guidance on how to freeze the food as well, which I would certainly do if I were making one of the recipes again.
The transition from his previous meals was smooth. He had plenty of energy for chasing squirrels and his digestion was great.
It would take a certain amount of planning to be able to feed your pup this way consistently, from ensuring you choose a variety of meals to sourcing the ingredients and cooking the batches. I suspect that anyone with an interest in their dog’s health and wellbeing will find this a worthwhile trade-off compared to feeding some commercial dog food.
I absolutely loved having some delicious pork for a change, and it was small and soft enough that I could eat it easily. I’d be happy if Mum kept it up to practise her polenta making, which still needs work.
Feed Me is available now from Phaidon, uk.phaidon.com.