Archives for March, 2013

Palette’s note: Grass-fed Australian beef bully sticks 18″

 When you pick up treats for your
dogs, what would you look at? Ingredients? Fancy looking
pictures?Description of the products?

 Have you ever wondered if you
could actually see how other dogs are enjoying them? Not pictures,but in
the video so that you can actually HEAR and feel the treats’ textures?

 Some of you may have already
recognized that I have been putting up treats /toys taste testing videos on youtube so that
people can hear the sound,see Palette in action and get more detail on
each product we offer at our store.

 With “Palette’s Note” series,I like to put out Palette’s taste test videos. This time, “Grass fed Australian beef bully sticks 18″“.

 In the previous entry titled Long lasting chews/recreational bones for dogs,
I talked about what Deer Antlers is, and how much I love (and of
course, how much our stumpy k9 executive chef “Palette” the Corgi loves) these Deer
Antlers for long lasting chew.

 Then, in the previous entry titled “Palette’s note;Deer Antlers“,
I talked about her Antler lasted more than 1 year despite the fact that
she chewed on it daily about 15 minutes or so each time.

 If you were looking for long lasting chew, I would recommend Deer Antlers.

 With our Corgi “Palette”- moderate chewer, with L size Deer Antler, it
is with her for more than one year with the same Antler. She religiously
spend about 15-20 min 2 sessions per day but still gnawing the same

 Antlers are more economical overall, and one Antler lasts much

 Since she now got a few kinds of Deer Antlers:Regular Antlers, Antler with some velvet left on, and Antler bottom,
plus Caribou Antlers, Moose Antlers, the time she spend on regular Deer Antlers is less than before (she seems to
gnaw one by one alternating among the Antlers) , but she enjoys
her gnawing time.

 No matter how long/thick the bully stick is, one bully
stick will be gone much faster than Deer Antlers would. 

 In the previous entry titled “Palette’s note; Free Range Moo! Supreme bully stick“,I
wrote that for medium chewer “Palette”, one supreme bully stick 6″ lasted
about 3 days,while average bully stick usually be gone within 20

 For a bully sticks with the same length, that bully sticks was
long lasting bully sticks for her.

 Recently, manufacturer of Moo! line products has added another category of their popular odor free bully sticks,and thickest category of bully sticks they offer is Grass-fed Moo! Odor free bully sticks “Super Monster. They are available in 2 sizes; 6″ and 12″.

 With Palette, her staple chews are Antlers and she also has Himalayan Dog Chew (Hard Cheese Stick Chew),which I give her back everyday and so far, I can tell you that the L size Himalayan Dog Chew lasted 38 days for her.

 When the chew got to about 1.5″ long chunk,I have decided to follow
maker’s suggestion and try and see if Palette would like it that way.

 Palette loved the puffed Cheese cracker ball (a.k.a. microwaved
puffed Himalayan Dog Chew.I have microwaved about 40 seconds to 60 seconds,and it started
puffing up at about 40 seconds.). You can tell how much she loved them.

Ohh..! I love da puffed cheese cracker ball!

 It becomes very crunchy texture,almost like
cracker when microwaved. That is why, I told Palette it is puffed cheese cracker ball

 To read full taste testing entry on Himalayan Dog Chew with taste testing videos,please click here.

loves bully sticks. Many dogs adore bully sticks. Palette is one
of them, but don’t underestimate her. She actually is a tough judge.

gave me nosed up,paws down on some of bully sticks I got her to try out.
Paws down bully sticks did not make it to the store to offer others.

 After all, she is k9 executive chef who control the quality of menu to
be served to others, along side with me. We are the team.

 She will be responsible for the taste testing and I will be doing her leg work and check its texture,origin of the treats, checking the details on treats.

 This team work makes the treats we offer to be various variety of selected healthy,drool-gnaw worthy treats you can give to your dogs.

 I should add that only Palette’s approved
menu is served to others.

 If you browse through what we carry,what we do not carry, you would notice
that most of all our treats are single ingredient treats without
fillers and,we do not carry anything everything just because the treats
might sell well.

 We are picky
for selecting treats we offer to other furriends,and before taste
testing the treats with Palette, we ask questions to vendors and, I
think they might see me as customers with lots of questions, but I think
it is for good for our furriends after all.

 I personally gives bully sticks as occasional chew.

 For her, it is not a daily chew but, she gets it now and then. She loves it so much that when she gets the bully sticks from me, she hold it horizontally in her mouth and trot to her doggy bed designated for eating chews,and collapse on the doggy bed to start chewing right away.

 When I give this 18″ bully sticks though,it is so comical to see this stubby dog is holding such a long chew in her mouth and trot with it.

 She is very cute with it. 

 This Grass fed Australian beef bully sticks are made in Australia, and made from Grass fed beef
that received no antibiotic or growth hormones in their life.

 For her, 18” one lasts longer than 15 minutes partly because her paws are
short, and the long bully sticks like 18” one is hard to hold for her, and she
uses her bed or wall to support her bully sticks and it looks awkward
for her to chew on.

 Until it gets down to about 6″ long, she most likely to be chewing on them hand free style or one paw hold because of that

 What I like about this bully sticks is
that,although these are not odor free line bully sticks,it is not stinky at all
and,I can still sit right next to
her while she is working on her bully sticks.

think this bully sticks are not super thick like Moo! Odor free bully sticks “Super Monster” but they are not super skinny like chopsticks and,for the average thickness with these bully sticks, they are still great chews to provide good amount of chews.

 Some customer with older dogs has mentioned to me once that their dogs can enjoy this bully sticks and they love them.

 This bully sticks are probably not for aggressive chewers if you were specifically looking for the bully sticks that lasts longer, but for chew fun, it will be fun chew since they are super long compared to the regular popular size bully sticks,and it still can provide good amount of chew fun.

 Ingredients: Beef

 Let’s watch Palette in action with Grass fed Australian bully sticks taste test. If you are a blog subscriber,please click here to watch video Part 1, please click here for Part II video.

Palette and Grass-fed Australian bully sticks 18″ Part I

Palette and Grass-fed Australian Bully sticks 18″ Part II

the Part I video, she started off with free hand chew style since her
paws are too short to hold the bully sticks at good angle for her to

 Sometime later, she decided to use the bed to hold the
bully sticks so she can chew the bully sticks at good angle without it
being sliding around while she tries to chew it.

 Can you see she is working very hard to work on her Grass
fed Australian beef bully sticks? She worked on this bully sticks nonstop to finish it up on the day!

bully sticks is one of my favorite bully sticks to give to Palette because it does not stink up the
room, and this is also Palette’s favorite as you can see in videos and

 By the way, I asked Palette to ring the potty bell so she does something to get something yummy,but as you could see,she was way too excited and she was not ringing the bell as she normally would although she did made the bell ring.

 When she rings the bell in calm manner, she would ring the bell like this.

Palette rings the potty bell..

 If you are a blog subscriber, please click here to watch the video.

 While she is working on the chew, she is being very very very quiet.

Wish I had longer paws…

Hands free chew style Corgis way

Pausing for da camera..

Look! Wet Nose! You can see how much I love these!

Trying to be cute..


I can finally hold da bully sticks!

I am getting close to finish..

I am a bit getting tired from all da chews…but tasty tweats!

Ask your mom/dad to get one for you too.You may love these!

 Please note that due to natural products,
thickness of the bully sticks can vary.

 To visit our store,please click here or paste and copy the link
below into your browser.

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Mar 31, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Japanese/Chinese cooking:Honey lemon chicken

 When I came to the states, I noticed that you can find Chinese eatery place everywhere just like back home in Japan,but it was not easy to find the decent one until I get to know the Chinese restaurant “PF Chang’s“.

 The taste of the dish at PF Chang’s reminds me of Chinese restaurants we normally go to when we go back to Japan to see our family although some of the dishes were unfamiliar to me.

 In Japan, you can find Chinese restaurants with equal or better quality to PF Chang’s from the states much more easily and, often times, chefs are from the regions in China and the dishes taste quite good.

 Chinese restaurants are quite popular back home in Japan as well,and some of the dishes average family makes are influenced by Chinese dishes and,there are popular Chinese-Japanese dishes (Japanese version of Chinese dishes) such as Chin-jao rosu (Beef and Green peppers) and Toriniku no karaage (Deep fried chicken), Gyoza dumplings (Pot stickers), “Buta man” (steamed bun with pork filling), Subuta (sweet sour pork), Kani tama Don (Omelet with crab with brown gravy sauce over rice) etc…

 If you visit Japan, and if you would like to experience great tasting Chinese food, you should visit Yokohama city in Kanagawa prefecture and Kobe city in Hyogo prefecture.

 Yokohama city in Kanagawa prefecture,which is located right next to Tokyo, has huge Chinatown and very famous for great Chinese food.The area has more than 200 Chinese restaurants as well as famous Chinese restaurants that served region specific dishes from Beijing, Cantonese,Szechuan,shanghai etc..

 In Nankin machi in Kobe city located in Hyogo prefecture,which is western part of Japan right next to Osaka prefecture, has smaller but 2nd largest China town in Japan. The area is very colorful and clean and, nice area to visit.

 If you are a huge fan of Iron chef TV shows, you can also check out Iron chef “Chinese” Chen Kenichi’s Chinese restaurants.

 Chef Chen fought 92 battles,67 wins,22 lost,tied 3,and he won 14 times back to back.

 He has restaurant called “Shisen Hanten” in Tokyo,Tokushima prefecture, Hiroshima prefecture,Fukushima prefecture,and Ehime prefecture.The restaurant specialize in Szechuan region dishes.

 You can look beef menu at his restaurant here, shrimp menu here just to see what kinds of dishes he offers as menu.

 Someday, I would love to visit restaurants run by famous chefs in Japan

 At the same time, the chef “Chen” seems to teach cooking classes there,and it would be quite interesting to participate the class and learn more about Chinese food and cooking technique.

 In the states, if you hear “Orange chicken”,”Orange shrimp” etc, you would know what the dish is like,how it taste etc and it seems to be one of popular dishes, but those dishes were one of the dishes I had never heard of back home in Japan.

 My very first time to eat the orange chicken,orange shrimp was at PF Chang’s after coming to the states and, I found it very tasty and,I make Orange chicken now and then now.

 Looking at what I had in the fridge to plan the menu for the next week, I decided to make Lemon chicken, but with Japanese version of it.

 Chicken is very budget friendly protein source,and quick to be cooked through. Therefore, this dish maybe good dish for those who would like to spend less time in the kitchen.

 I think this dish is budget friendly,quick and easy Japanese-Chinese dish.

 If you did not have chicken in the fridge, you could make sauce only in the small container and warm it up so the honey in the sauce gets evenly combined in the sauce and you could use that as sauce for skillet fish, seared scallops, grilled shrimps,grilled steak, or use as stir fry sauce .

 If you turned out to have more than you needed, you could use that to season the rice when you make fried rice next day.

 My version of Lemon chicken is not sticky sweet and, it got variety of vegetables, and it goes well with hot steamy white rice.

 In this entry, I would like to share the recipe of “Honey Lemon Chicken”.

Honey lemon chicken..

 Ingredients for Honey lemon chicken sauce;

3 tbs
3 tbs rice vinegar* (recommend Marukan brand.)
tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Ingredients for Honey lemon chicken;

5 strip chicken tender cut into bite size pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/3C unbleached all purpose flour
sesame oil
1 clove garlic chopped fine
2/3 carrot sticks peeled,diagonally sliced
1/2 celery sticks,diagonally sliced
Morton’s Natures Seasons
1.5 tbs sake* (recommend Gekkeian brand sake)

1/8 Italian cubanelle pepper rough chopped
1/8 Sweet red pepper rough chopped
3 snow peas trimmed strings, cut them into half

freshly grated lemon zest

<Honey lemon chicken sauce>

 1. In the small bowl, add 3tbs honey, 3 tbs rice vinegar* (recommend Marukan brand.You can find them at Asian stores, at International food aisle, or website), 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp soy sauce and stir and set it aside

<Honey lemon chicken>

1. Cut 5 strips of chicken tender into bite size pieces, and put them into the small bowl that has 1/4C water mixed with 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and let it sit for 20 minutes

2. Drain the salt water,and add 1/3C unbleached all purpose flour and coat the cut-up chicken pieces well

3. In the skillet, drizzle sesame oil and put the skillet on medium high heat and drop 1 cloves of garlic chopped fine and stir

4. When it got fragrant, add flour coated chicken tender pieces onto the skillet and let it brown one side

5. When one side got brown up, flip each pieces over to cook the other side

6. When chicken got cooked up about 80%, add 2/3 sticks of carrot diagonally sliced, 1/2 stick of celery diagonally thinly sliced, and sprinkle Morton’s Seasons Nature and stir

7. When chicken got almost no pink, add 1.5 tbs sake and shake the skillet and let it evaporate

8. Add 1/8 Italian cubanelle pepper rough chopped, 1/8 Sweet red pepper rough chopped,and 3 snow peas cut them into half

9. Season them with Morton’s Natures seasons and stir

10. When vegetables are almost cooked through, add Honey lemon chicken sauce and stir

11. As the sauce gets bubbles, you will find that the sauce gets thicken and evaporated little by little

12. Turn off the heat when sauce got almost absorbed but it got some small amount of sauce on the bottom

13. Grate lemon zest a bit over the dish and stir and serve along with hot steamy white rice

14. Enjoy!
Makes: 2-3 servings

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Mar 26, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Palette’s spring treats diary;March 24th,2013

 For Palette,last month might have been an eventful month.There were many things going on.

 I did lots of baking for human and for dogs,lots of treats making, and we had some visitors to give us an estimate for a dead tree we wanted to cut down for safety..

 Certainly, it was busy month for me as well.

 As you know, all the Yassy’s Gourmet Dog Kitchen brand biscuits (Baguette biscuits,Greek biscuits) and Yassy’s Gourmet Dog kitchen brand Jerky (Surf Turf jerky,Down Under Roo Jerky) are made to order and, we make them as close as possible to the shipping time because we like to offer freshest treats possible without preservatives.

 Therefore, I plan the schedule as close as possible to shipping time yet enough cooling time and we pack them fresh treats for furriends.

 Because of that, it is not out of ordinary that I sometime am still be up to finish up the last batch of treats at 5 am,and then finally go to bed.

 Last month,because of all the windy weather,storms and everything, we wanted to cut down a dead tree in our yard so it would not break into half and hit our house on bad weather day.

 My husband called a few places and,2 persons made me a good and a bad impression on me.

 The tree guy who gave me a bad impression told us that he would to come to our house on the certain day at the certain time, but he never showed.We waited,waited and waited,wondering what was going on.

 Next day,my husband gave him a call to make an appointment again to give him a second chance,and he did came but he was late.

 When he called us,I have picked up the phone and I heard him saying his car broke down a day before and he could not come.

 I thought then if I were him, I would have made a call to the customer to tell what is going on before they call me and set up another appointment and show up on time.

 When he finally came, he mumbled and complained that he might have come to give an estimate before although I do not think we have asked for the tree we wanted to cut down for the estimate before,ever.

 It was cloudy,windy evening because storm was supposed to come on the day at the late evening.

 He picked up a short branch, tapping at the base of the dead tree, peeling off the outer tree with his finger..looking up,walking around slowly as if he was not wanting to do anything with it.I could feel that even just looking at him.

 Since he did not show at the initial appointment a day before, my husband was at work and when he asked for him,I offered to call him myself because you needed to push extra numbers in addition to extension number, but he said he could call him by himself so I let him.

 He said since I asked my husband to call him to explain how to get here from work, he had my husband’s phone number on his phone so,he clicked on something and looked like calling somebody.

 However, he called to wrong person. He later explained it was his former customer and, instead of hang up and call to my husband,he chatted with that former customer for good 15 -30 minutes!

 I after all called my husband myself and handed the phone to him after he hang up on the former customer finally.

 He finally talked to my husband but,gave him over priced estimate at $1,000!!

 I heard that apparently, he wanted the deal with us and he called my husband back and amended the estimate price at $800.However, it sounded super expensive price.

 How much is the average cost in your area to cut down the dead tree in your yard?

 Of course, we did not make the deal with him because I did not like how he handled all the situation and,I did not feel like he would be passionate about his job and I felt like he was “whatever” mode just like the kennel staff Palette had stayed at, back in November when we visited my family in Japan.

 Therefore, my husband searched another tree guy, and he was very pleasant,polite guy with good attitude/manner and, his price was reasonable and it was less than half the estimate what other tree guy gave us.

 Not only that, he brought all the necessary documents such as copy of liability  insurance paper,certificate paper issued by Department of professional and occupational regulation in common wealth of Virginia and all other information we might have wanted.

 What I liked about him was that he wrote down what he is included in the estimate with the price written next to it. I thought it was a nice gesture.

 With this paper, we know what is included,what isn’t and how much we expect to pay them.

 The other tree guy did not show us any documents. I do not know if we made the deal with him,he might had something to show,but I do not know.

 You may have time you would like to cut the tree in your yard and you may call a few tree service people, but after experiencing the tree cutting service last month,plus one in the past, I think followings are good tips to pick good tree service people from the bunch.

1. Ask for liability insurance copy

 If the service people did not have liability insurance with them, if tree they were trying to cut down hit the house and damaged, you will be the liable, not them.

 Long time ago, we asked a guy we were referred to, to cut other tree down because the person was friend of them but, at that time, we did not think much of paper as necessary documents to ask them to cut the tree. 

 The job was a little bit clumsy for professional tree service,and when a tree went down, it hit the gutter of the house, but they never mentioned that to us.It was something we found out later by ourselves…

 They were not good at cleaning up after the job either.

2. Ask estimate not just one but a few tree services so you can see which price is average price for the tree

3. When you ask for estimate, be sure to be at home to observe how they estimate and also you can get a feeling of personality of the tree service people,and you can pick the one who you feel most comfortable making deal with.

4. When you think you have a tree service people you would like to ask the job to,make sure to ask question what are included in the price

5. For a peace of mind to know they know what they are doing, ask for the certificate for the service issued by the states

6.  If you can, for the tree removal day,be at home to observe how they do their business

7. Make a payment for the job when they finish their job and you are satisfied with what they did.Never pay beforehand.

** Personally,I prefer not to pay with cash but via personal check because cash never leave any trace if anything happened

8. Ask your friends if they have used them before.If they did use them,did they like what they did?

 Anyway, if you live in VA and needs tree removal or other landscaping related services, I highly recommend the tree guy we used from “All Top Notch“.

 The guy was quite pleasant and his job was smooth and quick and he and his team cleaned up after their job very nicely and we are happy with their job.

 If there was one thing to note about them, we made an appointment for them to com
e on the day but we did not hear the time they would come.

 We were not sure when they were coming but they showed up pretty early,and we actually woke up with the tree service guy’s ding dong

 If you ask them to do tree service,be sure to ask what time you would expect them to come so they would not surprise you with early time visit.

 Our tree removal day started with early morning visitor;company that came to remove the dead tree in our yard we were trying to getting hold of somebody who can remove it for a long time.

 I was still in bed and my husband answered him, and watched the whole process how he and his team did his job.

 Palette was still sleepy and, she had some woofy going on,but more sleepy than anything else and kept yawning in her crate

 But she came out to watch the guy and his team remove the tree through the window later.

 I did not see how tree was removed, but my husband said that they did great job. 40 minutes later, we had clean dead tree free yard.

 A few days before the removal day,we were worried if that dead tree brunch could fall with gusty wind via storm, but it survived the storm and, we both were surprised the tree was not that bad shape once cut down and see the trump.

 Now we have peace in mind when windy days come and go.


 Now, I will pass a pen to Palette to write her diary here.

March 24th,2013

 Last month was.. as mom has wrote, it was quite eventful day for me.

 Mom did lots of baking marathon for Yassy’s Gourmet Dog Kitchen and I got to taste test every batch to make sure each batch is tasty enough.

 I like my job.I think I have got the bestest job ever in da whole world!

 When mom bakes up biscuits for furriends, I usually station myself near da kitchen so I get to run to mom to tell her yummy is ready to be taken out for da taste testing.

 I already learned that da beep means food is ready to taste test and,I get so excited.

 One thing I do not understand is that,when da batch comes out,mom take itty bitty bits and set it aside on her desk and I nose her knee to let her know that I am there to help for taste testing and shows her I have been extra good too, to fit to da job.

 However, itty bitty bits biscuits does not come to me right away.

 I whine,nose mom,sit pretty, try my nice “down”,whine.. while I am doing all these,I get so drooly!

 Mom says I must wait for it comes to cool enough but waiting even for a second feel like “forever”!

 When I finally get the taste test bits,mom watches and listen carefully to make sure da biscuits are done as mom wanted it to be.

 See? Mom is very dedicated to offer healthy choice of doggy treats and chews and, she gets very happy when her customers tell her how much furriends enjoy all of those treats.

 When mom makes Jerky treats for furriends, mom told me that she needs to flip it at certain times to dry them evenly.

 Therefore,she set the time to beep at certain interval.

 As usual,I be babysitting the dehydrator,and every times mom comes around to flip the Jerky, I tend to think “Is it the taste test time yet?” and,I stands up and stare at mom’s every moves.

 But then, I sit down when I know it was da false alarm for taste testing,because mom put the tray back in and leave da kitchen after setting up da timer again.

 For Jerky making time,I be doing more self push-up exercise whenever mom comes to the kitchen,lol.

 By the time mom finish all da batches of Jerky,I get very tired from self push up exercise!

 I get to taste test small piece of Jerky each time but one thing I look forward to is Jerky crumbs.

 It is a jerky bits left on the Jerky sheets and mom take those bits off and sprinkle over my meal.

 I feel like so special and I like them!

 Mom knows how to make my meal extra yummy!

 Oh,that is right.Mom made me a special meatball last month too.That was super yummy! Mom said it is easy to make so, maybe you can ask your mom to make one for you.

 The meatball mom made was “K9 chicken meatball with Hollandaise sauce”. You can find da recipe here.

 I like everything mom makes, but one thing I look forward to every month is my cool down treats.

 It is something mom made me since I was a puppy . It is basically a frozen yogurt treats without fillers and,she gave me after walkie,after bathing time,after workout that makes me woofy hot.

 Mom has been introducing variety of frozen yogurt treats for furriends here,but have you tried any of those?

 It is very yummy and highly recommend it!

 Anyhow, the cool down treats mom made this time is frozen strawberry batata  yogurt treats.

Frozen Strawberry batata yogurt treats..

 Here is how you can make Frozen strawberry Batata yogurt treats.

 1.  To the mixer, add 8 oz peeled,steamed chopped Batata (White flesh sweet potato), 4 oz fresh strawberries stem removed, and 8 oz of Stonyfield organic
plain yogurt and puree them.

 5. Pour those onto ice cube tray and freeze them

yield; 14 block of frozen treats

** Frozen strawberry batata yogurt treats whole amount is roughly
about 374 kcal (you can see more detail at
website here ).So, each ice cube given is about 27 kcal.

**Mom wanted rough kcal to be as close to real one, and she used
Nutrition fact food label on the back of yogurt she used. She typed in
the information provided in the nutrition label on the yogurt.

** Nutrition profile for this treat was calculated using  regular “sweet potato” (Batata is white fresh sweet potato but,for this nutrition,I did not find the batata nutrition profile so I have used regular sweet potato profile.)

I know that some moms like to fill da Kong with peanut butter, but did you know that small size kong can hold approx 5 tsp of peanut butter?

 The creamy peanut butter 1 tbs is 90 kcal, so it means you are giving 158kcal (out of the 158kcal, 117 kcal comes from fat) just by filling the small size kong for your dogs to lick them each time.

 I think it is way too much kcal from treats.

 This frozen yogurt is much healthier to fill in the kong and, dog love them.

 My cool down treats usually is ice cube
size, and it is around 15 kcal to 30 kcal depending on what I will be
using but, they are much low calorie cool down treats, and they do not
contains added sugar or high calorie ingredients such as peanut butter.

 If you were not familiar with kong,
it is a non toxic dish wash safe rubber chew toy that you can fill the
hole in the center with food.

 Dogs are to chew/lick the Kong toy to get
to the treats inside the hole and, it is popular classic interactive

Mom,I am waiting on you to say “ok”..

I am waiting.. not touching it “yet”..

Ahh.. joy of cool down tweats..

Wet nose alert!

Hmm.. sooo good!

Mom,got more??

Who can resist my cute puppy eyes!

Mar 24, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Yassy’s Japan Trip Diary November 2012; Day 3 Part 4

 The 3rd day in Japan, after visiting Matsumoto castles, we have headed to the hotel we were to stay for a night.

 To read more on Matsumoto castle in the previous entry titled “Yassy’s Japan Trip Diary Nov 2012;Day 3 Part 3”,please click here.

 Since castle requires my grandmother long work and great number of stair steps, my parents and my grandmother decided to head back to the hotel before us (my sister’s family and my husband and I).

 Therefore, me and my husband rode the car with my sister’s family to the hotel.

Lake Suwa view from hotel..

 The hotel my father reserved was very close to Lake Suwa and the scenery was very beautiful. It was very relaxing,and soothing,and I liked the view from the hotel.

 If we had more time to stay in Nagano prefecture, we would have strolled around the lake and enjoy more nature..

 When we arrived at the hotel, it was close to the dinner time, but we wanted to experience “Onsen” (hot springs) they are famous for, and we have made the private Onsen reservation first.

 We reserved 1 hour long private Onsen time at about $25.

 As you know, Japan is volcanic land,and the country has more than 2,000 hot springs (“Onsen” ) throughout the country, and often times, they became resort area.

 The hot springs water temperature in general is higher than 77F, and each hot spring water is said to have been good for the specific disease such as rheumatism, neuralgia,respiratory disorder etc.. and it is also known to be good for overall health.

 For example, in northern island “Hokkaido”, there is “Utase-yu”,which is pelting water, and they are known to be good for massage effect for rheumatism and neuralgia.

 Another one in Nagano prefecture, there is a cave hot springs -“Do-kutsu buro” in Japanese,  and they are called “Seni hot springs”.

 All of these “which onsen is good for what disorder” is because of the difference in the amount of minerals in the water;different type of mineral provides different health benefits.

 Normally, Onsen is public open-air outdoor bathing area to enjoy natural scenery surrounding the location while you enjoy hot springs.

 The Onsen rooms are often times offered 3 ways: separated by gender,mixed gender,or  private in addition to the choice of outdoor or indoor room.

 Staying at the hot spring hotel is recommended because you can stay at the hotel and when you want to experience Onsen, all you need to do is to visit the specific level in the buildings to enjoy Onsen area.

 The reason why we reserved the private Onsen area was because my husband got tattoo on his body,and hotels,Inn, or any other public places such as “Onsen”,”swimming pool”,”sauna” etc.. in Japan do not allow those who has tattoo on them  in the area.

 It is probably because common view in Japan for tattoo is closely associated with yakuza (Japanese gang group),and tattoo is not accepted as fashion statement as much as America does.

 Therefore, we reserved the private Onsen area (if it were private ones, whether you have tattoo or not is not a problem.), and me and my husband enjoyed some time together at the indoor and outdoor private Onsen room area.

 After that, other family member enjoyed the private Onsen area.

 Public Onsen area is free of charge,by the way, and some of my family member enjoyed public Onsen room area next morning while we took a bath inside our hotel room.

 Even if you stay at the Onsen hotel,your room still have private bath and,you can take a bath at any time.

 After everyone enjoyed quick Onsen time, it was dinner time.

 My father reserved Chinese restaurant inside the Onsen Hotel and, we had Chinese food for dinner.

Chinese food dinner…

 We were pretty tired by then,and we just looked around souvenir area and back to room, watched some TV shows and went to bed.

 Here is the room we stayed in.

Onsen hotel room..

 As you can see, the room is tatami room.

 As you have read in the previous entry titled “Ryotei restaurants in Japan“, tatami is
traditional Japanese flooring and made of rice straws, and usually each
tatami mat is rectangular shape, and it has cloth kind of thing all
around the edge (see the blue-ish thing on the floor).

 If you see a picture above,
you will notice that not all tatami mats are placed the same way.
Generally, when you talk about room size here in the states, you will
expect to hear the word “xx square foot”, but in Japan, room with tatami
mat floor is measured according to how many tatami mats are there.

 You will use the room without your shoes on.

 In Japan, you need to take off your shoes at the entrance,and then go in to the room.

 As you can see, the room provides hot water with tea leaves so you can make hot tea by yourself and as complimentary snack,they give customers a few packages of small snack to enjoy along with the tea they offer.

 You can also notice that there are white rolls on the plate on the low table.It is what we call “Oshibori” (wet cloth towel rolled and packaged in the sealed bag).

 It is for you to clean your hands.Often times, they are hot/warm.

 Many Japanese restaurant serve the Oshibori at the table in stead of thin wet paper towel you cannot clean your hands off as much.

 Another thing you notice on your left corner in the picture;the pink clothe in the container, is thin kimono to wear at the hotel and sleep in with it.

 Pink one was mine and blue one was my husband.

 You may wonder where is the bed in the room.

 The hotel has Futon for you to sleep on.

 Usually, maid will prepare the futon for you while you are having dinner.

 I know people understand what “Futon” is in the states but what they think is “Futon” is not really “futon” we use back home in Japan.

 Futon is the name of the traditional Japanese bedding.

 In Japan, “Futon” set is folded and stored in the Oshiire (small closet), and every
night, you will make a bed directly on tatami mat or wooden floor.

times, if you live in the room with wooden floor, you would place a
mattress underneath the “Futon” for extra cushion.

 These mattress are air out in the balcony, and it usually has cover for you to wash frequently.

 On top of the mattress , you will put “Futon” and, it is much
pliable,softer, and thinner than American “Futon” from “Futon” couch,
and often times, traditional bottom part of “Futon” are stuffed with
cotton. This bottom part of “Futon” is called “Shiki buton”. It has
sheet cover also and,you can take it away and wash frequently.

 The reason behind why Japanese style “Futon” being softer,pliable,and
thinner is that we, Japanese people, air “Futon” on balcony by hanging
them under the sun, and it is easier for us to maneuver and since we put
away “Futon” every morning into Oshiire room, “Futon” being thin and
softer has great benefit.

 Top part of “Futon” bed is also soft,comforter and comes with cover and
you can wash the cover frequently and air the top part of “Futon” in
balcony. This top part of “Futon” is called “Kake buton”, and when hot
summer comes, we use light weight cover instead of “Kake buton”.
Traditional Japanese pillow is called “Makura” in Japanese, and it is
filled with red beans or buckwheat chaff.

  At our house back in Japan, me and mother put out “Futon” to air in the balcony in the morning and put away around afternoon.

 Japan is quite humid and we air “Futon” set in the balcony and we beat
the futon mat with tool called “Futon Tataki” before bringing the
“Futon” set back into the room. We do this to get rid of dust,allergen
in the “Futon” mat.

You can read more on Futon in the previous entry titled “Japanese style Futon” here.

 At your home, you will be making Futon to go to bed or put it away when you wake up, but when you stay at the hotel, maid is the one that take care of it.

 Because of that, there is a small security box in the room that comes with the key and,you are supposed to put your valuables in there and lock it up.

 The room also comes with mini fridge/bar too.

 At night, the night view from the room was nice.

Night view from hotel..

 Only problems though, as you might notice the cross mark where helicopter lands for emergency situation for hospitals, there was a hospital next to us, and we kept hearing non stop ambulance noise throughout the night and we did not have much good sleep because of that.

 Next morning, we will be visiting Zenkouji temple. The famous temple in Nagano prefecture.

 Stay tuned!

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Mar 19, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Palette’s Food Market Guide; Finding a local farmer

 In the previous entry titled “Palette’s Food Market Guide:Buying a whole animal“, I wrote various ways to find farmers nears you,and what you can ask for if you decided to buy a whole animal from them,and story about my experience of buying a whole animal from farmers.

Nom,nom,nom.. I love herring!

 If you miss the entry, to find a farmer near you, I have suggested following ways.

1. You
can Google the farms by typing in the specific animal protein source
plus farms in the search box to see if any good result would show.

2. Since farmers tend to show at the farmer’s market,you can check
out the local farmer’s market and get to know the farmers.

 Then, in the future, if they agree to you, you may be able to ask for buying a whole animals to feed your dogs.

3. Search the farmers near you by using the local
harvest website (To visit the local harvest website,please click here) or another website called “Eat Wild” (To visit the Eat Wild website,please click here).

on the website might offer only cut of meats on the website itself, but
you can always ask them if they are willing to offer you the whole

 Also, some farmers can ship the products so you can ask them if they are willing to ship the meat,organs, and bones to you.

 In this entry, I would like to introduce more ways to find the farmers near you through an organization called ” Weston A Price foundation.

What is Weston A Price foundation?

 Weston A price foundation is a non profit charity foundation built on 1999.

 One of the foundation’s mission is to restoring the nutrient dense food to human diet through education,research and activism,and they support a number of movements that contribute to this objective including
accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming,
pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and
informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies.

 Therefore, when you look for local farmers, you can contact the volunteers for the foundation who might be able to refer you to the local farmers in your area.

 To find a local volunteer working for the foundation, you can visit the “Find a local chapter page” here.

 Then, click on your state to see the list of volunteer workers’ contact information.

 The Local chapters can help you find locally-grown organic and biodynamic
vegetables, fruits and grains; and milk products, butter, eggs, chicken
and meat from pasture-fed animals.

 Interesting thing is that they may host cooking
classes, potluck dinners and other activities to help you learn to incorporate the whole foods into your diet.

 Because of that, it is not only a good source to find meat etc.. for your dogs but also it is a good chance for you to have fun cooking with various whole foods for your family, and to learn cooking techniques and more.

 One other advantage of getting foods from local farmers directly is that you can get to know them in person, and know how the foods were grown/raised, and since there will be no middle men such as grocery stores that package things up to be able to sell products, it might be cheaper and more flexible to your requests and meat will be much fresher when it gets delivered to your home.

 Personally, I would prefer to get a small amount of meat first to make sure Palette does good on,and eat them fine first before looking for options of buying foods in bulk, but this foundation is probably good place to bookmark their website on your computer for future reference.

 I sometime hear XXZ brand of kibble is better than ABC kibble but, no matter how premium or high quality ingredients the companies say they use in their products, they have to consider adding something extras for long storage time at pet supply stores and, all of those products are still process food.

 I hope that many people would improve furry furriends’ diet to fresh food as well by providing fresh food, not process food.

 If you are feeding kibbles and you are not ready to move on to home made diet or raw diet (fresh food diet), then one thing you can do is to add protein source as kibble topping.

 Since kibble in general already has heavy load of carbohydrate, if you are going to add something to bump up the nutrient level, it is best to add meat not fruits or vegetables.

 I would like to see more dogs live healthy,long,happy life with fresh food diet.


Mar 17, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Vietnamese/Thai/Japanese cooking:Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings with Sweet chili dipping sauce

 This week,I wanted to use some of ground pork that I had in the freezer, and I have decided to make Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings (Pot stickers). It is kind of Japanese-Vietnamese fusion dish if you will.

 In Japan, you rarely have opportunity to taste Thai food or Vietnamese food,and those two cuisines’ flavor combination,cooking technique etc.. are what I learned here for the first time here in the states.

 I feel I was fortunate to get to know the lady from Thailand at work. She took time to tour me around the Ethnic stores to explain Thai ingredients,and also I was lucky to get to taste Vietnamese food such as steamed buns, spring roll etc.. through what a Vietnamese travel agent brought for us to taste them.

 As you can see by now, Japanese food is influenced by Chinese cooking, and some of the dishes we make is Japanese version of Chinese food. Gyoza dumpling is one of those dishes.

 Gyoza dumpling is Chinese dish called “Jiaozi”
originally, and we Japanese call it “Gyoza”. People here in the states recognize it
with the name “Pot stickers” or “Chinese dumplings”).

 There are some traditional fillings for those Gyoza dumplings but,my mother has taught me how you can roll over the leftover dish into delicious spring rolls or Gyoza dumplings next day and, I now tend to use her tips to make wide variety of Gyoza dumplings when I had something I wanted to used up.

 Now,I got ground pork and, making simple pork meat Gyoza dumpling seemed a little boring so,I decided to flavor up to make Vietnamese style Gyoza dumpling (Gyoza dumpling with Vietnamese dumpling filling).

 When I was working at the Airport,there was a travel agent,who brings groups of Vietnamese passengers to travel back to their home,and he helped them with check-in,boarding,and sometimes,he worked to as an interpreter between us staff and the passengers since some of them did not understand English.

 We saw him almost daily bases and, now and them,he brought Vietnamese style steamed buns that had bean thread noodle and boiled egg in them or Vietnamese style spring rolls for us staff.

 In Japan, for the traditional Gyoza dumpling, we do not put noodle in them,and I have never had dumplings or spring roll made with rice paper as well.

 Therefore, eating the dumplings or spring rolls wrapped with rice paper or filling with bean thread noodle in them was my first experience at work.

 I thought that the bean thread noodles in the filling or wrapped in rice paper sounded strange at first but now,I think that makes their version of dumplings or spring rolls unique along side their own unique flavor combination of fish sauce,lime juice,garlic,bean thread noodles etc etc…

 I have never had fresh Vietnamese style spring rolls (summer rolls) either in Japan, and whole experience of trying out wide variety of cuisines here in the states really helped me develop flavor profile from many different countries.

 This Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings came out quite flavorful and, I am quite satisfied.

 It is time consuming at first to make the filling and wrapping filling individually,but it was worth it.

 I ended up making approximately 20 Gyoza dumplings and,I cooked some to have it for the dinner, and I froze the rest for the quick cooking for later.

 Gyoza dumpling is one of those make ahead meal you can make bunch of them on your weekends,and freeze them for later use.

 The dipping sauce I made was my made-up sauce, and more close to Thai, but it matched with Vietnamese style dumpling very well and it was tasty.

 With Vietnamese dish or Thai dish,I usually use lime juice in stead of lemon juice but,I forgot to buy a lime so,I used lemon instead.However, the flavor came out quite nice.

 You will also notice that I have used shiitake mushroom although they are Japanese ingredient.I just thought that it would add a little bit of earthy flavor to the dumplings and, I tried using them.

 I did pan fried and steamed Gyoza dumpling, but you can steam them all the way if you prefer.

 In this entry,I will share my Vietnamese style Gyoza dumpling recipe with you.

Vietnamese style Gyoza dumpling with Sweet chili dipping sauce..

Ingredients for the Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings;

1 bundle (1.35 oz) Taiwan style bean thread noodle
                      *recommends “Asian gourmet” brand (product of Taiwan)
0.2 oz dehydrated sliced Shiitake mushroom
6 oz ground pork
shallot chopped fine
1 clove of garlic chopped fine
1/2 tbs chopped
fresh cilantro leaves
1.5 tsp white sugar
1.5 tsp fish sauce* recommend” double parrots” brand (Product of Thailand)
1.5 tsp
freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.5 tsp sweet chili sauce * recommend “Mae ploy” brand (Product of Thailand)
sesame oil
Gyoza wrapper * Recommend Wing Hing brand (Product of USA)

Ingredients for Sweet chili dipping sauce;

1 tbs    sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro leaves

<Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings>

1. Put 1 bundle of bean thread noodle, 0.2 oz dehydrated sliced Shiitake mushroom in a bowl,and pour boiling hot water enough to cover them noodles,and let it stand for 15-20 minutes till noddle gets soften up

2. Drain them,and divide the beanthread noodle and shiitake mushroom into half the amount.

** When extra portion of noodle and Shiitake mushroom came to room temperature,you can keep them in the freezer bag and label it and freeze them so you can use it in your next batch of Gyoza making or steamed bun filling.

3. Rough chop the noodle and shiitake mushroom into about 1″ chunks,and put them into a bowl

4. Add 6 oz ground pork,1 shallot chopped fine, 1 clove of garlic chopped fine, 1/2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaves,1.5 tsp white sugar,1.5 tsp fish sauce, 1.5 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice,1.5 tsp sweet chili sauce and mix well

5. Start wrapping the filling up.

** When you finished wrapping the filling, dust them with the flour before you will place on the new plate so the Gyoza dumplings would not stick to the plate.

My favorite Gyoza wrapper is Wing Hing brand. You can find them at
Asian stores in freezer section, or I have seen it at NY base grocery store Wegman’s at produce area right next to Asian produce section such as ginger.

 This is what the wrapper package looks like.Look for the orange package with Panda bear logo on it.

It is round,paper thin and quite pliable wrapper,and one
package comes with hundreds of wrapper. Their wrapper is great.It makes crispy,light texture and it is very much like the ones that my mother used them back home in Japan.

 If you did not use all of
them,you can keep them in your freezer for later use.I like to wrap the Gyoza dumplings with plastic wrap and then,put them in the freezer bag.

 There are some other brands that offer spring roll wrapper,wanton wrapper/pot sticker wrapper etc.. such as Melissa’s brand,but they tend to be thicker than Wing Hing brand wrapper and they are not as pliable as Wing Hing brand, and the wrapper dries out very fast and very difficult to manage.

 When they get cooked, they make chewy,doughy,heavy, thick puffed up strange textured spring rolls/Gyoza dumplings and I do not like them.

** How to wrap the filling for Gyoza dumplings**

What I normally do first is to prepare small container with some water
in it and set the small container aside.This will be the water to wet
the wrapper edge so it can stick together and seal well.

2. Take
one Gyoza wrapper out from the package and set it on medium size dry
plate with a little bit of flour dusted, and put small amount of fillings in the center of the wrapper and
wet the finger with water (dip your finger in the small container you
have prepared), and wet the edge of wrapper to seal

3. To seal,
take the bottom half of wrapper to fold over the upper half of wrapper
and pinch as if making plaits without air trapped inside.

** If the air was trapped inside the dumplings,the air in the Gyoza can expand as it cooks and can make holes when cooking.

** I
thought that watching how to wrap the Gyoza visually would help you
understand better so, I will put the youtube video below.


How to wrap Gyoza dumplings..

 If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video.

6. You will have approximately 20 Gyoza dumplings

Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings on the plate..

7. In the skillet, drizzle sesame oil and bring it to hot temperature with medium high heat

8. Place Gyoza dumplings and let it sear one side,and then flip over to sear the other side

9.When both size got brownish and crisped up, pour water to just about the half the depth of Gyoza dumplings and shake the skillet,lower the heat to medium heat,put the lid on and steam the Gyoza dumplings until almost all the water gets evaporated

** Be careful with spatter oil and water

** As soon as water hit the skillet,
it will make very loud noise and evaporate as it cooks and shake the
skillet after adding the water to the skillet

** If you put too much water in the skillet or skillet was not hot enough, it will make the dumplings soggy.

10. When all the water got evaporated,
bring the heat up to high temperature,and add a drizzle of sesame oil
and cook 1 minutes or so more to crisp up again.

 A little bit of sesame oil to cook will
make this Gyoza extra yummy.

11. Take the dumplings out, and serve it with Sweet chili dipping sauce* (recipe follows)

11. Enjoy!

<Sweet Chili dipping sauce>

1. Mix 1 tbs sweet chili sauce,1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard, 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro leaves well

Vietnamese style Gyoza dumpling drizzled with Sweet chili dipping sauce..

can serve the Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings without the sauce and
serve the sauce as side. Or, for pretty presentation, you can drizzle
some of the Sweet Chili dipping sauce over the center of the Gyoza
dumplings and serve it along with dipping sauce as side

Makes:approximately 20 Vietnamese style Gyoza dumplings

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Mar 12, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Decoding kibble;Addiction Salmon bleu menu makeover for dogs and for people

 In the previous entry titled “What brand/type of dog food are best for your dogs?“, I wrote a little bit about homemade diet, and also wrote that with
homemade diet, they will look the kcal rather than how much weight of
food you would feed, and plan the menu to be able to fit to their preferred fat %-Carbohydrate %- Protein %.

 After that,they will look for each nutrient the recipe is lacking and supplement your dogs’ diet.They try to achieve the balanced meal recipe by recipe on daily basis, rather than balance over time; cookie cutter style.

 Often times, home made diet people make weekly batch and divide the food into portion.Then,they freeze them and feed it through, and then start planning the next recipe.

 When I was looking at homemade diet long time ago, Palette was 2 years old, weighed 35 lb (currently 31 lb)
with moderate activity level, and her recommended daily kcal for her was
1036 kcal with following sardine recipe below.

 When I noticed that this little dog who weigh about
3rd of me need almost half of average human’s recommended daily kcal;
for human, recommended kcal for women is 2,000 kcal and for men, 2,500
kcal, I was shocked.

 Recommended % each to start with to come up
with recipe for protein,carbohydrate,and fat were 28% for protein, 30% for fat,
36% for carbohydrate.

 This percentage of each nutrient’s number means that 28% of overall recipe kcal will come from protein, 30% of kcal comes from fat, and 36% of kcal comes from carbohydrate.

 Of course, they would consider age energy level, and types of proteins.carbohydrate,fat etc..

 With the recommended % of nutrient in mind, example recipes can look like this.

1 can  sardine in oil
5 oz    Dark meat from Turkey with skin on
20 oz     cooked sweet potatoes
2         Egg yolks raw

 The recipe provides about 1,034 kcal food. These nutrient file will be 29%
protein,32% fat, and 39% carbohydrate.Then.they usually give supplements that
are deficient in nutrient level.

 This example recipe that I received is one day worth of food served.

 I recognize that there are so many variable for homemade diet guidelines just like raw diet has so many variables.

 Some advocate recommends to feed 2-3% of ideal adult estimated weight as volume just like raw diet guideline will be,and then divide the daily feeding amount into variable % including leafy vegetables,starch etc..

 Some divide the daily feeding amount into 30%-60% muscle meat,0%-50% grains & vegetables, 10-20% eggs, 5-20% dairy such as yogurt,cottage cheese,5-10% organ, 1-2% calcium.

 Some homemade diet book such as the one ” Home prepared Dog&Cat Diet by Donald Strombeck DVM”many homemade diet people read to grasp the idea of homemade diet has chart to show you how much kcal ideal weight dog should get everyday.

 Even though I was recommended to feed Palette that provides 1,036 kcal, the book chart says 30lb dog that are at 7 years old should get about 792kcal per day.

 Some says that dogs should be fed based on resting energy level a.k.a. RER.

 I have showed you how to calculate RER in the previous entry titled “How to compare nutrient content between different form of food;Kibble, vs wet canned food vs fresh food“,and if you remember the entry, with Palette’s idea weight,the RER number came out as 492.70kcal per day.

 The number is a little bit less than what she gets through various raw diet menu I feed in average,but that kcal number is much closer to any of the other feeding method I have seen so far.

 Even though, no matter how you decide whose homemade diet method to follow, I find that there are so much gap between the daily caloric intake they suggest to feed for the same weight dog depending who you follow.

 As you know, I have visited my family after 4 years last November (Nov 2012), and I noticed that back home in Japan, home made diet is still popular than raw diet but, how the menu is planned was different from what I learned about homemade diet basic here in the states.

 I have been reading a little bit by little bit on Japanese way of homemade diet book for dogs and, I noticed that their way is much closer to how raw feeding people do; they will calculate the daily feeding amount volume rather than caloric intake amount.

 Daily feeding amount in most homemade diet book for dogs in Japan says to feed 2.5%- 3% of ideal weight of the adult dog,and then divide that volume into percentages into set categories; meat and fish 40%, grain and starches 30%, organ such as liver 7%, vegetables 20%, and calcium and source of Vitamin D 3% since not many food can provide vitamin D, the category is separated from other items.

 Then, the book encourage readers to feed different menu everyday since day in day out same food tends to make them more susceptible to develop allergy issue against the food fed often.

 Some homemade diet book in Japan says to calculate the daily feeding amount using metabolic weight.

 Just like we raw feeding people learned, the authors of the book (1 holistic vet and 1 canine nutritionist) wrote that balance is over time.

 Their book says that the most important thing to focus on homemade diet is to feed the variety of foods/menu over time rather than fixating on trying to feed cookie cutter menu making sure each nutrient is met to requirement each day by supplementing synthetic vitamin and mineral pills.

 I think that idea behind the Japanese way’s home made diet is very similar to ideas behind the mainstream raw diet method popular here in the states.

 If you feed kibble, it is good time to think about rotating foods
possibly with different companies rather than the same company with
different protein source because often times, I find that base
ingredients are same,formula is similar and simply protein source is
swapped from one thing to the other.

 Therefore, if you rotate different
companies’ formula, base ingredients/formula will be different, and it
will be more beneficial to your dogs.

 Now and then, I see people asking others if XYZ brand dog food is better than ABC brand dog food, and often times, so called “good kibble brand” name comes up as suggested kibbles.It is because they find dog magazine’s approved kibble list published annually, which they are known for.

 Personally, no matter how premium, how high quality kibbles the companies say they offer, or how pretty packaging it got or maybe someone famous is having their own line of kibbles, the finished products are still process food.

 Even if there were better brand than the other, what they offer is convenience, not nutrition packed food for furriends.

 If we would like to provide best possible nutrient dense menu to our furry furriends, I think it should be via fresh food diet;homemade diet or raw diet.

 Advantage of feeding good homemade diet or raw diet are as followings.

1. You will be able to pick the ingredients goes into your dog’s food.Therefore, ingredients are always fresh and properly stored, and you know where they are coming from.

 Big pet food companies might use ingredients imported from outside the countries they cannot observe every step away on how they were grown/raised under different regulations in the countries.

 The countries might not have the same standards in growing/raising food to the states.

2. By observing how dogs do on food you provide, you can tweak the menu if necessary.

 If you feed kibbles, and if your dog did not good on, you cannot change the company’s formula yourself, and only option is to switch the kibble companies,meaning, you will buy another brand of kibble, to see if other formula can fit to your dog’s need.

 That being said, some of you may not be ready to move on to the fresh food diet yet and,  I thought I would give you the tool to decode the kibble terms so you know what you are getting and feeding to your dogs at least.

 Some people may simply be interested in getting better kibble companies products name from people they know or from dog magazines, but if you were simply choosing food based on the better kibble brand list result,then you would never be able to learn how to pick the better food by yourself.

 If you could understand what to look for, what the terms mean in your kibble label,you would understand how to pick the better food in general.

 So here it is. I will be starting new series titled “Decoding the kibble”.

 I will be picking one product at a time and explain what terms in the kibble ingredients list to understand what exactly are in the food,and learn what to look for at the same time.

Decoding : Addiction Salmon Bleu

 Ingredients as followings:

1. Salmon Meal;cooking salmon at high temperatures, extracting the fat, and drying the remaining meat.

 Some thing you cannot be sure is that whether they used the fresh whole salmon sold for humans or used reminder such as leftover from fillet fish.

 Another point is that whether the salmon is farm raised or wild caught.

 Wild caught salmon is expensive compared to farm raised salmon, but quality is superior and,it is better choice to provide great nutrient through them.

 To read more on farm raise salmon vs wild  caught salmon in the previous entry titled “Raw feeding 911 Part 15:Farm raised fish vs Wild caught fish and Palette’s soft shell crab diary”, please click here.

2. Dried Potatoes

 Potato is night shade family vegetables,and if you have a dog with joint problems, it is best to avoid night shade family vegetables because they aggravate the inflammation in their joints.

3. Dried Tapioca

4. Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)

 Generally,”Animal fat” by definition through AAFCO means ”  Animal fat (or named protein source) was obtained from the tissues of named mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting.

 It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words “used as a preservative”.”

 Therefore, you can find “preserved with Mixed Tocopherols”. Mixed tocopherols are natural vitamin E most likely sourced from soy bean oil.

5. Peas

6. Natural Flavor

 Whether it is for human food or for dog treats/food, “natural flavor” appear in the label quite often.

 I always wondered why they need added flavor when chicken itself in this case has already has enough flavor.

 Palette gets portion cut chicken now and then, and I do not need to add any kinds of added flavor to make the food interested for her.

 Under FDA’s Code of federal regulations title 21, “natural flavoring means” the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

 Artificial flavor includes the substances listed in 172.515(b) and 182.60 of this chapter except where these are derived from natural sources.”

 Therefore, since it is not named flavor such as “Natural Chicken flavor”, we never know what was used to flavor the food.

 You can read definition on “Natural flavoring” at FDA website here.
7.  Ground Flaxseed

 I wonder if it is for Omega 3 fatty acids or as natural preservatives, but if it was used as omega 3 fatty acids source, oily cold water fish such as salmon,mackerel,herring,sardine are great source of natural omega 3 fatty acids.

 If this ingredient was used for Omega 3 fatty acids, there is one thing you should know about it.

 Flaxseed is good for human, but it is not always the case to assume what is good for human is good for dogs.

 Flaxseed is high in omega3, and can use as natural preservative other than the source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

 I see  so many dog food,dog treats have them,but dog cannot convert ALA to EPA and DHA well.Flaxseed has Alpha-linolenic Acid, ALA.They need to be converted to EPA and DHA, the form of omega 3 the body uses.

 Then,flaxseed must be milled to get the benefit out of it, but within hours,it goes rancid.If we wanted to give omega3 in our dog’s meal,we rather use fish oil;fish oil has EPA,DHA which dogs can easily use in the body, or fresh oily cold water fish such as salmon,mackerel,herring,sardine etc.

8. Dried Kelp

 Is it as source of iodin?

 Too much kelp can suppress the function of thyroid in dogs.

9. Dried Cranberries

 Company states it was added for “sweetness and an abundance of antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoids”

 All foods dogs get needs to be sweetened?

 If your dog had UTI, cranberries are good one to give. It prevent the new bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.

10. Dried Blueberries

11. Dried Spinach

 Did you know that too much spinach can interfere with absorption of calcium?

12. Brewers Dried Yeast

 Brewer’s yeast is by products after beer brewing. Often times, you can find “brewers yeast” in the ingredients for flea repellant tablet,and also they are used in the food as a source of Vitamin B.

 Meat,fish,dairy can offer great amount of Vitamin B.

13. Vitamin E Supplement

 Meat and eggs are good source for Vitamin E. Vitamin E gets destroyed by the heat.

 You can also give Sardine,
Halibut,Cod,Turkey,Beef liver,Egg etc as source of selenium (form of
anti oxidant) as part of the diet.

14. Niacin (Vitamin B3)

15. Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5)

16. Vitamin A Supplement

 If you like to provide Vitamin A, organ such as liver and animal heart are good source for this nutrient.

 That being said,Vitamin A from animal source is fat soluble vitamins and they get stored in the body if it was not used by the body. Therefore,too much Vitamin A can lead to toxicity level.

 If you feed Turkey liver,be careful how much you feed. Turkey liver has more than double amount of Vitamin A compared to chicken or beef liver.

  As I understand it, optimum Vitamin A amount for dogs is 100 IU-200 IU per kg of body weight.

 Here is conversion website to convert pounds to kilograms,if you need one.

17. Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1)

18. Riboavin Supplement

19. Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)

20. Vitamin B12 Supplement

21. Vitamin D3 Supplement

 Vitamin D is one of those vitamins that not many food can deliver the nutrient. However, dogs can get Vitamin D from animal heart, oily fish such as
mackerel, salmon, sardine, and herrings, beef liver, egg, and sun light.

22. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)

23. Sodium Chloride

24. Taurine,

 If you like to feed Taurine, animal heart is the good source for that. Animal heart also contains coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and this is very good menu especially for dogs with heart problems.

25.Choline Chloride

26. Magnesium Sulfate

27. Zinc Sulfate

28. Ferrous Sulfate

29. Calcium Carbonate

30. Copper Sulfate

31. Manganese Sulfate

32. Calcium Iodate

33. Cobalt Sulfate

34. Sodium Selenite

35. Green Tea Extract

36. Rosemary Extract

 Rosemary is often used as natural source of preservatives in food and treats and sometimes pump type style fish body oil ingredients.However, if you do have a dog with EPI. It is better to avoid the products that contains rosemary extract because it can be a trigger for seizure.

 As many people know, pet food ingredients are listed by weight.

 1st ingredients weigh more than the latter ingredients.

 When I was attending puppy training class 6 years ago, our trainer had mini segment that let us learn overall dog things from nail trimming to food choice etc and,one thing she has mentioned is that, you should read the label and look for the products that has protein source listed within top 5 ingredients.

 I think it is a good suggestion.

 Later, I also learned many more things such as..

1. If you are getting kibbles, then, ingredients should be named protein source not vague ingredients; Not “animal fat” but “chicken fat”,for example.

2. Find more than 1 animal protein source in the ingredients list close to the top in the ingredient list.

3. Find whole form of vegetables,grain etc and not “ground” form of grain/vegetables

4. Avoid “by- products” in the list

 If you find “chicken by products” for example in the ingredients list of the kibble, it means by definition “consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.”

5. Avoid artificial colors,preservatives,and sweeteners etc..

6. Know the splitting system in the pet food market

 “Splitting” is the way to make one ingredient into smaller category.

 Ingredients are listed in order by weights. With this method, even if rice was main ingredients (more weights than protein source), by splitting, it can make lamb or any other protein source look like most weight ingredients.

 For example, with above kibble, I have grouped them up by different colors

 Blue is protein related ingredients, purple is vegetables, dark brown is other miscellaneous ingredients.

 You can see that it looks “good” at glance knowing the ingredients list starts off with protein source, but when you group it up, you can see that you find more purple ingredients than dark blue ingredients and, they are carbohydrates heavy food.

 They are marketed as “grain-free” kibble but it does not mean “carbohydrates free food”. To make kibbles, they need something starchy as a base,and often times, vegetables such as potatoes,tapioca,peas are popular ingredients in the grain free kibble.

 This food is also marketed as “hypoallergenic dog food”.

 As I have written in the previous entry titled ” Hypoallergenic Dog Food,Hypoallergenic Dog treats, there are products marketed as “Hypoallergenic Dog food or treats”, “Hypoallergenic” is buzzword for pet food industry and,I do not think any companies can make food no dogs will be allergic to.

 I see that the Addiction food uses salmon as primary protein source,but then when you keep reading the label, there is “chicken fat”.

 I think many dogs are already exposed to chicken via form of treats or table scrap or maybe other dog food that uses chicken as primary source.

 Therefore, I do not know why this product is “Hypoallergenic” dog food.

 I see that some dog food companies trying to offer food for dogs with allergy but, I think that they need to see that even if they do swap the common allergen with something else, or using better quality meat by their definition, dogs can still react to number of other things including preservatives,colorings, synthetic vitamins, flavorings etc etc.

 I believe that nothing can beat the wholesomeness, full of nutrient content with fresh food. When people are looking at more of fresh food on table, not processed food, why not for our furriends too?

 If I convert this salmon base Addiction Salmon bleu into fresh food (raw diet) form, it can be like this.

***  Palette’s raw diet version of “Addiction salmon bleu” ***

 Her daily intake amount is 10 oz – 12 oz

 To calculate daily feeding amount, fill the blank below.

 Guideline is to feed 2%-3% adult dog ideal weight.

Dog’s adult ideal weight x 16 x 0.02= daily feeding amount

Dog’s adult ideal weight x 16 x 0.03= daily feeding amount

 I follow 80% meat, 10% bone,10% organ guideline.

Divide the daily feeding amount into 80% meat -10% bone -10% organ

 Since I tend to feed salmon as salmon soup (Salmon fillet is gently simmered in the small amount of water,and pour it over raw liver.Served with 1 count of raw chicken foot), her typical salmon dinner will be just like this.

 AM; portion cut bone-in chicken 5 oz raw

 PM; Salmon soup* (salmon fillet 4 oz,chicken liver 1 oz) with 1 chicken foot raw

 I could not find raw chicken feet nutrient profile and I had to use boiled chicken feet nutrient profile plus,the data will not be counting nutrient coming from bones in the chicken but, roughly, with this menu, Palette will be getting about 600kcal plus.

 You can see nutrient detail at here.

 If you feed raw salmon, here is what you need to know.

 Feeding wild caught fresh salmon,trout,steelhead and other salmonids from Pacific Northwest..

 When you feed fresh wild caught salmon, trout,steelhead and other salmonids
fish, there is one thing you should know about it and be careful about
how you feed them to your dogs.

If you got wild-caught FRESH salmon or trout or steelhead from Pacific Northwest,you need to
them for a few weeks before feeding them to avoid salmon poisoning.

 Cooking the fresh wild caught
salmon/trout/steelhead from Pacific Northwest will kill the parasite
that can cause salmon poisoning, and you do not have to worry about
salmon poisoning from fresh wild caught salmon from Pacific Northwest.

 The kibble itself contains 36 ingredients. What about Palette‘s?

 4 ingredients without any added vitamins and minerals etc..

 I do not know if salmon meal is something that is made from “whole wild caiught salmon” or using bones,blood etc.., but I know what I am giving Palette is the wild caught sockeye salmon sold for human.

 That is the difference between feeding kibble and fresh food. You can pick what goes into your dog’s bowl, and you can see the quality of the menu/ingredients.

 If this kibble is going to be converted into homemade diet, it will have more ingredients than raw diet menu since they use vegetables too, but less ingredients than kibble ingredients list without additives, vitamin/mineral spray mix to make up the lost nutrient during the processing the kibbles.

 If I am going to feed Palette homemade diet Japanese way,the makeover menu for Salmon bleu would look like this.

Japanese homemade diet version of Addition bleu..

Berry K9 Salmon Chicken Shepherd pie..

<Berry K9 Salmon Chicken Shepherd pie>

Ingredients for Berry K9 Salmon Chicken Shepherd pie:

3 oz wild caught salmon fillet
2 oz Russet potato
1/8 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
1.5 oz chicken tender cut into 1/4″ dice
1/8 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

 ** If you have a dog with EPI,do not use rosemary.Rosemary can be a trigger for seizure

0.4 oz fresh cranberries
0.4 oz fresh blueberries
1.7 oz frozen spinach leaves ground in food processor
1.5 oz frozen green peas

 Her daily feeding amount is about 10-12 oz a day. So, using that as daily feeding amount, divide them into Japanese homemade diet menu guideline ratio; meat
and fish 40%, grain and starches 30%, organ such as liver 7%,
vegetables 20%, and calcium and source of Vitamin D 3% since not many
food can provide vitamin D, the category is separated from other items

1. In the small skillet, pour small amount of water and simmer 3 oz wild caught salmon fillet until fish is cooked through

Drain the skillet and,take the salmon fillet out to cool

3. When fillet got cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and flake the fish fillet,and set it aside

4. Wrap 2 oz Russet potato skin on with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minutes,and remove the plastic wrap, peel off the potato skin and mash them in the small container and set it aside

5. Add 1/8 tsp Extra virgin olive oil in the skillet, and when it got hot enough, add 1.5 oz chicken tender cut into 1/4″ dice and season it with 1/8 tsp chopped fresh rosemary and stir

6. When chicken got cooked through,put it over salmon flake container and mix well

7. In the small skillet, add 0.4 oz fresh cranberry,0.4 oz fresh blueberry,and 3 tbs water and let it cook and mash them in the skillet

8. When water got almost absorbed, add 3 tbs water again and let it come to boil and,cook about 1-2 minutes more and strain them over a measuring cup*,and add the sauce into salmon-chicken mix and mix well

* Place a kitchen sieve over a measuring cup and pour cranberry blueberry sauce over to strain.

9. In the food processor, add 1.7 oz frozen spinach leaves and grind them,and add that into mashed russet potato and mix well

10. Make 2.5″ diameter medallion with spinach potato mix and place them onto non stick foil lined cookie sheet,and bake them at 425F for 15 minutes

11. In the small skillet, add 1 tbs water and when it got hot enough,add 1.5 oz frozen green peas and cook till almost all the water gets evaporated and set the peas aside

12. Add the green peas into salmon-chicken mix seasoned with berry sauce and mix well

13. On the plate, place the 3″ diameter round cookie cutter,and put some rosemary chicken salmon green peas seasoned with berry sauce into it so you can use the cookie cutter as mold

14. Carefully,remove the cookie cutter and, gently place the spinach mashed potato on top and serve

Makes; 3 count of 3″ diameter Berry K9 salmon chicken Shepherd pie

Berry K9 salmon chicken Shepherd pie recipe is 355kcal,and 1 Shepherd pie piece is about 118 kcal. You can look up nutrition profile at website here.

 Since this recipe does not offer calcium source, you may want to add ground eggshell as source of calcium source (1/2 tsp per pound of food served) or feed bones to go with this meal.

you were going to make this shepherd pie outside the regular feeding,
consider the kcal added to your dog’s regular menu.

 As I was imagining, since chosen meat was leaner,and majority of ingredients are carbohydrate (vegetables,fruits can add volume to food in the bowl, but it provides empty calories with less nutrient compared to nice fresh hunk of meat.Meat provide much wide range of nutrient with more calories than vegetables), the total kcal came out much lower than she normally gets via raw diet menu.

 If I really serve this for main diet meal, I think I would need time to tweak the volume of each ingredients or change the ratio of meat vs vegetables groups or maybe pick dark chicken meat (thigh) instead of tender, so it provides more kcal than it is.

 Palette really loved the special menu for her. I now think she might had been a little hungry then.

Oh,my! Is it for me??

Nom,nom,nom.. Hmm..

 However, I am much more comfortable giving small amount of vegetables as treats outside the diet.

 After everything that I had as my own project for this entry, it occurred to me “what if” – what if I am going to make our dinner (people food) using these ingredients,it will be much more challenging, but it is a fun project.

 For dinner for people, I decided my own rule; I must use all the ingredients in the kibble,which means chicken tender,salmon, russet potato,spinach,rosemary,green peas,cranberry,blueberry, but can add more ingredients to that to make a delicious dinner for family.

 Therefore, I did my own challenge and came up a few dishes for people,and I thought I would share the recipe with you as well.

 Please note that following recipes below are for people, NOT for dogs.

Yassy’s Addiction bleu makeover menu for people..
 First dish that came to my mind was meatballs. I made rosemary salmon meat balls, Pecorino Romano Chicken meatballs with Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce.

 Both meatballs and sauce was my made-up menu, but turned out it was good and, my husband especially loved the my made-up Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce.

 He said that he loved the flavor combination of sweet and spicy and, he enjoyed meatball sandwich a day later.

 I have served it with Bacon cheddar mashed potato, and Spinach strawberry salad.

 The meatballs were hit, but my husband’s most favorite dish of the day was Spinach strawberry salad.

 I think it got fresh fruit in the salad,it is a good starter dish before the entree meal.

Bacon cheddar mashed potato, chicken/salmon meatballs with chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce..

Ingredients for Chipotle Jack Daniel’s Berry BBQ sauce;

1/3C fresh blueberry
1/3C fresh cranberry
Extra virgin olive oil
1/8   Sweet onion chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
4 tbs dark brown sugar
1 tbs unprocessed dark Molasses * recommend Grandma’s Molasses brand
1 tbs
horseradish mustard
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2   chipotle chili in adobo
sauce chopped fine * recommends La costena brand
4 tbs red wine vinegar
liquid smoke
1.5 tbs Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

Ingredients for Pecorino Romano Chicken meatballs;

10 oz chicken tender roughly ground
2 oz   Hot Italian sausage out from casing
1/6C Panko bread crumbs
1 tbs milk
1/6C pine nuts toasted and ground finely
1 egg lightly beaten
1/6C grated Pecorino romano cheese
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/16 tsp ground black pepper
Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce* recipe follows
Ingredients for rosemary salmon meatballs;

8 oz wild caught salmon fillet ground
1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/6C Panko bread crumbs
1 tbs milk
1 tbs lightly beaten egg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/16 tsp ground black pepper

Ingredients for Bacon cheddar mashed potato;

2 strips center cut bacon strips
2 Russet potato
2 tbs butter
1/4C heavy cream
1/2C milk
pinch of ground black pepper
pinch of Kosher salt
1 tsp sour cream
1/2C Sharp Irish cheddar cheese

Ingredients for Spinach strawberry salad;

2 strips center cut bacon strips cooked to crisp
1/3C red wine vinegar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp horseradish mustard
4 tbs white sugar
1/4C extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp sesame oil
ground black pepper
1/8   red onion thinly sliced
5 oz   strawberry cut to bite size pieces
2 oz   baby spinach leaves
2 tbs chopped walnut toasted

<Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce>

1. In the skillet, add 1/3C fresh blueberry,1/3C fresh cranberry and 1/4C water and smash them as it gets cooked. Let it cook till almost all the water gets absorbed.

2. Add another 1/4C water and let it come to boil and strain the berry sauce over kitchen sieve

* Place a kitchen sieve over a measuring cup and pour cranberry blueberry sauce over to strain.

The sauce should be about 1/4C sauce

3. In the sauce pan, drizzle Extra virgin olive oil, and add 1/8 Sweet onions chopped, 1 clove garlic finely chopped, and stir

4. When it got fragrant, add 1/2C ketchup, 4 tbs dark brown sugar,1 tbs unprocessed dark Molasses, 1 tbs horseradish mustard, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 chipotle chili in adobo sauce chopped fine,1/4C cranberry-blueberry sauce,4 tbs red wine vinegar,and stir

** Chipotle in adobo sauce comes in a can and can be found at International foods aisle.If you could not find one, you can find them at website as well

Chipotle in adobo sauce is a smoked jarapano in spicy sauce in a can. A little goes a long way so adjust the heat of the sauce by adding a little by little.

5. When you started seeing bubbles in the sauce, turn down the heat to simmer and let it cook about a few minutes more

6. Add a drop or two of liquid smoke,1.5 tbs Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and stir

7. Put the lid on and let it simmer for another minutes and your BBQ sauce is done.

8. Take it off from heat and set it aside

<Pecorino Romano Cheese Chicken meatball with Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce>

1. Cut 10 oz chicken tender into 2″ or so pieces and put them into food processor to grind rough

** Use “Pulse” button to adjust the roughness of the meat chunks

2. Soak 1/6C Panko bread crumbs in 1 tbs milk

3. Put ground chicken into a medium size bowl, add 2 oz Hot Italian sausage out from casing,1/6C Panko bread crumbs soaked in 1 tbs milk,1/6C pine nuts toasted and ground finely, 1 Egg lightly beaten,1/6C grated Pecorino romano cheese, 1/8 tsp kosher salt,1/16 tsp ground black pepper and mix well with hands,but don’t over-mix them

4. Take thumb nail size piece and cook them in the skillet to see if the seasoning is right.

 If seasoning was ok, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge till you need it.

5. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, roll it out into golf ball size and put them onto non stick foil line cookie sheet and bake them at 425F for 15-17 minutes

6. Mix the meatball with about 1/4C Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce,and set it aside

7. Enjoy!

Makes: 8-10 meatballs

<Rosemary salmon meatball with Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce>

1. Put 8 oz wild caught salmon fillet in the food processor and grind them,and take off the salmon skin

2. Soak 1/6C Panko bread crumbs in 1 tbs milk in small container

3. Put ground salmon into a medium size bowl, add 1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1/6C Panko bread crumbs soaked in 1 tbs milk,1 tbs lightly beaten egg, 1/4 tsp kosher salt,1/16 tsp ground black pepper and mix well with hands,but don’t over-mix them

4. Take thumb nail size piece and cook them in the skillet to see if the seasoning is right.

 If seasoning was ok, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge till you need it.

5. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, roll it out into golf ball size and put them onto non stick foil line cookie sheet and bake them at 425F for 15-17 minutes

6. Mix the meatball with about 1/4C Chipotle Jack Daniel’s berry BBQ sauce,and set it aside

7. Enjoy!

Makes: 6-7 meatballs 

<Bacon cheddar mashed potato>

0. Cook the 2 strips of bacon in the skillet to crisp

1. Wash the 2 potatoes, and wrap them
in plastic wrap and put it on microwaveable plate and cook them for 7-9 minutes.

*** 1 potatoes
needs 3 minutes plus one minute.

 If you use 3 potatoes, 3 potatoes x 3
minutes+1 minutes=10 minutes. It depends on size of the potatoes
but,usually I use 3-5 medium size potatoes for 2 adult serving.

 I usually do not use Russet potato for mashed potato because yukon gold potato (our favorite pick for mashed potato) makes much more creamier,buttery texture and it tastes better.

 However, my project was to parallel with what I made for Palette so,I decided to make mashed potato with russet potato this time.

2. With oven mitten,grab the plate and toss the potatoes onto bowl, and carefully remove the plastic wrap.

3. Peel off the potato skin,and mashed them

*** I use chopstick to peel off the potato skin

4. To the hot steamy mashed potatoes in the bowl, add 2 tbs butter, 1/4C heavy cream, 1/2C milk, pinch of black ground pepper,pinch of Kosher salt,1 tsp sour cream,1/2C Sharp Irish cheddar cheese and mix them well

** Heat from the potato will help butter and cheese melt easily

5.  Add 2 strips of crispy bacon chopped and mix well

** Don’t over whip mashed potato. Over whipped mashed potato let more
starch out from potato and,it turns gloppy mashed potatoes.

6. Cook 1/6C green peas in the skillet,season it with Morton’s Natures seasons

7. Place Bacon cheddar mashed potato on the plate and garnish it with green peas

Spinach strawberry salad with sesame balsamic vinaigrette..

<Spinach Strawberry salad>

0. Cook 2 strips of center cut bacon to crisp

1. Make sesame balsamic vinaigrette

** In the bowl, add 1/3C red wine vinegar, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp horseradish mustard,4 tbs white sugar,and whisk them to combine.

 Then, slowly at steady pace add 1/4C Extra virgin olive oil into the bowl while you are still keep whisking the mix

 Then, add 1/8 tsp sesame oil and pinch of ground black pepper and whisk it to combine and keep it in the air tight container in the fridge.Keeps for 2 weeks.

2. Wash 2 oz fresh baby spinach leaves under the water,and drain the water as much as possible so you would not have wet salad

3. Slice 1/8 red onion thinly,and put them in the small container and pour some water in and wash the onion in the water and drain the water out and pour some water in and put the lid on and keep it in the fridge till you need it.

** Chilled,washed,and thinly sliced onion does not have much zing to it and, less makes your nose/eyes watery

4. Toast the 2 tbs chopped walnut in the skillet and set it aside

5. Cut 5 oz strawberry into bite size pieces

6. In the big bowl,add drained baby spinach leaves red onion washed,chilled and  thinly sliced, bite size pieces of strawberry pieces and mix well

7. Place them onto the plate, sprinkle the plate with toasted walnut and chopped crispy bacon bits,and drizzle small amount of sesame balsamic vinaigrette

** When you pour the vinaigrette over the plate, drizzle only small amount so you would not over dress them,which makes the salad soggy

8. Serve on the cold plate

9.  Serve the salad plate with small amount of vinaigrette on the separate small container so people can add more vinaigrette if they wanted to.

** Do not dress the spinach salad mixture all at once. Make a habit of drizzle vinaigrette in stead. This way, you can keep the fresh salad longer without getting soggy,unappetizing salad mixture in the fridge,and you can enjoy the salad made fresh and you can dress the salad each time you eat.

 I keep the vinaigrette in the Maison jar in the fridge.You can take it out before you start cooking so it comes to the room temperature by the time you finish cooking.

 When you keep the olive oil based dressing in the fridge, oil gets solid,so you would want the time for it to come to the room temperature and become liquid form again.

 Before dress the salad, shake it vigorously for your fresh made salad each time.

10. Enjoy!

Makes: 3-4 servings

 I hope this entry has given you some insight of decoding kibble ingredients and gave you the tool to understand what are in the food better.

 Also some fun to makeover the kibble into fresh food menu for you and your furriends.

 Lastly, please do not give people food menu shared above because some of the ingredients such as onions are toxic to dogs.


Mar 10, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Yassy’s Japan Trip Diary November 2012; Day 3 Part 3

 The 3rd day in Japan, as you have already read, everyone
in our family woke up early so we can get going for the family trip to Nagano prefecture,which my father has all
planned out for everyone to enjoy.

 Nagano prefecture is in the main island
“Honshu”,and it is famous for shinshu soba noodle, Matsumoto castle,
Zenkou ji (temple), and also it was the prefecture 1998 winter Olympic
was hold.

 You can find the Japan map at website here. Look for number 18. That is Nagano prefecture,where we took a family trip to.

 Look number 23.That is Aichi prefecture,where I grew up and where my parents live.By car, it was about 4 hours drive one way.

Now we are heading to have lunch..

We will be heading toward Matsumoto castle..

 After the Apple picking, we had lunch at the service area on the highways,and we have headed toward Matsumoto Castle.

Matsumoto Castle..

 The Matsumoto castle is famous castle in Nagano,and it was very beautiful to look at and we came out very tired because of lots of walking and very tall,steep stair steps all the way up to the top level of the castle and,I had sore muscle around my thighs

It was very beautiful sunny day,but it was chilly and windy..

 I am sure that in the era when the castle was actively used by samurai,shogun etc.., the tall steps that leads to the top must have been the good way to protect themselves from their enemies.

 I think no matter how athletic you are, you would not be able to running up to the top in short time.

Swan was swimming in the moat..

 In Japan,there are 12 remaining castles since Sengoku period and 4 of them are Japan’s national treasure.

Did he catch anything??

 The Matsumoto castle is one of the 4 National treasure castles, and it has been 400 years since the castle was built.

 According to the book “Matsumoto Castle in history” published by city of Matsumoto, the castle was built in 16th century,about 600 meters (1968 ft) above the sea level with the background of the 3,000 meter (9,842ft) high Japan Alps.

 I did not know this,but this castle was formaly named as “Fukashi castle” when the castle was built in 16th century,and then,the castle was renamed by Ogasawara Sadayoshi later.

 The lord of the Matsumoto castle was Ishikawa Kazumasa, and he was appointed to rebuild the castle by “shogun” – Toyotomi Hideyoshi,who is famously known as unifier of Japan,and he immediately started preparing for the rebuilding the castle.

 However, the lord “Ishikawa Kazumasa” died before the work even started,and the work was left to his oldest son ” Yasunaga”,and he has completed the main Donjon “Tenshu”,North Donjonet (Inui-no Ko-tenshu),and the corridor (watari yagura).

 What makes interesting about the castle is that, if you look at the picture above and count the level, it would look like the castle is 5 levels but actually, it is 6 levels in the castle.

 Me,my husband, and my sister’s family all climbed up to the top level despite the fact that there were very tall stairs to the top level.

 The tall step is said to be built to 61 degree angle, and you cannot simply walk your way up as you normally would with regular stair steps.

61 degree stair steps..

 If you did bring small kids, the stair step would probably goes up around chest level, and you would probably need to carry your kids up and down.

 What makes unique about this Matsumoto castles are this narrow,tall 61 degree wooden stair steps,and low ceiling.

 For the narrow,tall 61 degree wooden stair steps,there is a rail you can hold onto but,to view the castle inside, you have to take off your shoes,and you have to carry those all time, plus some level of the stairs was used both up and down at the same time so, it was a little frightening to pass each other especially when I had to go down the tall wooden steps.

 The tall steep wooden stair steps made me feel like I would slip on the stairs.

 The number of the narrow,tall 61 degree stair steps is 140 stair steps to the top level.

 Inside the castle, you get to see display of armors,weapons and old letters etc from the Sengoku era.


 In the moat, you get to see koi (carps) and swans swimming happily,and I would imagine that the loard and his family must have enjoyed the nature surrounded them very much from Japan Alps view,swans,Koi, etc..

 The castle area is very beautiful area.

 On the way out, we saw a couple had a Japanese style wedding in the garden area in the castle wearing Kimono. I thought it is cool to have special day like that at the special spot feeling the beautiful nature surrounded them.

 It looks like the castle hold various events as well such as Takigi Noh,Taiko Drum festival,cherry blossoms festivals, moon viewing, Matsumoto Castle festival,and Matsumoto castle ice sculpture festival.
 For entering fee at Matsumoto Castle, it is 600 yen (about $6) for adult,elementary school kids and junior high school students are 300 yen (about $3). Kids under elementary school is free of charge.

 It was windy afternoon,and it was tad chilly there but I enjoyed all the scenery and nature at the castle and, we have headed toward the hotel we were to stay.

 There, my father has planned to make reservation as soon as we arrive at the hotel for the private “Onsen” (hot springs) so my husband can enjoy what it is like to enjoy the Onsen (hot springs).

 Nagano prefecture is famous for Onsen (Hot springs) as well.

 Next time at the series “Yassy’s Japan Trip Diary Nov 2012”, you will learn more about Onsen (Hot springs) and more.

 Stay tuned!

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Mar 05, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Palette’s Food Market Guide; Asian store “HMart”

 In the previous entry titled “Raw feeding 911 Part 16:Feeding fish“,I wrote that Palette is
seafood lover, and she eats all kinds of seafood. I wrote about how I
feed various kinds of fish to her along with meal examples, mercury in
the fish, and canned fish vs raw fish.

 Also, I have written about caution against feeding raw fish to dogs regarding salmon poisoning.

 In case you missed it, here is the thing about fresh never frozen wild salmon and salmon poisoning.

Feeding wild caught fresh salmon,trout,steelhead and other salmonids from Pacific Northwest..

 When you feed fresh wild caught salmon, trout,steelhead and other salmonids
fish, there is one thing you should know about it and be careful about
how you feed them to your dogs.

If you got wild-caught FRESH salmon or trout or steelhead from Pacific Northwest,you need to
them for a few weeks before feeding them to avoid salmon poisoning.

 Cooking the fresh wild caught
salmon/trout/steelhead from Pacific Northwest will kill the parasite
that can cause salmon poisoning, and you do not have to worry about
salmon poisoning from fresh wild caught salmon from Pacific Northwest.

  In the previous entry titled “Raw feeding 911 Part 15: Farm raised fish vs Wild caught fish and Palette’s soft shell crab diary“, you can read more about difference in the farm raised salmon vs wild caught salmon. 


Palette loves salmon. She gets wild caught sockeye salmon and, she really goes crazy about the fish.

 In the previous entry titled “Raw feeding 911 Part 19:Feeding fish Part 2“,I wrote about fish bones, showed you how Palette eats a whole sardines, and tips on what fish to pick,what fish to avoid.

 In the previous entry titled “Palette’s Food Market Guide:Fish“,I wrote what fish I keep as staple fish for Palette’s menu,how often I feed,where would I find such fish,and tips on how to pick the fresh fish,what particular fish is called in Japanese (some fish at the Asian stores are sold under Japanese names for the fish) and suggestions to checkout local co-op,seafood market etc..

 Therefore, you have got good amount of information when it comes to feeding fish or fish related topics.

 In this entry, I would like to introduce you the Asian store that we like to go to and shows you what you can get there.

 Often times, when you start feeding fresh raw food to your dogs, “checking out the local Asian stores nearby” to purchase variety of hard to find/oddball items such as chicken feet,variety of fresh fish etc.. is one of popular suggestions and,I think it is good one.

 Do you know any Asian stores nearby?

 You can google Asian stores,Ethnic stores in your area and certainly it is a good place to start.

 When I did not know much about local Asian stores, I have visited various Asian stores until I settle with one particular Asian store “Hmart”.

 The very first Asian store I was told to try visiting them from fellow rawfeeders in the area for various organs etc was in Richmond,VA. We visited the store,and it was a very small store but got some stuff those who feed raw diet might find it interesting.

 One thing I did not care for at the store was how the payment method is set.

 You had to pay with personal check or cash, and no credit cards accepted. Since we drove down there, we got some stuff with cash, but I did not get much there.

 Plus, store was a bit stinky,not clean, and some products had dusts on over the cap etc..

 Overall, my impression with the store was not so great because of the restricted payment method,narrower variety, and the store itself was not so clean.

 Then, my husband has heard something about another Asian store called “Lotte” in Firfax,VA from his co-worker.

 Then, we visited there and, it was okay store. The store size was bigger than Richmond one we went to, and more variety of things there.

 What we found there as jackpot item was a big log of beef tenderloin and it was less than $10/lb.Therefore, when we visited there, we brought it home and I portion cut them for our dinner.

 With Lotte, it was more for my needs such as imported Japanese soy sauce, beef tenderloin, and big bag of Japanese rice etc.. than Palette’s food.

However,years passed by,and we started noticing odor in the air there and,I felt that meat section shelf was not as cold as it should be, and it was not that cleaned and, we stopped going there.

 After a while, we came to hit the great Asian store called “HMart“.

 It is located in Fairfax,VA, but it is located in other states as well.

 I do not know if they carry exactly the same stuff I am seeing there at other locations but,store locator shows,there are stores in NY, NJ, MA, PA, MD, GA, IL, TX, CA, CO, WA and OR.

 If you live in those states, definitely check out the Hmart store.

 Very first thing you would notice is the cleanness of the store.No odor drifting in the air and meat shelf is as cold as other local grocery store shelf would be, and store itself is large and you can find many things there.

 What I normally gets other than Palette’s stuff are my cooking related stuff;condiment such as soy sauce,rice vinegar,Mirin etc along with Asian specific produce along with Japanese snacks I miss a lot from home country.It is pricier than what you would pay for back home in Japan, since I cannot come there often, I indulge myself with it a bit

 For Palette, I mainly come there for fresh whole wild caught mackerel from Norway,but since they carry wide variety of whole fish, I get another wild caught fish as well.

 There are 2 kinds of mackerel available there. I get the wild caught mackerel from Norway with wavy lines on its skin as opposed to Spanish mackerel with a little dots on.

 The wavy lined mackerel from Norway is very much look like the one we Japanese can gets back home, we call them “Sa-ba”. They are very tasty fish,and I like to eat them in soy based sweet BBQ sauce.

 For some reasons, Palette likes Wild caught Mackerel from Norway with wavy lines on their skin better.She can eat Spanish mackerel, but not so much keen on eating them. The fish meat color seems different too so it is a matter of taste I would imagine.

 The Spanish mackerel has a little tiny dots on the skin so,you can tell by visual in case you needed to remember which mackerel your dogs would eat if they had preference over another just like Palette.

 Usually, each fish is placed over block of ice, and you will find a pair of tong to pick.

 Look at the points such as eyes,gill,firmness of the meat etc.. the places where you can tell freshness of the fish; you have learned from previous entry on Food Market Guide on fish, and pick the ones you like.

 I usually get about 6-7 whole mackerel,which makes about 6lb to 7 lb total weight and it will tie me over for about 6 months since I rotate the fish among other oily fish such as salmon,mackerel,sardines,and herrings.

 When I put all the fish I want, I hand it to the guy behind the fish counter. He can understand English but, there is a sign board above him and it shows number corresponding to how the fish should be prepared for you;cleaned,fillet etc..

 When you want the whole fish, there is no number associated with it so, I simply tell him to put the price label on the bag and I get the whole thing,no cutting needed.

 He then weigh the bag and put the price label on, and give the bag to me and pay the fish on the way out.

 I just visited Hmart recently and, it was $2.99/lb on that day.Since I got 6.65lb of Mackerel, I paid $19.88 for mackerel.

 Each whole Mackerel was about 1 lb to a little less than 1.5 lb this time, and I cut one mackerel into 3rd and,it made about 21 count meals for Palette.

 I showed you how I cut the mackerel before but in case you missed it, below is the picture of mackerel before bagging them up to freeze.

How the whole mackerel is cut before frozen..

 If you are a member of raw feeding co-op that place order through Oma’s pride, you can get a whole Mackerel from Finland as well.

 I used to get ones through co-op.

 The reasons why I stopped getting a whole mackerel through co-op is that, I paid about $1.99 per fish,and it was described as the price was for mackerel weight range from 14 oz to 16 oz,and I thought it was a good deal,but it got pricier than the Mackerel I get from Hmart when considering the amount of fish you will be getting through co-op with the same amount of cost.

 Very first time,I was very impressed with how fresh they looked,and I could get a 1 lb or so mackerel at such a lower price but then second time,third time.. mackerel got smaller ,smaller while I paid still $1.99 per fish.

 Smallest one was about 8 oz, almost the half of size that I should have been getting. Plus, fish did not look all that fresh anymore and, now I go to Hmart for Mackerel and get the fish for 6 months worth and restock every time I needed.

 I am happy with what I get from Hmart.Very fresh,and it looks good quality fish to me. There are packaged mackerel or another fish in the freezer section right in front of fish counter,but be warned that some of them are salted ones. If you were to get the fish for your dogs, get the whole fish at the fish counter.

 I normally get fish and get my cooking stuff and back home, but this time,I strolled around more at the store and,I found some good ones.

 I found that they do have unenhanced Frozen Duck too,and I can come there to get a whole Duck if I needed to.

 It is a product of America, and it was 6 lb weight whole Duck.

 It got 6% of retained water and no saline solution added. The brand name is “Valley Forge” and it is sold as “Young Duckling”.

 I am not 100% certain but the label seemed familiar.I wonder if it is the same brand that I get from raw food supplier..

A whole Duck from Hmart..

 With this whole Duck,Palette’s portion cut Duck was getting low in stock,I go ahead and got one whole Duck at the Hmart.

 It was $2.99/lb and I got 5.87lb whole Duck and cost was $17.55.

 Through raw food supplier,I get 4.5-5 lb Whole Duck at $16 plus shipping fee. If you consider shipping fee, even though locally purchased whole Duck is $1 more but overall, getting the whole Duck from Hmart might be worth it and cheaper.
 If you visit Hmart in fairfax,VA, you can find the Whole Duck in the freezer area right in front of fresh poultry,fresh beef shelf area.

 Right next to the Whole Duck,I have found a whole Pheasant! I did not think I would find the pheasant at the Asian store,but it was the same brand that I get from raw food supplier and,I now can come there to get one!

 I still had uncut whole pheasant at home, I ended up not getting one but the pheasant price was as close to the price that I get from raw food supplier.

 If you are looking for whole pheasant, the brand that I get for Palette is called “Mac Farlane pheasant” and they are unehanced bird.

 The whole pheasant picture below is the one from raw food supplier but I saw the same product at the Market.Look for the same packaging there and you may find one.

A whole Mac Farlane pheasant..

 The Mac Farlane pheasant brand seems like a big brand name pheasant and, if you have hard time finding pheasant near you, you can contact Mac Farlane pheasant farm located in WI to see if they know pheasant farms in your area or you can order the bird through them. They have online store here.

 The pheasant at the Hmart was about $18 and it was close price to what I normally get through raw food supplier. Thus, pheasant is also one of those products that I can come to Hmart to get one for Palette if needed.

 You can also get chicken feet if you are looking for it (cost about $2/lb),you can find beef tongue, you can find many more.

 I did not write down price for everything that I saw but, if the store was near you, do check the store. You would find the store very interesting and good find for your dogs or your family.

 If your dogs love fish, Asian stores like Hmart would ace it in that department and you would find variety of fish,and variety of whole fish as well.

 But with this current trip to the Hmart, I find that Asian store is more than source of whole fish and, I am happy to report that now I know I can get more than fish for Palette

 Since it takes 90 min drive one way to the store, it is not the kind of store we can go to every week but I definitely enjoy the trip to Hmart.

 Do you know any other Asian stores or Ethnic stores in your area? Share your stories about Asian stores/Ethnic stores with everyone by using the comment section below.

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Mar 03, 2013 | Comments are off | Uncategorized