Archives for July, 2014

Greek cooking:Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

I love Greek Food from Gyros, souviaki, Spanakopita (Greek Spinach pie) to green beans simmered in the tomato sauce etc… They are very delicious.

Back home in Japan, I had never had Greek food. It is something I have tried here in the states and came to like them.

Very first Greek dish I have tried making was Spanakopita.

Spanakopita is the pie made with spinach and feta cheese filling and, they are wrapped by phyllo dough and , shaped into triangle shape or crescent shape and baked in the oven.

Handling the phyllo dough was a little intimidating, but once you learn how to handle such a delicate phyllo dough, I could handle the delicate phyllo dough better.

Unfortunately, since I am an expecting mom, I cannot make them now, but I really like these.

Once I tried making them myself and done good, I have made it again for my in law family gathering and they loved them too.

Therefore, I thought I will share the recipe with you here. My version has 2 kinds of cheese; fresh feta cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese. Traditionally, only feta cheese is used.

Before going in to the detail of how to make the dish, it is best to learn the important handling tips on delicate phyllo dough.

Phyllo dough handling tips..

** A day before you plan to make this dish, take the phyllo dough box out from the freezer and thaw it in the fridge.

** I also find that if you take the thawed phyllo dough box on the counter when you are making the filling to come to room temperature, it bakes well.

** Also, when you are not ready to wrap the filling, and still making the filling, then, it is wise to keep the box closed so the phyllo dough would not dried out while you are making the filling.

** Personally, I like to make my working section and, I like to unroll the phyllo dough on far left, and I like to place silpat mat to work on the shaping the filled phyllo dough and I like to place big clean dry plate on my far right so I can put wrapped pie on them. I like to cover the shaped pie under the wet cloth as well while working on filling,wrapping,shaping to make the pie so it would not dried out.

** Unlike other type of dough such as pastry dough, these phyllo dough is paper thin dough and, when it gets dried out, it gets broken very easily and, you would want to cover the unused phyllo dough under the wet clean cloth to keep them moist,preventing them from drying out.

** Another thing is that, the dough gets dried out very quickly, you would want to cover the unused dough under the wet cloth every time you take one phyllo dough from the pile.

** Once all the pies are made and if you had leftover phyllo dough, roll it up right away and, I usually like to wrap the roll with plastic wrap to make sure it is air tight in the box.


Spanakopita (Greek Spinach pie)..

Ingredients for Spanakopita;

1/8C chopped green onion
4 oz feta cheese crumbled (I like seasoned one too)
4 oz Chopped steamed fresh spinach
1 whole egg lightly beaten
1 tbs chopped fresh dill
2 oz low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese
pinch of ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Melted butter
8 sheets Phyllo dough (1 sheet per pie)


1. In the medium size bowl, add 1/8C chopped green onion, 4 oz feta cheese crumbled (I like seasoned one too), Chopped steamed fresh spinach 4 oz, 1 whole egg lightly beaten, 1 tbs chopped fresh dill, 2 oz low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese, pinch of ground black pepper and stir

** Make sure to squeeze out the water from the steamed spinach very well

2. Wrap the filling with phyllo dough and shape it into triangle as the picture shows.

** How to shape the pie into triangle shape

1. Unroll the phyllo dough

2. Cover the dough with wet cloth

3. Place silpat to work on the wrapping the filing, and shaping

4. Place the clean large dry plate on your right so you can put the filled pie there. Make sure to cover the wrapped pie under the wet cloth so it would not dry out

5. Take 1 sheet of phyllo dough from the pile and brush the dough gently with Extra virgin olive oil and then, fold them into half to make rectangle shape,and rotate it so the most closest part of the phyllo dough is short side.

spanakopita wrap step 1

6. Brush the dough with extra virgin olive oil and,place the filling on the very bottom of the rectangle sheet and wrap it up as followings.


spanakopita wrap step 2


spanakopita wrap step 3

Fold the left corner over the filling..


spanakopita wrap step 4

fold it up..


spanakopita wrap step 5

Fold it to side..


spanakopita wrap step 6

Fold it up..


spanakopita wrap step7

Fold it to side..

7. Place all the filled pie on the non stick foil lined baking sheet

8. Brush the melted butter on the each pie

9. Bake the pie at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until top gets golden

Makes: 8 pies with the amount of filling. Use 1 phyllo dough sheet per pie.


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Jul 08, 2014 | 0 | Miscellaneous (Cooking)

Calcium oxalate bladder stone in dogs

 Dogs are just like people and, they can develop stones in bladder and kidney.

  The rock-like bladder stone is more common than kidney stone in dogs,and there are two forms. One is called “Calcium oxalate bladder stone” and the other is called “struvite stone”.

When dogs have stones, it is not always the case where the vet has to remove the stones.Hoewever, if you did not know which types of stones your dog got, your vet would not know what type of approach he/she should take to get your dogs feel better, how to prevent it to happen again..

Therefore, often times, surgically removed stones are sent to lab to analyze it.

In this entry, I would like to write about calcium Oxalate bladder stone in dogs.

Palette and snuggies bunnies4

Palette playing with Ms Snuggie bunny..

How these oxalate stones are formed?

According to VCAhospital website, normal dog’s urine is slightly acidic and contains waste products from metabolism  including dissolved mineral salt. These mineral salts will be remain dissolved in the urine.

 The current research shows that urine high in calcium,citrate, or oxalate is acidic and predisposed them to develop calcium oxalate crystals and stones.

Also, diet that causes high urine acidity (urine PH <6.5) may predispose the dog to form the calcium oxalate bladder stone.

Interesting thing they write is that, the dogs on antibiotic too much,too long may reduce the number of intestinal bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes,which  has sole nutrient of oxalate.

In dogs with low number of intestinal bacteria “Oxalobacter formigenes”, the excess oxalate will be secreted in urine and increase the high possibility of calcium oxalate crystals stones can form if the urine is highly concentrated or acidic.

  Another point to note is that the dog with Cushing’s disease produce more cortisol (cortisone) and predispose them to develop the calcium oxalate stone.

According toveterinarypartner website ,cortisone increases calcium excretion in urine,and extra calcium in urine promote the formation of the stone.

What are the symptoms for calcium oxalate stone?

Typically, you may see blood in urine, straining to urinate, frequent urination.

What can you do to prevent them to develop calcium oxalate stone in the future?

With this type of bladder stone, you can feed them customized meal to control the likelihood of developing another calcium oxalate stone.

It is very helpful if you know which food has most/least calcium oxalate in it to provide the diet that makes their urine less acidic.

Often times, grain, vegetables are high in oxalate, and since many kibble is made from grain and vegetables as the base, switching their diet to homemade diet or raw diet might help.

If you were not ready to switch their diet to homemade diet or raw diet, you can switch them to canned food to start. The canned food has more protein than dry kibble and it got more moisture in the food compared to the dry kibble.

To read the full article at vcahospital website,please click here.

To read the full article on calcium oxalate at ceterinarypartner website,please click here.

Foods/supplements known to have high level of calcium oxalate ..

Spinach, beets, eggplants,asparagus,sweet potato,okra,green beans,collard green,kale, beans, berries,nuts such as peanuts are some of the few known for having high level of oxalate,but you can check the chart designed for people who has developed oxalate bladder stone and use that chart to make your dog’s customized meal.

Often times, leafy green vegetables such as spinach,kale,collard green etc are high in oxalate amount.

Here are a few websites you can check the food high in oxalate.

Chart from ohf website here.It will open with pdf form.

List of oxalate amount found in various food in chart. The chart is from Childre’s Medical Center of Dayton here.This document also open as pdf form.

Another helpful read..

** 2nd chance website article on calcium oxalate stone here.

** Dogaware website article on oxalate stone here.

If your dog is prone to form the calcium oxalate stone, it is always a good idea to make sure they are getting plenty of water and, getting customized food if possible made with low oxalate in the ingredients.

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Jul 01, 2014 | 0 | Dog Health