Sweets For Your Honey
by Jessica Louque
Being February, it’s about that time to see pink and red hearts everywhere you shop. Jewelry and chocolate commercials abound, and I have to admit that sometimes I fall prey to the “buy me jewelry and chocolate” theme of gift-getting that seems to swallow all holidays nowadays. Although I do like presents and Bobby and I are affectionate enough to make most people gag, Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. The whole thing seemed sort of cheesy to me (unless you really want to buy me presents, then, you know, who am I to stop you?). It just seems that we spend so much money buying presents just to not be judged by other people. Last year, we didn’t get each other presents for Valentine’s Day and you’d think we’d murdered someone. We just wanted to spend some time together and hang out with the kids. Whatever works, right? This year, I think we’re going to try something a little different and make presents. Normally, unless you have a friend that has a super awesome hobby like Master of the Knitting Universe or Glass Blower Extraordinaire, homemade presents suck. In this case, we are going to make sweet treats where you can’t go wrong with homemade. The question now is who gets treats? Since Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, then we’re going to show our love to the whole family. Our family might include a few things that yours does not, or maybe yours has some that mine doesn’t. I’m going to list out some tried-and-true recipes for homemade treats for not only the spouse or kids, but for your animals as well. We love them too, right?
Treats for the dogs
Sometimes Atlantis (our family wonder dog,) won’t eat food with cinnamon, so it gets left out most of the time. It smells good cooking though, so you should try it with the cinnamon first! For the record, most of these things can be substituted. For example, if you really don’t want to part with your honey, you can substitute molasses. These will make crunchy chew bones (if you cut them out in a bone shape, of course).
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat your oven to 375° and lightly grease a couple of baking sheets.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the liquid ingredients. Once they are mixed together, add in the flour and baking powder. Mix until a dough forms.
3. On a lightly floured surface, dump out the contents of the bowl and then knead it until all of the ingredients are homogenous and it can be spread using a rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about a 1/4″ thickness and then either cut using cookie cutters or a pizza cutter.
4. Place the uncooked biscuits/cookies on your baking sheets and bake for 13-15 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Treats for the birds (especially our fine feathered friends of the chicken variety)
Suet is really easy to make, and it can be adapted for any birds. Here, they are for the chickens, but you can make them for wild birds, or for ducks and geese. There are a whole litany of ingredients that can be used for suet, depending on what you want to do. You can either buy grocery store lard, or suet chunks from a bird store and grind them in a food processor, or you can just use meat fat from when you cook. If you buy suet, you should melt it first before using it, so it will be easier to use it in the recipe. Everybody has a preference, but I prefer the easiest way.
Seeds (like sunflowers)
Birdseed (no whole kernel corn)
Basically, you can put what ingredients you want in the bottom of a casserole dish, and then add your liquefied meat fat, suet, or lard by pouring it over your ingredients. Stick it in the freezer, and then add another layer of your ingredients and cover with your favorite fat source. You can either use a small casserole dish that fits your suet cage, or you can use a big dish and cut it up. Don’t worry if you get a little bit of meat in your fat. Most of it will be fine with the chickens since they are omnivores, but be careful to not use too much bacon fat since it is processed differently. It’s also better to mix your wet ingredients together, so if you can pour your honey in your liquid fat while it’s hot, the suet will have a better consistency.
Make sure when you feed suet that it’s not too hot outside or you don’t give too much to your birds so it doesn’t spoil. It’s a great source of energy for birds in the Winter to keep warm, but you want them to eat it quickly! Try a few different ingredient mixes to see what they like best.
Treats for goats
I’m working on my goat recipes in hopes that my plan to have goats this year actually comes to fruition. There are goat owners who swear by this recipe, but I don’t have any goats to try it out on yet.
11 cups of grain
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped apples
1 cup of raisins
1 cup of bananas
48 ounces of molasses or honey
5 cups whole wheat flour
The amount of grain can be reduced and raisins, apple, carrots, peanut butter, or other favorites may be substituted. Mix together adding a small amount of water – just enough to stick everything together. Spray cookie sheets with cooking oil. Make small balls of the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until they appear done (dried, not brown or burnt).
For grain, some people use their goat grain, cracked barley, or cracked wheat. These will turn out to be little goat cookies that smell better than most desserts when they bake. The goats will thank you, and the house will smell awesome. The kids might be jealous though. Terrible pun – you can feed this to goat kids, although I suppose you could feed it to human kids too.
Treats for your horse
I don’t have horses either, but I don’t want them to be left out. Most people who have horses consider them a family pet rather than a farm animal, so they need to have some Valentine’s Day love too!
1 cup sweet feed for horses
2 cups bran
1 cup flax seed
4 large carrots
1 cup molasses or honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine all the dry ingredients together and then add the applesauce. Slowly combine molasses/honey mixture with dry ingredients, adding only enough molasses mixture to form thick dough. Drop tablespoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet, spacing cookies one inch apart and flattening slightly to make portions about the size of a silver dollar. Bake for one hour; turn and bake approximately 45 minutes until crisp.
Treats for Pigs
Pigs are easy to treat because they are, well, pigs. They will eat on par with the average 14-year-old boy (like Henry). This one isn’t particularly difficult. Roll up some cheerios in peanut butter until you have little balls, and put an unsalted pretzel stick in the end to make a potbelly pop. Or, you can just give them a couple cheese cubes. The piggies will love it (and so might Henry), but don’t overfeed because it’s not particularly healthy.
Treats for cats
While I love our cats, I hardly think they’re worth treating. I guess I should be thanking them for allowing us to live in their house. If you too think you need to repay the homage for their hospitality, here’s a recipe for even the most finicky of cats.
16 ounces canned tuna in oil
2 ounces cooked herring (drained), skin removed
3 baby carrots, cooked
2 Tbsp bread crumbs or oatmeal
3 Tbsp grated cheese
2 tsp brewer’s yeast
several pinches of catnip
1 beaten egg
2 Tbsp tomato paste (not ketchup)
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with vegetable oil. Mash the carrots and mix all the ingredients together. Roll the dough into small balls and place on your cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm feeling. Cool completely.
Treats for humans
Although this is a fairly ubiquitous dessert, it’s easy to make with the kids involved, and you get to make something for them and spend time with them doing it.
1 family sized box of rice krispies
3 jars of jet-puffed marshmallow cream
2 bags of mini M&M’s
1 stick of butter
Melt the marshmallow cream and butter on low heat until it’s liquid. Pour in your color of choice (perhaps pink or red for the conventional types to be festive) before you mix with the rice krispies. Pour half of your rice krispies in a heat-proof bowl, and then pour in the melted fluff cream butter concoction, and cover with the other half of the rice krispies. Mix until even, and spread out on a flat pan. Covering the top with wax paper and lightly using a rolling pin works well. Before it cools, cover the top of the mix with the mini M&Ms. Let cool for about an hour, or more if you have time. You can either do traditional squares, or you can use a heart shaped cookie cutter to continue the festive traditions.
In the end, Valentine’s Day is about showing love and appreciation to your family. Nothing says appreciation to farm animals or kids (and sometimes the hubby) like a full belly of tasty treats that are for special occasions!