In a world of kibble and Milkbones, the average dog’s palate is probably left unsatisfied. At night, dogs look at their owners with their sad, confused eyes asking why they must be punished with the same food day in and day out when their owners won’t even eat the same leftovers two days in a row. Where, they must ask, are the complexities of flavor in our food? The hint of spice? The faint taste of the finer things in life? For those Homo sapiens wanting to spice up their dogs’ lives, St. Paul baker Klecko’s K-9 Nation Biscuit Book: Baking for Your Best Friend offers recipes for treats that is are as fun for us to make as they are for our best friends to eat.
|k-9 nation biscuit book: baking for your best friend by klecko. published by the minnesota historical society press (2009). $16.95.|
K-9 Nation Biscuit Book is a compilation of biscuit recipes that Klecko has created or borrowed in his years as a dog owner. Each recipe comes with its own story about a dog and his/her owner who inspired or helped create the biscuit. At times the stories are funny, and at times they are touching. Each of them feels real and true to anyone who has ever owned a dog. Klecko’s style—whether telling the story of Sherlock, a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier, or giving tips on how to judge the consistency and texture of a biscuit—is friendly and personable without ever being condescending or boring. Even the introductory pages that provide useful information, the ones I usually skip in favor of going straight to the cooking (and making mistakes), are a pleasure to read.
As for the biscuits themselves, the majority use ingredients found within the average kitchen or easily picked up at the grocery store. There are a few recipes, however, that are a little intimidating because the ingredients require more work to find. In the chapter ”Sources and Resources for Biscuit Bakers,” Klecko provides lists of stores where trickier ingredients can be purchased, with a description of each ingredient’s flavor or purpose and potentially positive side effects (activated charcoal will help curb doggie breath). Klecko also offers alternative ingredients where possible (I used his suggestion of parsley when I made Auggie’s Doggie Biscuits because I didn’t happen to have any chervil lying around) and scatters tip boxes throughout the book to make the baking process smoother.
Klecko’s cookbook does not require the baker to be a culinary wizard—mostly because the recipes are easy to follow, but also because the consumers are less picky than the average dinner guest. The biscuits I baked were easy to make, and my dogs loved them. Include this recipe book on the shelf next to Betty Crocker, and your dogs will sit up a little smarter, listen a little more quickly, and come a little more urgently when they’re called. Well, maybe not all the time, but definitely when they know one of these treats is in hand.
Although K-9 Nation Biscuit Book: Baking for Your Best Friend offers poignant stories about dogs, Klecko’s unique group of friends also remind us about the common bond that can be found among humans. From nuns to tattoo artists and veterinarians to art historians, Klecko finds the thread that connects all dog-lovers and, with a little flour, he pulls us all together.