Ask the Past: dog birthday

I am going to be having a birthday party for my dog this weekend, and I want to provide something showstoppingly impressive that everyone can enjoy. Can you suggest anything?

It's going to be hard to suggest much in the way of a cake for you here - you are probably just going to have to make one for the people and hand out a few dog biscuits to the dogs, but if you're looking to serve something savoury, then there are a lot of choices available to you. Obviously, I can't guarantee that all of the humans at your party will like or even try any of these recipes, but I feel certain that the dogs will love them.

It might be a bit extravagant, but for a really festive dish, you could try this recipe for Jellied Rabbit from Mrs Tuxford's Cookery for the Middle Classes (1931):

1 rabbit, pepper and salt, 3 hard-boiled eggs, 1 bay leaf, blade of mace, 1 pint water, 1/2 oz. Cox's Instant Powdered Gelatine.

Method: Wash and joint rabbit, put in pan with pay leaf and blade of mace, add warm water, and simmer one and a half hours. Take the flesh from the bones and mince finely, strain hot stock, and pour over gelatine. Stir well. Mix all together and season. Garnish the mould with slices of hard-boiled egg, put in the rabbit mixture, and allow to set. Turn out and serve.

Brawn, of course, is another popular choice. The humans at the party may like a brawn sandwich, and the dogs will be happy with whatever they are given. Here's a recipe for Granny Morgan's Brawn from Farmhouse Fare (1946):

Clean a pig's head and soak in brine for a few days. Before using, wash in clean cold water. Boil until the meat drops from the bone. In a separate saucepan cook the liver, heart, and tongue, until very tender. Strain the stock in which the head was cooked, then turn this stock into that in which the remainder of the meat was cooked; add to it 6 black peppercorns, and an equal number of whole cloves, and boil until it is reduced to 1 pint. Strain again, add 1 cupful of good vinegar, and re-heat.

In the meantime, chop the meat or put it through the mincer, add seasoning of chopped onions or sage if desired. Add salt and pepper if needed. Pack into stone crocks, pour the stock over it, cover with a plate, weight well, cover with a cloth, and set aside for a week before using.

From Mrs. Jones, Shropshire

And for the dog that loves a pig's foot (and what dog doesn't?), there's this recipe for Harvest-Time Mould, also from Farmhouse Fare:

1 cow's heel, or 2 pig's feet; 1 lb. of shoulder steak; ham scraps; cut vegetables; pepper; salt.

Stew the cow's heel or pig's feet very slowly with the shoulder steak and the ham scraps. Season with pepper and salt, and add the vegetables. When thoroughly cooked, cut up the meat into small pieces, and pour with the liquor into a mould that has been well rinsed in cold water. Then leave to set and turn out the next day. This is excellent served with a nice green salad and a few cut hard-boiled eggs, making quite a good meal if all have been out in the fields during the day.

This dish is economical and easily prepared - which is what we require in these days when, as farmers' wives, it is necessary to consider our expenses and our time.

From Mrs. H M Dimmond, Worcestershire

I'm sure that will help.

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