A dog lover and certified chef, Diana Klein of Cincinnati debuts her column, Canine Cuisine, in this issue of Queen City Pets.
Her column provides readers with delicious, healthful recipes for Fido and family using many of the same ingredients, which minimizes time at the grocery store.
Chef Diana has rigorous training in the culinary arts.
She graduated with honors from the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State after retiring from Procter & Gamble in 2012 where she worked for 22 years in Global Data Management.
In addition to private catering, Chef Diana, 64, teaches Healthy Vegan Cooking for cancer survivors at the Cancer Support Community Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky. She also volunteers at the Hopple Street Neighborhood Health Center, a joint effort between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the North Fairmont community, where she prepares as many as 200 snacks at a time for parents and their children.
Her dog Phoenix, a shepherd-boxer mix adopted at three months and now 9, figures prominently in her life.
Chef Diana said that she cannot help but compare her beloved dog with the mythical bird Phoenix.
“The beautiful, legendary bird … lived in Arabia and, according to myth, consumed itself by fire every 500 years,” according to thehellenictimes.com. “A new, young phoenix — just as breathtaking — sprang from its ashes.”
Phoenix, fire, ashes, rebirth. The mythology resonates when considering that Phoenix helped save her life and that of her husband Ron in a 2007 house fire.
The couple, unaware of the smoldering wiring in their 70-year-old home, went to bed for the night when Phoenix was 2 years old.
“Phoenix kept running from Ron to me, and she was relentless,” Chef Diana recalled. “Twice Ron got up and could not find anything wrong. Finally, I switched on the light in the bedroom and heard a whoosh sound. That is when we saw smoke coming through the floorboards…If it weren’t for her, we could have died.”
They escaped and, in the end, only the shell of the house remained, Chef Diana said. From the ashes of their home—just as in the story of the mythical phoenix—the couple rebuilt, forever grateful to the dog that rescued them.
Phoenix also stood by Chef Diana in 2008 when Ron died of a heart attack when the couple was vacationing in Germany.
“When I came home, Phoenix stayed by my side,” Chef Diana said, “and when I sat and cried, she laid her head in my lap. . . I don’t know how I could have made it without Phoenix.”
Today, Chef Diana often takes Phoenix, a trained therapy dog, to visit boys at St. Joseph Orphanage, Altercrest Campus. She also serves as a court-appointed special advocate for a 14-year-old boy through Hamilton County’s CASA program and volunteers at the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, a national non-profit working to relieve isolation and loneliness among older people.
She has four children. Her daughter, Laura, 42, works as a physical therapist in rural Oregon where she resides with her doctor-husband Marty. Her son Erik, 36, is an engineer at General Electric in Cincinnati, and his wife Julie works part-time at a school and is the mother of Chef Diana’s two “wonderful, perfect” grandchildren, Tyler, 12, and Nicholas, 7. Her son Mathew, 32, teaches English classes and world history to Korean middle school students in South Korea. A son, Ronnie, died at age 3.
The chef advises readers to check with their vets about their dogs’ nutritional needs before changing their diets. In her first column, Chef Diana features the vitamin-packed sweet potato.
“Super Simple Sweet Potato Dog Treats”
Dogs just love these healthy treats–a nice break from the traditional store-bought versions
1 sweet potato
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
*Optional: 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Poke sweet potato and cook in microwave until tender (about 6 minutes) let cool to touch.
Cut potato in half and scoop out flesh into mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients, and mix until blended. Add peanut butter, if desired.
Turn out dough onto floured surface and roll to ½” thickness. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter or pizza cutter and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pans, then move to wire rack.
Store treats in Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or they can be frozen for three months.
The dough also can be made into a roll, covered with plastic wrap, and frozen. Thaw and slice as you would cookies.
“Sweet Potato Bisque”
5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
4 large carrots, washed and chopped (the skin of carrots has a lot of nutrition, so leave skin on for extra vitamins)
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. freshly ground ginger
1 tsp. ground sage
2 cups frozen corn
In a large pot place the carrots and sweet potatoes. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, until fork tender.
If you have an inversion blender, you can blend ingredients right in the pot.
If not, blend the soup in batches in a blender, then return each batch to the large pot.
Add the fresh ginger, sage, and frozen corn. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For an added burst of flavor, try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup and a few dashes of cinnamon.