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Even pets deserve homemade treats
Michelle Stone-Agee (center), flanked by SPCA Executive Director Leslie Hervey (left) and Marketing Director Chase Inman, stands in front of a table of treats she made. It’s hard to tell just by looking which of the treats are for people and which are for pets. That probably doesn’t matter to the dog, Angus, who looks pretty receptive to all of it. Angus, an SPCA dog who is about a year old, is available for adoption at the SPCA, Inman said. (Bulletin photos by Trisha Vaughan)
Michelle Stone-Agee enjoys cooking for her family so much, she even bakes treats for her three dogs.
Stone-Agee said she likes to bake treats for her pets just as much as she enjoys cooking for her husband, Patrick Agee, and their two sons, Benjamin Stone Agee, 2, and James Patrick Agee, 9 months.
For holidays, Stone-Agee tailors treats to the season. She also has made sure that there will be a dog buffet during the SPCA’s upcoming Mutt Strut, of which she is chairman. The Mutt Strut, an annual fundraising walk/bike ride for the SPCA, will be April 14 at the Martinsville Speedway.
Stone-Agee, 33, began learning to cook at an early age from her mother, Anne Stone of Moneta, and her grandmother, Velma Stone of Horsepasture.
“She made the best peas and dumplings,” said Stone-Agee of her grandmother, who also makes excellent creamed potatoes.
Stone-Agee, who grew up in Martinsville but recently moved to Moneta, said chocolate chip cookies are what she recalls first learning to make with her mother.
Now her husband, a Martinsville police sergeant, does some of the cooking at home because “he is an awesome cook,” Stone-Agee said. The two tend to divide the cooking so that she makes breakfast and he makes dinner.
“I have no qualms about it,” quipped Stone-Agee, who works for Stone Ambulance, a company her parents founded. She loves her husband’s grilled foods, especially grilled corn in the husk, because it is juicy.
Vegetables are great when grilled, she said, adding that she enjoys putting them in small foil packets with some olive oil and cooking them until tender. The veggies taste good because the heat brings out their flavors, she said. They also are healthy because there is no added salt and just a bit of heart-healthy olive oil.
Living more healthfully is something Stone-Agee is trying to encourage for her family. She substitutes applesauce for oil or butter in desserts and uses spices instead of salt to season food. She also makes a lot of salads.
“The more stuff you put in it (salad), the better it tastes,” she said.
Taking leafy greens and topping them with a variety of ingredients of varying tastes and textures can please everyone, she suggested. One of Stone-Agee’s favorites is spinach with toasted pecans, strawberries and feta cheese.
If she doesn’t feel like making a salad, Stone-Agee said she likes to throw together casseroles because they are one-dish meals that don’t require a lot of — if any — side dishes or bread. Lasagna, for instance, is a meal in itself. If you add a salad and bread, Stone-Agee said, lasagna is a meal that can be stretched for several days of leftovers.
“None of us are picky. We like to eat,” she said of her family. However, her 2-year-old does require some coaxing.
When trying to get him to eat his vegetables, Stone-Agee said, she often has to change his perspective. She tells him that broccoli is really a tree, not a vegetable, and because he likes trees, he will eat the broccoli. When she gives him a salad, he will eat it all — except the lettuce. So she adds a lot of vegetables on top of the lettuce, and her son will eat those.
As chairman of the 2012 Checkers’ Mutt Strut and Bike Ride, Stone-Agee is looking forward to April 14.
Registration costs $15 per person (children ages 12 and younger will be admitted free) and will begin at 9 a.m., followed by the bike ride at 10 a.m. and the walk at 11. Events will include a microchip clinic, dog costume contest, pet tricks contest, a magician, SPCA PawPet Show, petting ranch and a demonstration by local K-9 units.
A doggie buffet even will be set up, with different treats for all canines.
“You can have a date with your dog,” she said.
The rain date for the event is April 15.