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The Second Day Goes to the Dogs

Dragons and lions will be set loose in the streets. Explosions will sound. Noodles will be slurped.

Yes, the Lunar New Year (celebrating the Brown Earth Rat) celebrations begin this week on Thursday and run for 15 days. Here in New York, that means parades out in New York's new Chinatown (Flushing, Queens) and many a dumpling consumed down in Manhattan's old Chinatown.

I've been doing a bit of research, and it turns out that New Year traditions are pretty involved: clean the house, burn the kitchen god, visit the old folks, light up lots of fireworks, give the kids red envelopes full of money, cook whole fish and dumplings, remember which days are unlucky for visiting the relatives, etc. etc.

In all, it's a pretty exhausting list of tasks, but I'm particularly charmed by a few details, including the tradition on the second day of the New Year, which is reserved for being sweet to dogs. Apparently, the second Lunar New Year day is the birthday of all dogs. Awww!

Attack Pugs

I don't have a pup of my own at the moment, but there's certainly some four-legged friends I love quite a lot. Here's a recipe for homemade Lunar New Year pooch treats just in time for your second-day celebrations.

Make up a batch of all-natural bites for some cutie canine you care for, and wish 'em a happy birthday for me.

Lunar New Year Doggie Crunchers

2 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup mashed squash or squash baby food
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or reserved bacon fat)
4 crisp-cooked bacon slices, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Blend flour and wheat germ in a bowl.
3. Mix milk, egg, squash and vegetable oil in a separate bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix in bacon crumbles.
5. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/2" thick and cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutter (or the open edge of a juice glass).
6. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until crisp and dried.
7. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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