Originally from upstate New York, Jennifer Kirby attended The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute for pastry arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2001. After graduation, she spent the better part of the next decade traveling around the country plying her expert skills in a wide variety of work environments. Roughly five years ago, just after Kirby had spent some time wielding her culinary wizardry aboard private yachts, she received a call from a family in the Philadelphia area looking for a personal chef.
"I was really lucky, it was an absolute gem of a job!" Jennifer expressed. "I came here as a personal chef for a family and they didn't need me every day, but they paid me full-time and they offered me health insurance. It was everything you could ever want in a job. Plus, I really love this area. Chestnut Hill is calm and peaceful and beautiful, you can walk to any place you want to go."
Since her position afforded her a bit of free time, Jennifer used it to start a business called Kitchens Lane. As noted on her website, Kitchens Lane "offers chef prepared meals delivered to your home, private in-home cooking lessons, wedding and specialty cakes, pastries, catered in-home dinner parties, homemade dog treats, children's parties, cake decorating parties, pantry organization, and gourmet specialty gift baskets that can be sent nationwide!"
As the seven children of the family she was working for gradually grew up and left for college, Kirby's personal chef services were no longer required. This allowed Jennifer the extra time she needed to officially launch a new branch of her business called Piggyback Treats.
"For Piggyback Treats, I am starting out doing all-natural, dehydrated, one ingredient - beef liver, salmon, or sweet potato - treats," Kirby informed. "Then I'll branch out and offer a larger variety as the company grows."
Jennifer's Chestnut Hill house is zoned for both residential and commercial use, so her long-term goal is to eventually open up the front room as a dog bone bakery, however, until she has the opportunity for remodeling, all of Piggyback Treats' business will be conducted through her website or via local deliveries.
Possibly, Jennifer's most effective advertising comes through her biggest fan, her own highly-trained, endlessly adorable Chocolate Lab, Candy. Not only does Candy have her own Instagram, she's a real-life dog with a blog, as well.
In regards to her homemade treats, Jennifer stated, "Everything is made from scratch with human-grade ingredients. A lot of people joke that they would eat them themselves, and my boyfriend actually likes to snack on them because they are made with whole wheat flour or brown rice flour, and there are no preservatives or sugar used. All of my Piggyback Treats are made with very healthy, clean ingredients."
Besides crafting gourmet dog bone treats for individual dog owners and local pet stores, Kirby also does kids' parties. "I hold classes where I instruct kids on how to bake homemade treats for their dogs." Additionally, if you are ever in need of one of the most experienced, well-traveled personal chefs in the country, Jennifer is the ideal candidate to call.
Candy's Apple Cookies
- 3 ea Apples of your choice
- 8 oz Whole Wheat Flour
- 5 oz Rolled Oats
- 2 tbs Cinnamon
- 2 oz Sunflower Oil
- Wash apples, grate using a box grater or a food processor.
- In mixer bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until blended.
- Pat dough into a one inch thick block, wrap and chill for an hour or overnight.
- Lightly flour work surface with whole wheat flour and roll dough out to 1/4" to 1/3" thick.
- Cut desired shapes and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 300F for 30-40 minutes or until dry and crisp.
- Cool and store in a sealable container. -- These will last for a couple of months, but I doubt they'll be around for that long!
Beef Liver & Anise Seed Treats
- 12 oz Raw Beef Liver
- 1 tbs canola oil
- 4.5 oz buttermilk
- 13 oz brown rice flour
- 1 tbs Anise Seed
- Rinse and pat the liver dry. Using a food processor, blend liver and anise seed until smooth.
- Add buttermilk slowly, while the machine is running.
- In mixer bowl, add liver mixture and all other ingredients and blend until a smooth paste.
- Put dough into a piping bag and pipe "chocolate kiss" shapes onto a parchment lined sheet pan, or fill your favorite treat mold (silicone or metal, but make sure to spray with oil).
- Bake at 375F until dry and crisp to the center. Time varies depending on your molds or piping abilities! You may need to lower the oven temperature and let dry with the door propped open slightly, to avoid burning the outsides.
- Cook and store in a sealable container. These will last for a couple of months, as long as they were dried completely. Your dogs will go nuts!
*Warning: Your house will smell pretty bad when making these.
Allen Foster, a lifelong Greater Philadelphia resident, has been writing about all those wonderful things that make us feel so alive for over 20 years. He approaches each day as an adventure, eager to discover what new and vibrant surprises await just around life's corner. You can see his work on Examiner.com.
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