Category: Food & Recipes, Dog

A hen is a mink is a dog is a boy.* Also: site updates and intersectionality links!

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

“Mother hen”: Resting in the grass, a mother hen carries/camouflages four+ chicks under her wings. CC image via topinambour on Flickr.
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Along with The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book, the Book Publishing Company sent me a copy of Karen Davis’s Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, which I’ve had my eye on for some time now. (The book is now in its second edition; you can download the first ed. for free as a .pdf file here, via United Poultry Concerns.) With five out of six chapters down, I’m not yet ready to offer a review, but I will say that it’s excellent – a must read, and a difficult one, at that. Not difficult intellectually, but emotionally: battery and broiler farms are the Seventh Circle of Dante’s Inferno come to life. You will need to read this book from the bottom of a dog pile – soft fur and warm bellies were the only things to keep me from breaking down in tears some nights. The scale and depth of suffering is simply unfathomable.

Anyhow, whether intentionally or not, Davis writes quite a bit about issues of intersectionality in Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs. The gendered nature of egg production is an obvious topic, but the shared suffering does not stop there. For example, Davis explains what becomes of “spent” laying hens – that is, hens whose bodies are (prematurely, tragically, needlessly) depleted of calcium and other nutrients, such that they’re no longer capable of laying eggs. Their fate is a gruesome one, however, it’s only one link in a long chain of abominations:

At slaughter, spent laying hens are a mass of broken bones, abscesses oozing yellow fluids, bright red bruises, internal hemorrhaging, and malignant tumors. They’ve lost 40 percent or more of their feathers, and because they are economically “worthless,” they sit in transport cages in all weathers at the slaughterhouse “until all other birds are dealt with – up to 12 hours.” The slaughtered birds are shredded into products that hide the true state of their flesh and their lives: chicken soups, pies, and nuggets, commercial mink and pet food, livestock and poultry feed, and school lunches and other institutionalized food service and government purchase programs designed by the egg industry and the Department of Agriculture to dump dead laying hens onto consumers in diced up form. **

In order to mask the abuses inflicted upon the bodies and psyches of egg-laying hens, the industry dismembers – nay, grinds – them into unrecognizable bits. These bits are then fed to the most vulnerable among us: enslaved and exploited nonhuman animals, including the dead hens’ kin; “pets,” including dogs and cats; children who attend public schools, particularly those who rely on the school lunch system; “institutionalized food service and government purchase programs,” such as those that “feed” incarcerated men and women; and working-class and impoverished Americans, whose only access to food may come in the form of fast food joints. One injustice fuels the next, with no end in sight. (Sigh. Where’s that dog pile?!)

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Review: Michelle Rivera’s The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book (2009)

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book by Michelle Rivera (2009)

Review: The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book: Cruelty-Free Recipes for Canines by Michelle A. Rivera (2009); published by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee.

I had originally planned on recommending The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book as a cute lil’ stocking stuffer for the holiday season. Alas, December was a hectic month, and I never did get around to reviewing the book in time for Christmas – or even compiling a gift-giving guide, I might add! Instead, I shall suggest that you gift a copy of The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book to the dog guardian in your life this Valentine’s Day – because the dreaded V-Day is so much more delightful when celebrated with/for canines, don’t you think?

(Remember:

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Dog is Love!)

Dog is Love; Vegan Dogs, Doubly So!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book is a quick, easy read. Part cookbook, part nutritional primer, part lifestyle guide, the book is divided into several sections:

1. The Vegan Lifestyle briefly examines the reasons for and benefits of veganism for dogs (here called a “vegan lifestyle,” since dogs are not “vegans” in the ethical/moral/philosophical sense of the word). Throughout this chapter, Rivera offers anecdotes from several guardians of vegan dogs, detailing how and why they decided to transition their dog-kids to vegan diets. She also includes some basic information about canine nutritional needs.

Though Rivera did consult with veterinarians while writing The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book, the book is not intended as a comprehensive nutritional or health guide. Rather, it helps to provide encouragement and support to those parents who have already decided to transition their dog-kids to veganism. In this way, the dog parents profiled within these pages function as a sort of support group for those already on the path to canine veganism, instead of an impetus to begin the journey.

That said, if you’re still struggling to decide whether veganism is the right choice for you and your dog-kids, The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book isn’t for you. Instead, I recommend searching your local library for books on canine nutrition – and not, necessarily, books specific to veganism and dogs. (To the best of my knowledge, no such books exist. Publishers, are you listening? *wink*) I think you’ll find that most veterinarians, while generally opposed to vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs, will begrudgingly admit that such diets can be healthy, as long as they’re formulated with care and knowledge. For me, hearing these words from speciesist omni (nonhuman) animal medical and nutritional professionals is what ultimately compelled me to make the leap to homemade vegetarian and, eventually, vegan foods.

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For Dogs & their Peoples: Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy & Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Since I received a copy of The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book for review, I’ve slowly been working my way through the recipes. I say “slowly” because I only cook meals for the dogs once every 5-7 days. There may be five of ’em, but when you combine their weights, they only equal 2 or 3 medium- or large-sized dogs (or “real dogs,” as I jokingly call them).

Anyhow, I spent a good 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen last night; writing on Twitter, I noted that my mother did this damn near every night for nearly 20 years – how she lasted so long is beyond me. 16 hours later, and I’m still beat.

Why so intensive, you ask? The recipe – a canine Shepherd’s Pie dish – called for both low-salt, onion-free gravy and low-salt, onion-free vegetable broth, neither of which are staples easily found in the grocery store. I had to make each from scratch, so essentially I cooked three dishes last night. Add to this the fact that low-sodium, onion-free recipes are scarce, and – well, you can see where I’m going with this!

Since precious few vegans seem to be making their dog-kids gravy and veggie broth and/or sharing this culinary wisdom with the rest of the internets, I figured I’d record and share these recipes with y’all. The gravy is pretty straightforward; basically I adapted this recipe from eHow to make it low(er)-sodium and onion-free. It’s gravy, plain and simple, and is great for people and dogs alike.

The vegetable broth, on the other hand, was a little more complicated. Most of the DIY veggie broth recipes I found involve slow-cooking copious amounts of veggies, after which you strain the veggies from the broth, resulting in actual broth. What you’re supposed to do with the sad, soggy veggies, I know not. What I do know, however, is that I had neither the time nor the veggies to go this route. Instead, I relied upon spices and seasonings for the bulk of the flavor, and added in a few (non-disposable) veggies for extra flavor. In other words, my vegetable broth isn’t a broth, really, but more of a soup. Naturally, if you’re making a recipe that doesn’t involve chunks of veggies, this soup-broth won’t really work for you. But if you’re just going to mix a veggie broth with additional veggies (such as with the Barking Barley and Wheat Surprise I shared a few weeks back), look no further than my Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Vegetable Broth / Soup Stock!

Low-Sodium, Onion-Free Gravy

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Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic OR 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (optional; see Scott’s comment below)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2-4 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos OR 2-4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

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I bark, you bark, we all bark for Barking Barley and Wheat Surprise!

Monday, November 30th, 2009

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As you can see, I’m in a silly mood this morning. A weekend of FSMas decorating will do that to you!

Anyhow, here’s another recipe from The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book. This one’s a main dish, quick and easy to make – perfect for a chilly December evening when you’ve a dozen gifts to wrap (or is that adoption packets to print up?) and a Peace Corps worth of Vegan Gingerbread People baking in the oven. You can even prepare the barley and lentils in one pot to save on dishes!

Barking Barley and Wheat Surprise

Reprinted from The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book (page 53) with permission.

For everyday feeding or just a quick meal on a busy day, this is a staple you can always count on. The finished product looks a lot like standard dog food. If you like, add any dog-friendly vegetables you have on hand. It’s a great way to clear out the fridge!

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Ingredients

1 cup cooked barley
1 cup firm cooked lentils
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup salt-free vegetable broth

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The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book Presents: Snickerpoodles!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book by Michelle Rivera (2009)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Book Publishing Company was kind enough to send me a copy of Michelle Rivera’s The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book: Cruelty-Free Recipes for Canines for review. Over the weekend, I tried out two recipes, including this sweet treat called Snickerpoodles. (A canine play on Snickerdoodles, which I’ve [ducking] never tried!)

I hope your dog-kids enjoy these as much as mine do!

Snickerpoodles

(Reprinted with permission.)

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Ingredients

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup molasses
1 overripe banana, mashed
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

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VeganMoFo, Day 29: Frugal vegans have spoiled vegan dog-kids.

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

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Though I hope to eventually pen a piece about canine nutrition vis-à-vis veganism and vegetarianism, this isn’t it! Since I don’t have much time for background research, and don’t want to half-ass it, I’ll have to save that topic for another time. Instead of convincing you to feed your dog-kids a vegan or vegetarian diet – assuming you have dog-kids, that is – this VeganMoFo post is all about feeding your dog-kids a vegan diet (or foodstuffs), frugally.

Granted, commercial vegan and vegetarian dog foods are more expensive than their non-veg counterparts, and feeding your dog-kids a diet consisting solely of homemade food requires enough expertise that I don’t recommend it. Or rather, I can’t advise you on how to do it. You see, even though I occasionally feature recipes for homemade dog food, I primarily feed my kids commercial kibble: ’twas Nature’s Recipe Vegetarian formula for awhile, but we recently switched to V-Dog. Though it’s a little more expensive, it’s also confirmed vegan (DelMonte never would respond to my inquiries). The homemade goodies are more of a “topping,” if you will, to add a little variety to their meals. So all in all, we do spend a pretty penny on dog food in the Garbato-Brady household, homemade goodies notwithstanding.

Luckily, there are other ways to cut costs:

– Make your own dog treats. As with vegan dog food, vegan dog treats can be a little pricey, so you can save some cash by baking treats yourself. In contrast to food, which must meet your dog-kid’s nutritional requirements, treats are extras, so diy is just fine! Just go easy on the fat, salt, sugar and calories, mkay? Also, always check and double-check the ingredients to confirm that they aren’t harmful to canines.

Dogs also tend to be less discriminating eaters than people (well, me), so experiment with abandon, and don’t be afraid to substitute in less expensive ingredients when necessary. Chances are, your kids will enjoy whatever you create. Plus, is there anything cooler than giving your dog-kid a treat you baked especially for her, with nothing but love? (And an oven!)

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For treat ideas, check out It’s A Vegan Dog’s Life, Yummy for Dogs and the Innocent Primate Vegan Blog, for starters.

The obvious downside to baking your own biscuits is that they don’t keep as well as the store-bought stuff, so it’s a little harder to keep some on hand at all times (you never know when you’ll need to entice your dog-kid away from a found animal corpse, am I right?). However, this brings us to the next tip:

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VeganMoFo, Day 25: Have a Pumpkin (Not a Cow!) Loaf (for dogs & their peoples)

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

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Ozzy is not amused by all this talk of pumpkin-flavored dog food.

The dogs finished off their last batch of homemade food yesterday, so I had to throw something together in a hurry. I decided to try a seasonal Halloween version of the “Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf,” which basically consists of a base of mashed tofu and/or beans, dressed up with various goodies (Italian Tofu Styley, anyone?).

This time around, I mixed mashed tofu with pureed pumpkin, black beans, ginger, cinnamon, dried apples and cranberries, and a bit o’ carob chips to give the loaf an orange/candied feel. My initial instinct was to use a sweet potato puree in place of the pumpkin, but little Miss Rennie doesn’t seem to care for sweet potatoes, so I decided against it. (I made a sweet potato soup/gravy for them a few weeks back, and she so disliked it that I had to make an extra dish of mixed veggies and beans just for her. Hmph!) But you can sub in sweet potatoes if you’d rather.

Also, I was running a little low on pumpkin puree; I thought about mixing in some rolled or quick oats, but didn’t want to dilute the pumpkin flavor too much, so decided against it. Add extra pumpkin and oats if you’ve got ’em – don’t be shy!

This dish is meant for the dogs, but you can probably play around with the seasonings and spice it up to your own liking. The finished loaf holds up well, retaining its shape and integrity, even though the center is rather moist and crumbly. The dogs sure like it, and as an added bonus, it gives off a very autumnal odor that will linger for hours – until well after you’ve cleaned the dishes and stashed the leftovers in the fridge.

Have a Pumpkin (Not a Cow!) Loaf

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VeganMoFo, Day 10: Shiny happy birthday treats!

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

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That’s right, we have another canine birthday in the house! Ralphie, our first-born dog-kid, turned 12 years old today. That’s 69 in dachshund years, he’ll have you know.

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He doesn’t look a day over 55, I tell you what.

Normally, I would have spent the day outside with the old boy, letting him walk me ’round the neighborhood, or watching on as he digs for buried treasure (read: carcasses) and whatnot, but he’s on house arrest for the time being. The vet hacked him up good on Thursday, removing a bunch of lymphomas lipomas (!*) (floating fatty deposits, so fun to poke and prod and play with!), cysts, and miscellaneous gross body growths. This is all old hat for him – he’s already had a few (two? three? four? I lose track.) lymphomas lipomas removed previously, but they just keep springing up in the same spot – serendipitously located in his right “armpit,” right where his harness runs under his leg. Once they grow to the size of a large grape, it’s time for another round of slicing and dicing and teeth cleaning.

Even so, this was by far the most growths he’s had removed at once, and I wasn’t at all prepared for the Frankendog who returned home after a day at the veterinarian’s:

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It’s hard to make out in these photos (or any one photo, for that matter – so extensive are his injuries!), but Ralphie’s got sutures on his head, under one ear, and on the side of his neck, in addition to the several obvious cuts on his (Buddha) belly. He’s taken it all in stride, though he’s a bit miffed that we won’t let him go outside and dig in the mud. Damn fascists!

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VeganMoFo, Day 7: Cheezy Smokey Potato Soup (for dogs & their peoples)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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Today was a gorgeous autumn day: warm and sunny, not hot, not cold – the perfect t-shirt weather.

(Lucky for me, the UPS delivery person brought me a shiny new animal rights tee this very afternoon, along with some replacement Dandies and nomnomnom! Go Max Go bars from Vegan Essentials

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– but I digress, big time.)

Because it’s also likely that today was the last such day this season (oh 10-day forecast, why must you mock me so?!), I spent much of it outside, doing yard work (redundant much?) while the dog-kids frolicked, burrowed, grazed, lounged. They’re delightfully exhausted now – it was all Rennie could do to lift her head upon hearing Ozzy’s hungry meows echo from down the hallway – and so is their mommy. But whereas those lazy fuckers can nap ’til dawn, I still have a VeganMoFo post to write!

‘Tis a good thing I hit the kitch today. While waiting for the weather to warm this morning, I made the dogs a pot of (Liquid) smokey, (nutritional yeast) cheezy potato soup. Having finished their sweet potato soup yesterday afternoon, I wasn’t left with much of a choice now, was I? (Eat their kibble plain? Blasphemy!) I needed a replacement, and fast. I was too rushed to find and follow a recipe, so I improvised. ‘Twas a success all around – I liked the dish (well, up until I mixed in the nutritional yeast – I’m not a fan), and come lunch time, they gobbled it down with gusto. Maybe your dog-kids would enjoy this gravy on their kibble too?

Cheezy Smokey Potato Soup

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VeganMoFo, Day 1: Birthday Muffins for Kaylee & Jayne (& Ralphie & Peedee & Rennie!)

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Kaylee & Jayne Birthday/Adoption Day Mashup 01

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Yesterday we celebrated Kaylee (11) and Jayne’s (5) birthdays, as well as the three-year anniversary of their adoption. Whereas Ralphie and Peedee were owner surrenders with known DOBs, all of the girls are ex-strays, so we’ve really no idea how old they are. Instead of pulling birthdays out of thin air, we celebrate Kaylee, Jayne and O-Ren’s birthdays on the days of their adoption. This means the girls are cheated out of a second “special day” every year – which is why I try to make their celebrations extra-special!

I really, really wanted to make Kaylee and Jayne a birthday cake – ganache, anyone? – but alas, I haven’t been able to find vegan carob chips or carob powder locally, so no luck there. My backup plan worked out beautifully though: I made a batch of mini-muffins using Molly’s Apple Cinnamon Muffin recipe, and topped them off with a “frosting” of blended silken tofu and peanut butter.

Here are the muffins, sans frosting:

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and frosted:

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The ridiculously cute embroidered placemats in the background, by the way, were a gift from my aunt (last x-mas, perhaps? I forget.). She made one for each of our six nonhuman animal kids; the front of each features a species-appropriate pattern, and the animal’s name is on the back. Naturally, the dogs’ mats are shaped like bones, whereas Ozzy gets the sole fish. I think she thinks I didn’t like the gift because I don’t actually use them as placemats for the animals’ food – but I love them so much that there’s no freaking way I’d risk staining them! (So if you’re reading, Aunt Cindy, there ya go!)

Anyway, back to those muffins. Mostly I followed Molly’s lead, with the following modifications:

– I substituted vanilla soy milk for the water; and

– I didn’t have any flax or hemp seeds, so I used a flax/nut/seed combo from Matilda’s Kitchen Flax & Company.

My initial impulse was to frost the muffins with peanut butter, but I decided to blend the pb with a brick of silken tofu in order to water down the fat content a bit. The recipe is pretty simple:

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Tahini Tofu Salad (for dogs & their people)

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Another dog food recipe, again suitable both for dog-kids and their human parents. My husband loves this dish (even with the watered-down tahini dressing) – and I love how the dishwasher smells when filled with tahini-soaked dishes. Win!

Tahini Tofu Salad (for dogs & their people)

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Ingredients

For the salad:

1 16 ounce bag of dried navy beans OR 6 cups cooked navy beans OR 3 pounds cooked navy beans OR 4 16 ounce cans of navy beans
4 bricks of tofu
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used frozen carrots, corn, green beans and peas)
2 cups broccoli
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup raw sunflower seeds

For the tahini dressing:

1 cup tahini
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups water

(Adapted from Tahini “Goddess” Dressing at About.com.)

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Rice & Beans with Cheezy Sauce (for dogs & their people)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I’ve been too busy to so much as think about blogging lately, but I have been cooking up a storm. Here’s a dish I made for the dogs a few weeks back: rice, beans and veggies with a cheezy sauce, adapted from a recipe at the PPK. Yummy for dogs and their peoples! (The Mr. was seriously jealous, I tell you what.)

I’m trying to get more creative with the recipes I make for the dog-kids. It’s fun, low stress, and I know they’ll love whatever I come up with. Fussy, they’re not. Appreciative, you betcha. Anyhow, look for more “dog food” recipes in the future.

FYI: I tend to make the dogs’ dishes with a lot of extra gravy/sauce/dressing/whathaveyou. I mix their homemade food with kibble about 50/50, and a near-soup like consistency in the homemade food helps to counterbalance the dry store-bought stuff, resulting in five very happy dogs. Adjust the sauce serving size accordingly!

Rice & Beans with Cheezy Sauce (for dogs & their people)

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Ingredients

2 16 ounce bags of dried beans OR 12 cups cooked beans OR 6 pounds cooked beans OR 8 16 ounce cans of beans (I used dried red beans)
1 cups uncooked brown rice
4 cups vegetables (I used broccoli); optional

For the cheezy sauce:

6 cups water
2 cups nutritional yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cumin

(Adapted from Vegan Cheese Sauce at the PPK.)

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Monday Miscellany

Monday, August 31st, 2009

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She may look sweet and innocent here, but as I type this, Kaylee is dancing around my feet, woofing up a storm, for no discernible reason other than that she’s a pushy old broad. Did I mention that it’s getting late and my head hurts?

It’s been crazy ’round these parts the past few weeks, and as light as posting has been, my blogging will probably wane even more with the high summer temps. Shane and I have a number of outdoor projects we’d like to finish before winter (winter, ack! no want!), and even though we’ve finally admitted defeat and called in the pros to knock out some tasks,

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I so hate that I paid someone to cut down trees. Hey, don’t look at me like that. It was euthanasia, not biocide.

there’s still plenty to do.

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I wonder what the previous homeowners would say if they knew we removed 50% of the landscaping they constructed?

If I never have to build a rock wall again, I’ll die a happy vegan.

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Sweet & Spicy Pasta Salad, Gone Mild for the Dogs

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

That’s right; not only do I bake my furkids tofu loafs and casseroles, I also make them pasta salads!

The following dish is based on a recipe I printed off the internets. I’ve long since forgotten from whence it came, but the original is titled “Super Duper Bean Salad.” Which is kind of stupid and nondescript, so I’ve renamed my version “Sweet & Spicy Pasta Salad, Gone Mild.” Mild is good when you’re catering to canine palates, but if you’d like to adapt this recipe for the humans in your household, double (or even triple) the “sauce,” and add some extra spices to taste. (Included in the original recipe – but excluded in my version – are salt and chili powder.) Then you’ll have a truly sweet and spicy dish.

Sweet & Spicy Pasta Salad, Gone Mild

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Ingredients

3 14 to 16 ounce bricks of tofu, firm or extra firm
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons minced garlic
A dash of black pepper and cumin
4 cups whole wheat pasta, dry
4 cups broccoli florets
4 cups mixed vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, green beans, etc.)
1 cup raw sunflower seeds

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Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf: Italian Tofu Styley

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

After the furkids finished up the uber-beany Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf I made them a few weeks back, I decided to try another variation, this time with fewer beans (it was a gassy week ’round the Garbato-Brady household!) and more tofu.

Like the first incarnation, the Italian Tofu “Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf” is based on the “Hearty Hound Loaf” recipe found in the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook – sans animal parts. Unlike the last loaf, I divided this batter between two glass baking pans – a 15″x10.5″x2″ pan, and a second, slightly smaller one (I’d offer the measurements, but I’m currently trapped under a napping rat terrier). The middle of each loaf, while still moist, was obviously cooked much more thoroughly.

Though I only used half the tomato paste called for in Three Dog Bakery’s recipe, the husband reports that the loaf is “really good – very tomato-y.” I’ve also caught him picking off crumbs here and there as he feeds the dog-kids. So guardians, y’all might enjoy this concoction too! (There’s no shame in eating “dog food,” as long as it’s not made of lips and ass!)

Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf: Italian Tofu Styley

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Ingredients

16 ounces dried beans OR 6 cups cooked beans OR 3 pounds cooked beans OR 4 16 ounce cans of beans (I used dried black beans)
3 14 to 16 ounce bricks of tofu, firm or extra firm
12 ounces of tomato paste (6 ounces will suffice if you’d like to make a lower-sodium recipe)
4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 cup green peppers, chopped
4 cups mixed vegetables (i.e., corn, peas, carrots, etc.)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup or so of raw sunflower seeds to garnish (optional)

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Have-a-Hearty Hound Loaf & 4th of July pics

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Update, 7/15/09:

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Here’s a photo of the loaf. It actually held up much better than I expected; even though the center isn’t fully cooked, the beans and peanut butter are sticky enough to bind it together. And the dogs love it! Once this dish is finished, I think I’ll try another loaf concoction, but with mashed tofu instead of beans.

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In the days before delicious and vegan dog food blogs, I collected my favorite recipes in a three-ring binder. Two of ’em, actually: one for the humans, another for the dogs. The dogs’ binder is literally twice as large as the humans’. Priorities, people, priorities.

(Sadly, Ozzy doesn’t get any home-cooked food, let alone a binder, since I’m not at all comfortable cooking for a cat. Technically, he’s “Shane’s cat,” as the husband adopted him well before I came into the picture. Thus, I can all-too-conveniently delegate/relinquish all food- and health-related decisions re: Ozzy to the Mr. Consequently, Ozzy is the only omni in the house. End tangent.)

Anyhow, I’ve been wanting to mix their menu up a little lately, so last night I pulled out the doggeh binder in search of recipes. Instead of following any one recipe verbatim, I decided to veganize the “Hearty Hound Loaf” from the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook. Naturally, I also had to rename the dish; “Have-a-Heart(y) Hound Loaf” struck my fancy since, unlike the original recipe, mine does not include the corpses of other animals (in this case, turkeys).

Actually, to say that I merely veganized the recipe isn’t wholly accurate; more like I used it as a starting point to develop my own loaf-like dish. Here, the cooked and mashed beans act as a stand-in for “ground turkey”; the peanut butter replaces the tomato paste (though this is optional); and Liquid Smoke is the main spice, as opposed to sage and garlic. And did I mention that I quadrupled the original?

I considered adding some Vegedog to the mix – but it’s got an awfully strong smell, and I wasn’t quite sure if/how it would change the taste of the loaf. I purchased a small trial size of the Vegedog a few years back, and it’s been sitting in the back of my cupboard ever since. I haven’t a clue what to do with it, and the accompanying recipes aren’t much help.

For starters, the serving sizes are huge! The Soy Kibble recipe, for example, calls for 33 cups of whole wheat flour, 14 1/8 cups of soy flour, 2 3/4 cups corn meal, 1 cup yeast powder, and 1/3 cup baking powder! Who has that much flour on hand!? Plus, I already have vegetarian (possibly vegan; DelMonte has yet to return my emails) dog kibble – I don’t need to make my own. The food I do make, I use to “dress up” the kibble and add some variety to their meals. So crazy massive serving sizes of diy kibble, not so helpful.

Readers, help a doggy mama out! How do you use Vegedog?

And I know I’m probably rambling at this point, but a word on dried beans. For a long time, I refused to use them, opting instead for the canned stuff. I assumed (wrongly, it turns out) that 1) dried beans would be a huge pain in the ass to prepare; and 2) they couldn’t be all that much cheaper than the canned stuff.

In point o’ facts, dried beans aren’t all that much of an inconvenience; really, they just require a little foresight. (I soak mine the night before I plan to use them.) Price wise, 16 oz. of dried beans cost roughly the same as 16 oz. of canned beans. But when you do the math – a 16 oz. bag of dried beans yields 6 cups of cooked beans, while a 16 oz. can of beans equals a mere 1.5 cups of beans (!) – the dried beans are a steal!

Plus, no added salt, which is a huge plus, as Kaylee was diagnosed with a heart murmur on her last trip to the vet. He can’t say for sure that a low-sodium diet will keep her ticker from getting worse, but if there’s even the slightest chance it’ll extend her life, I’ll do it. (We switched to dried beans the next shopping trip after her diagnosis.) She’s like a second mother to me – my canine mom, if you will. Sweetest old lady you could ever hope to meet. I only wish we could have adopted her earlier, before she became elible for an AARP membership, and before her old “owners” did such a number on her. But I digress. Yet again.

Moral of the story: dried beans, not so bad.

Anyway. The husband went to Vegas for TAM7 this weekend, taking my good camera with him. The backup’s on the fritz, so unfortunately, I don’t have a photo for y’all. Sucks. I’ll try to snap one on Monday, though it probably won’t be very pretty. (I expect the loaf to crumble when I transfer it to a storage container.) Next time, maybe.

Instead, I leave you with pictures of Kaylee, hiding in the bathroom cabinets during the 4th of July fireworks display/Armageddon. (That’s what it must have felt like for the dogs, anyway – doubly so since the park where the display is held sits only two properties away from our place.) Peedee’s in a few of the pictures, too, but I think he was just keeping the old lady company.

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Easy Vegan Summer Treats: Frozen Banana Slices

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Because I’m a crazy awesome doggy mama, I’m always on the lookout for toys and treats with which to spoil my dog-kids. So when I saw this recipe for banana “Ice Cream” at It’s a Vegan Dog’s Life, I knew I wanted to try it.

But, alas! – We don’t own any ice cube trays! (Drats, foiled again.) Ice cube trays are now on my shopping list, somewhere between plastic canisters and pastry flour, but some good that does me today.

Instead, I decided to try freezing banana slices as a quick fix. The dogs used to love chewing on plain ole ice cubs, but we had to put the kibosh on that when one of Rennie’s teefies came loose. (“Too much hard chewing,” admonished the vet.) That, and I’ve heard talk on the internets that ice cubes (and extremely cold, icy water) can cause digestive problems in dogs. Possibly this is an urban legend; but I thought I’d throw it out there, just in case.

When frozen, bananas aren’t nearly as dense and hard as ice cubes, so they make for a nice, cold snack on a hot summer day. A nice, cold snack that won’t snap your furkid’s teeth in half! Plus, you can always half-freeze the slices or let them thaw a little before serving. Don’t let them thaw completely, though, as freezing and thawing changes the banana’s cell structure, such that a frozen-and-defrosted banana becomes very mushy and gooey.

Take it from me; I learned the hard way (naturally!):

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Mushy or not, the dogs still gobbled ’em up.

In human food news, last night I tried out Vivacious Vegan’s Best Brownies Ever. Super-yummy, and very easy to make. It’s a vegan recipe, so no pesky egg or dairy substitutions. Which actually makes this recipe easier than a boxed mix, even. I have a horrible track record with brownies – somehow, I always manage to burn them – but even I couldn’t mess this one up.

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As you can see, I used Dandies marshmallows in place of the walnuts. It was a risky choice – given my aforementioned ineptitude at brownie baking, and Dandies’ official status as a precious natural resource (shinier than diamonds, more valuable than a brick of gold, I tell ya) – but in the end, it totally paid off. Vegan win!

(One suggestion should you choose to try this recipe with Dandies, or any vegan marshmallows, for that matter. Fold the marshmallows into the batter last thing, preferably as you’re pouring the batter into the baking pan. This will keep the Dandies from browning and/or burning before the brownies are done baking.)

That’s my Friday food blogging. What have y’all been up to in the kitch?

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Oatmeal Banana Cookies: Doggy edition! (And a big plate of lemon FAIL)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Update, 3/30/09: Actually, I take that back. The lemon cookies weren’t so much a huge plate of FAIL as an exercise in delayed gratification: they tasted much better the next morning, once the doughy-ness had transformed to chewiness. Methinks the problem rests not in the batter or cook time, but in my lack of a cooling rack. Currently, I have to remove freshly baked cookies from the sheet asap, otherwise they tend to stick. The lemon cookies probably needed to sit a bit, hence the trouble I encountered when scraping them off. A cooling rack might make all the difference.

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The last time I made a batch of Oatmeal Banana Cookies, I wasn’t able to enjoy them as much as I would’ve liked. Truth be told, I felt a wee bit guilty. The dogs, you see, started begging like lil’ vegan monsters before the goodies even came out of the oven. I’m fairly certain that they thought the cookies were meant for them, since the week before I’d made some pizza biscuits for Rennie’s birthday. So I resolved to adapt the recipe to make a doggy edition.

Which I did, yesterday. I took the last version of the human Oatmeal Banana Cookie recipe and made a few changes: omitted the salt, cut the sugar down to almost nothing, and added a few extra ingredients that I just so happened to have on hand. The result? Total success! The dogs absolutely loved the cookies. They’re also 100% suitable for human consumption (really, shouldn’t everything we feed our nonhuman friends be?), if a little bland. By which I mean unsweetened. But maybe unsweetened is your thing?

Again, this recipe has proven extremely versatile. The oat/soymilk combo makes the dough impossible to mess up: Too dry? Add some soymilk! Too wet? Toss in some oats and/or let sit! As long as you taste test the dough before baking, and like what goes in, you’ll love what comes out of the oven.

Oatmeal Banana Cookies: Doggy edition!

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon + a little extra to taste
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar (or less)
Slightly less than 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil
1 banana, mashed to liquid (the riper, the better)
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup of water or soy milk
2 1/4 cups of quick oats
Several handfuls, give or take, dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, etc.) to taste; for this recipe, I used about 4 handfuls of dried cranberries and 4 of homemade dehydrated apple slices

Note: If this is for your furry friends, do not use chocolate chips! Or raisins! Or grapes! Or onions or onion powder! Um, not that you’d put onions in oatmeal banana cookies. That would just be gross.

Optional: Add some backstrap molasses, nutmeg and/or wheat germ.

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Oh, Rennie!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

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Today is Miss O-Ren’s birthday! She’s five years young today. (OK, who am I kidding?! My lil’ babies are all getting old!)

Not-so-coincidentally, today also marks the four-year anniversary of the day we adopted her from Animal Haven. All our girls are strays, so we’ve no clue when their true birthdays fall. Hence, we celebrate their birthdays and adoption days together; if you think about it, the day we adopted each of the dogs was the first day of the rest of their lives, a sort of rebirth, into a new home and better life, if you will. So it’s not very far off base, really.

On the flip side, Ralphie and Peedee were both owner surrenders; we know their dates of birth, so they get to celebrate two special days every year. As usual, the ladies get screwed. To add insult to injury, Kaylee and Jayne share their special day with one another, since they came as a package deal.

Which is why I try to pamper the girls and give them an extra-super-special day of celebration. It’s too cold to take Rennie walking today, but rest assured that she’s getting plenty of belly rubs and lots of playtime.

I also made her a batch of Pizzas for the Pupperonis (recipe via Yummy for Dogs).

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These treats smell wonderful while baking – so much so that I was tempted to try one myself. I wouldn’t cheat Rennie like that, though.

Happy birthday, my sweet little piglet! I don’t care how old you are, you’ll always be my little lady.

(Crossposted to.)

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VeganMoFo, Day 15: Vegan Chili & Baked Beans, for Dogs & their Peoples

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

In the interest of using up another half-bag of apples, I went a-searching for vegan dishes with both beans and apples in the ingredients list. I found a few chili and baked bean recipes with apples, which was enough to reassure me that a bean/apple combo wasn’t totally bonzo. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with any of the baked bean or chili recipes I found, though, so I decided to cook up this Vegan Baked Beans recipe at allrecipes.com and just toss in some apples as needed.

Initially, I’d planned on making one serving, sans apples, and then sampling it myself before doubling it (if needed) and adding the apples to make dinner with a week’s wroth of leftovers for the dogs.

Alas, I am a dolt.

You see, I started cooking without first reviewing the entire recipe. (Never do this, people. It’s all sorts of st00pid.) When I started the dish, I assumed that it called for 6 cups of water. But, not so much. The water is just for cooking the dry beans – then you drain and discard it, and move on from a pot to a casserole dish. Since I was working with canned beans, I didn’t need any water at all. But I didn’t realize this until I’d mixed 6 cups of water with the tomato paste (“Surely they must mean paste instead of sauce,” I thought. “There’s already too much water in this dish as it is!), sugar, spices, etc. Then I was between a light and dark red kidney bean, as it were. So I pushed on, resolving to give this dish to the dogs and make the recipe properly, a second time, for dinner for the husband and I.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I have two adaptations of this recipe to share – one that’s more like chili, the other which is mostly definitely baked beans as intended. Both dishes are actually quite tasty (and suitable for dogs and people alike), though the chili takes about three hours of cooking to boil down enough so that it looks like chili instead of soup.

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