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 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 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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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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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 10: Happy Birthday to Ralphie, with YumsYums -n- Love!

Friday, October 10th, 2008

As you can most likely infer from the post title, today is the Ralphster’s birthday. My little man, my first-born and -adopted, turns a gray old 11 today. He’s like the Wilford Brimley of the doggeh world, minus the dia-beddies.

I have plenty of Ralphie pix after the jump, of course, but first a recipe for Peanut Butter ‘Nilla Biscuits from Yummy for Dogs. If you like what you see, check out the website and/or order a copy of webmistress Veronica Noechel’s Yummy for Dogs: A Cook Book for Canines. Hey, it’s on my wishlist. I mean, Ralphie’s wishlist. Yeah, Ralphie. (Hint, hint, wink, wink!)

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Peanut Butter ‘Nilla Biscuits

These smell incredible!

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup oats

* In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, and oats.

* Stir in oil, peanut butter, vanilla, and water.

* Knead till smooth, adding more flour or water as needed.

* Roll out on a lightly floured surface.

* Cut with cookie cutters.

* Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

I stuck to the directions, but added some extra flour and rolled oats, as the dough was initially a little oily. I think I also used more like 5 tablespoons of peanut butter, since my “tablespoons” were heaped to overflowing. The dogs love the pb, though!

I have this cute little bone-shaped cookie cutter that the doggies’ grandmother bought for them/me, so I used that to cut the dough. I rolled the leftover scraps into a faux long rawhide bone with the cute little tied ends (for the birthday boy, natch!), as you can see in the photo. All in all, the recipe produced 53 cookies (40 long bones, 12 short bones and one “rawhide”), which fit on two sheets, no problem.

The dogs loved the treats, but don’t place too much trust in their critique; four out of the five of them eat their own poo! (And the fifth eats the cat’s poo – Rennie, I’m looking at you.) I did try the dough before rolling it into cookies, and it was on a little the bland side (for humans), but edible; and yet, definitely yummy for dogs!

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