Apologies and Addendums

First, my apologies for the lack of a post on Wednesday. We’re still in the grieving process over here and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. I also didn’t do the weigh-in because we’ve been eating far from healthy and–sadly–broken vegan a few times over the course of the week. It’s just so much easier when you don’t feel like cooking your own food, which is unfortunate. We both feel terrible about that, and have rededicated ourselves to the vegan lifestyle.

There are bumps in every road.

Secondly! After more experimentation (I found the casserole I originally posted a little bland for my tastes) I’d recommend the following additions to the crumble and the sweet potatoes:

Crumble:

  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup ginger

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup ginger
  • 1/8 cup chili powder

Also, trying it with the applesauce at 4 ounces to replace two eggs, it works wonderfully. So no need to go buy egg replacer if you don’t have it already! I know this post comes a little late for Thanksgiving and would have been better suited for Wednesday, but I wanted to make sure I shared with you guys.

 

In Memorium — Elsa

So I know I said I would post up that curry bake recipe, but after I posted up the sweet potato casserole Saturday morning some heart wrenching and life shattering things took place. We’ll make it eventually, I promise, because I love curries. But today’s post is a bit more personal. A bit of therapy for myself.

January 2011 – November 17, 2012

(From a post I made Saturday evening to another location)

We were throwing out some leftovers Tuesday that had onion in them and spilled some on the floor; before we could clean it up she managed to gobble up at most three ounces of onion, but I think even a little less than that. The day she ate the onion she acted like she wasn’t feeling well but the next day and through Friday she was feeling better.

This morning was different. She was very lethargic and her gums were extremely pale. We immediately took her to my normal vet only to discover he wasn’t there this weekend due to a conference. We took her to another nearby vet his receptionist suggested. She walked inside fine, but while I was filling out paperwork she just laid down and wouldn’t get up. She was breathing very heavy and ragged breaths.

A vet tech came and picked her up and carried her back, the doc was between patients and she was obviously in distress. After a couple of minutes he came out and explained that she was suffering from severe anemia and kidney complications, both due to the onion toxicity killing off her red blood cells. This reduced oxygen to her organs and also flooded her kidneys with dead red blood cells.

He told us we needed to get her to a nearby emergency clinic immediately if cost isn’t a concern (he said it would likely be $2,000+) for an oxygen tank and blood transfusion, because all he could provide was supportive care via an oxygen mask. I remember vividly the moment I realized how serious this truly was–he said, “if she makes it through today, she should be okay.” With that, he went back while we called family.

We quickly secured funding from family members, within 3 minutes, but in that time things changed. Her heart had stopped and the vet was trying to get it restarted. He was unsuccessful, and told us the almost certain cause of death was anemia related complications due to the onion toxicity.

This was a lab/malamute mix, close to or over a hundred pounds. She was in great health and less than two years old. It was no more than a few ounces of cooked onion, and it killed her.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sorry about not getting this post up yesterday, I had an evening interview with Big Brother, Big Sister then did some antique shopping. By the time I got home I was exhausted and, I am not ashamed to admit, I fell asleep at my desk while the images were uploading for this post. I feel like such an old man, haha.

But without any further adieu, I present my vegan sweet potato casserole recipe! My fiancee offers her apologies, she was under the weather so didn’t make the curry bake I was talking about. But she has promised she will make it sometime this weekend, so I’ll post that recipe up on Monday most likely. As for the casserole, it was a huge hit at the potluck. I got two small portions and she got one, the rest of it was gone within about 15 minutes despite the fact that there were at least three other sweet potato casseroles there. Who says non-vegans don’t like vegan food? ;)

Anyway, on to some pics/recipe!

To start with you’ll need to peel some sweet potatoes. Four or five big ones (I did six, but I made an extra portion for myself to try before I took it to work … you know, for science!). I would also like to take this opportunity to stress how very much I LOATHE peeling vegetables…

Once peeled, cut them into chunks and boil them for 25-30 minutes (or until fork tender).

EDIT: Please see below plus THIS post for an addendum I made to the crumble and sweet potato recipes below.

While those are boiling, get out the handy dandy food processor and prep the pecan crumble topping that will eventually go on top. Ingredients are:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup AP flour (I use gluten free because my fiancee has celiac disease, but any all purpose flour will work)
  • 1/3 cup melted “buttery spread” (you know, the vegan-friendly margarine stuff)

Chop up the pecans first.

Add the brown sugar and flour.

Combine until a slightly chunky powder.

Mix in the melted butter until you get a slightly sticky, clumpy topping.

Now on to the sweet potatoes… Once they’re fork tender remove them from the water and process into mashed sweet potatoes with:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted “buttery spread”
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (3 teaspoons powder, 4 tablespoons warm water; mixed together in a separate container before adding to the sweet potatoes)–you can also use applesauce instead of eggs, online says to use 1/4 cup per egg but my fiancee typically uses 2 tablespoons per egg and it works well.

All blended together and moved into the casserole dish… I like putting lines in the top so that the crumble settles down into it a little bit better, and I’m kind of odd about aesthetics.

The crumble recipe I gave you above is too much for one usage. Maybe should’ve pointed that out at the start so you can adjust accordingly. I only used about half to 2/3rds of it, sprinkled over top in a solid layer. Then bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until well-browned and crunchy on top.

Since this was for a work potluck I put a few raw pecans on top after it came out of the oven–I think it both helps the presentation and also serves as a nice visual cue for people with pecan allergies to avoid the dish.

Surviving Thanksgiving

So we’re a couple of weeks out from Thanksgiving here in the states and this will be my first as a vegan. It will be difficult. My mother’s dressing is amazing, but it also has turkey and turkey stock in it. The turkey itself is of course always the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving is probably the hardest holiday for a vegan–at least I think it will be for me.

All hope is not lost, however! There are vegan/vegetarian options for Thanksgiving, and I’ll be trying my hand at veganizing a few traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Last year I made an awesome vegan-friendly sweet potato casserole, and I shall be creating that again this year for my office’s Thanksgiving potluck at the end of this week. The fiancee is planning to make a curry bake–a less traditional Thanksgiving option for sure but still delicious.

Later this week I’ll post up the sweet potato casserole recipe and some pictures of it. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite vegan-friendly Thanksgiving dishes?

 

Parents meet; Xbox controller and Leo Strauss are casualties.

This evening my parents and my fiancee’s parents met for the first time. We all had dinner together over at her parents’ house and I think it went well. Her mother was very nice and prepared several vegan-friendly options for us, such as a TVP and rice casserole, some delicious grilled veggies, baked potatoes, and a great chocolate-banana oatmeal cake. It’s great that she did too, because we were going to bring something vegan just to be safe but totally spaced on making it last night. Whoopsie.

It would be nice to say that her parents were always so supportive of her vegan diet, but it’s great that they’ve come around. My parents are relatively supportive, but it isn’t like they really have much choice in the matter considering I’m in my late twenties and not living with them. The one concern my dad harps on, and given my family history it is a valid one, is making sure I get enough B12. My grandfather later in life suffered from major B12 absorption issues that the doctors believe contributed to him developing dementia and other ailments in his last several years. Apparently that sort of issue can be genetic, and as any vegan can tell you it can be very difficult to get a significant quantity of B12 in foods from anything but animal sources.

In case you didn’t know (I didn’t until recently), this isn’t because animal sources are inherently the only place we can get B12. It isn’t proof of a need for meat in our diet. Rather, it is a result of our modern farming methods–we work the ground so hard to produce such huge quantities of certain crops, and as a result the soil becomes fatigued and is no longer replenished naturally with B12 that then becomes integrated into the plants grown in that soil. In healthy, vibrant soil there is plenty of B12 available to create plants that match the B12 needs of human beings.

Anyway, on to the casualties… When we got home we discovered that Abigail decided she wanted to destroy quite a few things around the house after she freed herself from her crate in some as-yet-to-be-determined manner. Among the dead were my copy of The City and Man, a wireless xbox controller, and some sandals. Injured were two remotes and a couple of pairs of sandals. Could’ve been worse, but she’s certainly proven she can’t be left unsupervised quite yet. Shame too, because I was planning on letting her stay out tonight while we slept since she’d been stuck in her crate all day.

Wednesday Weigh-In

As I kind of expected, feeling better meant I started eating more and my weight bounced back a bit, 245. But that’s okay, because now I’m actually feeling well enough to exercise.

Not much time for a post this evening, so I’ll leave you with a picture of the dinner I made the other night.

ImageVegan chili (beans, lots of spices, some TVP, etc.) over white rice with a ranch-like sauce made from vegenaise on top. Tasty on a chilly night, even if it isn’t quite the Texas Red Chili of my youth.

Going green

Feeling much better now, and will be FINALLY starting couch-to-5k today after work. I’m excited to get exercising, and I think it will really help my metabolism/weight loss. In that regard, I need all the help I can get because my metabolism kind of sucks, not going to lie.

Part of that is my own fault though; I’ve never been a breakfast person (only within the last year or so would I even go so far as to call myself any form of a “morning person”). I love breakfast foods, but not before like 11am. Any earlier than that and my body just says, “dude, not up yet, quit trying to put food in me.” It’s a problem I need to change, and right now the best way I can work in to change that is to jumpstart my days by going green–green smoothies, that is!

Not the most appealing looking substance, I’ll admit, but packed full of nutrition and other benefits… This one was made with a handful of baby spinach, a bunch of kale, two apples, and some vanilla soy milk. I don’t have one every morning, but I’m going to try to have one at least 3-4 times a week. Eventually maybe my body will be trained to expect a morning meal and it will become a daily thing.

Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe? What about just a favorite (mostly healthful) breakfast? Post them up in the comments, I could always use more ideas for ways to get the day started.

Meet the family

So as I said in my introductory post, I recently became engaged. My fiancée (it still feels odd calling her that rather than girlfriend) and I have been living together since March of this  year officially, though more nights than not we stayed together for quite a while before that. We don’t have any human children yet–that will come at some point after we get married. But what we do have is an amazing family of companion animals–none of whom we purchased through puppy or kitten mills.

ISABELLE (IZZY)

Before I met my fiancée, I had my rat terrier Isabelle. She and I came together in July of 2007 when I was with my previous girlfriend. Growing up my family always had dogs around; when that girl and I moved in together in January 2007 we only had a cat and I immediately began to miss that canine companionship. Eventually I contacted the Protective Animal League, a rescue/re-home group, and they brought out Bell (as she was called then) to meet me and my apartment. We meshed well, and she’s been with me ever since.

Her’s is actually a rather sad story from the human side of things. From what I was told, Bell and her sister Tinker (haha, get it?) had been owned by an elderly couple. They were more the husband’s dogs and he apparently passed away. The wife didn’t have the strength to take care of them after his death because they just reminded her too much of her husband. So she called P.A.L. and gave the ladies up for adoption.

KEELY (KEEBS)

Before we met, my fiancée had two cats. Keely was the first of these and  they came together in the spring of 2009. She wanted to go look at another cat she found online with her mother since she was at college. Initially her mother said no but came around a short while later, but they agreed the cat she’d found wasn’t a good fit. She suspects it was because she’d lost her favorite companion Smokey to cancer a little over a year earlier and her mother knew how much she yearned to have a companion.

Instead, her mother suggested they go to Operation Kindness, the oldest and largest no kill shelter in north Texas. There she met Keely, recovering from her spaying, and they fell in love–only to later discover that Keely is a much feistier cat when she isn’t in recovery. She still has her cuddly moments though, but they’re pretty limited.

ASPARAGUS (GUS)

Her second cat. The sewer cat. While she was in college her roommate heard meowing from the sewer while walking her dog during the evening and investigated. My fiancée eventually joined her and they spent nearly two hours trying to get the cat out. Animal control couldn’t even get the cat out as the attempts stretched over the next two days. Eventually the neighbor provided a live trap and they fed it into the sewer with some cat food, and within half an hour the cat was in the trap and very unhappy.

The kitten, the white and brown little boy above, had a long recovery as he had to be treated for quite a few pests and parasites, as you might imagine. Her mother initially resisted keeping him over the phone, but fell in the love the moment she saw him. He’s been with her ever since, and her mother has been offering to steal him ever since.

ELSA (ELSIE)

My fiancée decided while she was living on her own that she would feel more comfortable with a dog around, both for the friendship a dog offers and as protection to dissuade potential burglars. She’d always wanted a dog growing up but her mother declined, so once she got out on her own she wanted to finally get a canine companion. For her new friend she turned again to the wonderful people at Operation Kindness.

And out she came with Elsa, an eight month old lab/husky mix (so they said). We now suspect, as she approaches two years of age and full size, she is actually a lab/malamute mix. Either way, she was a second adoption–apparently after she originally came into the shelter she was adopted but returned. I can’t imagine why anyone would return such a wonderful dog, but their loss has definitely been our gain.

JELLA (JELLYBEAN)

Jella was pretty much foisted upon my fiancée, but I honestly don’t think she minds too much. Her step grandmother invited  her to come see this beautiful cat her friend had found. From there she basically guilted her into taking the cat as the only other option was surrendering it to the shelter in her small town. She’s rather bipolar at times, very aloof for days on end and other days refusing to be anything but the center of attention.

WU

TANG

Wu and Tang (named by my friend) were found by my fiancée on the side of the road in a box along with one other kitten, abandoned. She took them to a vet but, since only one was sick, they refused to take these two. She brought them home with every intention of finding them new homes, but instead we kind of fell in love with them.

Wu is elusive. The picture above is about the best photo you’re going to ever get of him because he flees when people come within five or six feet of him. Tang is the exact opposite; she is one of the mushiest cats I’ve ever seen.

ABIGAIL (ABBY)

This young lady is both the youngest and newest addition to our family. We were leaving for work one morning and when we opened the garage door this little girl was standing outside. Neither of us could stomach just leaving her there, so we made the decision to herd the puppy into the garage, put down a little food and water, and I took her to work. I returned home and took the puppy to the vet, who said they couldn’t take it. I took her to the shelter next door but they didn’t open until eleven–this was a quarter to nine. I was stuck with this pitiful thing staring up at me for more than two hours.

By the time the shelter opened it was basically a done deal. I took her inside and had them check her for a chip–none. She didn’t have a collar, she was covered in fleas… Obviously a stray or feral puppy, abandoned prior to two months of age. I told them where I’d found her and they told me I had to take her to a different shelter because it was the wrong city and they were city owned.

I couldn’t do it. She came home with me, we got her fleas taken care of, and I took her to the vet to get her health checked out. Not quite a week after we found her, she weighed 9.2 pounds. Now she’s a little over 50, about six months later. She’s also one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever had in my life, even though she’s a supposedly “aggressive” pit bull (though also mixed with lab, the vet is pretty sure).

So… That’s our family! Pretty crazy, right? It wasn’t on purpose, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now. Better they’re living happy and healthy lives with us than wandering the streets or put to death in a shelter.