Sweet Frogger

Standard

It feels like there are a lot of memorials on this blog lately. We don’t mean to be so sad. But it’s truly been a period of time marked by loss for us. I promise to get back to recipes and good news very soon; today though, I want to remember Frogger.

frogger-1_lrFrogger was an African Dwarf Frog. We got her in a very tiny box at the mall with a snail, some bamboo and a companion male frog. Well, the snail died the next day. And we did some reading – only to discover how insane and cruel it was to keep all these sea animals in such a small box. Frogger and her guy got an upgrade to a larger tank with plants (and their bamboo), rocks, as well as a small castle to hide in and a tank filter. The fella didn’t last long. We are fairly sure Frogger ate all the food and starved him.  They fought all the time, anyhow. So we went to an aquarium store and got her another male and another snail. The next male frog lasted even less time – but she liked the snail. We called him Mr. Snuffles.

Frogger and Mr. Snuffles hid around their tank together for years. We often saw her with a frog-hand on him, and they would rest that way for hours. The day Mr. Snuffles passed, we found her with one hand on the front of the tank and the other on a lifeless Mr. Snuffles. After we cleaned him out (he is buried in our yard by the roses, along with the male frogs and now Frogger,  as well), she hid for days until we got a new snail friend. Again, they became buddies and were in the same part of the tank all the time. She never rested a hand on this one, though.

frogger-2_lrEvery day I would check in on Frogger and her snail pal. Actually, several times a day. When I put my laptop by her tank, she usually would sit at the glass, watching me. I’m not sure how much awareness she had of me or the world beyond her tank, but I believe she knew we were friends.  I’ll confess, when we were out of town even one day, I had a pet sitter come in and check on Frogger.  I wanted to always be sure she was comfortable – or as comfortable as we knew how to make her. After reading What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe, I suspect Frogger had a good deal of awareness, honestly. (You should read it!)

It’s impossible to guess how many times she made me smile. I’d find her floating in “Zen position,” enjoying her tank sometimes. She was an aquatic frog and lived in water, but breathed air via lungs not gills, and would float, all “Zenned out” on the surface to breathe. It was awesome to see her happy and floating, or find her hiding in her castle. Like I said, we were friends. She was part of life here.

Late Sunday night I checked on her before bed, as I do every night. And Monday morning, she had passed, bringing to a close seven and half years with our little family.

Her snail friend is still moving about the tank and I know I’ll need to find a friend for him soon. But at the moment, my heart hurts every time I look into the tank and Frogger’s sweet little eyes don’t search me out and come to the glass. I can’t bear to think of buying another frog, knowing what I do now about the sea life as pets industry. It’s a messed up thing. Yet, I don’t want the snail to be alone, either. Sigh… dilemmas. Time will bring us the answer, I know.

frogger-3_lrIn memorial to Frogger, we made a donation to Fish Feel, a small 501c3 organization dedicated to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and protection. Despite fish constituting the largest category of animals used for food (including as farmed animal feed), and despite huge numbers of fish harmed for research, “sport,” and aquaria, their well-being receives very little attention, even from the animal protection community. After all these years with Frogger, I have no doubt she was a sentient being.

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-10-49-26-pm

It was our privilege to be her guardians.

Hatched… unknown. Joined our family April 2009; died September 5, 2016.

We will miss you, sweet Frogger!

Frogger

Mom’s Gazpacho

Standard

August means the garden is in full bloom. And there are loads and loads of tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. No garden? Try the Farmer’s Market. Once, we were at the Farmer’s Market when they were closing up and a vendor literally gave us a huge basket of tomatoes simply because she didn’t want to carry them home!

When tomatoes and cucumbers are in season, you’ll almost always find a batch of my Mom’s gazpacho in our fridge. On a hot August day, a bowl of chilled gazpacho is so refreshing! And it reminds me of my parents’ garden being flush with tomatoes too. I used to love wandering the backyard, between tall tomato cages and bushy herbs just before the start of school. This soup brings back all those memories!

The recipe makes about 6 portions and comes together really fast in a blender or food processor.  Ours is processed to be fairly smooth, but feel free to leave your veggies chunky if you like. We usually eat it with crackers or a slice of toast. Serve cold and sure, you can drink it from a mug – we do sometimes!

Mom's GazpachoMom’s Gazpacho

2 pounds fresh tomatoes

1 cucumber

2 stalks celery

1 red onion

1 cup tomato juice

4 Tbs. fresh basil

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. lemon juice plus zest of one lemon

1 Tbs. vegan worcestershire sauce (such as Annie’s Organic or Wizard- please note, both contain gluten)

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. Old Bay-style seasoning

salt/pepper, to taste as desired

 

Core and roughly chop tomatoes. Trim cucumbers and celery, roughly chop. Peel and trim onion, roughly chop. Add all veggies to a food processor or high speed blender with tomato juice, fresh basil, vinegars, lemon juice and zest, Old Bay and Worcestershire sauce. Process together until as smooth a desired.

Terri Ann’s Carrot Salad

Standard

Along the way, we make friends all over the place. One such friend is TerriAnn, who used to be a vet tech at the Animal Wellness Center where our hounds go for their health care needs. Everyone there is a pal – Doc Scott Sanderson, his manager Ani, and the rest of the team. They were amazing when we lost Lochrima, and have helped out with foster dogs since.

We were delighted to find out that TerriAnn was vegan! She brought her delicious Carrot Salad to share at one of our parties. Everyone loved it so much, we asked for the recipe. Now, we’re passing it along to you.

The flavor depth of this simple salad will surprise you! There’s no actual dressing, but it’s so bright and refreshing, it doesn’t need to be weighed down by even one more ingredient. The contrast of the sharp lime with the naturally sweet carrots and coconut are perfectly balanced. Not a fan of cilantro? Use parsley instead.

 

carrotsalad_lr

TerriAnn’s Carrot Salad

6 carrots, grated

1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

1/4 cup currants

2 Tbs. sesame seeds

1 tsp. ground coriander

juice and zest of one lime

fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste (we add about 1/2 cup)

salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

 

Grate carrots into a bowl. Add all other ingredients and toss. Serve cold, adding more or less lime juice as needed to dress the salad.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free. Feeds two to six, depending on portion size.

 

And we want to add – thanks TerriAnn, Doc, Ani and the rest of the crew at Animal Wellness Center. We have known you for more than a decade and you all have ALWAYS given our dogs the love and care you would give your own.🙂

Scott & the Not-Crabby Cakes

Standard

Over a lifetime, there are few forever friends. I’m lucky to have Leslie as one of mine. During the 20+ years we have known each other, we’ve seen much of life’s roller coaster. College, jobs homes, pets, parents. And of course, there are the guys who were part of our lives .

For Leslie, THE guy was Scott. They knew each other in high school, but the sparks didn’t happen until later, in their thirties. When I met Scott, he and Leslie recently reconnected. The group of us went to a  former Miami hot spot called BED. (Yes, you ate in a bed – it was in South Beach, of course. It’s now closed.) Scott was from Baltimore and what struck me about him wasn’t his fast, witty sense of humor or encyclopedic knowledge of all things sports & politics, though that was impressive. It was how Leslie was with him. She was happy, she was herself – and more than ever.

Leslie and Scott

Leslie and Scott, 2009 in West Palm Beach FL

After you’ve loved a friend for decades, you want so much for her. No…you demand more for her. Not just any guy was going to be acceptable for Leslie, at least not to me. He needed to do more than impress her or adore her, the right guy needed to meet her on her intellectual level, to understand and support her hectic career, really get her quirks – and love them more than me. Honestly, this was the top of my list; there were more criteria. And Scott surpassed them all.

Leslie and Scott Wedding 1

Leslie and Scott at their wedding at The Colony Hotel in FL

Last July 29 the unthinkable happened. I remember with total clarity. Nathaniel walked into our room at the B&B in New York, we were on our annual Watkins Glen trip. He told me Scott died overnight. At first I thought he was wrong, or confused. Scott was only 44! Scott and Leslie had a little boy! No, this was a mistake. Simply not true. Except that Nathaniel spoke true. Scott passed in the night, quite suddenly, in their home in Lake Worth, Florida. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried, then tried to compose myself before reaching out to Leslie.

When you love someone, you become wrapped up in their happiness. You invest in seeing their dreams come true and watching them live their way into fulfillment. It’s more than “wanting the best” for them. You want to see them live long and full. You never entertain that anything less will happen.  So it was for me with Leslie. Scott became a huge part of her world in the five years they were married.  Scott wove into her dreams of everyday life – little things like trips to the grocery store, and big ones, like trips to Maryland with family. Leslie’s heart grew because of Scott’s love. And I loved her all the more for it.

Leslie and Scott fun

Leslie and Scott being silly at Havana Hideout

Today, a year has passed since Scott died. I don’t have the words to really mark this anniversary. Sometimes the acknowledgment that time has passed is what matters, and I believe that to be the case. Nothing I write can replace the time Leslie and their son won’t share with him. No phrase or words will ever pluck out the pain…

A true Baltimore guy, Scott’s fave food was crab cakes. In his honor, we made a vegan version of the recipe. If he were here, I have no doubt he’d try it. He was always game to try new things and whatever project someone was attempting, Scott cheered them on. I loved that about him. The supportive, optimistic outlook.

Leslie, you are in my heart forever. We are thinking of you…

crabbycakes_lrNot-Crabby Cakes, in memory of Scott

2 zucchini, shredded and drained

1 16-oz. can artichokes, drained and shredded

1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (we used Metropolitan Gourmet Gluten-Free)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

3 Tbs. lemon juice (about one lemon)

2 Tbs. Old Bay seasoning

1 Tbs. parsley, dried

3 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (such as Wizard’s or Annie’s Naturals)

pinch dulse flakes

salt & pepper, to taste

 

Using a food processor fitted with a grating blade, shred two zucchini. Alternatively, grate zucchini by hand using a traditional box grater. Using a standard blade, pulse drained artichoke in a food processor three or four times, until the stems are broken down, but the petals aren’t pureed. Alternatively, roughly chop artichokes by hand, until there are uneven size pieces, but nothing is too large for a patty.

Place zucchini shreds and shredded artichokes into a colander over the sink, press down and allow to drain thoroughly, about 30 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.

While veggies drain, add 1 cup breadcrumbs, flax seed meal, lemon juice, Old Bay, parsley, dijon mustard, garlic powder, vegan Worchestershire and dulse flakes to a mixing bowl. Combine, then add drained zucchini and artichokes. If mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Allow mixture to rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge. It will take a little time for the flax meal to create a strong bind.

Form into patties, 6 to 9, depending on size desired. Smaller cakes will hold together better. Pack cakes together tightly.

Lightly coat with remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Place patties on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip to other side. Bake an additional 15 minutes, until sides are crisp and patties are hot throughout. Alternatively, these Not-Crabby Cakes can be pan-fried in a little oil for about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve hot – with vegan dipping sauce (ours is vegan mayo with a little mustard and relish stirred in, like tartar sauce).

 

Scott

We miss you Scott… thank you for taking such excellent care of my Leslie!

Veganic Gardening

Standard

Hope no one minds if I brag a little bit. Because this is a moment of shiny pride!

The Dirty Hippie had an article about Veganic Gardening published in a national magazine! In the most recent issue of Vegetarian Journal, from Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group, his article spans three full pages and includes a photo of our compost, as well as a recipe for homemade Gardener’s Hand Soap.

 

Vegetarian Journal Article Veg Journal Article page 2

Dang, isn’t that compost gorgeous? We always joke that as vegans, we must have the best compost. We have a LOT of fruit/veggie trimmings and teabags in there! And at any one time, we have three compost bins as well as a heap working.

 

Veg Journal Article page 3

This recipe isn’t currently posted on this site, but we will add it shortly and update this article with a link.

Veg Journal Cover

The entire issue of Vegetarian Journal is wonderful – please pick up a copy or order it online! Additionally, if you don’t know The Vegetarian Resource Group, visit their website. It’s bursting with info of all kinds about veganism, nutrition data and loads of recipes.

Thanks for listening while I brag!🙂

Lentil Buffalo Sauce

Standard

The Dirty Hippie eats a LOT of buffalo sauce. This is not an exaggeration. The buffalo sauce comes out of our fridge at least once a day. That said, I wanted to round up a healthier version of the condiment. After all, the store bought brands, even the vegan ones, contained a LOT of fat and preservatives.

Enter Veggie and the Beast. It’s a blog I stumbled on during my search. It belongs to a gal named Katie whose boyfriend also loves buffalo sauce. She developed this healthy recipe for him – and we love it, too! A double batch is made every other week and devoured in our home!

Katie’s recipe is really different because the main ingredient is red lentils. They have both fiber and protein, adding nutritional value to this beloved condiment. The recipe contains a lot of the usual ingredients for buffalo sauce, too, like chili powder, paprika and cayenne. We omit the oil when we make this. We’ve tried it both ways and it doesn’t really seem to change the recipe much, so why not save the calories?

buffsauce_lr

Oh – the one ingredient that will change this recipe is the hot sauce. Choose a hot sauce you already enjoy, as it’s going to add a lot of the flavor – and heat! We’ve experimented with different brands and like the milder ones, like Tabasco, best for this. You may prefer something hotter.  Oh – for my folks, we also made a batch that subbed in beer for the water, and they liked that a lot, too.

This isn’t our original recipe, so I’m going to link you to Katie’s blog. You’ll find the Lentil Buffalo Sauce recipe there. Once you mix some up add it to… tofu, seitan, cauliflower, broccoli, tater tots & fries, soups, beans, baked sweet potatoes, veggie burgers  – basically, the DH would put this stuff on anything!

Lentil Buffalo Sauce by Katie at Veggie and the Beast. You’re going to be glad you did…

 

 

Junk Food Kale & Artichoke Queso Dip

Standard

Like most people, we try to eat healthy most of the time. We try to eat lots of fresh veggies and fruits, legumes, seeds. But there are times when you just want old school junk food. You know, stuff like queso dip. We added plenty of veggies to this too, so it has some redeeming qualities. You can serve it with crackers, tortilla chips or cut carrots/celery/peppers.

This is a perfect dip for watching movies and sharing with friends. As written, it’s gluten-free, too. To make this recipe easy, we use a slow cooker but you can also it make over low heat in a large pot on the stove. It’s also easy to double. Should serve 6 to 8 people, depending on how much you eat!

cheesykaledip_lr

 

Junk Food Kale and Artichoke Queso Dip

1 red onion, minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. olive oil

1 bag (2 cups) of vegan cheddar shreds (such as Daiya or Follow Your Heart)

1 cup vegan mayo (such as Just Mayo or Follow Your Heart)

1 8-oz. container plain vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti or Daiya)

1/4 cup  vegan sour cream (such as Tofutti or Follow Your Heart)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 Tbs. yellow mustard

1 14 -oz. can quartered artichokes, drained

1 large bunch kale, any variety, sliced into thin strips

few dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco

1/2 cup scallions, chopped, to garnish

crackers, fresh cut veggies, or tortilla chips, to serve

 

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add to a slow cooker with vegan cheddar shreds, vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream, vegan mayo, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, yellow mustard, artichokes, sliced kale and hot sauce. Heat on low for three to four hours.

Before serving, top with fresh chopped scallions. Serve with dippers – like crackers, tortillas and fresh cut veggies.

 

 

Lemongrass Risotto

Standard

The lemongrass in our garden is already tall and ready to cook with. Love that! Lemongrass is frequently used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, but for this dish, we added its exotic, bright flavor to an Italian meal: risotto. This fusion is a match made in heaven, combining the Asian tastes of lemongrass and coconut with Italian arborio rice, white wine with garlic.

Don’t have lemongrass in your garden? (It’s easy to grow by the way. Try it, lemongrass loves container gardens, too!)  We have found it locally at regular grocery stores with the fresh herbs in the produce section and any Asian grocer will definitely have it! Try something different for dinner – lemongrass is refreshing and also makes a wonderful tea that can be served hot or cold.

lemongrassrisotto_lr

Lemongrass Risotto

2 cans coconut milk

2 stalks of fresh lemongrass

2-3 cloves garlic

2 cups arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup dry white wine

2 shallots, finely minced

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish (optional)

 

Start by making lemongrass infusion. Combine 2 cans coconut milk with chopped lemongrass and mashed garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and turn off. Allow to sit at least one hour, or store in fridge overnight to maximize flavors.

To make risotto, two large cook pots are needed.

Start by draining lemongrass infusion liquid into a saucepan and add vegetable broth and dry white wine. Discard lemongrass and garlic solids. Warm gently over medium heat.

In a second saucepan, toast arborio rice over medium-low heat until nutty-smelling and lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add 2 cups of the coconut milk-vegetable broth-wine combination and stir into rice. Add chopped shallots. Stir frequently and continue to add more liquid by the 1/2-cup as it is absorbed. When all the liquid is in the rice, and the texture is thick and stick,  it’s done!

Serve warm and garnish as desired with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.

 

A year goes by

Standard

May first will always be a meaningful day to the Dirty Hippie and I. It’s the day last year when our greyhound, Lochrima, died. Though we had ten wonderful years with her, and she lived a long life – age 13 – it’s always too soon to say goodbye to your beloved. Twelve complete months have passed since we lost her to cancer. Many friends and clients have missed her, stopping by to have dinner or coming in for new headshots or family pictures, and her familiar golden eyes were not there to greet them. We have been overwhelmed, learning how many people loved Lochrima. The stack of sympathy cards was several inches high and almost a dozen clients & friends made donations to various rescues in her honor.

lochrima_lrWhich led us to wonder… how can we best honor her? As we came out of the grief of her absence, our course was illuminated: we would foster 13 dogs before adopting another forever-companion. What better way to honor our time with Lochrima than to help 13 other dogs find a love of their own? We like to think she would be proud.

Now, make no mistake, fostering is not easy. Nathaniel and I knew it was going to be a challenge. After all, when you foster, you take in a homeless animal, love it, care for it – and let it go when the right adopter comes along. This is love on loan. Could we bear 13 more heartbreaks?

Today, May 1 2016, we are happy to report that we have successfully fostered 8 dogs.  We’d like you to meet them…

Bullwinkle_lrFirst came tiny Bullwinkle. At age six, this mini-dachshund found himself out of a home and suffering from physical and emotional issues. His adoption group was Dachshund Rescue of North America and he was with us about one month. We got to witness this little guy really come along, healing in spirit and body, and finally go to a home where he is adored.

FallHounds_lrNext, we fostered Ripley (lower right). He finished his racing career in Florida and found his way to Greyhound Rescue Inc.  Ripley was placed with a wonderful family in Baltimore – we occasionally get to see updates on his happy new life.

Foster number three was MariMae, a retired racer from Alabama (top). This girl had it going on! We really adored this southern belle – she loved to snuggle and was so smart. She learned to sit and shake paws in only two days! Who says greyhounds don’t sit? Of all the dogs we let go, MariMae was the hardest to date. But we stayed on task and loved seeing photos of her with her new family.

Also retired from a track in Alabma was Stan (lower left). This good-looking dude was the shortest foster ever – finding his new home in literally one day!

LittleZoey_lrWe had the pleasure of co-fostering tiny Zoey dog in December, also from DRNA. This sweet pup was a mix of Chinese crested and terrier, and honestly, she was one of the most well-mannered dogs we’ve ever met. We were happy to see her go to a forever home in time for the holidays with an employee from Bark! Now we have another reason to shop at our favorite local pet store – hoping to say hello to Zoey!

Jacks

After New Year’s, we got Jacks from DRNA. This wily fellow loved to PLAY. He could literally play for five hours at a time with no break. Both of us had so much fun with him – and got our exercise for sure! Lucky guy – he went home with a couple that enjoyed hiking, so he gets loads of time outside to wear him out. Hope they also have a good supply of tennis balls.

blackHounds_lrAll dogs are gorgeous, but sometimes, one is a little more gorgeous. That was Gable (bottom, vertical). To call him handsome is sort of an understatement. We were happy to see Gorgeous Gabe find a home only two miles from us! We get to see him, and he’s now living with his cousin, Shelley, another retired racer.

Our most recent foster was pretty hound dog, Mohican (top). Another southern belle, she came from Alabama and was a little shy. Which made it all the more disarming and sweet when she gave out a kiss. She went home with a family in Maryland, and we occasionally get update texts.

Fostering all eight of these special dogs has been rewarding. One of the most incredible parts was realizing how many great dogs are out there, looking for a forever home. Every single one of these eight dogs was loving, fun and beautiful. They were all amazing companions. It’s mind bending to us how so many fantastic dogs end up in shelters or homeless  – or euthanized. Big thanks to our friends at DRNA and GRI for saving and homing these magnificent animals – we are proud to have been part of the process.

We are still five fosters away from #13. At the moment, we’re on the fence about what to do when we reach #13. Should we immediately adopt again… or keep fostering to help more dogs find homes? After all, when you adopt – you save one life. But when you foster, you save two – because a space opens at a kennel, plus you can make a homeless dog transition more smoothly by training him or her to be house-friendly.

Nathaniel and I are still deciding what will happen when we get to #13. Until then, we hope that our precious Lochrima is honored by the work we have done in her name. And that all eight of our fosters are as happy and spoiled in their homes as our girl was during her decade with us.

Getting Some Ink

Standard

We love famous vegans. We’ve met a few over the years… Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Gene Baur, Dr. Neal Barnard, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. They’re kind of a big deal.

But maybe, just maybe, we can share in that spotlight for a minute. It’s our 15 seconds of shared fame.

See, we produce events for Baltimore Vegan Drinks. Back in February, we co-produced a Vegan Mac and Cheese Smackdown with the rock stars over at PEP Foods. We all agreed it would be a super fundraiser for PEP Foods and just a fun good time – who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Well, more than 1000 people came. Baltimore really showed up. It was amazing.

And then, the Washington Post used it as the lede for a huge article on vegan mac. DAMN! The story started on the front of the food section and jumped twice. It was a LOT of ink committed to vegan mac and cheese.

Vegan Mac ArticleIn addition to using quotes from Rissa (aka the Bohemian Girl), they also interviewed our friend Brenda from PEP Foods, as well as famed vegan author and Food Network winner, Chef Chloe Coscarelli in New York City, and the owners of Annie’s Organics. How did I land with all these folks? For real???

WashPostArticle2_lrAnyhow, check out the link to the article here. There are four vegan mac and cheese recipes, as well as the prose section by reporter Kristen Hartke. We love the article’s angle on vegan food, and plan to try all the mac recipes over the next few weeks.

Wonder how Isa Chandra or Gene Baur felt the first time they were quoted in a major international newspaper? Seeing how they’re both big vegan celebs now, I’m sure it’s just another day. Everyone has the FIRST time though… for us, this was the first time the Washington Post called to talk about vegan food. Here’s hoping they call again!