Foster pups

March 21, 2010

For us, a vegan lifestyle goes beyond what we eat and which products we choose to buy. We also enjoy helping out animals in need. Recently, we fostered two dogs for Labs 4 Rescue. I wanted to tell their stories.

Foster #1 Rex

We picked Rex up at an adoption event at Uberdog in West Hartford, CT. At first glance, I wondered how we might deal with such a large dog in our tiny house. Rex was 90 lbs. and pulled on the leash when I took him outside. In all honesty, I was not immediately charmed by him. We stayed at the event for about an hour, met many other wonderful labs in need. My impression of Rex soon changed when we got him home. He had amazing house manners and was excellent at the dog park. He and Wiggy seemed to hit it off right away, too. We really fell in love with Rex and were quick to give him nicknames and allow him free reign of the house and our bed. He was perhaps the snuggliest dog I’ve ever met. Applications for him filtered in, and we chose a couple in the next town over for his forever home. They met us at the dog park, did the whole 3 mile course with us, and that was enough for me. Today, we visited visit Rex for his 2nd birthday. I made him some delicious peanut butter carob cupcakes to celebrate with.

Foster #2 Brownie

Interestingly enough, upon first glance, Brownie looked very promising… small and super handsome. This impression soon changed during the car ride home from CT with him. Never again will I drive an hour and a half on the highway during rush hour with a dog I have never met before. Brownie was all over me. I had to pull over on the shoulder in order to avoid an accident. I tried building a barricade of jackets, but he tore it down. Luckily, I had about 20 dog biscuits in the car. Each time he tried to come up front, I would toss a piece into the back seat, he would go fetch it. I did this for a good hour, and luckily, it kept him away from me and in the back seat. Brownie was hyper with a capital H. We were unable to keep him outside the crate in our home. Fine  at the dog park but not fine anywhere else.  He ate my curtains, he ate my pants. A few times, Brownie latched on to my and Patirck’s arms, sometimes breaking skin. These incidents couple with his super hyper behaior made us realize that Brownie was just not ready to go into an adoptve home. After informng the rescue group, they agreed that they would fund his stay at Canine College (basically a doggie boot camp) in order for him to be whipped into shape.

After a not so fun week with Brownie, we made the drive to Canine College and left him in the hands of who we felt were some extremely competent trainers.  Of course, we didn’t leae the area before stopping for lunch at Prana Raw Food Cafe http://www.thepranacafe.com/ for some veggie burgers and nachos. Delicious. I wish we had photos!

What I learned from the time with Brownie was that patience was key and that his behavior was really not his fault. It’s very likely that he  just had a some very absent owners during his young puppy life and that he was taken from his mother too young. We’re wishing him the best in his training and hoping that he hooks up with a loving forever home.

Substitutes?

March 17, 2010

Maybe I’m just a crazy vegan, but it seems to me that many people think of us as being “deprived.” I have to disagree, and I’ve done this many times here. Our pizza is good. Our nachos are good. Our desserts are good. Maybe I’m too caught up in my veganism to know the difference, but I think, unless you’re tasting dairy/non-dairy versions of these things one after another or you’re a skeptical carnivore, it’s tasty and not drastically different from “normal” dishes.

To this point, Nicole and I cooked a great pasta vodka sauce. We used soy milk, diced tomatoes, some marinara, capers and vodka. No doubt one would have to have some trained tastebuds to know the sauce was non-dairy. Delicious stuff.

Another substitution that might not be so easily imagined — tempeh reubens. They are wonderful though and common on vegetarian menus. We’ve used a recipe from Veg News several times to great effect. It has a lot of herbs/spices in it (dill, garlic, paprika, bay leaves and more), grilled onions, sauerkraut and dairy-free Thousand Island Dressing. Great flavors that I would present to any cantankerous carnivore.

Nicole has been making a marvelous bagna cauda (italian for “hot bath”) from The Urban Vegan cookbook. It has to be some of the most flavorful food I’ve tasted, and it’s quite simple. You fry garlic in olive oil and then add mushrooms and miso. It’s salty and garlicky and breathtakingly yummy. We usually use it as a bread dip, but we’ve also used it as a veggie dip, and it pairs very well with red wine. We made tofu ricotta, grilled balsamic artichokes and traditional bruschetta to have with the bagna cauda. This was dining well, but also simply and inexpensively.

We both love chard and quiche and saw a recipe in Veg News for a chard and tofu quiche. It turned out very well, and we realize we need to make it more often.

Earlier this week, we went to Bela for the first time in a while, and we were extremely satisfied (as usual) with our meals.  I had peanut and red curry mixed veggies with tofu, and Nicole had five-spice and cilantro tempeh and bok choy. Bela does such a great job overall, and individually, their service, cooking, presentation and creativity really can’t be beat. We feel fortunate to have it in our area.