Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Cow

There is a great little website I've joined called which is basically a vegetarian and vegan guide to the world! Places to eat, recipes, humour, personalities, a forum and a blog... So now, whenever I stumble across a good veg/vegan place, I'm going to list them at HappyCow - and you can too!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Still Hungry for a Burger?

It's not unusual to read these kinds of stories.
But each one saddens and outrages me just the same...

Meet your Meat!

From Yahoo News:

'LOS ANGELES - An undercover video showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with
forklifts has led to the largest beef recall in the United States and a scramble to find out if any of the meat is still destined for school children's lunches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is the subject of an animal-abuse investigation.

The recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the federal agency said. The company provided meat to various federal programs.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said his department has evidence that Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.

"Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, Food Safety and Inspection Service has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall," Schafer said in a statement.

A phone message left for Westland president Steve Mendell was not returned Sunday.

Agriculture officials said the massive recall surpasses a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats. No illnesses have been linked to the newly recalled meat, and officials said the health threat was likely small.

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

"We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action," said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety.

Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/Hallmark after an undercover video from the Humane Society of the United States surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.

Two former employees were charged Friday. Five felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanors were filed against a pen manager. Three misdemeanor counts — illegal movement of a non-ambulatory animal — were filed against an employee who worked under that manager. Both were fired.

Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing "downer" animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino County prosecutor Michael Ramos said.

No charges have been filed against Westland, but an investigation by federal authorities continues.

About 150 school districts around the nation have stopped using ground beef from Hallmark Meat Packing Co., which is associated with Westland. Two fast-food chains, Jack-In-the-Box and In-N-Out, said they would not use beef from Westland/Hallmark.

Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages. The USDA said it will work with distributors to determine how much meat remains.

Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease since they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak.

Upon learning about the recall, some legislators criticized the USDA, saying the federal agency should conduct more thorough inspections to ensure tainted beef doesn't get to the public.

"Today marks the largest beef recall in U.S. history, and it involves the national school lunch program and other federal food and nutrition programs," said U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "This begs the question: How much longer will we continue to test our luck with weak enforcement of federal food safety regulations?"

Advocacy groups also weighed in, noting the problems at Westland wouldn't have been revealed had it not been for animal right activists.

"On the one hand, I'm glad that the recall is taking place. On the other, it's somewhat disturbing, given that obviously much of this food has already been eaten," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. "It's really closing the barn door after the cows left."'

To see this story at Yahoo, click here.

Stay Vegan, Friends.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Moment of Truth...

...and the camera batteries died!

Oh well, here it is - as far as I managed to capture it in glorious technocolour....

Humphrey, relaxing unsuspecting in his favourite spot by the fire:

The boys together - Humphrey and his older brother, Darwin - enjoying 'a moment'...

And now, the moment of truth...

Waiting for the 'OK!'....

And then the batteries gave out and the camera closed itself down.


Stay vegan (and recharged!), Friends!

Humphrey's First Birthday Cake - Not Before Time!

And now for something completely different!

Fans of this blog (yes, I know you are legion!) are accustomed to my ramblings about food I'm preparing for My Beloved and I, potlucks, various friends' dinners etc etc. But here is a first!

Deep breath!

The promised vegan doggie birthday cake!!!

I have adapted a recipe found in The Everything Cooking for Dogs - a nice little publication, but one which is not overtly animal-friendly if you don't happen to be canine, calling as it does for ground up turkeys and chickens' eggs. Not to worry, I thought, this can be veganized! And so I went to work....

Step 1:

Pour yourself a nice glass of wine! It's Sunday afternoon (in this case) and you are baking a cake for your canine companion - you deserve a nice glass of something!!

Step 2:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and then assemble the ingredients. You will need the following:

1 cup canned beets
2 bananas
1 cup canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup of soy crumbles (cooked)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk

In this recipe, the bananas replace the 4 eggs you would have used and the soy crumbles replace the ground up turkey flesh of the original recipe. Think of it this way: no cholesterol for your beloved pooch and no-one - not man or beast - gets hurt in the creation of that special little gift for your beloved four-legged friend.  

Step 3:

In a food processor, blitz the beets thus:

Then add the oil and bananas and blitz until smooth, thus:

The mixture is now thick and creamy, mainly due to the mashing of the bananas.

Step 4:

In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together and form a well in the center.

Pour in the pink beet mix and stir until combined.

Step 5:

Stir in the grated carrots and the cooked soy crumbles. If you are unsure about the soy crumbles, this is what I used:

And it looked like this:

Step 6: 

The mixture is likely to be very thick, so now is the moment to thin it down a little with a scant 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk. I used soymilk, but ricemilk is equally good!

Step 7:

Lightly oil 2 8-inch pans and coat with flour and divide the mix between the pans.

Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until a toothpicks comes out clean.

Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cool.

To finish the job, I creamed together some vegan cream cheese, a little powdered sugar, some additional grated carrots and a hint of non-dairy milk, sandwiching the cakes together like this:

And here is the almost finished result:

A close-up of that yummy beety-fake sausage-y mix...

I must say, it was a particularly odd thing to bake insofar as the kitchen smelled disturbingly like roasting pork. I have no idea to what I can attribute this happening - no pigs were involved directly or indirectly in the creation of this celebration. My Beloved was dog-proofing our last floor-level cupboard when he noticed it, and dragged me in to confirm he was not, in fact, completely losing his marbles. No, I verified, that really smells like pork crackling...

So if anyone out there in Blogland can explain this phenomenon to me, I would be especially grateful!

Humphrey and his brother Darwin are currently eating their dinner, after which they'll have a slice of cake. I'll document that as it happens, but for now...

Stay vegan, Friends!