Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Riddle Me a Riddle

Question for you....

What connects literature, animals and the iPad?

Give up?

OK, well the answer is simple: Animal Writes, the new book club just announced by the vegan dynamo Colleen Patrick-Goudreau! Yes, not content with producing her fortnightly podcast, working on 3 upcoming books, guest lecturing all over creation, publishing everywhere good words are read, and guest column-ing (can we just pretend that's a word?) at VegNews, now she's starting a book club too.

Word has it that she's focusing on the kind of texts she occasionally reads on the podcast - books that examine the relationship we have with animals but which are not necessarily hard-core animal-rights treatise. The first meeting is going to highlight Don LePan's novel, Animals, which is set in a dystopian reality in which some species have become so scarce that 'other' sources of flesh must be found in order to satisfy man's craving for meat....

Anyways, the really neat thing about this book club is that it'll meet in the flesh (pardon the pun) if you happen to live in the San Francisco area and also online for those of us not - yet - so fortunate as to find ourselves in the Bay Area. More details are available at the website

Compassionate Cooks Book Club - Animal Writes

so, without wanting to sound like a complete cliche, go check it out!

Yes, literature and animals...not a bad way to spend an evening!

Perhaps I'll see you there...virtually anyhow! :)

Oh, and if you're wondering how the iPad plays into this - LePan's book is available in e-format through iBooks. Just saying.....

Stay vegan, friends! :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Beagle's Battles: Update on Darwin

Sometimes it's easy to feel overwhelmed but all of the bad news there is about animals, especially in relation to the way we treat them. Whether it's through other blogs, my Facebook community, the forums I subscribe to, Twitter or any of the other myriad ways in which I get to hear vegan and animal-rights/abolitionist news it's usually linked to the dark side of the human spirit. So today I realised it was time to redress the balance a little and, albeit indulgent, I'm posting an update about Darwin, my beagle.

As you may know, Darwin is the first animal companion to come to live with My Beloved and I. He was rescued almost 10 years ago from a municipal 'shelter' and has been our constant and faithful companion ever since. Don't misunderstand - he is not loyal because he owes us a debt of gratitude. No, it's more that he knows which house has the biggest cookie jar. Equally, he's not faithful because he adores us...he just hasn't figured out how to unlock the front door and escape.

Be that as it may, loyal and faithful he is - despite his motivations and physical limitations (front door locks tend to require a degree of dexterity afforded only by the use of thumbs). And, from our side, we totally adore him. So it was quite a shock when we took him for a routine teeth cleaning several months ago and learned he had cancer.

They didn't immediately use the 'C-word'; they said 'lymphoma', which I misheard as 'lipoma'. Well, he's had several of those, I replied confidently, and they're always benign....When the full reality sank in and I came to understand the situation, My Beloved and I reviewed our options. Although we live in a somewhat progressive and 'alternate' area, we did not feel sufficiently confident to eshew conventional therapies altogether, so opted for a middle path of chemo combined with a program of acupuncture, nutritional therapy and chinese herbals. And it does seem to be working well: he's following a 25 week chemo protocol and has been officially 'in remission' since week #6. What's more, his quality of life is almost completely uncompromised. He does not suffer nausea or vomiting and retains full control of his 'bodily functions', he has boundless energy and a wolf-like appetite and generally does not show any outward signs of illness. OK, the food regime requires a little care, but it's a tiny price to pay for terrific benefits..

Now let me say up front that I am not a medical doctor, I do not have veterinary skills, and I am not an expert in nutrition: I am just someone who's experimented and observed what works with my particular dog. And I'm also someone who refuses to accept a paltry 6-month prolongation of life expectancy or the idea that we are helpless in the face of illness. So with that caveat out of the way, here's what we've been doing with Darwin to achieve the results so far....

As said, the whole treatment regime includes conventional chemotherapy, twice monthly acupuncture, chinese herbal treatments, nutritional therapy, a multi-vitamin and mushroom extract. Although that sounds like a lot, it's actually really easy. We changed his one-meal-per-day routine to two smaller meals per day to help him have sustained energy and minimize the blood sugar lows. Every morning he has a half portion of his dry kibble - Natural Balance, vegetarian formula (which actually is vegan) - plus about 3/4 cup of cooked red lentils. The idea with these lentils is to boost his easily digestible proteins and skew the balance of his food towards the protein and fat and away from the carbs. He also has his first dose of the chinese herbals  - one capsule hidden in a ball of peanut butter.

In the evening, he has the second half of his dry kibble, again with the lentils, but we also add in a good tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil (for Omegas), a teaspoon of liquid multi-vitamins and the powdered contents of a maitake mushroom supplement capsule. We had experimented with mashed beans instead of the lentils but he doesn't seem to appreciate the texture as much. The cannellini beans were deemed acceptable, but the red kidney beans were apparently something of an affront to his delicate palate. Perhaps had we blitzed them in the food processor that would have been ok, but as it was hand mashing them clearly didn't cut it. The bean skins were carefully isolated and spat out disdainfully onto the floor around his bowl and we were rewarded only by the most half-hearted tail thump you've ever seen. With the lentils, however, the bowl of food is inhaled more than eaten and he always graces us with a big beagle-y smile.

Last thing at night, as a little treat, he gets his second dose of the Wei Qi booster, wrapped either in a peanut butter ball or stuffed into a strawberry. Yeah, taking pills has never been so easy!

A couple of folks have asked me how the treatment is going so I guess this post is an answer to that question. So far, the combination of allopathic and complementary medicines, excellent nutrition, lots of TLC and Darwin's own indomitable spirit seem to be just what the doctor ordered. He's doing great...if you'd like to see what he's up to click here!

Enjoy and stay vegan, friends!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Restaurant Review: Karma (Northampton, MA)

This evening, My Beloved and I managed to follow through with our plan to check out Karma, the new vegan restaurant which opened in Northampton last week. When we learned that its specialty was raw food, I have to confess that I was a little disappointed as I feel - rightly or wrongly - that the raw niche is such a small segment of the vegan community. And if we are to have one dedicated vegan restaurant, I would have preferred it to be one which serves both raw and cooked options.

However, I will admit that I was very, very pleasantly surprised. Karma is a cross between a restaurant and a cafe - casual yet elegant, friendly yet impressive. The decor is quite formal with blown glass pendant lighting and button vases of fresh flowers on each table. My Beloved and I arrived early in the evening - around 7pm - and there were only a couple of other tables occupied. Oh dear, we thought....

Our trepidation vanished very rapidly though when we saw the menu. It is surprisingly extensive, with appetizers, soups, entrees, sandwiches and noodles, albeit the sandwiches are available only for the lunch menu. To begin, we selected the Veggie Nori Wrap and the Nut Cheese and Cracker Platter both of which turned out to be superb. The home-made dehydrated crackers were a touch spicy and peppery, and the soft heapings of nut cheese were tangy and fresh - a real winner! Likewise the nori wraps were beautiful in presentation and very tasty too.

For our entrees, I chose the butternut squash fettucini noodles with cashew cream sauce, which looked delightful on the plate - ribbons of curled shavings of golden-orange squash, enrobed in a pale silken cream sauce. My one criticism of the dish might be that the fettuccini noodles were perhaps just that fraction too thick which made eating them harder work than their non-raw, conventional equivalent would be. But that is a very minor point, I'm sure, and one born of my unfamiliarity with the raw scene. The cashew cream sauce, on the other hand, was very good and plentiful and the wide noodles proved an excellent vehicle for sauce delivery! My Beloved opted wisely for the zucchini and summer squash 'angel hair noodles' with a pesto sauce, which was the clear winner. Although we both found the pesto is a little thin in consistency and hence not as bold a flavor as it could have been, this was easily remedied with a sprinkling of salt, making for a really delicious dish!

And so to dessert: we had a hard time choosing between the raspberry coconut cheesecake, dark chocolate cherry brownie a la mode and pineapple carrot cake. Personally I wanted to try them all, but was persuaded that we really ought to save something for the next visit so plumped for the first two, as the brownie came with vanilla bean ice-cream. Thus we got to try three items anyways!!!!! And they were the highlight of the meal  - absolutely excellent! Both plates had beautiful presentation with very enjoyable attention to detail. Each bite of the cheesecake was smooth and creamy, and the swirl of sweet raspberry in the main body of the cheesecake accented the mild coconut flavour. The sweet almond crust was wafer thin yet held together nicely. Our second selection, the cherry brownie, had a gorgeous chewy texture and was studded with cherry pieces. Not too sweet, it sported a crown of coconut milk-based ice cream with a creamy, luscious consistency.

Although we did not leave room for an after dinner tea, Karma does offer a lengthy list of artisanal brews in all shades - black, green, white, red. They also have a line in herbal blends from Camomile to Fairytale to Chai to 'Persephone's Tea' - dandelion root, burdock root, Oregon grape root, yellow dock root, eleuthero root and milk thistle seed.

The service was excellent too - casual but very friendly and comfortable and our server was very quick to point out clearly that this was a raw vegan restaurant, so no-one could claim ignorance. Which we really appreciated because we like to know what we're getting into. The prices were very reasonable, with entrees ranging from $8 to $15, but skewed to the lower end. The whole meal, with a fruit smoothie each, came to less than $60, which coincidentally was the price per head for the tasting menu of the only other raw food restaurant we've ever been to. And that evening, we went home hungry...

This evening, in contrast, we have some nice leftovers in a recycled paper-based container - so much better than plastic! - and full bellies of fresh, organic, local, nourishing and delicious food. And you can't ask for much more than that.

Good start, Karma, let's keep it going!
Oh, and next time, could you add me to the list of invitees when you have a social event??? Just asking...

Eat well and stay vegan, friends!

At last, an iPad!

Today, at long last, I bought an iPad. I really hope it'll help me in so many ways, one of which is in letting me update Cackleberry a little more frequently and more easily. It's not that I don't have anything to say, but that - like everyone else - I have limited time to write. So the snatched 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there are going to come in handy as I get back to a more frequent and regular blogging habit.

One of the first things I'll be doing is a restaurant review. Tonight My Beloved - without whom, let's face it, the iPad would have continued to be a dream - and I are going to visit Karma, the new vegan restaurant I mentioned in my last post. It turns out that their niche within a niche is actually raw vegan. And as neither of us are huge fans of raw food - except the naturally raw stuff like fruits and veg and salads - this will be interesting. Nevertheless, intrepidly we go forward this evening and will report what we uncover at Karma!

Meanwhile I shall continue to learn what this neat little iPad doohicky can do....

Stay vegan, friends!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A brand spanking new vegan restaurant opened in NoHo today.

'Karma' held its pre-opening party, hosting the illuminati of the local vegan community.

I was not invited.

Meep! :(

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I just might be an i-Egan...

Yet again, it has been an absolute age since I last managed to post anything. But it is not for lack of will, but more for lack of time. But I do care about this blog and I love the folks who actually take time out of their busy lives to read my mumblings, so with that in mind, I have a few rambling thoughts for you today.

First, I have to say how freakishly happy I am that spring is finally sprung. Here in New England, the winters really are a royal pain in the posterior and I have truly had enough. As I think I've mentioned before, I do not ski, I do not snow-shoe and I do not ice-skate - purposely anyhow. All I do from November through April is take my life in my hands twice a day to drive to work and spend my 'free time' shoveling snow off the driveway so I can perform the aforementioned death-defying 'driving-to-work' act...

But spring is here and with it comes fun weekend brunches like this one today - vegan crepes, fresh berries, oranges and pineapple. With a splash of coffee rounding out the fun. During brunch, I had a quick perusal of the vegan blogosphere and found the most hilarous comment on a post by the always erudite Mylène Ouellet of My Face is On Fire. Her post, Hegans Indeed, was very interesting and reflected on the creation, by Boston Globe writer Kathleen Pierce, of the term 'hegan' to describe men of a certain age who take to veganism in order to 'cheat death'. However, it was in the comments section that I found a veritable dictionary, created by Philip Steir, of other wannabe vegan terms. I am shamelessly reproducing it here because I think it's wonderful. Enjoy:

Megans= People in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s who are vegan because it's all about them!

Wegans= a collective of humans who embracing an animal free product lifestyle of eating habits so as to feel a part of a group who cheat lonliness, alienation and the feeling of being isolated in ones solo veganism.

Fegans= Females in their 30s,40s and 50s who are vegan because it really adds on that extra amount of femininity to their womaness.

Veguns= both men and women in their late 20s (but can be of many ages) who eschew animal products for a wide variety of reasons, but just don't know how to spell very well.

Pegans= Heathens who no longer believe in eating animals.

Tegans=First half of the identical twin sister Canadian indie band from Calgary who no longer eat animals but play guitars, write and sing songs mainly about meeting boys (maybe girls also) on the road who only care about meeting Sara.

Begans=the new face of veganism..Literally! Those who begin embracing a restrictive lifestyle the minute they begin life. Many start at conception however, some may start at birth or right upon exiting the womb whichever they believe comes first. There is ongoing heated and often rage filled internet arguments on when this type of veganism actually begins.

Chegans=Revolutionary marxist socialist hipster men in their late 20s early 30s who no longer eat animal products because of leftist communist trademark issues in regard to on going legal and illegal t-shirt copyright sales disputes.

Kegans=Men and women who no longer eat animal products while contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor.

Phegans=hegans (males in their 40s and 50s...well all men actually) who put a big capital P in front of their title as to make up for feelings of certain inadequacies.

i-Egans=People who follow a strict Apple only diet.

Regans=Philosophers who no longer eat subjects of a life yet will save a human over a dog if the life boat gets too crowded or sea gets a bit rough.

Just fabulous! And if you liked that as much as I did, check out Philip's blog over at Vegan Sanctuary.

Thanks for stopping by and stay vegan, friends!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Humphrey!

Humphrey is one of the loves of my life. He's a min-pin-dachshund cross who joined us in his 'forever home' this weekend in 2004. As a rescued pup from Tennessee, his background is a bit of a mystery, even to the point that we don't know his exact birthday, or even age. All we know is that he was rescued from a high-kill shelter in TN and brought up to New England by the good folks of the FACES network. These people are like a modern day 'underground railroad', saving countless lives by transporting non-humans from areas where they will be killed to loving homes. And just because we don't know exactly when he was born - and he's sure not telling! - does not stop us from celebrating him and marking his 'honorary birthday' each year on President's Day weekend. Today, he looked forward to and seemed to thoroughly enjoy a slice of birthday cake...

A Carrot and Vegan Sausage Cake with non-dairy Cream Cheese Filling:

Savouring the moment and knowing that it's all for you:

Trying to keep it on the plate:

OK, it's all toooooo good!:


Looking for every last crumb:

Happy 'Birthday' Humphrey and many - MANY - more to come!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love is...

Valentine's Day has become such a Hallmark Card Day and it's time to reclaim it for lovers everywhere. Love is not about sending a card or buying overpriced roses, hot-housed and flown in from heaven knows where just for the occasion.

IMHO, love is about putting a smile on the face of someone precious, it's making an effort, setting someone else's needs or wants ahead of your own while knowing that they'd do the same. It's recognizing that you are simultaneously a tiny part of the world, yet the whole world to someone outside of yourself. And it's knowing your place and being comfortable there.

Today, my place was at the brunch table with my wonderful husband:

Where we enjoyed vegan crepes stuffed with caramelised bananas, and a medley of mango, nectarine, strawberries, blackberries, pear and melon. We shared a pot of fresh coffee and a mimosa.....or two. It was simple but delicious.

And you know what made it all the more delicious? Learning this morning that the efforts we've all been making to rescue those three bulls from slaughter - the ones in my previous posts - have succeeded and the boys are safe.

Now THAT is the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

THAT is love.

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Compassionate Art

Etsy artists are leading the way in the campaign to save the bulls in Oregon. According to Jodi from This Is It! Creations, this is a current listing of the Vegan Etsy artists who are donating all or part of their sales or profits to the fund to save Pooka Cow, Spotty Friend and Less Spotty Friend from slaughter.

Jodi herself is donating 100% of sales tomorrow and again the following Wed. from her main shop

Heather, from Holistically Heather, is very graciously donating 100% of profits in her shop from now until 2/13.

Susmitha, from Veganosaurus, is graciously donating 50% of her sales from now until 2/15 in her shop

Michele, from mvegan5, is graciously donating 10% of her sales from now until 2/15 in her shop

Another Heather, from 3AM Art Productions, is graciously donating 100% of her sales from now until 2/13 in her shop

Lynn, from Lola Lynn's ACEOs To Go, is donating proceeds from her bracelets at

Kimba from Kimba's Critters will be donating 50% of sales through 2/11 to these 3 bulls.

Kelly from Lean Dog Pottery will be donating 20% of her sales from now until the 13th!

Sooooo...if you were considering making a purchase of great, hand-crafted stuff from vegan is the time to do it!

Jodi has written to Alicia Silverstone (tweeted and posted a blog on her site) to see if she can get some celeb help and I can only cross my fingers that she succeeds.

Remember, even if you don't buy online or don't shop at Etsy, checks are always acceptable! :) Here's the mailing address again:

This Is IT! Creations
P.O. Box 1252
Jacksonville, OR 97530

Thanks and stay vegan, friends! :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another chance to do 'just one thing'....

Picking up the thread once again from a couple of posts ago on doing 'just one thing' to help an animal, here's an opportunity to help three. A Facebook friend of mine has just started a campaign to raise funds to save 3 bulls from slaughter - she has 2 weeks and needs to raise $3600 to 'purchase' these animals, who she will house, at least temporarily, on her own 11-acre property in Oregon. These babies are only 2 years old and she has come to regard them as friends - they have a lot of living ahead of them but only if we can raise the money to save them from slaughter.

Learn more about the rescue by clicking here.

You can donate online via that Chip-In site link or mail a check to the following address:

This Is IT! Creations
P.O. Box 1252
Jacksonville, OR 97530

Please take a moment to learn about Pooka Cow (the brown one), Spotty Friend, and Less Spotty Friend and consider donating to help secure their future.

Thanks and stay vegan, friends! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sometimes I struggle...

Sometimes I struggle with how enormous the problem is. How invisible the animals' suffering remains in a society determined, by and large, to stay blind, deaf and indifferent. And I struggle particularly with the last of these, which is by far the worst: indifference. Even when people, individually, carefully and with compassion, are shown the truth and see how easy it is to prevent the pain, suffering and death of others, they turn their faces away and shrug their indifference:

But it TASTES so good!
But I can't live without MY cheese!
But I WANT it!

I want; I want; I WANT!!!

Sometimes this kind of casual, unthinking selfishness just rips me apart. Some days I really can't take the despair, the powerlessness, the knowledge.

Today is one of those days. It's a day in which I can't seem to see much redeemable in humankind.

I discovered a piece of writing by Jim Willis and could not help but think of my own two dogs. Both boys were both brought home from a shelter or a pound - society's cast-offs - and, in each case, I could not want for a more loving and loyal companion.


"How Could You?"

"When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them, especially their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being your dog to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a new career opportunity in another city and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with "papers."

You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty."

~ Jim Willis, 2001


By nature, I guess I am not exactly an optimist. I would win no prizes in the 'Person Most Likely to See the Bright Side' Awards - hell, I wouldn't even be placed! But then I also read this, and it helped me breathe:

“The Animals’ Savior”

'I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.
And I was angry.

"God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do something?"

God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly.

"I have done something," He replied.
"I created you.” '

~ Jim Willis, 1999

Find something to help you breathe, and be well, vegan friends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yeah, I made bite me!

There are three wonderful men in my life - one human and two non-human. Today I baked cookies for them all - well, everyone needs a cookie now and again. So the pups got a batch of 'Peanut Butter Bite-Me' cookies which are a slight adaptation from a recipe in K-9 Nation Biscuit Book (as featured a couple of posts ago). They are basically a PB & J for pups and this is how they go....

You will need:

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups wholewheat flour
3/4 cup rolled barley
1 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp jam - I like strawberry
2 tbsp fruit juice

OK, let's bake!

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours and the rolled barley
3. In a measuring jug combine the water, olive oil and the peanut butter. I popped mine in the microwave for about a minute to warm the peanut butter a little and make it easier to combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently.
5. Add the jam of your choice and the fruit juice and mix until a supple dough forms.
6. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden-brown and firm to the touch.

The oddest thing happened - when they emerged from the oven, some of the cookies were pre-tasted, ready-nibbled you might say, as this close up quite clearly indicates...

Hmmm....hence I dubbed them 'Bite Me' cookies!

Moving on....the cookies for My Beloved were also a slightly adapted recipe, this time from Isa's new book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Since My Beloved is not partial to nuts, I switched out the macadamia requirement of the Macadamia-Ginger Crunch Drops (in the 'Drop Cookies' section - page 57, I think) and substituted vegan white chocolate chips instead.

Here's how they looked right out of the oven:

You have to let them cool 5 mins on the baking tray before transferring them to a cooling rack so I had time to get a shot. Then, once completely cooled, I managed to snap a few close-ups - well, you gotta have cookie close-ups, right?

More? More!

White chocolate and ginger-y goodness...what's not to love?

Stay vegan, friends! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Fashioned People-Food

I realize it's been a while since I wrote a good, down-home post about yummy food - not fancy, hip-widening baked goods or even arty-farty doggie cookies, but good, honest, nourishing people-food. So it's about time I rectified that with a few musings on soup: split-pea soup, to be exact.

I live in New England and, given that January is not traditionally the warmest month of the year, I decided that tonight was the perfect night for stick-to-your-ribs green pea soup from none other than Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Vegan Table

Now, for the price of a few split peas, onions, potatoes, veg stock, sundry herbs and an hour of your time, you end up with this:

To achieve this effect here's what you need and what you do...

You will need:

2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
6-7 cups vegetable stock
2 creamy potatoes, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

This is simplicity itself!
Put everything, apart from the salt and pepper, into a large soup pot and cook for about an hour. Serve.

I had mine with a fresh salad and I'll confess that I think it's absolutely the best vegan 'pea and ham soup' (as we knew it back in Ole Blighty) I've ever had!

Try it - you'll see what I mean!

Stay vegan, friends!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

K-9 Nation Biscuit Book

Boy, do I miss baking. I mean, take a look back at posts in this blog and you will see that they were overwhelmingly focused on food and especially on baking. I love to eat food so I also love to create it and, since becoming vegan, baking has brought me the most joy of all. Cupcakes, birthday cakes, scones, pastries, cookies, chocolate name it, I've baked it. My bookshelf is groaning with all of the titles any respectable vegan baker needs to own: The Joy of Vegan Baking, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery, My Sweet Vegan....and that's just the titles devoted solely to baking and desserts!

So, given my new drive to lose some weight, now that I have sworn off such temptations, how do I channel my energies? I am not sufficiently selfless to be happy making a batch of cupcakes and not partaking of one or two and I know that if I whip up a tray of scones, I will simply have to indulge - if only for quality control purposes, you understand?!?!

However, while pondering this dilemma during an unusually tedious moment at work, I hit upon the solution: more baking for doggies. Yes, Darwin and Humphrey - my two 'recycled pups' - are thriving on a vegan diet of Natural Balance, fresh vegetables and fruits and homebaked treats. The occasional shipment of Boston Baked Bonz also helps to make their day super-special! I first moved the boys away from a conventional meat-based diet because it was more consistent with my own values: if I refused to eat the flesh of tortured animals, why would I feed it to my own animal companions? I spent some time researching the subject and, when I learned specifically what goes in to the commercially available dog food, I never looked back. The 4-Ds sealed it for me: dead, dying, diseased and downer animals are what ends up in your can of (name the brand of your choice) dog food. Cancerous tumors, parts of heads, feet, viscera of all kinds are earmarked for Fido's dinner...yes, probably even ears, yum!

So I settled on Natural Balance ('vegetarian formula' which is actually vegan) because it's a good formula and is widely available. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the boys love it! Personally, I would prefer to support V-Dog as it's an out-and-proud vegan food but am leery of opting for a brand I cannot get locally - being sufficiently organized to purchase the boys' food online in a timely manner is not something I feel completely confident about, so until an East Coast store picks it up, I guess I'll stick with NB.

But getting back on track...although my decision was initially based on my own ethics, I am very encouraged to see how the diet's affecting the pups. Darwin, the beagle boy, came to us via a municipal pound and is around 11 or 12 years of age. Like us all, he has his 'creaky days' but in general he has abundant energy. On off-leash walks he is frequently mistaken for a puppy - his bounding gait, wide grin, lolling tongue and fierce tail-wagging reinforce his youthful appearance and 'Hello Pretty Puppy!' is the greeting most often overheard from his 'new friends'. Humphrey, the dachs/minpin mix, is considerably younger so has been vegan for proportionally more of his life. He is superby fit with not an ounce of fat on him, has the brightest eyes and glossiest coat of any dog I've ever known, and he can run, jump and play for hours. I think he also holds the local record for the High Speed Tail Wag (2009).

In short, both dogs really are thriving. Snacks are now composed of carrots, celery, strawberries, melon, cucumber slices, fresh blueberries, apple wedges and the like. And it's amazing to see just how well they will behave to get their chops around a humble chunk of freshly peeled carrot! I guess the sweetness delights them and the dramatic crunch which sprays orange splinters around the room must be pretty satisfying too. According to their veterinarian they are both very healthy - albeit Darwin could stand to lose a pound or two - so I think we're on the right track.

Vegan dog cookies, however, are always welcome, so today - to quell my desire to Bake Something - I whipped up a batch of Peanut Butter-Brown Sugar treats from a new cookbook I got 'from Darwin and Humphrey' for Christmas. This one:

Nope, it's not vegan, but it was a snap to veganize the recipe and it goes like this...

Here's what you need:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup nondairy milk (I used coconut milk)
1 flax 'egg' (1 tbsp ground flax seeds whisked with 3 tbsp water until thick and foamy)
veg stock for basting

Here's what you do:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2.In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda and the sugar.
3. Mix the non-dairy milk with the peanut butter so that it disperses easily (I popped it in the microwave for a minute or so to soften the peanut butter)
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the flax seed with the water until foamy.
5. Add the flax 'egg' and the milk/peanut butter to the dry ingredients and mix until you get a stiff dough. If you need to add a splash more milk, it's ok.
6. Flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and then use a pizza wheel to cut into cubes.
7. Bake for 10 mins, then remove and turn oven down to 375 degrees.
8. Brush the cookies liberally with the veg stock and put back into the oven for another 15 mins.
9. Baste the cookies again and then bake for another 15 mins. Repeat until the cookies are completely baked through. Mine needed about 45-50 mins total, but I think my oven's not calibrated correctly so yours might take less time.

Once they're cooled, this is what you'll get:

A stack o' cookies...

And perhaps your own versions of these too:

Humphrey doing a powerful 'leave it'.

Darwin: "Can I just eat already???????

Happy Baking and stay vegan, friends!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kindness Uplifts the World: Turtle

A few weeks ago, on the evening of December 14th, a call came in to the Animal Rescue League of Boston about a dog who'd been found lying in a wooded area Hyde Park, MA. She was covered in bites, scars, open and infected wounds, and was severely emaciated. She was also suffering from compression fractures - from repeated bite wounds - and there was evidence of partially healed fractures in addition.

Her name is Turtle and this is how she looked on that evening:

(Photo courtesy of Amelia Hughes)

She had lived her life as a 'bait dog' - an individual singled out usually because they are of gentle disposition and not suited for fighting. They then become the live practice animal for training fighting dogs. And when they are no longer useful in their role, they are usually killed or - as in Turtle's case - just dumped and left to die.

She was taken to Tufts Veterinary Hospital and is making an incredible recovery. But she's also accumulated quite a debt ($10,000 so far) and hence the reason for this post. I saw this video and wanted to share it with you: it's only 3.5 minutes in length and I imagine Turtle would really appreciate your attention for just that long...

Turtle's full story is available to read here on the Animal Rescue League of Boston's website. Hallmark Sotheby's International Realty is hosting a "spinning" fundraiser to help support Turtle next Saturday - January 16th - at Wellesley's Spynergy Spinning Studio. More information about it is available here. If you are in the Boston area, please do consider attending this great event - great for Turtle's health and great for yours! Or, if you are not in the Boston area, Merry Perry Design of Quincy has created this cute t-shirt:

(front view)

(back view)

The $15 cost per shirt will be donated toward her care and you can place an order - as I will - by emailing HelpTurtleDog at this address:

Donations can also be made through the ARL's secure site here.

Remember my earlier post about 'just one thing'? Well, here's an opportunity to do just one thing to help just one animal who really needs it. Turtle.

Thanks, friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Food Glorious Food!

Food: it's a tricky subject. Not just because vegans never get tired of hearing the, often incredulous and high-pitched, question 'But what do you eat????' but also because - to be honest - this vegan eats way too much of it.




I will confess: I am a foodaholic. I just love it, and it loves me. It must do because even the merest caress of a cupcake and it's with me forever. At my side, on my hips, for all eternity. And so this year I am taking myself in hand and am going to eat more healthily: not just healthy for the animals, but healthy for me too!

Under the gentle guidance of my friend, C, (you know who you are!) I am refocusing my diet to eat more whole foods and fewer processed things. I really need to drop about 40 or 50lbs so I see a whole heap more beans and vegetables in my future and am kicking the cookies and cupcakes to the curb. Yikes, that's the plan anyhow! :)

So, here was my start yesterday - my delish brunch at my favorite hangout in all the world: The Green Bean.

It's their signature 'Greens, Beans and (brown) Rice' and not only did I feel virtuous in choosing it, I also radiated health and energy all day. Well, perhaps I am making that last part up for dramatic effect, but I honestly certainly enjoyed it! See:

Yeah, it's clear I really had to force that down, right!?!?

Get healthy, get happy and stay vegan, friends! :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Do just one thing

Imagine if we all did just one thing.

Just one thing to help someone who really needed it.

Imagine how many we could save. If we all just did one thing.



Friday, January 1, 2010

Taking Compassion Seriously

Courtesy of Vincent Guihan over at We Other Animals.

2010 is Vegan. If You Want It.

Happy New Year!

I hate to begin the first post of the new year with an apology but I really need to. The past few months I have sorely neglected this blog for one reason or another and you all deserve better. The fact is that life got in the way and - between the kitchen renovation, side work, volunteer activities, a visit from my father-in-law and sundry other reasons - Cackleberry was the victim of too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-to-do-it.

This must change.

I intend this blog to be a tool for - as Gary Francione puts it - creative vegan education and of course that means actually posting more than once in a blue moon! So, with that in mind, I have decided to re-prioritize a little this year and, although I am not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, here's a few thoughts for 2010....

This year I will...

...reach out to others more and lead by example

...make time for what's important in this life. I am about to turn 40: if I don't make time now, when will I?

...accept that my needs are important too, respect them and not put them at the end of the queue

...translate the desire to help the animals into actually helping the animals. Leverage the strength of my convictions to actually create physical change.

...take better care of my body so that I can be a good example for others of the health benefits of veganism

...remember that this life's not a dress rehearsal and take time to reconnect

...strengthen the community by actively participating and supporting the work of others

...drop the 50lbs or so of excess weight I need to lose. This padding has been my protection for too long. I no longer need it. more leafy greens and fewer vegan cupcakes

I also want to gain more confidence in, as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau puts it, speaking my truth. An anonymous comment on my last post upset me sufficiently to prevent me from writing and, while I ought to have responded clearly and swiftly, confronting the views of this individual was so painful that it become another reason not to post. It was the elephant in the room - until it was dealt with, I didn't feel I could write anything else. Well, that's going to change too: the gloves are off and I intend to learn to articulate my views more confidently. It is easy and comfortable to talk solely with the like-minded, but reaching non-vegans and those for whom animal rights is a non-subject is what's going to help the animals most. In short, I intend to belly-up and learn to communicate more effectively.

So, that's pretty much it for this first post of 2010. Thank you all for hanging in there and excusing my absence. This year will be a banner year for the animals and I intend for Cackleberry to play some small part in that. So: stay posted!

And tell me - what are your intentions for 2010?

Stay vegan, friends! :)