Monday, October 24, 2011

VeganMofo #10: Lemongrass seitan

If this looks somewhat similar to yesterday's lunch, it's because we had to use up the veggies on Friday so they didn't go bad over the weekend. :-) Today's special item is lemongrass seitan. We use lemongrass that's already minced up in a jar that you can get in the frozen section of the Asian market. Very convenient!

Benny's a complete gentleman to the guinea pigs, knowing he's the newbie in the house. You can see here that he's "bowing" to Bert, who still rumbles at him. They have supervised floor time together and poor Benny is always bullied by the pigs. I hope they will accept him soon enough. At least there aren't any blood drawn! :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

VeganMofo #9: Pesto Pasta

My co-worker  made this yummy pasta for lunch. It's got veggies and portabella mushroom swimming pesto sauce.

In pet news, Belle had teary eyes and was getting lethargic so we brought her to the vet. The vet confirmed she had early signs of respiratory problems. Glad we caught it early this time. It was time for her teeth trim. Aside from the usual malocclusion problems, she also managed to crack her front top incisor vertically, which the doc couldn't remove. She said it's best to let it grow out, hopefully correctly. *fingers crossed*

Friday, October 14, 2011

VeganMofo #8: Sweet n Sour Tofu + Blissful Chef's Tempeh Fakin' Bacon

Hi! Thanks for visiting!

Today we bought a fresh pineapple from Whole Foods. Half of it was juiced and the other half ended up in this Sweet n Sour Tofu dish.

The main ingredients were pineapple, bell pepper, onion, and tofu. I can't remember the sauce ingredient because I used a mish mash of what I found online and what I had in the kitchen. I didn't have tomato paste so I used ketchup. There was sugar involved. Cornstarch was called for but I only had tapioca starch, which I don't think was quite right for it, though I've read it was interchangeable (even says so on the box!). In the end, the taste was milder than what I'm used to eating at the restaurants, but it was still good. 

I also had a craving for The Blissful Chef's Tempeh Fakin' Bacon so I made a batch of it. Though her recipe called for 1 packet of tempeh it easily worked for one and a half. She also said to marinate the tempeh in the sauce for an hour, but I stuck it right in the oven and it turned out fine. In fact, the sauce was totally absorbed into the tempeh, giving it that extra oomph!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

VeganMofo #7: Potato-corn-leek stew

It's another clean-out the fridge day. I had some corn-on-the cobs and a passing-its-prime stick of leek. A Google search for some recipes that contain those two ingredients resulted in some sort of chowder. Not feeling like soup, I used less water and turned it into more like stew that can be spooned over rice.

2 corn on the cob, kernels removed (or use frozen corn)
1 stick of leek, sliced
1 potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 Field Roast classic meatloaf, cut into chunks
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste (or use soy sauce) (Keep in mind the meatloaf is quite salty so you don't need to add much.)

Fry the leek with water or oil until soft, add the corn, fry for another few minutes. Add the potato and water, bring to a boil and lower heat. Cook for 20 min or so until potato is soft. Add more water if necessary. Add Field Roast and seasoning, cook for another 5-10 minutes so the meatloaf is heated through.

Belle prefers the bunny's pellets. Or maybe she finds it more fun eating out of that bowl?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

VeganMofo #6: Banana Bread from the PPK

I discovered a bunch of overripe bananas that were overlooked in the fridge. I froze half for a future smooth and used the rest in a banana bread recipe by Isa Chandra.

It turned out really nice in the bread machine. I thought it tasted a touch too sweet (1 cup of sugar!!) so next time I'll reduce that.

What do you do with overripe bananas? I'm on the hunt for a cake or cupcake that uses banana as an egg replacer. If you know of any, please share!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

VeganMofo #5: "Fried" rice cooked in rice cooker

Did you know you could cook a whole meal in the rice cooker? For the longest time, I've only cooked rice in it. But now I throw veggies in and voila, I've got "fried" rice!

Rice cooker "fried" rice
Just dice any veggies you've got in the fridge and throw it in with the rice and water, add a bit of soy sauce or your choice of seasoning, push the cook button and relax while the machine does the cooking for you. Here I've used cauliflower, onion, corn, and cabbage. When it was ready to serve, I garnished it with cut up nori sheets and a sprinkle of roasted pine nuts. I love that there's no oil needed like in regular fried rice.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

VeganMofo #4: Tempeh Burger

DH made this quick tempeh burger for dinner a few nights ago. He simply fried the tempeh in some Braggs and vegetable seasoning. Easy peasy!

Tempeh Burger

While we ate, Benny practiced his yoga poses.

Friday, October 7, 2011

VeganMofo #3: Loving Hut Portland

Passing through Portland last week, we had a chance to stop by the local Loving Hut after a fun day visiting the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge.

Upon being seated, we were served a complimentary bowl of soup. It was a simple soup - cabbage, celery, carrot, tofu - but it was a welcoming touch and greatly appreciated after a chilly and wet outing.

Chow Mein
Say Yes Mapo
Guru Fried Rice and Paradise Salad
Their menu is heavy on the mock meat but it's easy to request that they leave it out. For my salad, they offered to substitute the mock meat with tofu and it was yummy!

If you ever visit Portland, Multnomah Falls is a must see. And hike all the way to the top; I nearly passed out from being so out of shape but it was worth it!

Multnomah Falls

Thursday, October 6, 2011

VeganMofo #2: 2-for-1 meals - Prata Pizza & Quinoa Stir Fry

Vegetarian Times had a feature in their recent issue where the recipe of one meal made for a great leftover dish the next day. It got me thinking on how I could turn one dish into two. So I present to you Prata Pizza and Quinoa "Stir Fry" using a veggie medley as the main shared ingredient.

Veggie Medley ingredients:
1 2.25oz can of sliced olives
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
(add any other veggies you like)
vegetable seasoning

Cook the ingredients in a pan, adding oil or water as needed, until slightly softened (5-10 min). Split into two portions for the two dishes.

Dish #1: Prata Pizza
Roti prata or paratha is a flour-based pancake, sort of like puff pastry, that we buy frozen in a package of five at the Asian market. DH likes eating it with curry so we always have some in the freezer. My sister showed me it makes for a great pizza base when you don't have time to make regular dough. This is the brand we usually get:

For the Prata Pizza, take 2 frozen roti pratas and bake in the oven for 5 minutes until it poofs up but isn't browned. Take out and spread on pizza sauce or tomato paste. Top with the veggie medley and put it back in the oven to bake for another 5 minutes. And you've got instant pizza!

Dish #2: Quinoa "Stir Fry"
For lunch the next day, I cooked up quinoa in the rice cooker, heated up the veggie medley on a pan, and mixed it with the quinoa when done. Feel free to add more seasoning or a salad to it.

Dish #3: Pita Sandwich
As a bonus recipe, when I brought the quinoa stir fry to work for lunch, my coworker used some to add bulk to his pita bread sandwich. Add salad, avocado, tomato, and we've got a third dish! (Sorry, no pics.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

VeganMofo #1: Soba Noodle Salad

My co-worker shared with us a tasty soba salad for lunch. It's topped with pesto Gardein Chick'n Strips.

Belle said to wake her when the salad minus the soba was ready.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Family Member - Introducing Benny the Bunny!

We went to the shelter to visit a pair of guinea pigs. Two days later, we came home with a rabbit. Today, I still smile to DH and whisper, "Guess what? There's a bunny in the house!"

Benny the Bunny
Introducing Benny, a brindle short hair rabbit that won us over with his friendliness. I like to tell people that he chose us because adopting a rabbit was never on our mind - another guinea pig, yes, but a rabbit? Yet, after meeting Benny, we couldn't forget him. We visited him again the second day where he further charmed us and that night, I did some heavy thinking about whether we were ready for such a big change and responsibility. Only after the third day when DH said he was open to the idea that I knew he was coming home with us that evening.

I have much to learn. Aside from their diet, rabbits and guinea pigs have rather different needs. I needed to learn Benny's body language, his likes and dislikes, and observe his normal behavior so I know when he's not well. And since he doesn't have a bunny friend, we have to spend extra time with him to ensure he's emotionally content. We also have much to do to bunny-proof the house. That's for another post!

Benny enjoying some petting
So far we know he's very affectionate. He'd come to us in the morning for some head scratches. He is nearly impossible to hold. Even the vet and nurse had trouble holding him down during his examination and had to do it sitting on the floor. I have not tried picking him up yet and don't know how I'll do so after seeing how much trouble the professionals had. You have to do it right or else they'll kick hard and break their back. Yikes!

And what might Bert and Belle think of him? We've introduced them several times. Bert is a little wary of the new guy. Belle doesn't mind and is happy so long as her share of the veggies remains the same. :-)


In other news, we've hit the jackpot with our zucchini plants and I'm now in a bit of conundrum of how to use them all aside from roasting them. I've tried two recipes:

Savory Zucchini Cakes by
These were a hit with DH. I realized after the first few cakes that you didn't need much oil to cook them. They really were just like pancakes.

Low-Fat Zucchini Bread by Holy Cow!
These turned out dry and dense the bread machine. I'm starting to learn the bread machine isn't the way to go to bake most of the recipes I find but I'm too darn lazy to do it the normal way!  ;-)

Other recipes I've tried were:
Cornbread Biscuits from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
These went well with tofu scrambles.

Mango Muffins by Holy Cow!
This was the first time I baked without using a soymilk/apple cider vinegar mix. It turned out nice and fluffy but no one could tell it was mango. Go figure.

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad by Robin Robertson
I didn't have the sea vegetable flakes and I guess that's what made my version just okay.  It made for a nice light lunch though.

What have you been cooking lately? What do you do with zucchinis?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vegan Brunch: Lemon Muffins

Happy Easter, everyone!

I'm trying to get my blogging mojo back. I was on a roll last month with Appetite for Reduction until the Japan earthquake hit. The horrifying images of the tsunami shocked me to the core. We even had our own tsunami alert for the California coast the following morning. For the next several weeks, I was glued to the news about the nuclear reactor problems and recovery efforts, then stocked up on emergency supplies. What happened in Japan could very well happen in California!

In April I fought a really bad cold/cough and at the same time, Bert developed a severe head tilt all of a sudden. It caused him to lose balance and topple over when he ran (which he always is, from one safety place to another). The vet said it's either an inner ear infection or brain tumor. "Say what?!" She prescribed antibiotics and we crossed our fingers hoping that would fix him. After a week, his head began to tilt the other way a little. We were flabbergasted. Fortunately, one week later, he was straight as a button and all was right with the guinea pig world for a sweet period...

...until Belle's vet visit next week for her tooth trim. :-)


We noticed that a neighbor whom we've never met has a beautiful big lemon tree just dripping with ripe lemons in his yard. It seemed so wasteful seeing the fruits drop and rot on the ground. This morning we saw the neighbor tending to his garden so I wondered out loud half-jokingly to hubby if he thought the neighbor would sell the lemon to us. Hubby then proceeded to walk over and asked! The neighbor was really nice and invited us to pluck what we wanted for free. Yay! Of course we didn't feel good taking it without giving anything in return, so the moment we returned with our small bucket of lemons, I pulled out Isa's Vegan Brunch to make lemon muffins for him.

Lemon Muffins from "Vegan Brunch"
 The original recipes called for poppy seeds, which I didn't have. No matter, the end result was still so good! I don't know if it's the freshly plucked lemons or what, but the muffins were so deliciously fragrant and melt-in-your mouth yummy! (Of course I had to taste test one before giving it to the neighbor. ;-) I love how quick I was able to put it together; the recipe is really very simple and easy. There will definitely be more lemon muffins in my near future!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cinnaholics Cinnamon Rolls

The Daily Gourmet recently had a deal featuring Cinnaholic, a local vegan bakery specializing in cinnamon rolls, that was too good to pass. So I ordered. One week later, a box of 12 huge cinnamon rolls arrived in the mail. And I do mean huge. They're the size of my hand with my fingers spread out! The rolls came with four kinds of toppings packaged separately. I added the strawberries myself, so don't blame the company for the looks!

Delicious Cinnaholic rolls. Yum!

Here's another cute guinea pig video I came across recently:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili

Before learning to cook, I rarely ate beans. I didn't like the taste and texture of it. My first like of beans only happened in college when I bought a veggie burrito with black beans in it. Love! Since then, I bought canned black beans just to replicate that burrito at home.

So it was a departure from my regular eating routine to make Isa's Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili. I can count the number of times I've eaten chili on one hand, usually because they're spicy which I can't take. But I had to use up the leftover black bean from the quinoa salad and this seemed tasty.
For the veggies, I used corn, cauliflower, green bell pepper, carrot, and onion. As I was cooking, DH came over for a peek and commented, "Wow, looks really healthy." That's code for, "I don't think I'll like it that much." DH isn't a bean person at all.

Classic Black Bean & Veggie Chili
My modifications:
1. I left out the chili powder since I can't take the heat. I guess I can't really call this chili now can I?
2. I didn't have diced tomatoes, canned or fresh, nor tomato paste. But I did have a jar of pasta sauce! Worked out okay, methinks.

I ended up eating the bulk of it since, ahem, someone really doesn't like beans. ;-) This works great in a tortilla wrap too, but then again, what doesn't? As I like to say, everything tastes better in a wrap!

This funny video demonstrates why guinea pigs aren't a good choice for film. Thanks to Papua Piig for sharing!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Bhutanese Pineapple Rice & Masala Baked Tofu

Have you ever seen pineapple rice served in the shell of a pineapple? The first time I saw it, I was so amazed at the presentation. It's so clever, don't you think? And no dishes to do afterward, bonus! :-)

Though I didn't serve Isa's Bhutanese Pineapple Rice in a pineapple shell, it was nevertheless simple and delicious. The addition of fresh cilantro was a nice touch. I served it with Masala Baked Tofu.

Bhutanese Pineapple Rice & Masala Baked Tofu
My modifications:
1. used white jasmine rice, not Bhutanese red rice (never heard of such a thing!)
2. used curry powder since I was out of red curry paste
3. sauted the pineapple chunks at the beginning with the onion, garlic, and ginger instead of adding it at the end; I like my pineapple a little caramelized.

This is my favorite recipe from the book thus far. DH thinks it's a keeper too.


I've been remiss in telling you about the TofuXpress gadget I won last year and that is not to say I haven't been using it. Quite the opposite! I'd never bothered to press my tofu before I got this handy gadget. Now tofu rarely gets cooked without going into the Tofuxpress first, even if just for a few minutes. The instruction tells you to press the tofu for an hour or more, but five minutes usually squeezes out enough water for my purposes. With the water out, the tofu fries much faster. DH also marveled at the difference it makes. I love this thing!  Does anyone else use the TofuXpress?


"Move your butt!"
This is Bert and Belle squeezing for space along the crook of my arm while we cuddled in bed. I usually have just one at a time so they're not used to sharing the space. ;-)

Have a great week ahead!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Herb Roasted Cauliflower & Bread Crumbs

Isa's recipe for Herb Roasted Cauliflower & Bread Crumbs seemed similar to how I usually make roasted cauliflower but the bread crumbs were a new twist I had to try!

Herb Roasted Cauliflower & Bread Crumbs
Usually when bread crumbs are involved, there's a batter of some sort to make it stick to the food. But nope, not in this recipe! Isa just instructs us to lightly dampen the cauliflower and the bread crumbs would stick just fine. Brilliant!

My modifications:
1. I didn't use any oil or cooking spray.
2. I added onion and garlic powder to season the bread crumbs.

Yum! I brought it to work and a non-vegan said it tasted like there was Parmesan on them because of the seasoned bread crumbs, which surprised me since I didn't even add nooch. Hmm, that's another idea...  :-)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Quinoa Salad w/ Black Beans & Toasted Cumin Seeds + Giveaway Winner!

For my third recipe from Appetite for Reduction, I chose Quinoa Salad w/ Black Beans & Toasted Cumin Seeds since there was leftover quinoa in the fridge. It was only after it was all put together that I realized how similar it is to how I already eat black bean quinoa salad, minus the cumin seeds. I didn't have cumin seeds so I substituted with regular cumin powder. It did add a little pizazz to the dish; I liked it! How much nicer it might have been with toasted cumin seeds. :-) I served it on tortilla because to me, everything tastes better in a wrap.

Quinoa Salad w/ Black Beans & Toasted Cumin Seeds on Tortilla
Now on to the guinea pig calendar giveaway winner! Thanks to all who entered; I loved reading about your pets. :-) And the winner is...

Shannon! I'll send you an email soon. Congratulations!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette & Raw Kale Salad

Happy President's Day! I hereby thank all the Presidents for giving us an excuse for having this day off. It's another glorious day, warm enough to throw open a few windows to let the fresh air flow in. Breathe in and ahhhhhhh...

Today's Appetite for Reduction recipe was chosen to accommodate my sudden craving for raw kale. I chose "Sushi Roll Edamame Salad" thinking I could sub the kale for the romaine lettuce suggested. But I ended up subbing or not having a few key ingredients and now I no longer dare to say I made "Sushi Roll Edamame Salad" for fear of offending Isa. Let's just say I was inspired by it! :-)

I did however make the accompanying "Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette" to the letter.

Sushi kale salad

Not sure if you can see it, but the vinaigrette is a lovely light green color from blending the green onion. The recipe recommended 1-2 cups of chopped green onions; I used one cup (2 stalks). The recipe called for red miso but I used white since that was all I had. Isa did say that was okay though (pg 12).

And the verdict? Whoa. I can say it's not a light tasting salad dressing. I should have known better because when I use miso for soup, I only use 1-2 tablespoons for a big pot of water. This recipe called for 1/4 cup of miso with only half a cup of water. Whoa. So a little of this dressing goes a long way. I usually like my salads smothered with dressing but I couldn't take much of this one. It's also my fault for pairing it with raw kale which is kind of bitter. I shall try it with lettuce next time.

What I do like very much about this meal is adding seaweed to salad. That's a wonderful way to eat more seaweed without making sushi. Yum!


As I was finishing this post, I read about the 6.3 earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand a few hours ago. Living in an earthquake zone and having been through a severe earthquake, I can relate. Very scary stuff. My thoughts are with the people who are affected by this earthquake. May they remain unharmed and recover quickly from the damages.

In related news, there was a sad report yesterday of 107 Pilot Whales that died on a New Zealand beach. I wonder if there's some sort of connection to today's earthquake or is it pure coincidence? Hmm...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Ramblings

There was a time when I could happily live on just bread and water alone. I didn't know how to cook; bread was tasty, filling, and most importantly, easy. I could probably still live like that if I had only my own mouth to feed but there are other considerations now.

Food was not in the forefront of my mind until I moved out. Gone were the hands that magically put meals on the table, replaced by an empty kitchen that I had to quickly fill and learn to use. Before, I could open a fridge full of things and find nothing to eat. Now, I could whip up a meal with just one or two ingredients (how good it tastes is another matter). My mother is still amazed and I even more so.

These thoughts came to me as I savored a soft chewy bite of freshly baked bread from Whole Foods today. DH beamed as he came up to me holding the still warm loaf in his hand, saying, "You're going to love this!" He knows me so well. :-) As soon as I came home, I sliced a piece and ate it plain. No butter, no toppings. Just like that. It was so good.

I sometimes wish our meals could be simpler. I sometimes wish I didn't have to think about food all the time. Is it vegan? Are you sure? What do we have in our fridge? What do we have in the fridge at work? (We also cook lunch at work.) What could I make with that? What needs to be used up first? Will he/she like this particular dish? Is it enough? What items do I need to buy?

How simple life would be if we didn't have to eat. Imagine if the kitchen could be replaced with another bedroom or a room to foster rescues. No fridge and storage needed for pots and pans and dishes. And imagine the time we would save. No shopping, no chopping, no cooking, no cleaning. More time for our loved ones or simply to take a moment to rest, breathe.

But alas, this human body demands fuel. And so I cook. I cook to show my love. I cook to make people happy. I cook so that an animal's life is spared. I cook to show that decent food exists without meat. I cook to support humanity's (albeit slow) shift to a vegan lifestyle.

And sometimes, I cook just for myself. :-)

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy good food. And I love reading all the vegan food blogs. And at times I actually enjoy cooking. But now and then, a loaf is bread is all I need.


Gosh, just what did Whole Foods put in their bread?! :-D

Sun setting along the highway
It has been a rainy cold week around the Bay Area but today the sun broke through for a glorious day. This is a picture I took of the sun setting as we drove home earlier. I'm sorry I didn't better capture the beauty of the wispy cirrus clouds melting into the blue sky with the majestic stratocumulus clouds below. I can just tell you it was breathtaking.

In guinea pig news, I'm super pleased to have found the perfect laundry basket for the guinea pigs' dirty towels and cuddle cups. Previously it was just dumped in an open plastic storage container that was too small. Then DH spotted this at IKEA:
SKUBB Laundry bag with stand
It doesn't look like much but it fitted all of my criterias: it's lightweight, it's narrow, it's easy to clean, it has two separate compartments, and it has a cover. Yay!

 Belle is doing well. She's back to her spirited, please-give-me-food-I-can-empty-the-fridge self. The positive outcome of her illness is that she's no longer grossly overweight. I will endeavor not to submit to her pretty wheeks of demand for food 24/7. :-)

Bert is hanging out with his pal, finding a soft safe haven from those grabbing human hands. After three years with us, he still runs for his life whenever we approach. But once he's on our lap, he immediately settles into a comfy deep sleep, showing his full trust and love. :-)

I've had several slices of bread by now so I think dinner has been taken care of, LOL! I'll be back with more appetizing food in the next post. Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Appetite for Reduction: Curry Laksa

I've had Isa Chandra's new cookbook Appetite for Reduction for quite some time now and finally got the chance to cook from it. First up: Curry Laksa!

Curry Laksa is a popular spicy coconut curry noodle dish in Singapore and Malaysia. Laksa refers to the herb often used in Southasian cooking. It looks like a slender version of mint and is sometimes called Vietnamese mint or coriander. It can be found in Asian groceries but since not everyone has access to that, Isa replaced it with regular coriander instead.

Curry Laksa
Some things I would do differently next time I make it:
- Add less lime juice. I recommend taste testing as you add when you make it.
- Add more coconut milk. Even though that would make it less of a low fat recipe, I like my broth creamier.
- Make sure not to overcook the the bok choy! That was totally my fault because I didn't prep everything beforehand. Thank goodness I followed Isa's tip of cooking the leaf and stem separately, otherwise I'd have some mushy leaves in my soup.

If you can find the laksa herb in your local market, definitely give it a try in this recipe. And if you ever travel to Singapore, I have it on good authority that the Loving Huts there have really good vegan laksa. :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

VeganWheeker's First Giveaway!

Today I've crossed the 1000+ follower mark on Twitter and as promised, I'm having a giveaway to celebrate!

CupcakeKitteh jokingly provided the idea for the prize and then I, by happy chance, came across this and thought it was perfect.
It's a 2011 monthly wall calendar from Orange County Cavy Haven featuring a photo of their rescued guinea pigs each month. OCCH does wonderful work rescuing guinea pigs, rehabilitating them, and then adopting them out. Those that cannot be adopted out due to age or medical concerns are lovingly taken care of for the rest of their life. I greatly admire them and wished I live closer so I could participate in their events. Proceeds from this calendar will benefit their rescue. (Yay, we all win!) To learn more about OCCH, follow them on Twitter @OCCavyHaven or Facebook where they post lots of cute guinea pig pictures. :-)

The giveaway is open to everyone, including my international friends. :-) To enter, simply leave a comment below. Some ideas include stories about your pet, what rescue you support, or your favorite vegan meal. No Twitter account is necessary to enter but be sure to leave an email address so I could contact you. A winner will be chosen Friday, Feb 25th 10pm PST.

Happy Wheekend, everyone!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Guinea pig drama and Valentine's Day

Belle snuggling in my pocket
I hope you all have had a great start to the new year. Our start was all about Belle, who had increasingly lost weight since December. She's usually weighs in the upper 900 grams (overweight in guinea pig terms) but in January dropped below 900, before starting to exhibit lethargy and lack of appetite. And anyone who knows Belle knows this girl can EAT! So when she shunned her favorite lettuce and cucumber, we knew it was past time to send her to the vet.
The vet suspected the malocclusion of her teeth problem returned, which in turn led to breathing problems and bronchitis. She was extremely weak, so the vet prescribed a week of antibiotics to fight the bronchitis before her next appointment where she had to undergo anesthesia to trim her teeth. We also asked the vet to take out an abnormal growth on the side of her thigh to have it tested.

Today, I am happy to report Belle is back in good health and happy (hungry) spirits! The growth on her thigh was removed, which turned out to be Trichofolliculomas, a common benign growth in guinea pigs. Her teeth were the main cause of her lack of appetite; one of the molars had form a pointy-like toothpick sticking into her tongue and one of her front incisors was cracked sending sharp shards into her gum. OUCH! The vet carefully removed the shards and trimmed the pointy  tooth. All better! Or so we thought.

Her shaven thigh and stitches
We were in for a surprise when we returned to the vet today to remove the stitches on her thigh and found out that somehow in the two weeks since her surgery, Belle has managed to severely chip off the front incisor that was cracked before. Yikes! The vet said it was no cause for alarm, took her to the back to trim it (no anestheshia required, whew!) and now Belle's back home munching happily away again. Best Valentine's Day gift she could give to her momma!

Of course we didn’t forget about Bert throughout all this. He got plenty of cuddles in bed too!

"I can sleep in any position."

Though it's still winter, we had some weird summery weather in the Bay Area this past month (climate change is real!) and it inspired us to start some seedlings indoors for our vegetable garden.

snow peas "Oregon Giant"
Cucumber. I almost gave up on these since they took so long to sprout!
And one morning, I caught a feral cat digging up the lettuce in our raised bed to do the dirty deed!
He was a such a cutie though, I couldn’t scold him. But he alerted me to the fact that our yard had turned into the pooping party ground of the local feral community. I dug up a whole grocery bag full of poop which they hid under all the mulch. I love the cats, but I do not love cleaning after them...or having them destroy the garden. :-\

Lastly, if you’ve made this far in the post, here was our simple dinner celebration for Valentine’s Day. To me, nothing’s quite as romantic and fun as cooking together, so DH and I whipped up Melisser Elliot’s Pasta with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce from her book, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life. We subbed the asparagus with broccoli and the whole meal was quick to whip up!
Paired with candlelight and non-alcoholic cocktail, it was a simple and romantic dinner for two. For dessert, I had made the Chocolate-Orange Cake from FatFree Vegan Kitchen the night before. I love that it’s oil-free and yet still so soft and moist. Delicious!

I hope everyone had a fantastic day with loved ones. Wishing you all happiness and good health!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, is it 2011 already? Seems like Thanksgiving was just yesterday! Well, at least that's where this blog left off, oops!

I hope everyone had a wonderful winter holiday and a fantastic start to the new year. I fell short of completing VeganMofo last year but it was fun trying. I loved reading everyone's feedback and finding new inspiration. I've also learned to appreciate all the work it takes to maintain a regular blog. Whew! How do you guys do it?!

After seeing Laloofah's comment on New Year's Eve, I decided to make her suggested dishes at last! I had a butternut squash from Thanksgiving that I hadn't used so it seemed perfect for the mac recipe. I cut it in half and baked it to make the purée the recipe called for.

Here's the Smoky-Freaky-Mac-N-Cheesy with butternut squash as the "cheese". It's a tasty alternative to the cashew and avocado based "cheese" I've made before. I served the mac with Quinoa and Red Green Lentil Cutlets. I didn't have red lentils but aside from the color difference, I think it turned out great! I tossed both the lentils and quinoa into the rice cooker to cook together and that made things easy peasy. Thanks for suggesting the recipes, Laloo!

I had lots of squash puree left so I used it up in a tator tot casserole, subbing the original cashew gravy with the squash puree instead. It made enough for me to freeze two portions for dinner for another day. Yum!

It's been quite cold here but nothing compared to the snowpocalypse the NorthEast experienced. It makes for lots more warm cuddle time with the guinea pigs!

Albert Zzzzzzz

Have you made any New Year resolutions? I shall try budget and meal planning to reduce food wastage as my first resolution. That includes eating up everything in the pantry before buying new stuff. So that's going to make for some interesting meals!

I've also not renewed any of the magazines I subscribed to last year (VegNews, Vegetarian Times, Real Simple, Whole Living). I realized I don't have the time to read them and most of the news/info/interviews they print can already be found online. Instead I love reading vegan blogs, which is more up-to-date and interactive, and there are lots more recipes to choose from. (I still haven't made a dent in the VeganMofo posts in my reader!)

Are any of you planning your spring garden already? I stumbled upon this vegan gardening website Anarchy in the Garden and look forward to perusing all the info to help with our spring garden. Let me know what you're growing!

Happy 2011!