Friday, May 25, 2012

Vegan Eats (aka Food): Tofu Scramble

Belated mother's day breakfast of tofu scramble and tempeh bacon 

I love me some tofu scrambles, because they are incredibly easy-peasy to make. That is my style of cooking, yo.

Also my style of cooking prefers no recipes, and tofu scrambles are no exception. I just fling shit together and hope for the best.

A good base for the scramble is garlic and onions. I chop them up (1/4 onion, 3-4 cloves) and saute them with oil in a pan of awesome. When the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes, then I add the tofu.

I prefer extra firm tofu. If you like other kinds of tofu, make sure to squeeze out all the excess water before cooking. Tofu soaks up any and all flavors and scents, but it cannot do that with a bunch of water loading it down. Plus no one likes mushy scramble.

I'll take about 10 ounces of tofu and crumble it into small, bite-sized chunks and toss it into the pan.

Then comes the fun part, adding other stuff! In this scramble, I added chopped green and kalamata olives, green onions, and some mango salsa. For spices, I used a smidgen of cayenne, chili powder, tumeric to get that yellow color, cumin and salt. Sometimes I do curry.

I cook until it is all hot and bothered, then when I think there are five minutes left, I bust out some tempeh bacon and fry those suckers up in another pan.

Then I drizzle hot sauce or ketchup over it and stuff it all in my face.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Direction

You will be seeing changes to this blog in the coming months.

I want to write more about my experiences working for a farmed animal sanctuary, veganism, and my love of all nonhumans, especially dogs and farm animals. This means writing less about dogs/Pit Bulls and expanding to include my other passions. Hence, the title change - For the Animals.

My promise is to share from the heart. Sometimes it will be funny, like photos of Celeste squishing Mina (true story). Sometimes it will be controversial, subjects *I* do not find discomfiting but the general public might. And sometimes it will be photos and stories of the nonhumans I love at the sanctuary.

I wish for you to stay with me, but I understand not all of you will.

No matter what, thanks. :)

Me, with the pack.

Mina's dream comes true

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vegan Eats (AKA FOOD): Cherry Strudel

I was not able to celebrate Mother's Day on the actual date, so this past weekend I visited my parents and rejoiced over being born and all. My mom and I cooked a lot, and we tried our hands at making vegan strudel for the first time.

Epic success, evidence:

Vegan cherry strudel

Strudel means whirlpool because of all the fancy-pants dough the innards are wrapped up in, but I like to think it means YUM.

First, phyllo is sensitive. Keep it happy by using it up quickly and keeping the remaining sheets safely located beneath a LIGHTLY damp paper towel. Don't saturate the towel, because then your phyllo will cling crazily to the towel.

Second, figure out how you want to wrap the phyllo. Everyone's recipe is all "fold short edges" which leaves us newbies going HUH? We laid the phyllo out with the longest part parallel to the counter's edge (horizontal, yho). On the last sheet, we placed the cherry filling vertically and rolled like a burrito, but I imagine you could do it horizontally too.

Finally, enjoy. This was not nearly as labor intensive as I thought it would be. It's not neurosurgery.

The recipe:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2cup sugar
3 cups pitted fresh sour cherries or 2 15-oz. cans water-packed tart cherries, drained
1/4 tsp. almond extract, optional
6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
6 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted

1 .Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
2 . Stir together breadcrumbs, almonds, and sugar in bowl. Combine 3/4 cup breadcrumb mixture and cherries in separate bowl. Add almond extract (if using}.
3. Unroll phyllo, and keep under damp towel to retain moisture. Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface, brush with margarine, and sprinkle with 2 Tbs. dry breadcrumb mixture. Top with second phyllo sheet. Repeat layering with remaining margarine, dry breadcrumb mixture, and phyllo sheets, leaving last phyllo sheet bare.
4.Brush 1-inch border of margarine around edges of phyllo stack. Spread cherry mixture in center of phyllo stack inside margarine borders, using hands to pack filling into smooth cylinder. Fold short edges of phyllo stack over filling, Carefully roll phyllo around Filling burrito-style into large log. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush strudel all over with melted margarine, and sprinkle top with remaining dry breadcrumb mixture. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until strudel is golden-brown, Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe is from Vegetarian Times.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Calf Action

Douglas and Linus finally met the big cows. They have been kept separate because there are mountain lions and the little dudes were still too small to be out at night. Both are the unwanted discards of the dairy industry - male calves. Mama cows are repeatedly artificially inseminated so they give birth and produce milk. Their babies are taken from them so their milk - meant for a calf - can be sold to people. Female calves replace their mothers, while male calves have no value. They are sold at auction for <$20 or sold to be slaughtered for veal. So it is always wonderful to be able to rescue them and give them the long life they deserve.
Murphy supervises Douglas and Linus

Murphy is another unwanted male from the dairy industry. He is on the left with the big horns. He's obviously older and larger than Douglas (middle) and Linus (right). Linus thought he could kick Murphy's ass. He could not.

Murphy and Linus
Douglas and Summer, another dairy discard. Douglas and Summer

And sweet Maddie, the only female in this herd, comforts Douglas as he takes a break from the shoving matches. Maddie was born a twin to a male calf. In cows, with twins, the female is always sterile. She is flooded with too much testosterone in the womb b/c of her brother. They are often slaughtered, but because she was born on a university-run dairy farm, she was sent to the university vet hospital and used as a blood donor. For seven years. Blood donor cows are sent to slaughter after their service - great way to say thanks, right? A veterinarian saved her life. She came to us at age 7 and is 9 now. Douglas gets love from Maddie

Friday, May 18, 2012


Spring, it kills me with its pollen but it sure is beautiful

It is allergy season. I am allergic to all species of grass, trees and flower pollen. Several years ago, I had an allergy test done and almost needed an epi shot! For reals, my back swelled more than it should have in response to the grasses and trees.

For more than a year, I visited the college clinic and received allergy shots. Twice I needed epinephrine shots to counteract anaphylactic shock. After the second, I gave up - I'd take allergies over the loss of breath. There isn't anything quite as frightening as the inability to take a normal breath. Breathing, that's life, people. You don't appreciate it much until it escapes you.

The only good thing about the allergy shots is that for three years after, I only suffered minor allergies (and contact allergies when I handled hay or straw...which I still react to). I used to suffer the ill-effects of allergies for about six months out of the year. Pretty miserable. Now it's about 2 months out of the year, so I figure the allergy shots have really done their job.

So I love and hate spring. It's beautiful, both in scent and sight. But having to drug myself up with nasal sprays, eye drops, decongestants and regular allergy pills like Allegra or Claritin kind of suck.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dogs Playtime

Dogs playing

Most people who meet Mina and Celeste think Celeste is a dork and Mina is serious.

This is true, but they also love playing with each other. Each evening, they romp around the yard. At age 13, Mina is a little slower, and she often waits for Celeste to circle back around...but she loves it. Celeste finds any excuse to get Mina to play with her. I love that about her.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celeste Has a Happy Face

Celeste is happy

I'm telling you, Celeste is one happy dog.

I have failed Celeste in a few ways - she isn't that great with other dogs and she hates certain floorings. But I made sure to socialize her around a lot of people. So we succeeded that way.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

When I'm Feeling Down

This dog is perfect
 I just look into this face and know it's all okay.

An appellate court in  Maryland recently ruled that  Pit Bull type dogs are inherently vicious. The court ruled that the guardians of Pit Bull type dogs (b/c it just says "Pit Bulls" which is a bit like saying "Retrievers") are 100% liable for any damage their dogs may cause, whether a bite is provoked or not. Further, the court ruled that landlords can be sued for any damage their tenant's Pit Bull type dog causes.

When I adopted Mina, I did not realize I'd be entering the batshit insane world of Life With a Pit Bull.

I did not know I'd have a hard time finding a landlord willing to accept me with Mina.

I did not know that most renter's and home owner's insurance agencies would outright deny me coverage based on what Mina looked like, in lieu of how she behaved.

I did not know people would walk across the street to avoid me or that on more than a dozen occasions in ten years, someone would actually suggest to my face that Mina should be killed based on how she looked.

I did not know EVERYONE and their mother would be the first in line to say, "Hey, did you hear about that Pit Bull attack?" as if somehow having a Pit Bull gives me insight into why other unrelated dogs bite. Here's my advice, dear readers, if you see a story about an alleged Pit Bull biting anyone, keep that shit to yourself. Pit Bull guardians don't want to hear about it nor do they want to offer assurances that their dog - who has not eaten anyone in 10 years - is safe.

I did not know that I would have to rethink any roadtrips to include avoiding cities and states that have banned Mina from visiting.

I did not know that how Mina acted would be examined 10 times closer than how Celeste acted.

I did not know I would hear "it's all in how they're raised" or "she's so nice...for a Pit Bull" approximately 1,000 times in ten years. I did not know how much I would find the first phrase so annoying, the second so humorous.

I did not know that people I respected and cared about would be afraid or paranoid around Mina, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting Mina is an emotastic, serious canine who really just wants to snuggle and give kisses (sometimes in slow motion).

It used to bother me greatly how people perceived Mina and Pit Bulls in general. It used to bother me that I was held to a different standard of responsibility.


I care a lot less.

Really. It's true. Not about all of it. I still care that Pit Bulls are being killed more frequently than other types of dogs. I care that Pit Bulls take longer to adopt out. I care that dogs are being denied a chance at life based on how they look. And I also care about the people who end up with Pit Bulls and how they are marginalized and unfairly maligned. I care about that, but about the public's view on me and Mina? Not so much.

At the end of the day, I adopted Mina because she was going to be killed by the shelter. I rescued a dog no one else wanted, no one else deemed "adoptable". And when she playbowed to me that first night, perched on my bed, I was sold.

Not on Pit Bulls.

On Mina.

She may be the most challenging dog I've ever been a guardian of, and I'm okay with that. Celeste's problems are easy-peasy. Fostering dogs with reactivity issues or thick skulls or who pull on the leash? Bring them on, because they are nothing compared to the 3-yr-old bitch of a sassy mama dog named Mina. She's mellowed considerably after ten years, but damn! I can remember feeling like such a failure of a dog guardian in the early years. Not because Mina ate anyone, but because she did whatever she damn well pleased and I had no clue how to teach her otherwise.

So when I read shit like what's going on in Maryland, I look to my right and see a dog snoring. A dog breathing in and out, a motion all of us take for granted. I see a small, warm being who deserves love and respect as much as any other canine. I see a nonhuman friend who gives back as much as she is capable of to me and anyone interested.

I see Mina. And I love her deeply and profoundly, not because of her breed, but because of who she is and what she brings to my world...and how comfortably she allows me into hers.
Level of cute is pretty high here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All Your Blue Eyes Belong To Us!

Celeste has blue eyes
This eye makes children cry. That's a true story for at least one child.

Another true story. I was looking into what makes a dog's eyes blue when I came across this news - "There is nothing more shattering than to suddenly find a bright blue eye opening in a puppy that by all planning should have nothing but limpid brown eyes."

Seriously, guys. NOTHING is more SHATTERING than a puppy born with blue eyes, not even if the puppy is born with no legs and a second head.Vallhund breeders take this eye color business very seriously.

I have also read that I should be concerned Celeste will have cataracts and deafness. So far, she just suffers from an acute case of Being a Freak. 

In any event, I love Celeste's eyes. She's staring at me right now as I write this, because she knows I'm thinking about her. Or she is just confused why I keep sneaking furtive glances at her.