Tag Archives: dogs

Please help SARA animal sanctuary keep the lights on

Sometimes reading about animal sanctuaries can be really heartbreaking. SARA Animal Sanctuary, which is down by San Antonio, takes in all sorts of animals but mainly dogs that were abandoned or abused. There is probably no one I love more than my dogs so when I read their rescue stories about owners shooting their dogs or throwing them out of car windows I can hardly stand it. Dogs are just so full of love and and their need to please people can be overwhelming. They can be the best friend you ever had. It’s appalling that anyone could abuse that trust.

But lots of people do.

So we are really lucky that there are so many organizations like SARA animal sanctuary that will take the unadoptable, the abused, the anti-social, and the starving dogs and give them some food, medical treatment, and a place to live. If the animals they help can be socialized they do put them up for adoption. But many will have to live out their lives at the shelter.

There are many ways to help. You can become a volunteer, or foster a dog or a cat, raise fundssponsor an animal, or just go to their site or their blog, read about what they do and paypal whatever you can. If enough people want too, maybe we can have a bakesale too.

Right now they are in critical need because their electric bill is passed due. I can only imagine how it must feel for the caretakers to be in this position so please help in any way you can.

Miss Willow knows you want to help


Just when you think things can’t get worse



The record breakingly awful drought coupled with the most hundred degree days ever has made Texas a pretty miserable place to live and it has been a disaster for wildlife, farms, animals, and trees. Our beautiful city is looking more like an old western all the time. It is so dry and windy that fires are starting faster than you can say Labor day and last night we had the worst of it yet.

There is devastation all around central Texas. To the east bastrop has been consumed with fires burning between 14,000 and 25,000 acres, 300 473 over 800 homes and some of the most beautiful forrest I have seen in Texas went down in flames. Dripping springs, Steiner ranch and other beautiful spots are all in serious trouble. It seems like everywhere around us is on fire. It’s pretty scary.

Last night on twitter I saw that Austin Pets Alive was begging people to foster the dogs and cats they already have so they could make room for all the animals from the Bastrop animal shelter.

We rushed over there and the scene melted my icy heart. It was 11pm on a Saturday night and the parking lot was packed with dogs, people, volunteers, and lots of love. Even though there was kind of a chaotic panicked vibe everyone was keeping their cool and just waited to do what they could. I though the dogs would be crazed and nervous but they all seemed pretty happy! We saw chihuahuas and pit bulls and puppies and all the other usual suspects as we filled out our form and waited about 2 minutes before we were given an adorable puppy and sent on our way.


Charm is such as schmuppy that the beagles don’t know what to think! Her legs have grown so fast that she can hardly walk and instead kind of flops around adorably. She already climbs on my lap when she is scared of something and walks between my legs when she doesn’t know where to go. Her tail leaves a path of destruction in it’s wake and she is so full of love and excitement for her new life that it is rubbing off on all of us!

If you can, Austin Pets Alive needs homes for these dogs and are waiving adoption fees. They also need donations as quick as possible because many are injured. This tragedy would have completely overwhelmed any other rescue organization but APA somehow is still helping everyone. They continue to amaze me.

Also the red cross is taking donations and asking for volunteers. They are only taking money right now but check this round up from KLBJ for other ways you can help. People are in shelters and I’m sure they will soon need people food, dog food, and cat food among everything else.

And if you have a weather machine that can control the rain, please now is the time to use it!

Barbecued Arepas

If you live in Texas for a while it starts to make sense that you would barbecue everything. 

Beans are often the easiest choice because although I love barbecued tofu, seitan, and tempeh as much as the next girl beans are the cheapest food to make a lot of and we haven’t been rolling in dough lately. Rolling in masa maybe but that’s another story. Wait, that is this story! I fixed up a huge pot of black-eyed peas with spinach and barbecue sauce and a little coffee for smokieness but I couldn’t decide how to serve the black-eyed peas. I thought of making cornbread but I was all out of cornmeal. I thought of tacos but wasn’t feeling it and didn’t have any shortening to make empanadas. Than it occurred to me that I could just make arepas!

Since I got Viva Vegan I have been kind of obsessed with these easy to make fat cousins or tortillas.  The Venezualan ones I made first were probably the best because of the fantastic filling.  I made the smaller Colombian ones as a side dish and they were delectable as well. I think that is when I realized how easy they come together.

All you do is mix salt, 2 & 1/2 cups of water with 2 cups of masarepa more or less until it resembles mashed potatoes then form into plump discs, fry or a griddle for 5 minutes on each side and then either stick in the oven for a while or eat hot off the griddle.  The secret is to get the right masa, here are some more detailed instructions or a “recipe” as they say. Making arepas is even easier than making tortillas because you don’t have to get the press out and make them one at a time. After making a batch or two I don’t even have to measure anymore. I am so glad they have entered my repertoire.

It has been a depressing week. Dinger hurt his back really bad (he has a long body so it happens easily) and he might have to get surgery if it doesn’t get better. It is pretty terrible because he is usually the happiest dog in the world and instead he is just laying around in a lot of pain. His sister, Miss Willow, is depressed too because she has nobody to get super crazy with. So I have just been at home hanging out with the pups. Sorry for the downer post! He is going to get better! And it is almost July, I can’t wait for June to be over!

I went to Vegan Drinks and that was fun, I met a wonderful new friend who was kind enough to come over and give Dinger a massage. I was thinking maybe a chiropractor would help too so if you know one send me an email. Also at vegan drinks I almost won this robot, it was really embarrassingly funny because I thought I won it and I made a really big deal screaming but my friend got instead. He is so cute though! I wish it would have been me!

one long dog

I wish this picture had turned out better because it is one of the funniest ways I ever saw the dogs sleep. I had plans to make all sorts of fabulous food over the weekend but instead, Mr. Smurf ended up cooking for me. He said he would make whatever I wanted and for some reason I really wanted comfort food. Chickpea cutlets and mac daddy from the Veganomicon and broccoli were the name of the game with Oreos for dessert. It was very TV dinnerish which is exactly what I dreamed. I really want to find some TV dinner style trays that have the little compartments for when we eat like this. I love mac daddy, it is funny how there are so many different recipes for vegan mac and cheese and everyone has there favorite. I have tried so many and this one is my favorite!Hope ya’ll had a fabulous weekend!

a merry little christmas

I stayed in Austin for American Christmas this year. Mr. Smurf said he used to be really good at wrapping presents but then somehow lost the ability.

We started the day with a cuddle puddle. I am under there.Dinger inspected the groceries to make sure everything was vegan.I made a ton of Indian food starting with Khandvi so we would have something to snack onI popped more spices and made more mixtures than ever in my life.I cut cauliflower and was reminded of this picture I saw of a human brain

The dogs napped together

I battered and deep-fried bananas and peppers but not banana peppers

and I set them in front of Ganseha who is known as a fan of deep fried goodness and feasting in general

and we ate a ton of food and will end the day with another session of hugs.

Happy Holidays!

My Dogs have leg warmers now

We got an early Christmas package from my Mom, well I shouldn’t even say “we” because it was addressed to Dinger and Willow. They now have full Christmas outfits.I have “What a Feeling” from Flashdance in my head every time I look at them.Over the weekend I made some black-eyed peas with quinoa and cornbread. I had a bunch of leftovers and fried the black-eyed pea mix into patties, it was really good! If anyone wants the recipe I will be happy to type it up. Basically, I just cooked the peas with onions, garlic, cajun spices, liquid smoke and quinoa. It was pretty good but then while deciding what to make for breakfast the next day I read in Joanna Vaught’s zine Potluck Mania that she does something very similar but fries them into patties by just adding some vital wheat glueten for binding. I added some and mashed it up and it worked great, although getting a good picture was a struggle. I think these patties will be the perfect compliment to biscuits and gravy for a good southern meal.We made the cornbread from “The Dirty South” and it has become my go to recipe for cornbread. I changed the recipe a tiny bit replacing the corn with jalapenos this time and it was great.

Dirty South Cornbread
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C Cornmeal
1/2 C Sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C almond milk
1/4 cup veg oil
2 T cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup apple sauce
2 jalapenos chopped

Preheat to 400. Combine the dry ingredients, add the rest until just mixed. Put in a greased pan for ~25 minutes, stick a chopstick in the middle to see if it is done. If it comes out clean remove, cool and enjoy!

Happy Save a Turkey Day!

Last year I asked one of my co-workers if she wanted to go in on saving a turkey together from Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. While I was telling her about it another coworker overheard and said he would participate too. The next thing I new we started taking donations and saved three turkeys! This year, with the tiniest bit of organization, we raised a hundred and fifty dollars for Farm Sanctuary! Enough to save a whole flock! I am so excited because it has gotten everyone talking about turkeys and how great they are and the horrible things that happen to them in evil factory farms. And I have learned that I work with some really wonderful people. This morning I saw that farm sanctuary rescued some baby turkeys and they are omg adorable.

In other cute animal news I wanted to tell you a story about our dogs.Dinger, on the right in the charming baby blue sweater, has been sick for the last month. We had to change his food to prescription dog food that is very expensive. Willow, on the left, loves Dinger more than anyone in the world. She is just crazy about him, but she is very jealous of his special food, even though she has always been perfectly happy before with her dog food. In the past, she would always wait until Dinger had eaten before she ate. If she came near him he would growl and she would sit behind him looking adoringly at him until she got permission.

Since he got the new food she has become totally desperate for it. When we first switched him she went on a hunger strike for a couple days. She went back to eating her own food but occasionally got into his food and wolfed it down psychotically. And I mean totally crazy like a starving dog on the street, not at all like a pampered, sweater-wearing, bed-sleeping, full-bellied house beagle that she is. Dinger has been watching her recent exploits with what appeared to be very little interest until a few days ago.

We noticed that now, when he gets his bowl of food, before he starts to eat, he puts a few pieces of food in his mouth and carries them over to Willow. He drops them on the floor and then goes back to finish his meal. Can you believe that? He knows that she wants the food so bad but we won’t let her have any so he gives her a little treat. They love each other!

And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving even if you are not American. I am so thankful for good people and good dogs in my life.

Black Bean & Plantain Empanadas

The word empanada comes from the Spanish empanar which means to wrap or coat in bread. Sometimes, I wish I was wrapped in bread. It sounds very warm and comforting. I made these empandas for a couple of guys who really liked them, in fact one of them said I have a gift. The other gave me chocolate so it was a pretty good deal. The empandas were inspired both by a trip to Costa Rica where everything involves black beans and plantains and one of my favorite cookbooks “A World of Dumplings“.  One of my many dreams is to open a food trailer and call it “Sumpling in my Dumpling” where it would be all dumplings all the time. I think this picture kind of looks like the empanada is an oyster at the bottom of a swimming pool. It didn’t taste like that at all, the crust was perfect and flakey and the filling was really tasty with pockets of sweet plantain. They went really good with the green salsa I had.

Black Bean & Plantain Empanadas

4 Cups All-Purpose Four
2 Cup Cornmeal (I used blue but any will work)
1 Cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the shortening and rub it into the mixture with your fingers. Add water one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms. I used about 1/2 of a cup. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped,
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
14 oz of diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked black beans
1 plantain, chopped

Toast the seeds and then grind up. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and seeds to a hot oiled skillet and saute until onions are starting to brown (5 minutes). Add the tomatoes, syrup, 1/2 cup of water and salt and then blend the mixture. I used an immersion blender but you could also use a potato masher because a little texture is nice. Add the beans and the plantains and cook until plantains are soft, about five minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Slice the dough into 20 pieces and form into 20 balls. Roll each out into a flat disk. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of filling into the center of the disk and fold in half, seal the edges and then press edges down with a fork to complete. Do this 19 more times. Oil a baking sheet and place the empandas on leaving a space in between. You can brush them with a little oil if you like. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Enjoy with salsa or guacamole.

It was raining in Austin over the weekend which means that the dogs were overcome with sleepiness. I wonder if there is a Spanish word for being wrapped in beagles?

Vegan Panuchos for Cinco de Mayo

I have learned a lot about traditional Mexican ingredients from Diana Kennedy’s book From My Mexican Kitchen. Although at times it can be very tedious and she often suffers from a xenocentric point of view I love  the exhaustive information about traditional ingredients and styles in Mexican cooking. The book explains many techniques and although there aren’t a lot of recipes there are several great sections including one on antojitos (Mexican Tapas). I have been obsessed with the panucho method and pictures since I saw it; the idea is that you make some stewed beans and then stuff them in the middle of a tortilla, fry them up, and then top them with whatever you like.

Ms Kennedy recommended topping them with marinated onions which I also tried for the first time and loved! I couldn’t find any of her suggested ingredients so I marinated the onions in lime juice and a little orange juice for a couple hours. They were so good and added a lot of sweetness to the dish, I will make them in the future as a taco topping.

For the Yucatán style beans I cooked black beans in a crockpot with some salt and bay leaves. When they were done I sauteed a 1/4 cup of chopped onion, a Tablespoon of epazote, and a whole habanero. Then I took 3.5 cups of Black Beans and their broth, blended them, and then added them to spices and cooked until the texture of a paste was achieved, about 15 minutes.

Then it was onward to the the tortillas! I had fresh masa so all I had to do was roll pieces into a ball and then cook them on the stove over medium heat. You flip them once, just after the bottom starts to change color, again for the top side, and then flip it once more and if you are lucky it puffs up.

Then you very carefully make a slit in the side of the tortillas and open it up like a pocket.

You then stuff some of the bean paste inside.

Then you flatten the tortilla back together and pan fry it!Then I covered them with vegan chorizo and the marinated onions.I also made some pico de gallo with the first tomatoes of the season. Hooray for the return of the tomato!

Dinger got really worn out from watching me cookWillow remained steadfast at her post waiting for food to fall

Then I at too many panuchos because they were really awesome.

mmm panuchos