Monday, January 31, 2011

Lazy snow day.

Lucy and I had a snow day on Thursday. It was awesome, because I spent 75% of the day in my pajamas watching TV (there was an American Gothic marathon on, and I lucked into some Buffy and X-Files as well), and she hung out on the couch. She’s been dying to go out, though, so I managed to close off our deck so she could have some fresh air:

Not to be confused with Longcat.

She tolerates her coat. It’s the third one, so she better—she nearly destroyed the other two, which were made of cheaper stuff. This one’s L.L. Bean, and so far we’ve got no complaints.

Eventually, all that strenuous TV-watching got me hungry. The night before, I’d made dosadillas, and they are totally a gift that keeps on giving. Buy a pack of tortillas, make your filling, and you’ve got a 5-minute meal whenever you want it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying them with a bit of sour cream on top. We have Tofutti in the fridge (that stuff lasts forever—I had forgotten all about it), but you can use whatever. I won’t judge you.

Om nom nom, dosadilla will eat your face!

Here’s a picture of a nice salad I made last week. It’s only spinach, cucumber, and kalamata olives with some random vinaigrette on top, but it was incredible. The perfect pre-yoga dinner.

And that’s it for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about baking granola bars. You’d like to hear about that, wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Noms of late.

Here’s a random food post for you long-suffering readers. Still grooving on Appetite for Reduction, so that’s what we’ve been eating lately:

This is Ginger Bok Choy & Soba with some cubed tofu. It was really good, except for the part where soba noodles cost four times as much as regular noodles. Eff that, I say. I buy my pasta at Costco, even the whole-wheat stuff. Seriously though, the ginger adds a nice zip to this dish and the noodles are very comforting.

Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup may be my favorite soup yet from this book. Red compared it to chicken noodle, and it does have that homey, snow-day appeal without, you know, the carcass. We added extra carrots, because carrots rock. The rice soaks up the liquid after it sits awhile, but I just added a little extra water when I packed the leftovers for lunch and everything was aces.

We desperately need bowls that aren’t stark white.

Applesauce Soup! Okay, not really, but that’s what I’m calling it. This is Butternut-Apple Soup, and it is like Thanksgiving in a bowl. We had to hack this one a bit, as our hippie grocery was out of butternut squash. We bought three small acorn squashes instead, reasoning that it was a pretty fair substitution. The recipe calls for dicing the squash and adding it to the pot, but if you’ve ever tried to peel an acorn squash, you’ll know why I decided to roast them and then scoop the cooked flesh out instead. It worked like awesome. It gets pureed anyway, so where’s the harm? It tastes pretty good, too—a little sweet for me, but it all balances out. This is the kind of thing I would serve to guests at a fancy holiday party, with a little sprig of fresh rosemary on top. Like the lentil-rice soup, it thickens in the fridge, but that just means you’ll spill a little less.

And here, my darlings, is what I made last night:

This gorgeous specimen is Cauliflower Pesto Soup, and yes, I chiffonaded that basil and artfully arranged that pine nut just for the photo. One of my coworkers sent me this recipe that appeared in the Washington Post, which is basically the exact same thing. The fine print says that it’s adapted from the Appetite for Reduction recipe, but the only change I can see is the amount of pine nuts, and those are optional anyway. Oh, and a little extra olive oil, which the soup totally does not need. So, I wouldn’t really call that adapted, more like ripped off. Anyway, I made it Isa’s way because I don’t suck. And the soup is divine. So easy and so good for you, but luscious with basil and garlic. My basil lives at my in-laws’ house because they get all the sunlight that we don’t, and the basil was pretty pathetic when it lived here. Under my mom-in-law’s care, it’s perked right up. I love fresh basil.

I ate my soup with a side of this:

Sad puppy face is because Red is away for work this week. Lucy and I are both despondently lounging in front of the TV, nuzzling each other for comfort. God, I’m so dramatic. He’ll be back late Friday. Until then, the house will be quiet and the fridge will runneth over as I’ll have no one to help me eat everything.

Speaking of Lucy, she is still on activity restriction, but she had her stitches out over the weekend. The vet thinks she may have injured a tendon as she seems unable to retract one of her toes. This doesn’t hurt her and doesn’t affect how she moves; it just means that one of her toes sort of magically grew a couple centimeters. Leave it to Lucy, y’all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Queen Puppyface: In stitches, yet again.

There was suckage in Casa Burnout last week, but let me assure you that it all turned out fine.

Wednesday was a regular day, albeit one that was a little extra aggravating on the work side of things. I got home, made stir-fry with Red (side note: peanut oil really is better for crisping up tofu), and chilled out. Oh, it was peaceful and I was happy. La di dah.

Then Lucy came in from outside tracking blood all over the floor.

Now, this has happened twice before, so my panic instinct has been blunted. The sight of blood doesn’t faze me, and she didn’t seem distressed, so I got the bag of medical junk from the bathroom and we went to work. Red located her cut (a small one on one of her rear legs, just above her paw), then held her while I cleaned it with peroxide and wrapped it up. It kept bleeding, so we re-bandaged it with extra gauze. That seemed to do the trick, so we settled her on a blanket and loved on her for a while:

Woe, woe, woe, all is woe....

She really is a good girl about having her injuries dressed. She didn’t snap or growl at us, even though I’m sure we hurt her. She’s so gentle and sweet-tempered and I always feel bad when I have to break out the peroxide and medical tape.

Anyway, we were having a fine time down there on the living room floor when OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU BLEEDING LUCY PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP BLEEDING.

Our amateur wound-dressing efforts had failed, and how. At this point, the decision was made to head for the emergency vet. Our partnership has been a profitable one for them, so why fight it. We tugged an old sock onto Lucy’s foot, covered it with a plastic newspaper bag, and hustled her out to the car. It was 9:00 by this point and I was nearly in tears. Red and I both felt like shit for not going to the vet immediately instead of trying to handle it ourselves.

Picture us, dear readers, as we made our pathetic entrance to the vet half an hour later. I am panicked and blinking in confusion at the fluorescent lighting, Red is trying to be stoic, and Lucy has managed to put a hole in her plastic bag and is squelching blood all over the floor.

To top it off, the second they got us into an exam room, she peed everywhere. Combined with the bloody paw prints, the place looked like a crime scene. A sweet tech took Lucy away to fix her up and I started crying for real.

An hour and a half later, Lucy was stitched, bandaged, and feeling no pain. I’ve seen her more drugged before, but she was definitely stoned out. The vet assured us that the cut was minor, only four stitches were needed, and Lucy would be fine. I finally stopped crying, and we bundled her back into the car for the trip home. Sometime after that, we got her settled on her bed and covered her with a blanket, then tried to sleep ourselves. We both woke up several times to make sure she was still breathing.

It will not surprise you to learn that I called out of work the next day, and that Red went in late. He scoured the yard for pieces of glass or metal that might have hurt her, but couldn’t find anything. We have no idea how she might have done it, but this seems to be her injury M.O. Other people’s dogs eat chocolate or socks. Ours has a knack for hurting herself outside.

Once he went to work, Lucy and I napped. She was very good about staying on her blanket, and I bedded down on the couch so I could keep an eye on her. We went outside once or twice, and I must commend the vet for finding the perfect bandage covering: an IV bag. Seriously, you guys, if your dog is anything like Lucy, beg your vet for a few of these beauties. They’re tougher than newspaper bags and last longer. Lucy didn’t even bother chewing at it.

Since I had this unscheduled free day, I decided I might as well make good use of it. With the able assistance of my buddy Captain Picard and his crew, I cleaned up the kitchen and made Lucy a batch of Vegan Flower’s Oats & Molasses biscuits. Because I was still feeling awful about Lucy getting hurt, I cut them out in tiny heart shapes (ever-so-slightly smaller than the shot-glass cookies):

They are Lucy-approved.

Sometime around noon, Lucy decided she felt well enough to flout the doctor’s orders and hop up on the couch while my back was turned. Strict rest and no jumping, my ass.

Since then, Lucy has gotten a little better each day. It’s futile to keep her from jumping onto the couch or our bed, so we just let her do it, because one jump is better than the three or four subsequent jumps that would follow if we shooed her off. It’s hard to tell if she’s pulled out any of her stitches (black stitches on a black dog—really? no one thought Day-Glo orange might be useful?), but she’s getting around fine and mostly leaves her leg alone. She even tolerates taking her antibiotics, most of the time.

If you’re keeping score at home, this makes three extremities that have been stitched or stapled, plus one elbow (that was a benign tumor, though). We’re keeping our fingers crossed this is the last. In the meantime, Lucy will be ruling her kingdom from the sofa, snacking on homemade treats and gazing longingly at the snowy yard.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great Mouse Relocation of 2010.

A week or so before Christmas, it became clear to Red and me that we were unwittingly hosting a phalanx of mice in our home. I found this kind of distasteful, because mouse poop is gross, but not cause for alarm. Red, bless his heart, took it much more seriously than I did. [Red: It made me feel dirty and become afraid that my mother-in-law would return to vanquish me and bring her daughter home on account of living in squalor.] Come hell or heaven, we were going to de-mousify our house. He threw himself into his efforts with a fervor rarely seen outside of gladiatorial combat.

(I may have made it worse by mentioning Hantavirus, but come on, like 30 people per year get it. Your hypochondria’s no good here.)

Hi! I'm super-cute but I'll poop in your cupboards. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Anyway, it quickly turned into full-on War on Mice in Casa Burnout, with the caveat that we endeavored to wage war in the most deathless way possible. Red agreed to try humane traps until New Year’s [my compassion-cup was sort of filled on account of the holidays – who knew there were more than just xmas]. I told the mice that they had about two weeks to vacate, be carefully and gently vacated, or start running for their rodent lives. Red procured several humane traps, which came with hilarious little admonitions to “Teach peace! Be nice to mice!” While I wholeheartedly agree with both of those sentiments, I really just wanted the traps to work. Red baited them with peanuts, secreted them around the basement, and waited.

We waited.

One enterprising mouse [or many] managed to eat the peanut without tripping the door. Wily bastard[s].

Red re-baited with peanut butter [and a single peanut] and scoured the basement, plugging any holes big enough to admit a mouse (which is pretty much any hole, no matter how small). I scrubbed the kitchen and prayed that if the mice explored the counters, they’d have the decency to not leave little presents for me to find as I fumbled my way to the coffee.
This is what I wish they'd gotten up to in my kitchen. Adorable drawing by House-Mouse Designs®.

After a couple days of this, we came home late one evening and checked the traps. SCORE! We had caught one tiny, nervous-looking fellow. However, because the universe has a sense of humor, we had no choice but to head back outside, at midnight in the freakish cold, to release our captive in a place where he’d be happy and not find his way back to us.

Because I am cold-hearted, I made myself a pot of ramen noodles before our excursion. I was hungry, and the mouse had already had his snack.

Everything I’ve read on the topic of mouse relocation suggests taking the mouse at least two to five miles away. For us, five miles meant a restaurant park near the mall. Being a mouse in a restaurant Dumpster sounded like a pretty sweet setup to me, and I hoped that any dismay he experienced over his eviction from our house would be temporary. I tucked the trap into a small box and held it on my lap while Red drove. I thought of taking a photo, but that seemed cruel.

The liberation went off without a hitch. I had to tap the trap a few times to encourage him to leave, but once he got the idea, he was outta there. That was good news for us both, because I was tired of crouching in the snow next to a Dumpster.

Thus was Mouse #1 relocated.

We repeated this scenario three more times, trapping and releasing another four mice. You did that math right: We caught two in our second trap, and they were even cuter than their predecessor. I like to think that they comforted each other on the trip to the Dumpster, but the exchange I scripted in my head went something like this: “Dammit, Carl, what’s wrong with you?! You and your stomach, always getting us into trouble! Don’t worry about the trap, he says. We can get the peanut butter, he says. You sonofabitch, now we’re God knows where in this dark box on some broad’s lap, all because you wanted a snack. From now on, I’m working solo.” [The other mouse’s name was either Esmerelda Villalaucha or George.]

These weren’t ours, but close enough. Photo courtesy of a satisfied customer.

With five mice caught and released in suitable Dumpster locations, we declared Operation Humane Mouse Relocation a success. I’d estimate that the traps had about a 50% success rate; plenty were raided, but it could have been that our mice were especially savvy or small enough to avoid tripping the door. Either way, between the traps and our cleaning/hole-plugging efforts, we seem to be mouse-free at the moment.

So. Teach peace and be nice to mice, indeed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Soup to the second power.

Because I was a good little Burnout all year, Santa brought me Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest book, Appetite for Reduction! I tested a few recipes before it was published, so I was excited to try the rest of them. Since it’s been cold and we’ve been busy, Red and I decided to start with soup.

First up was Lotsa Veggies Lentil Soup, which is just what it sounds like. I like cooking with green lentils, because I usually end up using red ones and the green ones are a nice change. Red lentils are awesome and I love them, but they turn into yellow mush when you cook them. Green lentils retain their recognizable lentil-ness. Anyway, this is an easy, tasty lentil soup with extra veggies. Finally, a use for the CSA zucchini and summer squash that I blanched and froze back in July, when it seemed that the tide of squashy goodness would never end! The recipe called for 6 oz. of tomato sauce, but the store only had 8-oz. cans, and what do you do with an extra 2 oz. of tomato sauce? I didn’t want to figure it out, so I plopped all 8 oz. in there and it was all good.

Why the hell is there a date stamp on my photo? Shit, guess I need to play with the new camera more.

The best part of this soup wasn’t the soup, though. It was that we ate it while watching Troll 2, which is pretty much the height of awesomeness. There’s a hilarious vegetarian subtext in there as well, and I shit you not when I tell you that the young hero is saved by the deus ex machina of a baloney sandwich.

Anyway, now that we’ve established that my husband and I are film connoisseurs, I ask you: What’s better than soup? A second pot of soup! Red was in the mood for a corn chowder of some sort, so I made Summer Lovin’ Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder. The rest of that frozen squash and zucchini went in here, along with frozen bagged corn (so not seasonal). It took a little longer than usual because I did all the chopping myself, but there was a Buffy marathon on, so I didn’t mind. This soup was delicious, but I bet it’s even better in the summer with fresh corn. It would probably be yummy chilled, with a side of lightly steamed veggies or a salad. I love anything curried, and this had a bold curry flavor that wasn’t too strong. Curry n00bs would probably love it.

It is the most gorgeous sunny yellow. Just looking at it makes me happy.

So far, I’m loving this cookbook. I think I usually stick to a very healthy diet, but during this past month, I’ve eaten more takeout and cookies than I usually do. It feels good to get back on a regular schedule and prepare my own food from scratch, and I think Appetite for Reduction will be a great resource for a healthy 2011.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 and gratitude.

Happy New Year, darlings! As we’ve just come off the season of warm fuzzies (or of mass consumerist hell, or familial drunkenness, or all of the above), I have found myself ruminating on things for which I am grateful. (There will doubtless be repeats of October’s Happy 101 Award list.) I can think of worse ways to start the new year.

1. my health
In 2010, I deepened my yoga practice and watched my body change for the better. I’m stronger and happier than before, and I’m so grateful that I have the health and strength to continue to fall in love with yoga and see what else my body and I can do together. I won’t be running any marathons (I like my toenails where they are), but maybe I’ll get a little closer to Chaturanga.

2. Red
He lets me steal the covers and wakes me up with coffee on the weekends. I’m a lucky girl.

3. Lucy
I love you, crazy dog, even when you decide you want to kiss me directly after making out with your butt. Please continue to tolerate having your teeth brushed.

4. my mom
When I couldn’t decide which yarn to choose for the kitty-ears hat she’s going to knit me, she told me to get both. Soon I’ll have two kitty hats, and that’s why my mom rocks.

5. my dad
He always tells me how happy he is to see me and to hear my voice when I call. I hope I never miss a chance to tell my kids the same things.

6. my sister
I miss my baby girl, all the way down South with people who talk funny and vote Republican. Had I been an only child, I probably wouldn’t have been forced to watch Cinderella a thousand times or witness my Barbies suffer unconscionable haircuts, but I also wouldn’t have one of my best friends.

7. my in-laws
Mother-in-law horror stories? Not at my house. My other mom has baked me vegan cupcakes, and my other dad always makes sure Red and I have plenty of plant-based nibbles at family get-togethers.

8. my job
I try not to bitch about work online, because that way lies a pink slip. And yet: I am overburdened and undermanaged, not to mention sick to death of the batshit organizational culture of my office. I plot my escape from corporate hell daily. Still, I have a job, am paid to do work at which I’m reasonably skilled in a cushy environment, and have time and money to do things I love. Most days, it’s a fair trade.

9. you
Without you, my friends (commenters and lurkers, online and off, and everyone who defies categorization), there would be no Vegan Burnout. I mean, I’d still be vegan and I’d still be burned out on any number of things, but this blog and the lessons I’ve learned over the last year-plus of writing it wouldn’t exist. Thank you.

Tomorrow, it’s back to your regularly scheduled snark and shenanigans. I’ve got a new cookbook and a new camera, so hold on!