Sunday, July 22, 2012

Maria, the cutest, best kitty: a retrospective

Poor Maria had been off her feed for about a month before I took her in to the vet. For a while, I would give her some new and exciting food and she would perk up for a bit, but I realized I was deluding herself. Maria's bloodwork was okay and an x-ray inconclusive, but her doctor thought she should come back for a paracentesis: it might make her feel better, plus they could examine the fluid they drained from her and maybe figure out what her trouble was. We took her in the following Tuesday, but the results were not happy. Maria had a terrible mass around her liver and stomach, and there was not any point in sending the fluid for analysis. I should just try to make her remaining days as happy as possible.

The paracentesis didn't seem to have revived her at all, so I made an appointment for the home euthanasia doctor to come on Thursday, when Maria's mom Rachael could be there. Dr Knasiak was really nice. He was the same guy who'd drained her on Tuesday, and he told us that the mass was large and branching, 'like a ginger root,' and even if we'd caught it earlier, when it was smaller, it would have quickly grown back. He gave Maria a couple of shots--first a calming one, then a lethal one--and she died in her mommy's arms.

The very first picture I took with my first digital camera.

Maria with my knitting. She always loved to help me with it.

Here she is being groomed by her mom.

Maria looking like a little kitten with her doll, Ratty.

Maria looking elegant. This is the day she changed the pronunciation of her name from 'Mar-ee-a' to 'Mar-eye-a.'

Maria on her mom. Whenever Maria came upon a prone person she would sit on their back or bottom.

Maria helping me knit on her last day of life. She was so tired, she just sat on my lap all day waiting for her appointment.

If you want to see more pictures, there are lots on my flickr.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

red right hand

I'm really excited about my new book, The Art of Fermentation. I've only read a little bit of it, but already have a list of things to try on my next days off. There's a fizzy beverage made from juniper berries, and another one--Punjabi--made of carrots and ground mustard seeds.

I was inspired to make sauerwurzel when I read that almost any vegetable can be made into sauerkraut or kimchi, and that if you want to use less salt the minerals in seaweed will have a similar effect. I decided to julienne my carrots rather than grating them, as I thought that would improve the eventual texture, but the decreased surface area made it harder than usual to press enough juice out to cover the carrots. I would press for a while, let it rest so the salt could do its osmotic thing, then press some more. As you can see, all that pressing turned my hand red! It faded pretty quickly, but is still faintly orange from having carrot juice ground into it.

Here are the ingredients I used: 5lb carrots, julienned; 1lb radishes, thinly sliced; 1C dulse, soaked in cool water to make 1 1/2C (soaking water included in the sauerwurzel); a small bunch of dill, roughly chopped; and 15g salt. I'll check it in a couple of weeks. I just put the lid on my fancy sauerkraut crock at ten this morning, and it began bubbling after only eight hours.

quick and easy date candy

This is a really easy-to-make treat, and is always popular at potlucks. My friend Little Debbie often brings it to work meetings because there's nothing in it that any of our colleagues (a picky bunch) object to. It's a modification of this recipe from Vegetarian Times, de-glutenized and with different flavors. I also made it bigger so that there would be plenty of leftovers for me--it makes an excellent restorative at work.

When I brought these to work for the Fourth of July, also Nurse Mary's last day before retiring, several people asked me if they had figs in them. I think it was a combination of their slight pepperiness and the mysterious crunch of the chia seeds which made people think that.

Figgy Date Candy
makes a lot--enough to fill a quarter sheet (9"x12")pan
easily halved if you don't want that much

16oz Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 1/2oz raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
up to 1T water, as needed
6oz walnuts, roughly chopped, divided
3 1/2oz chia seeds
1/2t cinnamon
salt and pepper, and pinch of each
finely shredded desiccated coconut
coconut flour (or rice flour)

Whiz the dates and cacao in your food processor till they make a smooth paste, adding a little water if necessary. Scraped the sides , then add 4oz of walnuts and the chia seeds, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Process till the walnuts seem well chopped and everything's thoroughly mixed.

Line your quarter-sheet pan with wax or parchment paper, then scatter a couple of handsful of desiccated coconut over the bottom. Scrape the date paste over the coconut, then press it flat, using a little coconut flour to help with the stickiness. Strew the remaining walnut pieces over it, and press them in. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up, then cut into pieces (how big is up to you), dust the edges with a little coconut flour, and store in a tin.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

first sprout your lentils

I now have such exacting dietary requirements (vegan plus low starch) that it's more important than ever that I bring something substantial for me to eat to any potlucks I go to. I brought a couple of recipes from my new favorite raw cookbook, Eat Raw, Eat Well, to a recent work meeting, and they were both very successful. One was a banana goji berry cookie, made from almonds and cashews stuck together with banana and coconut fat, and the other was a curried sprouted-lentil stew. I altered the stew quite a bit--I used sprouted lentils instead of soaked garbanzo beans, and toned down the seasoning. Raw cookbooks in general seem to use more salt and spices than I like, so I have to remind myself to be judicious when I get to that part of their recipes.

Below is my rendering of 'Curried Chickpea Stew.' You will have to start it a couple of days in advance, because it takes about a day and a half to sprout the lentils, but other than that it's a quick and easy recipe. And very tasty.

To start the lentils, soak about 1 1/2 cups of them in plenty of water in a big jar (mine's a half gallon) fitted with a sprouting lid. After they've about doubled in size--maybe six hours--drain the water and let the jar rest, tipped so as to continue to drain, in your dish drainer. Rinse and drain the lentils a couple of times a day,till they've grown as big as you want them. The last time I made them, they germinated after only twelve hours and were grown to my liking after another eighteen. At that point, switch to a regular lid and stick them in the refrigerator till you're ready to use them. They keep for quite a while in the fridge--at least a couple of weeks. You'll end up with more sprouts than you need for this recipe, but they're really tasty on salads too so you shouldn't have any problem using them up.

Curried Lentil Stew
serves six

3C sprouted lentils
1C dried tomatoes, soaked half and hour in warm water, then drained
1 lb fresh tomatoes (unless it's summertime, use cherry or grape tomatoes)
a carrot, roughly chopped
a celery stalk, roughly chopped
a handful of cilantro, including its roots if you have them
1/2 a small onion, roughly chopped
2T peeled, chopped ginger
1T peeled, chopped fresh turmeric (if you can get it)
3 cloves garlic
1/4C fresh lemon juice
1T agave nectar
2T olive oil
1 1/2T curry powder
2t cumin
1t ground coriander
1/2t aleppo pepper
2t kosher salt
2 ripe bell peppers (whatever color you like), trimmed and diced
herbs for garnish (I used some dill I got in my vegetable box)

Grind everything but the lentils and pepper in a food processor till there are no big, visible lumps. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the lentils and peppers. Decorate with your chosen herb and let everything soak for an hour or so before serving.