Friday, March 28, 2008

Brina Is Sick!

Update 12/08-
I cannot express my gratitude for the well-wishes and emotional and monetary gifts from everyone. People have been very kind to us. No amount of fancy wording can describe how thankful I am to everyone.

Brina is doing very well! She's very healthy and we are keeping her bowel disease in order. (We found out she has a bowel disorder after her stomatitis issue was over). She eats fine, believe me! (Even though most of her teeth are gone). She's super friendly and talkative. She's happy here with us and we love and spoil her a lot.
Brina's donation button will be enabled until her medical bills on the Care Credit are paid in full. I will take it down immediately after that. I am hoping to pay it off by the end of 2009. ALL donation money through this button goes directly to that card payment.

~~~~~~~~Earlier this year.....~~~~~~~~
Hi all. I am not usually this shameless but my cat is very, very ill. She has been very expensive so far and I do not make much. I am taking donations in ANY amount, and also highlighting my etsy shop. Thank you in advance for any purchase or donation. Brina thanks you, too!
(See update below)



Hello all-

I haven't forgotten about you. This week has been a roller coaster, but she's home finally. I figured since I have requested (and still appreciate) donations, I need to let you know what's going on! It's long and since a lot has happened in 1 week, some things may be a little scrambled, but I felt if I could update everyone, they would know where their donations are going, and get a little feel for what her personality is like.

About Brina-
(Pronounced "bree-nuh")
2 and a half years ago, we took her in after my mother adopted her after the loss of our beloved 18-year old cat, Turbo. My mother was not able to keep her, because the vets thought she had a fatal respiratory disease that is transmittable to cats. Since we had a dog and no cats (and returning her to the shelter was not okay with any of us) we kept her.
She stayed in her room for 2 weeks! She finally came out to drink our dog's water and the fun began. 6 months later, she started to really come around. In the past 6 months, she's gotten even lovlier and friendlier. She jumps on the bed in the mornings and walks on our pillows, and "brushes" my hair. She likes to be close to us, and she likes to watch TV when we eat dinner.
She loves the very late/very early hours, and is vocal about her desire for breakfast. She scratches her post just so we will say "Good Girl, Brina". She LOVES her water fountain and will let us know when it's too low. She has a very sweet personality and has bonded with me and my partner. Brina is his first cat, and she won him over. He wasn't too keen at first but I guess her daily greeting and sneezing into his chocolate soy milk every morning did the trick. I guess to know her more you'd have to meet her.

From the time we met her, she has had a respiratory problem and very, very bad teeth. Our vet wasn't comfortable putting her under anesthesia because with the respiratory problem, she is a high-risk patient. She also has hyperthyroidism, which is being controlled with medication. I had been using antibacterial gel and trying to gently brush her teeth, but they hurt her too much. Last Sunday she just stopped eating, cold turkey. After blood work we saw some of her organs weren't working properly and my vet actually suspected pancreatic cancer. It's a lot to take in when you think you are going in to increase the amount of Methimazole and you are told your cat probably has inoperable cancer, a cancer in which she wouldn't be without suffering if she died from.

So, we went to see specialists at the University of Florida Small Animal Hopsital in Gainesville, which is over 2 hours each way by car. After a lot of tests (ultrasound, blood, echocardiograph (sp?), etc) we got to take her home and she was put on some medication to help with her organs, etc. and some rest. I fed her by syringe daily, and had to give subcutaneous (sub-Q) fluids, antiobiotics, etc. This continued through her treatment with more of these tests, x-rays, etc.

3 days ago, she was put under anesthesia for oral surgery. She had mucus in her chest and they had to take her out of anesthesia and wait one day. The next day, she went in for oral surgery again. Brina had to have many of her teeth removed.
From the report:
"Brina had severe stomatitis. Stomatisis is a severe oral disease that affects some cats where the body becomes allergic to the plaque around the teeth. The allergic response appears as marked inflammation at the area where the tooth meets the gumline. Specific cause is not known. It is not related to feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, sex, spaying and neutering, or diet..."

So from what I gather, her teeth's bacteria/allergic reaction was/is affecting the rest of her body.
Right after she woke up, she was really, really irritated and cranky! We saw her at this time (the first anesthesia). They had to put her in an e-collar because she ripped out her arm IV catheter with her teeth (this was the first anesthesia, she still had her teeth). After the drugs wore off, she was back to her usual self, and wanted attention.
2nd anesthesia and tooth extraction went well. She had more mucus but they were able to take care of it. While under, they inserted an esophogeal feeding tube. I will be feeding her through this until her mouth heals and she can eat on her own. Since she didn't willingly eat for about a week, she's very (grossly) can feel her backbone..but even now since she's had the tube, you can feel a little more padding.

Finally, we picked her up yesterday. She was on methadone (!) and a bit out of it but she recognized us and wanted me to hold her. She was purring, grooming herself, etc. Today she is still really really tired, but dong well with our first feeding/medication, and is friendly. This morning she jumped on the bed and purred. We take it from here. This week has cost us several thousand dollars but she's in recovery and I love her. I know some people don't understand spending so much on a little cat, but for people like me, she's my family. I can photo the invoices if anyone requests them. I don't know the etiquette of posting numbers or amounts or all that so until then I will leave that alone.
Here is a picture I took yesterday right when she got home. That antennae thing is her feeding tube. It comes out of the side of her neck, and is held with medical wrap. It goes past her esophagus and ends right before her stomach, so it bypasses the gag reflex. She looks like she got beat up! Her belly, both front arms, neck, and one back foot are shaved.

Most importantly:
I really cannot express my gratitude adequately for those who have helped me with their concern, well-wishes, and/or financial support. The selflessness and generosity of people who don't even know me honestly made me cry. I try not to get too personal on this site because it's just a food blog, but things happen and I feel I owe an update! I read/hear about animal cruelty and human cruelty and it's easy to become misanthropic and depressed. There's so much sadness in the world, especially for the animals. This has been the complete opposite of that. I am grateful for the compassion I have been shown and appreciate what I continue to be shown. Every bit of love and financial support is being used to help her, so again, THANK YOU!

About the google Ads:
I added them only to generate income to help pay for all this. I am not responsible for their content (couldn't Google keep out the meat ads?!?) and don't even really know how all that stuff works..just so you know. I know they are annoying but I need all the help I can get at this time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Apple-Sage Sausages with Creamed Spinach

Virginwithamemory over at PPK made these delicious sausages. I wish I could take credit! I did, however, make this creamed spinach recipe. I really enjoyed this dinner!

Creamed Spinach
This creamy spinach side dish doesn’t have quite as much fat as a regular creamed spinach, but it is just as smooth and tasty. It gets its thickness from a quick roux and is pretty easy to pull off.

½ average onion, peeled and cut into thin rings
1 clove garlic, sliced very thin
1 Tbsp. flour
1 pkg. frozen spinach
¾ c soy milk, divided
1 Tbsp. vegan sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Margarine and olive oil
2-4 Tbsp. shredded vegan mozzarella (optional, I didn't use any)

Saute onion and garlic on medium heat with about 1 ½ tsp. Each olive oil and margarine. Cook until tender.** Here is where you multitask!
Add about 1 tsp more margarine, and add the flour. Stir well so the flour coats the onions and cooks until slightly golden.
Add ¼ c soymilk and stir well until thickened (this will happen quickly). If using vegan cheese, add here.
Add ¼ c more soy milk and stir in spinach.
Add sour cream and mix very well.
Add salt and pepper and the final ¼ c soy milk. Stir until combined.

**While onions are cooking, defrost spinach completely (I use microwave). Squeeze as much water out of spinach as possible. I mean it. Squeeze really, really hard. You will have a small tight ball. Separate spinach a bit and set aside.

Sausages Peeking from steamer, then exposed!

Apple-Sage Sausage Courtesy of V.W.A.M.! (thanks for letting me share it!)

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tea. salt
1/4 tea. cloves
1/4 tea. allspice
2 1/2 tea. onion powder
1 tea. ginger
3 tea. sage
1/4 tea. cayenne
1/4 tea. black pepper
1/2 cup dried apples, chopped finely

1/2 cup cold mashed yukon gold potatoes
2 tea. marmite
3 Tb. olive oil
1/2 tea. liquid smoke
1 tea. crushed garlic from a jar
1 Tb. maple syrup
2/3 cup water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, mix it up.

Combine wet ingredients in a different bowl, mix it up.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and knead for a few minutes. Form into little sausage shapes and wrap them up in tin foil tightly. Steam for 1/2 an hour. Unwrap them, put some oil in a pan and fry them up a little.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lemon Lentil Soup

This recipe is based on a recipe from A Higher Taste but with a few variations. Garlic and onion is not suitable for Lord Krsna, but they are suitable for me, so I added them.

You will need:
6 c water
1 c rinsed lentils
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. or smaller cubes
1 c chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1-2 Tb. olive oil
dash hing
about 1/4 c chopped red or white onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tb. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 lemon {2 Tbsp lemon juice and lemon zest (see below)}
generous amount of salt
few grinds fresh pepper
fresh parsley and cilantro

Bring lentils and water to a boil in a large pot. Simmer for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat oil and add potato, onion, hing, and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic and celery and cook 1-2 min longer. Set aside.

Zest the lemon (I use a microplane for fluffy, pith-free zest) and set zest aside. Juice lemon and reserve 2 Tb. of the juice. Refrigerate the rest for another use.

After the 35 min. is up on the lentils, add the contents of the pan. Cook for 10 more minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, coriander, and cumin and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add cilantro and parsley just before serving.

Note: You can blend 1/2 or all of the soup for a smoother texture. I like to do about 1/2 because I like texture and broth together.

Note on hing: Hing is also called asafoetida and is available at Indian grocery stores. Don't be scared- right out of the container is smells like straight up bad B.O. (sorry! ...and let's be honest, cumin smells, too but it is yummy) but in food it tastes fine. In some types of cooking, it replaces garlic and onion completely.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mushroom and Olive Orzo Salad

Not sure why it's mushroom and orzo, because there's a lot of stuff in it! I prefer pasta salads like this served cold. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients- these are all pantry and clean-the-fridge items.

1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. vegan mayonnaise (I like Vegenaise)
1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 scallions (green onions), chopped (include white parts)
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
1 deseeded* roma tomato, chopped
Generous pinch salt
Generous grind pepper
Dash garlic powder
1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
5 green olives, chopped (2-3 Tb)
5 black olives, chopped (2-3 Tb)
4-5 large button mushrooms, sautéed then chopped
1/2 c peas, optional
2 c cooked orzo

Start with the liquids in the dressing (oil through dijon). Add all the other ingredients except the orzo, and mix well.

While you are cooking the orzo (about 1-1 1/2 cups dry), prepare the dressing and refrigerate. When orzo is done cooing, drain and refrigerate separately.

When both the pasta and the dressing are relatively cool, combine and chill further. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. You may want to drizzle a little more olive oil.

*To deseed this one tomato, just cut into about 1/4 and scoop the seeds out with clean hands.

If you would like to use a different pasta, I would suggest increasing the amount (3-4 cups cooked) since orzo is a dense little pasta.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lumber Jill Stew, Supa-Sandwich

This recipe is a variation of the Crosscut Stump Stew from I Like You, Amy Sedaris' book . Serves several hungry-men or hungry-ladies! Stretch that dollar with a salad!

Lumber Jill Stew
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3 c large-chopped (1-2 in pieces) beef-style seitan
2-3 Tb. olive oil/mix of olive oil and margarine
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 c tomato puree (or 1- 1 1/2c diced tomatoes if you don't have puree)
2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire
1 Tb. A-1 steak sauce
1/2 c red wine (sherry worked for me)
2 Tb. wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1-2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves*
1/2-1 Tb. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lb pearl onions (instructions are for fresh, but use frozen if you can find them- they're already prepped for you)
1/2 can diced potato** or 1 chopped cooked potato

Cook seitan until browned in the oil, adding the Worcestershire and A-1 at the last minute, just to coat. Remove and place in a casserole dish. Add onion, garlic, and carrot to the still-hot pot, adding oil if necessary. Cook until onions are tender.

Add tomato puree, wine, and vinegar to onion mixture and combine well. Pour over seitan.
Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick, sugar, and salt and pepper.

Bake 45min-1 hour.

While this is baking, cut the top and bottom off the pearl onions and boil for about 2 min. Drain and cool. The skins will slide off. Add to stew after the 1 hour is up. Add potato is using.

Cook for 15-20 more minutes, stirring and adding a little water or tomato puree if too thick.

Serve with rice, potatoes, bread, cornbread, or whatever you'd like.

*I put the cloves in cheesecloth and tied with floss. If you want 4 whole cloves floating around in your hearty meal, be my guest. Cheesecloth is cheap and available at most supermarkets now. You should already have floss in your bathroom. If you don't, we need to talk. Remove the cheesecloth sachet and the cinnamon stick before serving.

**I don't usually suggest canned vegetables like potatoes (since potatoes are cheap to cook yourself). Mostly I stick to canned tomato sauces (cheaper for me than homemade) and canned beans (time-saver), but since this is a stew, sometimes I like the canned potatoes. It reminds me of camping as a kid.


2 of my animal rights friends made a wicked sandwich that I tried to copy. Let me tell you- it was delicious! Here it is:

Labeled (as layered, pretty much)

Creole Mustard or Brown spicy mustard
Lots of Tofurkey
Lots of Vegenaise
Lettuce (I do ribbons of romaine)
Pepperoncinis (cut into rings)
Black and green olives
Salt and Pepper