Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Creamy "Cool" Slaw

Do you ever have one of those foods that you really can’t explain why you like it so much, but you just do…

One of my pre-vegan favorites was coleslaw from Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I will give you a second to absorb how awful everything about that statement is. However, at one time I could easily gobble down some KFC sides like I was on the tasting payroll. Clearly, I am no longer a visitor to KFC, but I still have a special affinity for coleslaw.

When I saw this recipe in Appetite for Reduction, I knew I had to try it. Here is a lowdown of why I love it.
  1. It has only a few (cheap) ingredients.
  2. It is lower in fat / calories that most other coleslaw.
  3. It is insanely easy to make.
In the spirit of Labor Day picnics, this is another excellent summer barbecue treat to impress all your friends. Who needs nasty old KFC anyway?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Southern Macaroni Salad

I am back…
I am still a little broken, but I am back.

It is still summer and I think summer comfort foods are to often ignored. I don’t really know why, but give me a big ear of corn on the cob and macaroni salad and I am a happy Chubby Vegan. The last few weeks have made me seek comfort foods a little bit more than necessary.

Sometimes I drown my sorrows in food. Yeah?! What?!? Want to fight about it?
<puts up fists>

Anyway, this Southern Macaroni Salad is a gift from the vegenaise gods and my bud Terra. She sent me the recipe and also snuck it into our work staff newsletter. Let’s give it up for vegans editing the staff newsletter!

I made this macaroni salad with orecchiette pasta, which looks like a beanie (or a condom.) I saw some at the store and thought they were cute and it made this just a little bit more formal. Of course you could use any pasta, but you will lose some cool points.

Summer is (sadly) drawing to an end, so make this soon. Perhaps a labor day picnic food…? Although, whoever said foods need to be restricted to a season? I will eat ice cream on January 1st and be just fine with it.

Take that society!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rest in Peace Nana Bear

Yesterday we lost one of our dogs, Nana. She was the sweetest little angel and we were so lucky that she graced our lives. She brought us so much spirit, joy, and unconditional love and it was unbearably hard to say goodbye to her.

Nana had been suffering from lymphoma and mammary cancer for over a year. Her pain and discomfort became too much to bear and we finally decided she was ready to move on into her next life.

In between uncontrollably crying yesterday, I sat silent most of the day. I decided the best way for me to move through my grieving process was to share Nana’s story. Her life was full of difficulty up until her last two years. Her life is so important to me and her story needs to be shared. Thanks for reading.

Husband and I had fostered a dog named Jesse James from the Washington County Humane Society a little over two years ago. I stood firm that we were foster parents and would not be adopting him. Much to Husbands dismay, Jesse was adopted by his previous foster family. He was with us for only a month.

When Husbands mom was visiting, we decided to take a trip back to the Washington County Shelter because another dog that I was considering fostering was there. When we arrived the other dog was in the process of being adopted. We were so happy! Being animal lovers we decided to go back and visit with the other shelter dogs. Sitting alone in a cage was a little old beagle named Jasmine. She had a face that only a parent could love. We looked at each other, picked her up out of the cage, marched up to the front desk and said, “She is coming home with us.”

Jasmine didn’t have much of a story. She was a stray beagle that ended up at the shelter in her old age. Judging by her teeth (which were in bad shape) the shelter believed her to be about 10 or 11 years old. Like most beagles in Washington County, she was probably a hunting beagle; unloved, over bred, and used only for a job. This was a little over two years ago.

When we got her home our little old lady fit in perfectly. I was standing firm that we were only fostering her. We even took her to an adoption event in hopes of her finding a forever home. Of course, she had other things in mind. She knew our house was just right.

After fostering Jasmine for about two months, we received a call from a family who was interested in adopting her. Husband took the call and said, “Sorry, she is no longer available.” We adopted her the next day.

Her kind and loving attitude along with her old age gave her the nickname, “Nana Bear.” This was the perfect name for our elderly lady. Her name stuck and we said goodbye to Jasmine and hello to Nana.

Nana made herself right at home. She loved to cuddle and sit on our lap. Like most beagles, she loved to eat. She loved her new brother Buddy, although she made sure to tell him when she didn’t want to play. She followed Husband around everywhere he went and we started calling her his shadow. She liked our other dogs, but she always made it clear that she loved her Daddies the most. Well, that is unless Mom-in-law was visiting.

Nana was an incredible dog. She was the most caring, gentle, and loving dog anyone could ever ask for. She never barked. She never fussed. She even taught herself to go potty in the drain in the basement. You couldn’t ask for a better dog. We loved her so much.

As time grew, Nana started to grow tumors on her little body. First, tumors started to grow on her mammary glands. We could have removed them, but with her old age the Vet advised us that her recovery may be far too hard and painful. At that point we decided that we would continue to love and care for Nana as long as she would let us.

Almost a year later, her disease spread to her lymph nodes. The lymph nodes in her neck and back legs began to grow quickly. Although we kept her on a variety of medicines they grew too quickly.
Over the past few weeks her condition began to deteriorate rapidly.

Having a sick dog is one of the hardest things to endure. Nana could never tell us when she hurt. She never barked or cried. She carried on. She gave us love always. She never let us onto her pain although we knew that she was uncomfortable. As time went on her pain got worse and worse. Over the last few days she had difficulty breathing and began to throw up everything she ate. We spoke with the Vet and had to make one of the hardest decisions ever.

When you love and care for an animal as much as we loved Nana, the decision is unbearable. I would sit next to her rubbing her head and asking for her to just tell me if she was ready, if she was done fighting. She would just look at me with those beautiful brown eyes and give me her love. That is all. That is what she was best at.

When we brought her to the vet’s office yesterday, I kept on telling her that it will be okay. It was as if there was nothing more I could say to her. I would say, “Daddy loves you” and “it will be okay.” This was the first time I have ever lost an animal and I had known it would be hard. I didn’t imagine just how hard it would be. 

When we walked her into the office I started to feel numb. I lost feeling in my feet and hands. We laid her down on the couch and sat with her. We petted her and kept on telling her that it would be alright. The feeling was indescribable. I had played out in my mind what the moment might be like and it was surreal. I couldn’t believe that the day had come. I knew she was in pain. I knew what was best for her. This day when she looked at me you could tell that she was done fighting. She was ready to say goodbye.

What happened after was a blur. All I can remember is when the doctor said, “That’s it,” I burst into uncontrollable crying and hyperventilating. I couldn’t bare it. I still can’t. I could not believe our little angel was gone.

As I sat next to her, I couldn’t believe it. She just looked like she was asleep. I sat with her and the same thing kept replaying in my head, “Because I knew you, my life has been changed for good.” This line is from a song in the musical Wicked that was playing on repeat in my head. Because I knew you Nana.

I've heard it said,
That people come into our lives for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn,
And we are led,
To those who help us most to grow,
If we let them,
And we help them in return,
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true,
But I know I'm who I am today,
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit,
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder,
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.

I think this describes my feelings best. Nana was the so special. She was my angel. She came into our lives for a reason and brought us unbelievable joy. I love her so much. I still cry every time I think of her.

Regardless of what we believe, I know she is in a better place, a happy place. She is sending me love from wherever she is. I miss her. I will always miss her.

Because I knew you Nana Bear, my life has been changed for good.

Thank you and Daddy loves you. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Madonna

When I was a little boy, I would imagine what my life would be like as a grown up. Like most boys, I had fantasies of playing for the Patriots, having a wife and kids, being a marine or firefighter being best friends with Madonna.

When she burst onto the scene I was just a baby. I was born in May of 1982, and her first single dropped in October of ’82. Coincidence? I think not.

Susan Sarandon once said that, “The history of women in popular music can, pretty much, be divided into before and after Madonna.” I couldn’t agree more. She has single handedly changed cultural norms of gender, sexuality, religion, and popular music. She truly is an icon.

When I was little, I would sneak in my house to watch her videos on MTV. I remember watching the Girlie Show on HBO and being glued to the TV. When I was 19, I saw her in concert (Drowned World Tour) for the first time. I went to Madison Square Garden, alone, and stood on the floor. When she ascended onto the stage I cried like a 12 year old seeing Justin Bieber. I saw that show four times. I have seen her in concert 6 times. The 5th time (Re-Invention Tour) I was lucky enough to be about 10 rows from the stage. There was a moment where I swear she looked at me. I felt it.

Maybe I am a super fan. Maybe I am a little obsessed. It doesn’t matter. For a chubby gay boy like me she has always represented the culmination of fashion, sex, music, love, freedom, confidence, and power. She was an escape when I may have not been at my happiest. Some people turn to drugs, I turn to Madonna.

Today is her birthday and what better day to step back and realize the impact this one woman, whom I have never met, has made on my life. 

Happy Birthday Madge… and thank you.

While I can't say that I have an absolute favorite Madonna song or moment, here are a few of my all-stars after the jump...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

I love when people take desserts that are usually meant to be made into cakes or pies and create a cupcake version. Tiramisu, chocolate cream pie, banana cream pie, and the list goes on and on.

For a chubby guy like me it is nice to have desserts in cupcake form. The smaller version keeps me from eating an entire cake or pie. Seriously. Don’t act like you have never thought of it.

Cupcakes are something close to heaven. Small, quick, and personal size; each one has its owns distinctive beauty. Who doesn’t love them?

I know the cupcake trend has been dying a slow death but I am going to chain myself to the doors of the bakery and hope it never goes away. I love you cupcakes. I even wrote a song about you…

Okay maybe not.

Here is a cupcake version of Pineapple Upside Down Cake… Fun, right?

More after the jump…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My New Obsession...

It is green.
People waste it far to often as just garnish.
It is a really strong plant that does not mess around.


Kale is sort of the "it" vegetable right now. People are always talking about juicing it or just eating it raw. There are always lovely kale salad recipes online. It is SUPER healthy. Plus, my farmers market always has the best varieties of organic kale for super cheap!

When I visited Mecca a few months ago I had a kale and avocado salad that was to die for.

Kale is also very common in Portuguese cooking. Since I was born in a Portuguese community with a Portuguese grandfather, one would think I had tons of kale growing up. Wrong.

I feel like I have rediscovered a vegetable. Don't you love that? My new favorite way of eating kale is about as simple as it comes. Ready for it?

My insanely simple kale recipe, after the jump.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beagle Freedom Project

Marci loves to relax.

Did you know…?

Beagles are the most commonly used breed for lab testing? According to the Beagle Freedom Project, “Beagles are the most popular breed for lab use because of their friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities. The research industry says they adapt well to living in a cage, and are inexpensive to feed.”

As a loving beagle daddy, this breaks my heart. As an animal lover it infuriates me.

I can’t even imagine the pain and torture these animals must endure. It is unbelievable… Of course, all of this is an excellent reminder to try and purchase products that are not tested on animals. This can be tough and may cost a little more money, but you know it’s worth it. Their lives (and safety) are worth it.

Someone sent me this video and, clearly, I can’t watch it without crying. This video has a happy ending, but make sure to get your tissues out. It is also a great reminder of just how hard life can be for dogs in lab captivity.

Finally, in case you need a reminder, please remember to adopt if you are looking for an animal companion. If you don’t know that already, I will be happy to personally come to your house and smack you upside the head.

If you would like to adopt a beagle, I will be happy to tell you anything you want to know!

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