Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life At Home Lately

It's been so awesome just spending time with my mom. I haven't seen her in so long and I almost feel like we are becoming almost like best friends. It's funny when you move out and have to deal with maintaining a household and being far away from your parents how much you learn to appreciate them.

On Sunday my dad is coming back from Poland! So I get to hang out with both my parents soon. Plus my sister is getting married in about 10 days so I will soon see my entire family all together! Woo hoo!

I discovered Meesha loves the hose! I was watering something down in the backyard and Meesha all of a sudden lit up. We have a hose in Germany but I admit I have never used it. Never really needed to...

So after seeing how excited Meesha got, I ran the hose for a bit and let her chase the water, bite it, try to eat it...haha! She is a goofball! Spunky the corgi already loves the hose. Sammy would prefer to sit this one out and just look cute.

Exciting news on the food frontier, my mother and I managed to make a healthy version of pierogis! As I've mentioned before, my family is Polish and pierogi are very popular in this house, especially around the holidays! My mom usually stuffs them with potatoes, cheese, meat, sauerkraut, ect ect. There are a lot of options for pierogi. Growing up, my favorite pierogi were the ones stuffed with potatoes, onions, and cheese. Obviously I don't eat cheese anymore, so we tried something new!

First, I try not to eat white flour anymore at all, so for the dough we used whole wheat flour. It's the best we could do for now and it's better than white that's for sure!

Whole wheat potato, "cheese", onions, and garlic.

Then for the stuffing, we still used potatoes and onions, but this time we added some garlic for flavor and I bought some vegan cream cheese at Whole Foods! Adding that gave it just the right kind of flavor. Obviously not the same as before, but I can totally eat these every holiday!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Farm Rescue

I'm pretty sure all active facebook users have heard of the game/application on facebook called Farmville. It seems pretty popular among all of my friends. I won't lie, I used to play Farmville myself. I got pretty bored of it though, then deleted the application.

Well recently I read an article about a new application called Farm Rescue. In this application, you rescue virtual hens that have been abused in battery cages all their lives and nurse them back to health. This also helps spread the word about what really happens in the egg-laying industry.

My growing little rescue farm.

I decided to give this game a try. I can't say I'm addicted to this game, but it's pretty fun. I so far have adopted out 7 healthy hens and am currently working on nursing 2 hens back to health. I can also say I have learned a lot already from this game. I knew a lot about this industry already, but this game has an option to earn more money by answering multiple choice questions about hens and the industry. Here are some of the questions I have answered...

Q. How long may domestic hens take to find an appropriate site to lay an egg?
A. 2 hours!

Q. True or False? Mother hens will gently cluck to their chicks while they are still inside their eggs, and the chicks will peep back.
A. True!

Q. Undercover investigations of United Egg Producers-certified facilities have revealed what?
- decomposing hens in cages
- sick and injured hens
- living/dead hens stuck between cage wires
- all of the above
A. All of the above.

Q. Only female chickens lay eggs. What happens to male chicks of egg-laying breeds?
A. They are killed.

Q. What percentage of eggs produced in the U.S. come from battery hens?
A. 95%

Q. How many hens are typically confined in one battery cage?
A. Five to eight hens may be confined into a single battery cage for their entire 12-18 month lives.

Can you believe some of these answers??? Some make me want to throw up, others make me smile. I love learning about hens and their way of living. These poor battery caged hens... =(

Also in the game, to nurse your hen back to health, you have to click on a few options to help them out. These include: feed, drink, nest, perch, explore, exercise, and dustbathe. After the hen has done this for the first time...a little paragraph pops up saying this:

Congratulations! You hen has EXPLORED outside for the first time! Chickens are inquisitive, curious, and intelligent animals who would spend more than 50% of their time scratching, foraging, and exploring their surroundings. Chickens in battery cages act out their strong urge to explore by pecking at each other, causing wounds and feather loss.

Congratulations! Your hen has stretched her wings and walked on real dirt for the first time! Like all animals, chickens need exercise to stay healthy, and being stuck in a tiny place unable to move is painful and causes health problems like osteoporosis.

Congratulations! You have helped your hen DUSTBATHE for the first time! Chickens need to dustbathe in order to keep their skin and feathers healthy. When your hen was in a battery cage, she tried to dustbathe on the wire floor, because that's all she had, but it didn't help.

Congratulations! You have helped your hen NEST for the first time! Hens have a strong urge to lay eggs in private. It is so strong that they will go without food to find a secret nesting place. This was impossible for your hen and her 6 cage mates when she lived in a battery cage.

Congratulations! You have helped your hen PERCH for the first time! Modern egg-laying hens are descended from the Red Jungle Fowl, who sleep perched in trees at night. Your hen couldn't perch during her 18 months in a battery cage, she had to stand on wire the entire time.

All in all, the game is entertaining and it's fun knowing I am virtually helping hens. I may not play this game for long since I'm not a fan of facebook games, but it really is a good game to spread the word about battery caged hens. Maybe invite some of your friends today ;)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Our Home Made Pizza!

Last night was a lot of fun. After Mom came home from work, we decided to make home made pizza so we could try out the Daiya cheese I bought at Whole Foods. We bought some pizza crust mix from Whole Foods as well. The company that makes it is called Namaste Foods, plus the pizza crust mix is also gluten free. The ingredients looked great. They included Brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, Italian seasoning, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and ascorbic acid. Probably not the best we could buy, but I think it's pretty good.

We baked the pizza crust in the oven. While it was baking, we grilled up a bunch of yummy veggies marinated in balsamic vinegar. Those veggies included zucchini, red onions, garlic, black olives, and red bell pepper. We bought those all of those from Whole Foods the previous day =)

The pizza turned out amazing! After the crust baked, we added some tomato sauce, the veggies, and topped with the Daiya cheese. Then, we baked it for another 10 mins and tadaaaa. All ready to eat!

So about the Daiya cheese, I can say that it is okay. Truly, I feel like I can live my life just fine without it. It's obviously not real cheese so it doesn't taste like real cheese. It has a good consistency and the flavor is okay. I do think it's a bit too salty, but all in all it was just okay. I don't think I will ever crave that cheese and I will maybe buy it again one day, but like I said, I can live just fine without it. I did eat the leftovers we had from last night for lunch today though. Next on our menu for this weekend will hopefully be something with quinoa so my mom can experience this little grain.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My First Trip To Whole Foods

As I promised, I will now update you all about how the Smart Dogs were last night from my previous post. THEY WERE AWESOME. After a long shopping spree at Whole Foods yesterday, we came home and heated up some Smart Dogs. We bought sprouted grain hot dog buns and organic ketchup (sweetened with agave nectar) and organic mustard. We heated them up on the stove top with boiling water, literally took maybe 5 minutes. A very quick and delicious dinner. My meat eating mother with an open vegan mind loved them. I haven't had a real nasty hot dog in forever. Eating these cruelty-free hot dogs was so much more awesome then those nasty ones.

Anyway, back to Whole Foods, I finally got to visit this popular store. I was definitely excited when I saw how big the store actually was. I was expecting something a lot smaller; I guess a lot more people buy organic and natural than I thought. That's cool =)

We entered the store and saw a butt load of fresh produce. We bought a little bit of everything...oranges, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, kale, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, cilantro, ect ect! I can go on for a while. I also told my mom about quinoa and she is excited to try some now.

I bought a lot of the "fake" foods made for vegans so I can simply say I've tried them. I want to change my diet completely to a lot less processed foods, but I just want the pleasure of trying some fake cheese, more flavors of soy ice cream, and maybe a little tempeh (hopefully I figure out how to cook it). I'm excited about the cheese. We are going to home make a pizza crust tonight and make some sauce, add some grilled veggies on top followed by the Daiya cheese I bought! I will update later on how the cheese tasted ;)

The best part about my experience yesterday is when I asked the bakery there if they made vegan desserts. They totally did! Well, I'm not sure if they actually make them, but the lady said they special order from The Chicago Diner and they can even special order a birthday cake for me in September =D

All in all, great store! I can't wait to go back already...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Smart Dogs

So being back in the states is totally awesome. Mom took me to the grocery store yesterday and I was so excited about all the selections I now have! Back in Germany I felt so limited. Now I am ridiculously excited about trying all the new and yummy sounding foods everyone keeps talking about. Fake cheese here I come...

We didn't visit Whole Foods yet, we are actually going there today! Yesterday we just visited the regular grocery store, but I am pleasantly surprised at all the good food they carry now. They have a small aisle dedicated to organic produce, which wasn't the best selection but I was happy that they even carried some. It shows people have been buying and asking for organic and that's a huge plus. Also all over the store they had a ton of organic options next to regular options, like cool is that?

So yesterday we only quickly stopped by to pick up a few things so I didn't look around the whole store. But I did pick up something I wanted to try...fake hot dogs! I have tried the veggie burgers, which I love, but veggie hot dogs sound like something fun I could bring to BBQ's too. The brand we bought is called Lightlife Smart Dogs. They look really good, and I will update with how they tasted later since we are grilling them tonight!

Today when we visit Whole Foods, I plan to buy some fake cheese, maybe some soy cream, and I'm looking forward to a lot of organic and delicious fruits and veggies.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sweet Home Illinois!

Well everyone, I am home! It's been a rough few days. My daddy came to visit me in Germany for a few days and that was a grand old time! I missed him so much! He then drove me to Munich airport with my doggies and dropped us off so me and the dogs could start our journey home. I must admit, putting my dogs on a plane knowing they would be in a kennel for 8+ hours was not easy. After the worked wheeled them away I went to the bathroom, hid in a stall for about 2 minutes to let out a little cry. It was stressful and I was very worried about my dogs the entire flight. When we arrived in Chicago, I heard them in the baggage claim barking away because they saw me. I was so happy to see they were okay.

The New Pack. Sammy the collie mix, Meesha the german shepherd, and Spunky the corgi.

Now we are at my parents house, safe and sound. Daddy is still in Poland so I've been hanging out with Mommy. We've had a good first 2 days. We arrived on the 4th so I didn't really get to celebrate properly, but we did sit outside in the backyard and watched some fireworks. It was a great time.

Meesha and Sammy playing in their new backyard.

The dogs are doing well. They are still adjusting to their new environment and still getting used to my parents' dog Spunky the corgi. I missed him so much and he was so happy to see me! Meesha sits by the door sometimes waiting to go home I think...she still hasn't quite comprehended we are staying here for a while. Sammy is still skittish to a few new things around the house but he's doing much better. They absolutely LOVE the fenced in backyard! Back home, no! AWESOME!

The trio again.

My mom seems to be really interested in my new lifestyle. I made her lunch the day I arrived and she really liked the red pepper hommus wrap! Yesterday we ate a bowl of cereal together with almond milk. She decided to use coconut milk in her cereal and she really loved it. She even said she will start using coconut milk in her coffee instead of real milk! For dinner my mom grilled some potatoes on the grill. We marinated them in olive oil and really yummy spices and had a very good salad on the side. I still have roasted garlic breath from last night...haha! Tonight, we soaked some pinto beans overnight so for dinner we are making bean enchiladas! Sometime this week she will be taking me to the organic whole food market here and we will definitely be doing a lot of shopping! I'm so excited to try this daiya cheese everyone talks about...

The backyard, oh how I missed home!

Plus, Mommy even said she wants to go to Veggie Fest with me in August! I think I may have converted my mother into veganism HAHA! Well, I don't think she will give up meat completely or dairy, but she is definitely exploring healthier options with me. I am so proud of her :)

Well, I'm still getting used to the new time zone. I think I may take a nap...