It’s been a while since I gave you an update on what’s been going on behind the scenes at the Kettle. Before we dive into delicious holiday recipes for the season, I thought it might be fun to share some of what’s been going on around here. I hope you’ve read our post about our wonderful weekend at the Caserío Da Castiñeira, but so much more has happened these past few months since our last post in this section, and of course, I’ve got plenty of pictures to go with our tales.
A couple of months ago we finally went ahead and had our little Vega spayed, the rescue mix we adopted early in the summer. I’m a huge believer in spaying and neutering our pets, although of course it breaks my heart to put them through surgery. It is however, one of the simplest and most routine of procedures done by vets on a daily basis and it is highly recommended by all veterinarians. On the health side of things, a spay or neuter surgery can greatly increase the life span of your pet, due in part to the fact that it helps prevent many diseases including the appearance of cysts, tumors, several types of cancer, and in females can prevent a highly dangerous infection of the uterus which is extremely common among un-spayed dogs. Having gone through this condition with my first adopted pooch, a beautiful Pomeranian mix rescue, I can tell you that this infection is no picnic, and can even be fatal if not caught in time. Our Pomeranian Cindy almost didn’t make it out of that one, and even our little Nala had the beginning stages of this infection (called Pyometra), when I finally decided to have her spayed. Lesson learned after the vet told me I would have had to take her into the emergency room if the surgery hadn’t been scheduled on that day. Ok, so we know it’s super healthy for the animal, and can extend their life and prevent all sorts of health problems that are so much more painful than the surgery. What about the decision to spay or neuter as opposed to breeding the animal? I’m afraid that no matter how much I would love to see a puppy with my little Nala or Vega’s furry face, there are thousands of animals being killed in shelters each year. If you’ve read the story of Vega’s adoption, you know how much a life can be changed when you decide to give a home to an abandoned companion animal.
Dogs can have really big litters, and no matter how big your house is, it’s highly likely that those puppies will end up in other homes in which you might have no oversight. You might not know if they are receiving the proper care, and if they are, you are still taking a spot away from an animal in need. If you do decide to keep the litter, the same rule applies, why not give a home to one, two or three dogs that are waiting for you at shelters. This issue applies for cats as well, and in cats, if spaying and neutering is done early, the procedure is even simpler. All in all, even though I hate putting my pups under anesthesia, I know it’s the best decision. As long as there are dogs without a home, breeding more of them only ignores or even makes the problem worse, since many people with initial good and loving intentions sometimes end up leaving their dogs at the pound when having a pet is no longer convenient or a possibility.
So here we were at our amazing vet Almudena’s office at Novo Clinica Veterinaria in the outskirts of Madrid, getting all her pre-op work done. She got a blood test, blood pressure test, EKG, and X-rays, and the vet gave her the ok for surgery. We also decided to use the anesthesia she was already going to go under, to give her a teeth cleaning. Another procedure that is very good for your dog’s health. She was a total trooper and they gave her that cute tiger bandage for her leg (where they had taken the blood sample).
The staff at Novo Clinica is truly amazing, and the anesthesiologist was as sweet as could be! In order to relieve any sort of stress on the animal, on the day of the surgery they gave us a special little room for us to wait together while they sedated Vega before taking her into the OR. So there I was alone with my little baby as she calmly dosed off and fell asleep in my arms. I was of course almost in tears, but she was as calm as could be since the room was cozy, it had a little soft music in the background and of course, her mamma was with her the whole time.
Then they took her in and told me they would send me a photo as soon as she woke up and that a few hours later I would be able to pick her up. They sent me this sweet photo of her in a little play pen they had put her in to rest, and she was just as calm and relaxed when we went to pick her up. What a relief! Everything went great and now it was time to recover at home with her sister and her humans.
In the little room where we waited for the vet to take her, I noticed this amazing poster. I later put two and two together and realized it was probably an advertisement for the animal bandages they gave her throughout her visits to the vet (she went from tiger to zebra to leopard). The reason I’m pointing it out however, is that I thought it was such an amazing portrayal of what veganism is. Showing you how a tiger is a zebra, is a panda, is a dog, is a cat. Granted, there were no doggie chickens or doggie pigs or cows in the poster, but if only more people would see this and connect the dots. We’re getting there… slowly but surely.
Boy did her little sister keep her company. Soon, and I mean after only a couple of days, she was back to her usual self, and a week later when the stitches were removed, everything was back to normal.
The summer and early fall was also full of concerts as usual, we saw the amazing Liam Finn, The Ravonettes, The Boxer Rebellion (no photos of these last two, sorry!) and I still can’t believe we finally got to see Beck live, it was amazing!
I’m saving the best for last of course, and I’m talking about my husband’s band Pilder who played in a club in Madrid last month. Check out their website here and listen to their music here! I gave them a little photo session while they played, so here are a couple of shots from that night.
The veggie patch thrived this summer, and after the last of the tomatoes and eggplants were eaten I harvested one of my new favorite veggies, which just happens to be a weed: dandelion greens! They grow everywhere in my pots and once they get really big I remove them and have a feast after sautéing them with olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and lemon juice. Yum! Of course, don’t eat them if your lawn or garden is chemically treated. Since our urban veggie patch is both organic and totally vegan (no animal based fertilizers are used), we could gobble them up.
Earlier this fall we discovered an amazing new brand of vegetarian and vegan meats which is so ridiculously good I’ve been cooking all sorts of comfort foods lately. You know I recommend whole foods as the foundation of your diet, but occasionally I love having a treat that reminds me of my old family favorites (not that you can’t make them without veggie meats if they aren’t available to you!). The brand is called “The Vegetarian Butcher” or “La Carniceria Vegetariana” and they sell both vegetarian and vegan meats that are so much like their animal based counterparts it’s freaky! Check the label to make sure you get their vegan products. Our favorite, the vegan chicken chunks, top my famous caesar salad with homemade croutons below. The best thing about these products is that they have completely natural ingredients! Some of the boxes simply include soy (non GMO), onions, spices and some herbs. Score!
Although Thanksgiving is not a local holiday here in Spain, nor is it a tradition in my native country of Venezuela, I love the meaning of the holiday. Everyone has to work on that day in Spain, so planning a big dinner isn’t much of an option, but I have so much to be thankful for this and every year that I made a little festive dinner just for the two of us. I felt so thankful for the beautiful teeny tiny family I have. How did I get this lucky?
For this little dinner I made my famous sweet potato puree with melted vegan cheese on top, roasted garlic, cranberry sauce, oat and seitan meatballs, and sautéed shallots, asparagus and shitake mushrooms with truffle oil. It was divine!
Is it Christmas yet? It sure is in our house! Last year we gave you a rundown of the crazy Christmas trees I had as a kid (yup! baby pictures!), and this year I couldn’t leave you without some photos of my tree. As you know I’m a certified Christmas-holic and I couldn’t wait another second to put up our decorations. We added a couple new ones this year, and the whole house screams Christmas! Even my kitchen is filled with twinkle lights. You can never have enough twinkle lights in my opinion.
Will you look at the adorable doggie paw Christmas stockings my mother in-law made for her furry granddaughters?! Now we all have one.
While we were setting up our tree this year we decided to dive into a very Spanish holiday tradition! Buying churros in the many carts that pop up everywhere during the season. Churros are vegan by default since they are simply made with flour, salt and water and sprinkled with sugar, but the hot chocolate people dunk them in or serve on top, is not. We bought our churros in the corner, brought them home and I made a totally decadent and thick vegan chocolate sauce by melting dark chocolate and mixing it with soy milk and some agave nectar. It was the official start of the Christmas season for me.
Last but not least, I give you the breathtaking fall we’ve been having in Madrid.
We’ve been taking the doggies to different parks recently, and we even had an amazing picnic yesterday with my new favorite picnic item, a no-egg salad and vegan cream cheese bagel! Find our recipe for vegan egg salad here, and simply lightly toast a bagel, spread on some vegan cream cheese (trust me, the combination sounds weird but it rocks!) and top with the no-egg salad. Serve with some chips and eat it outside under giant pine trees with your loved ones for maximum flavor.
I hope everyone’s having a wonderful start to the holiday season! We’ll be back in the next few days with a yummy, holiday inspired recipe that will leave you drooling! Stay tuned!