Vegan Dehydrated Pumpkin Powder from Barry Farm Foods

If you’re not familiar with dehydrated pumpkin powder, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite kitchen companions. I am an absolute “freak” for pumpkin, but sometimes the water content is too high for the desired results, meaning that in order to achieve a rich pumpkin flavor, sometimes the dough or batter becomes too moist.

Enter dehydrated pumpkin powder. I order mine from Barry Farm Foods, but if you “google” the product, you will find a variety of sources. Barry Farm sells theirs in 4 ounce bags, but you can also purchase it from other sources in one-pound jars and even in bulk.

I use it in my Vegan Chewy-Crisp Pumpkin Cookies, but I want to experiment with it in a pasta dough.

They also carry a variety of other powders, like artichoke, for which I have big plans! Mmm…

Image Credit: Barry Farm Foods website. (Note: in actuality, the powder is not this yellow; it’s more yellow than what you might think of as “pumpkin-colored,” but it’s not electric!)

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Both Miniature and Full-Size Great Danes Love Snow Days in Our Household

Sorry… I felt compelled to post another irresistible photo of the Danes. School was cancelled again today due to snow, so while I graded and cooked (stay tuned for a new cookie post), the pups snoozed. Perhaps this cozy scene isn’t so remarkable if you don’t know where these two started. Let’s just say Huff Daddy (the big Dane) was none too thrilled when young Mini-Me (Miss Minnie, actually), the Miniature Great Dane, came to live with us just before Christmas.

Notice the dark green blanket on our bed. That actually belongs on the nearby dog bed. Minnie–who we understand formerly lived with a homeless man who, sadly, disappeared–has maintained her gypsy ways: she carries her bedding (blankets and pillows) around with her throughout the house. (She is also quite the scavenger.) You can probably see why we chose chocolate brown sheets and blanket for our personal bedding. The “peanut butter and chocolate swirl” dogs blend right in.
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Minnie the Mini-Great Dane as Lap Dog Extraordinaire

Those of you who follow this blog know that the marvelous Minnie, a one year old rescued stray, entered our lives in early December following the death of our wonderful Webster at age 16. From time to time, I can’t resist posting photos of the dogs assuming that virtually all vegans are animal lovers.

Saturday night, when our dinner plans with friends were, sadly, aborted because one of them broke both wrists when thrown from her horse, we decided to spend the evening in front of the fire with a glass of wine, dozing off and on. With Huff and Pyttle on the sofa and me in a side chair, Minnie decided that the only place for her 65-pound self was in Joe’s lap. As she “doggedly” struggled to find a way to make it work, her “lap dance” was pretty comical. But she prevailed!

That dinner was simply not meant to be. Just as I was preparing to cook and right before the phone call came from our friends, I went into the garage to discard something, returning mere seconds later to discover that Minnie had wolfed down three gorgeous hunks of tofu from my favorite Asian market. Annoying, yes. But not life-threatening, as was her consumption of 14 ounces of bittersweet chocolate which ended in a vomit-inducing trip to the emergency vet less than one week after she came to live with us.

Can I tell you how frightened I was? Chocolate and dogs are a potentially lethal combination. A mere 4 ounces is toxic for a dog of her size. If your dog should ingest chocolate, he or she must vomit it up before it is metabolized. Hydrogen peroxide may do the trick, but it didn’t for Minnie. The prescribed Rx was an injection to induce vomiting followed by a charcoal slurry to bind any remaining chocolate in her system (though the vet was quite sure, based on the floor of the hospital, that there was none left).

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Hazelnut: A Gift Shop (for Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike)

On the last day of my family’s pre-Christmas trip to New Orleans (see earlier post), we left our hotel in the French Quarter on Christmas Eve morning by way of Magazine Street in search of Hazelnut Fine Gifts and Home Furnishings. My mom has a way of scouting out special places and this was one she had read about in the newspaper.

For block after intriguing block we drove down Magazine Street to reach our destination. Utterly seduced by this stylish and eclectic “uptown” area, I wished we had another entire day to spend perusing the boutiques, gift shops, coffee shops and neighboring residential areas.

But, though we only made one stop, Hazelnut did not disappoint. While there is nothing particularly vegan about this intimate up-market gift shop, I still wanted to share it as a potential destination if your travel plans take you to NOLA. Its beautiful blend of carefully chosen and displayed items makes for an enjoyable browse from which you are sure not to emerge empty-handed.

Hazelnut’s exclusive New Orleans-themed toile is reason alone to visit. But I couldn’t resist a set of Moroccan-mod coasters for my dear friend and entertainer extraordinaire, Yvette, and a sparkly alligator ornament for Pat and Lavon Myrick and family, friends we were stopping to see in Mandeville, LA, as we headed east to MS. (The complimentary gift wrap was almost as eye-catching as the gifts themselves.)

Though the ornament was a little silly I guess, I thought of it like the dill pickle ornament tradition, as it looked–from a distance–remarkably dill pickle-like. Legend has it that German parents hid a glass dill pickle ornament to reward the most observant child, for whoever first spotted the ornament received an extra gift from St. Nicholas on Christmas morning. However that legend is in dispute. Read about it here.

Regardless, be sure to visit Hazelnut, where four-legged visitors seem every bit as welcome as their two-legged companions.
Photo Credit: Hazelnut website (press photos)
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Welcome Home, Minnie (the mini-Great Dane)!

For those of you who know Joe’s and my canine clan, this is not one of Huff’s baby pictures. No, yesterday, we adopted Minnie, a one-year old Great Dane from the award-winning Virginia Beach SPCA!

The spitting image of our 160 pound, 5 1/2 year old Huff, only 100 pounds lighter (we’re working on that), Skinnie Minnie has the sweetest disposition. And she’s such a happy dog, though she doesn’t necessarily look like it in the picture.

She was trapped by Animal Control in a trailer park and kept at their kennel for the required number of days. No one called to claim her, so an employee from our SPCA, where my husband is the president, brought her over to their facility. Last weekend–very blue and missing our recently deceased Webster–I had no sooner emailed Sharon Adams, their extraordinary executive director, to say “if anyone special shows up needing a home, be sure to let us know,” than she notified Joe about Minnie.

He met her last Tuesday at a meeting; I met her that night. It was love at first sight. When she gave me kisses, I was a goner. Then, Thursday night, we went for an official meet-n-greet with our dogs and the kennel manager, Barbara Gibson. Barb is such an experienced pro and knew just how to “manage” the dogs…and us! Poor dogs didn’t know what was expected of them–sort of like us–and it turns out that our big boy Huffie is quite jealous of, especially, my affections. He got his first two tastes of Bitter Apple, but he responded as we needed for him to with, “Oh, I guess that was inappropriate behavior.”
I was admittedly worried about the get-acquainted period. Would it be 2 days or 2 weeks and would Huff ever accept her? I’ve seen Huff out of control once–with Pyttle–and it was ugly. Plus, he’s so big that he’s not easily controlled. But that was years ago, so I had high hopes for his acceptance of Minnie who is extremely friendly and submissive, though not timid. It seems that whoever owned her previously socialized her well.

Thank goodness we had our good friends Marc and Juliane Curvin here for the weekend (they used to belong to a schutzhund club). It was very helpful to have additional pairs of knowledgeable and calm hands on board. Juliane and I went to pick Minnie up and, when we got home, the boys brought Huff out to meet her. He was somewhat aggressive, so we immediately took them for a walk which, being on neutral territory, broke the initial ice. Still, back in the house, we kept both of them on their leashes with a bottle of Bitter Apple at the ready, which we had to use a couple of times. There were lots of feelings bubbling beneath the surface, and a few signs of trash talkin’ aggression from Huff, though Pyttle seemed mostly okay with what was happening.

To compress the last 24 hours into a few words, suffice it to say that, after literally having to wake Minnie up at 7 a.m. in her crate, there was more of the same posturing this morning, though better. But, at some point, someone dropped his leash and nothing catastrophic happened. So the other dropped his and, pretty soon, Huff and Minnie were just wandering around and acting quite normal, if a little unsure. Pyttle was mostly keeping her distance, though coming down to check on things periodically.

Barb had told us that when Huffie bowed in the play position, we were as good as home-free. And he did it this morning on the deck! However, lest we get too comfortable, he lunged at Minnie later in the house, and she squealed like she’d been dealt a death blow, though he hadn’t even touched her.

We found that, as we started going about our quasi-normal Sunday morning activity, the dogs followed suit. Without us refereeing, they were fine. I guess the phenomenon is akin to when parents get too involved in issues that their kids just need to work out. The palpable change was evident to the guys too, who had gone to the gym at around 10. When they walked in, Marc said, “Are they a pack now?” and it was clear that they were.

At around 11:30, we went with the Curvins to brunch and then dropped them at the airport. When we got home, we saw this brindle dog stand up on the sofa, stretch, and step down. We assumed it was Huff, but it was Minnie who we’d left in her crate! We quickly looked around for signs of mayhem, but all was quite well. She had found a way out and was napping on the sofa while the other two were following suit upstairs, unfazed. Still, we’re going to batten down the hatches for our first day back at work tomorrow so that our pet sitters don’t find her on the lamb again.

A mere 24 hours after she came home to live with us, she has been 99% accepted by her pack and 110% loved and adored by her “parents.”
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Meat Didn’t Make the Cut at Obama’s First State Dinner

Okay, so it wasn’t a vegan menu, but it was vegetarian. When the Obamas hosted their first official state dinner last night for the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, health and vegetarian fare was gloriously forefront in their minds and on their plates.

Roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney and smoked collard greens sounded particularly tantilizing. Check it all out here:

Photo Credit: I found the accompanying photo on The Huffington Post, but there was no photo credit listed.
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Aritistic Tribute to "The Veggie Dog"

Please allow me one more quick departure from food…

If you saw my post from last night, you know that our beloved canine Webster,
“The Veggie Dog,” passed away this month. But, he has been immortalized in art…

Last Monday, Norfolk-based artist, printmaker and adjunct professor, Heather Bryant, gave an engaging presentation to my school’s National Art Honor Society, which I sponsor. She was immensely generous with her time and talent, showing a powerpoint that explained the process of lithography and bringing a large portfolio of original lithographs and her sketchbooks for the students and me to actually handle.

During the Q&A, one of my students asked her if she created pieces by request. In response, she picked up the print that you see in the photo and explained how it was created for a friend whose dog, Cookie, had passed away. My breath caught in my throat, and I knew then that I would have to purchase it. So, I told everyone the story, which they all warmly embraced, and I purchased the print which Heather inscribed “In Memory of Webster.”

I love how peaceful “Cookie” looks, how the sunflowers set over her, how gentle and joyful the little skeletal-ghost creatures are, and how she is survived by another member of her pack. (Webster, too, is survived by pack members.) And I also love how Heather included the tools of her trade–her grease pencils–in the composition.

To see more of Heather’s art, including her “Sketch a Day,” visit her blog at

Art Credit: “Cookie” by Heather Bryant, lithograph, 2009
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