Henry in the morning sun

Segregation is working so far while we follow up other strategies.

Here Henry is enjoying the morning sun on his basket.

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To kill or not to kill, that is the question.

Its 11:30 pm. our family is together, but soon this is all about to change.  My child was hurt today. She had a procedure by a plastic surgeon that put her back together,  hopefully with minimal scarring into the future.

The purpetrator to her injuries? Our family pet. He can’t stay in our home now. He must go. I know it seems simple to some but let me give you some background.

For years, my partner and I lived in apartments. I was desperate for a cat but it wasn’t to be. I grew up in a family with pets. We waited. We moved a long way to be closer to our families.

We got jobs, bought a house and four weeks later I went to the animal shelter for a look. As I walked along the rows of cages, there were so many tiny kittens and adult cats waiting to be rescued. Some sleeping, some laying, some crying. There was one that was climbing a cat stand, playing, jumping, miowing. I kept walking. The adopton facilitator showed me some kittens. “These are very cute. Maybe one of those?” I looked. They were very sweet, curled up in a warm, furry pile. We went back to the climber. “I’d like to meet him please”.

I entered the cage and sat down close to the exit. He looked at me. “Hello” I said. He jumped down from the cat stand, walked over to me, climbed onto my lap and cuddled in. “Would you like to come home with me?” I asked. He miowed and curled into me. The adoption facilitator was training someone that day. She said to the trainee “This is how adoption is meant to be. You won’t see a better meeting than this”. I took him home.  He was 8 months old. His shelter name was spike. We named him Henry. He’s been my baby since that day. He has my last name!

We soon realised that he was scared of men and workboots. You can probably imagine why he has those fears.

We built a back deck. He hurt his back the day we signed the construction contracts. He couldn’t walk without crying out in pain. I flew out for work the next morning after a night of hand feeding him cat food and water. My partner took him to the vet.  He had hurt his back.

Fast forward to the death of my grandmother. He sat with me while I grieved. As I lay on the floor crying, he snuggled against me. When our friend came to stay and look after him while we went to the funeral, I wrote a three page letter about how to look after him. I grieved. He was always there, even in the weeks that followed as life went on but I had sadness creep through the everyday.

Later my first child was born. We did all the things the pet experts suggested. My partner brought home a singlet of the baby’s so he could smell her before she arrived. We put aluminium foil on the cot mattress (hilarious in retrospect but we were first time parents hehe). We did it all. He was so gentle and sweet. He cuddled up in between my shins while I spent what felt like endless hours breastfeeding. 

Then my second child was born. I birthed her at 1:30 pm. I arrived home at 9pm with a newborn in my arms. The next morning my toddler came into our bedroom and discovered Mummy with a flatter stomach, her new sister in her arms and Henry curled up in between her thighs. Again he was always in close proximity,  although this time around, navigating around an enthusiastic, almost two year old toddler. He managed beautifully.

The children grew. He did too. My dad had an accident at a hardware store. I tried my best to look after my father during his immediate recovery from his shoulder operation and the weeks that followed. For the first week after my Dad’s operation, I slept (badly) on the couch upstairs in between my unwell baby’s bedroom and the stairs downstairs to where Dad was staying. It was very rough. Dad was suffering badly. I was very worried. I also worked during this period on a major project at work.

Who slept next to me on the couch? Henry. Who visited my Dad during his convalenscence and really brightened his day? Henry.

All those days working from home, all those all nighters rewriting reports so they would meet client deadlines. Henry lay in his cat napper next to my work desk. So many days we would intermittently smooch. He made the stress manageable.

Henry has a beautiful soul. When my partner worked night shifts, we would play quiet games for hours. He would play fetch with mouse toys. When we had chidren he snuggled with me.

Through all the colds, flus, period pains, celebrations, family time, challenges Henry has been there. Just two weeks ago I went to bed feeling horribly ill. He lay on my chest with face next to mine. I slept better.

Today he made a mistake. He has scratched my eldest before because he was cornered and frightened. Today though, she could have lost her eye. He has to leave our home. My child isn’t safe if he is frightened.

We took Henry for a walk in the back garden. He got frightened by a neighbour who is loud and speaks unkindly to his wife. So we took him down to the front garden instead. His tail was still puffed up. All my daughter did was lean down and innocently pat his back. He turned and hurt her.

I watched as my baby was repaired. I saw it all. I was there for her fear, anxiety, sedation, procedure and I will be there for her recovery.

This time Henry won’t be with me. He won’t be a comfort. He will be put away. In exile. While we decide what his fate will be. While our daughter recovers from her injuries with me by her side.

I am well versed in animal welfare issues. I understand the complexity and vulnerability of rescue animals’ lives. I know how much love they need to heal from their bad experiences.

So what about Henry? What will become of him? We could rehome him to a childless person/couple. In two years time they get a great job overseas and have to move. Henry gets handed on to a friend/cousin/coworker. They don’t really love him.  His history is forgotten. He makes another mistake. He is abused because of it, or neglected. He leads a miserable life. Maybe remembering our family, maybe me. Or worse. He’s given away for free and ends up as live bait for some greyhound or dog fighting ring. He could die a horrible death within view of heartless scumbags.

I believe pets are for life. Our responsibility to them is a serious, lifelong committment. Henry’s care is written into my last will and testament. I am heartbroken.

So to kill or not to kill. That is the question. We could have a vet come to the house and he could be euthanised in my arms at home. Or he could face an uncertain life and death.

Should he die in the arms of his favourite person or should he be tossed aside, not understanding where his home and family is? Why he has been abandoned.

So now it’s 1am the next day. I sit here listening to him snoring, crying, about to check on my injured child.

I am heartbroken because I can no longer fulfill my promise to him. To always care for him and keep him safe and loved. I am heartbroken because my child is badly hurt. No parent wants this.

As I sit here with pain in my heartspace, where he has always put warm, fuzzy feelings,  the question remains.

To kill. Or not to kill.

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The easiest cake hack

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This cake hack is so easy, I never thought to share it on the blog. Here goes! Every time I serve it people they say how delicious it is. Then i admit the method and everyone is surprised!

Ingredients
Vanilla version
1 vanilla cake mix (black & gold brand 75c)
1 440 gm can full fat coconut cream (home brand 75c )
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate version
1 chocolate cake mix (black & gold brand 75c)
1 440gm can of full fat coconut cream (home brand 75c)
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celciusย  (or 160 fanforced). Prepare cake pan by lining base with nonstick baking paper and spraying sides with canola oil spray.

Obviously, you can prepare individual cakes and just serve one cake. However, if you want to make the marble cake add cake mixes to separate mixing bowls with the can of coconut cream and either vanilla extract or cocoa. Mix with a whisk until smooth.
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If making one flavoured cake pour into pan and bake. If making marble cake add scattered dollops to the pan then bake as directed on the packet.

This cake is so inexpensive, so easy, and has a nice flavour.

Here’s a chocolate version i dressed in chocolate icing and cheap strawberries.

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Japanese share platter for family movie night

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We love Japanese food. It’s delicious!  I made this for our family movie night at home. There are a few components, but they are all easy to prepare. Stacked together on a big board looks very nice too.

So basically, you make the sushi rice first, then the accompaniments, then pile it on a board for serving. Note: this recipe will feed a family of four with leftovers to go into lunchboxes.

Sushi rice
To make sushi rice add 2 cups of sushi rice and 3 cups of boiled water to medium saucepan. Bring to the boil. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Turn off heat, keeping the lid on. Let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in about 4 tbsp of mirin. Fluff with a fork to combine.

Edamame (on inari)
I buy these beans frozen. Boil one cup of frozen, shelled edamame  (soy beans) in salted water for up to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold tap water and set aside.

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Tofu strips
For the next three components, just use the same large non-stick frypan. Cut about 250 gm tofu into long strips. Add to large frypan on medium high heat in 1 or 2 tbsp vegetable oil. Drizzle generous amount of premade Japanese sauce over tofu. This time I used tonkatsu sauce (available in Asian section of supermarket). Rotate until most sides are browned. Set aside.

Mushrooms
Slice/dice 3 cups of mushrooms and fry in large saucepan with vegan margarine and soy sauce. Fry until lightly browned. Set aside in a bowl.

Cabbage
Saute 3 cups of sliced cabbage in 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, drizzle of sesame oil and sprinklle of salt. Pile onto serving board.

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Fill inari pockets
Fill desired number of pockets 2/3 to 3/4 full with rice. Top with edamame, then mushrooms. Place on board. Press down so these stay upright.

Make sushi
Sushi is very easy to prepare once you get the hang of it. You need a bamboo rolling mat (from supermarket).

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Ingredients
Strips of cucumber, red capsicum, prepared tofu, pre-purchased seaweed salad, 2 inari pockets, vegan Japanese mayonnaise. You can use whatever salad vegetables you have. I have made 2 versions in this meal, but many variations come out of our kitchen!

Method
Lay a seaweed wrap on the roling mat. Press a thin layer (less than a cm) of rice on the seaweed wrap. Note. The thicker the rice layer, the more filling needed and larger diameter the sushi roll will be. Go easy on the rice (ideally 5mm) but ensure it is even to the edges. Leave a 2 cm strip of seaweed at the far side of wrap. This you will spread with water and will form the seal.

Across the centre line add your fillings fairly evenly. One version has 2 inari pockets oened up and filled with seaweed salad. Roll firmly, cover 2 cm strip with water and roll to close. The second version repeat rice method then lay tofu and vegetables across, squeeze vegan mayo along mixture, then roll as before.

Slice rolls in half, then repeat cutting in half until you have 8 pieces. Place on serving board.

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Pile extra vegetables, seaweed salad, tofu strips and any pickled cabbage you might have.

Serve with soy sauce. I hope you like this. We demolished this platter with just enough left over for snacking and lunches ๐Ÿ™‚

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Toffee shards to make you famous

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OK, maybe they won’t make you famous, but these toffee shards will turn a pretty cake into a beautiful cake.

I’m working with a lovely woman at work. I really like her approach. She’s very practical and everything she says is well considered. Plus she is a really nice person. She had a birthday recently and so i made her a cake. This cake is made from caramel cake, chocolate cake, vanilla cream in between cake layers, then dressed in vanilla buttercream, dark chocolate ganache and toffee shards.

I was a bit nervous because I’m in recipe testing mode and the cakes weren’t perfected.  Everyone still liked it and it was completely vegan, like all of my baking. Phew!

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So toffee is really easy to make, I just ensure that i stay with the stove the entire time and don’t have my children in the vicinity.

Ingredients
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water

Method
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Add sugar and water to medium saucepan over low heat and stir for about 3 – 5 minutes until sugar is completely disolved.

Bring sugar syrup to the boil. Keep temperature on high and boil without stirring for around 10 – 12 minutes. Regularly brush down the side of the saucepan with a silicon pastry brush dipped in water. Do NOT change the temperature of the stove as the mixture gradually thickens

Mixture will turn golden. Turn off heat and rest mixture until it stops bubbling.

Pour toffee onto tray and slowly tilt tray from side to side to spread toffee into an even layer.

Let tray sit for about 15 minutes until completely cold and hard. Break into long shards and decorate your cake. Yay!

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The warm weather lunch

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Hi ๐Ÿ™‚ its still really warm in Queensland (Australia) so our lunches are still pretty light.

Mine is top. Cherubs have the bottom ones.

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I have a garden salad with macadamias and balsamic dressing.

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Vegetarian luncheon  (tofurky) and cheese sandwiches printed with a dolphin love heart shaped sandwich cutter ๐Ÿ™‚

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Zucchini and sweet potato slice based on this recipe
http://soy.com.au/recipe/zucchini-kale-slice/

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Finishing off with a blueberry muffin ๐Ÿ™‚

Jam drops with oats and chia seeds

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My littlie has a field trip this week and can’t take her insulated lunch bag so I am making very portable, robust food for this week’s lunchboxes.

These are easy and delicious, and made slightly healthier with the addition of oats and chia.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
210 gm dairy free spread at room temperature
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup oats
1 or 2 tbsp chia seeds
Jam

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
In large bowl, mix spread and sugar until well combined.
Add remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Flour clean surface. Make ball of mixture. Brak into 2 halves and set aside one half back into mucing bowl.
Roll log from mix, about the diameter you want your biscuits to be.

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Slice about 2 cm off end. Roll into ball. Shape into disc and place on prepared tray. Repeat with all remaining mixture.

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To add jam hole to each biscuit press the back of a half teaspoon into each biscuit on trays. Use same half teaspoon to scoop jam level amounts into each indent.

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Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until biscuits are browned slightly on the bottom.
Let cool.

These freeze well with a layer of baking paper in between stacked biscuits.

Enjoy!

The dolphin friendly lunchbox

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Here is the lunch made with the new dolphin sandwich cutters. The cherubs are going to be very excited ๐Ÿ™‚

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I also include a picture of my partner’s lunch too (with cheese love heart).

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The slice is a melt and mix oat slice. So easy!

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The bread offcuts i freeze and process to use as fresh breadcrumbs that i keep in the freezer. I use them every few days or so.

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Happy lunching ๐Ÿ™‚