Fully Vetted

Dogs aren’t tough to understand. At least when it comes to my boy Luka, no words are needed to communicate just how much he hates the vet. Between the whining, crying, tail between the legs, ears back, and frantic escape attempts, it’s impossible to miss. Although my reaction isn’t so visceral, I have to admit, I don’t enjoy those visits much more. I’ve seen all too many upsetting scenes of mistreatment and outright disrespectful that I’ve come to dread even a routine checkup as if it was a personal assault.

No matter where we go, it always turns into an ordeal. After one too many borderline traumatizing experiences, we were both at wit’s end. In search of a better way, The Vets hit my radar as a completely new approach. Rather than piling into the car for an interminable ride of terror, they come to you for in-home services. The theory being that our pets, like ourselves, are much more comfortable at home, without enduring the stress or wasted time sitting around in a sterile waiting room.

Though naturally defensive of his territory, Luka knows dog people when he meets them, and quickly calmed down after spending a few minutes with our incredibly kind and compassionate vet techs. It wasn’t a numbers game, so we had time to talk, get to know one another, and build trust with my loving but inherently fearful pup. Lots of treats and a little play with his favorite toys went a long way. Finally, we were able to get baseline numbers and certifications where other vets had failed to even discern an accurate weight, given Luka’s typical state of hysteria at that point.

What services do The Vets provide?

  • Wellness exams for routine health maintenance
  • Emergency sick visits, available as next-day or same-day appointments
  • Microchipping and puppy exams for new additions to the family
  • Health certificates needed for travel, housing, and more
  • Vaccines such as Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, Leptospirosis, and Bordetella
  • Ultrasounds for pregnant pups (and cats!)
  • Dermatology that includes skin and nail care
  • Lab testing for diagnostic analysis
  • Euthanasia

The experience was in stark contrast to the misery we suffered just a few weeks ago to update Luka’s rabies vaccination at a nearby walk-in clinic. Despite arriving 15 minutes before the doors opened, we were already 18th in line, behind pet parents with multiples and a wide range of complex needs. We sat in the car (to stay away from aggressive dogs in the lobby) for over two hours, giving Luka plenty of time to build up a solid case of anxiety. By the time a technician could finally see us, Luka wasn’t having any of it. They muzzled my poor boy who wouldn’t hurt a soul because he was deemed “reactive,” only heightening his fight-or-flight response.

If only we could have waited. Here, on the same couch where he loves to nap and watch TV in my lap, he took his annual shots without so much as a yip. The difference was night and day. My one and only disappointment, personally, is that these vets don’t see human patients too!

Have you seen The Vets yet?

The Vets serve most major cities in the United States 7 days a week, morning to night. There is a better way to get help for our fur babies when they need it most. It’s a personalized, compassionate approach, creating a new standard for preventative pet care.

This post was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and The Vets. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

Feeding Hungry Ghosts

What do ghosts eat? It feels like a silly question to consider, but at the same time, deadly serious. Presenting such offerings to the dearly departed shows respect, and more importantly, our lasting love. Like living people, I’d imagine that ghosts have diverse tastes, unique to every individual spirit. Whatever might have brought them comfort during their lives would undoubtedly be the best gift. Perhaps it’s sort of a test to keep their memory alive; if you hold dear such comparatively trivial details, surely you could maintain a better picture of the person as a whole.

In any event, what you feed the deceased varies depending on their culture, though I’ve heard that particular dishes are more auspicious than others. For example, did you know that the Chinese originally set out soft tofu for spirits, since it was believed that ghosts have long lost their chins and jaws, making it difficult for them to chew hard or crunchy foods. If there’s anyone I’d trust with this practice, it’s them; tofu first appeared in China around 220 BCE. If that’s not a proven track record, I don’t know what is.

As a person with terrible teeth, I can relate. Besides, once our ancestors have had their fill, the living are meant to enjoy the leftovers, so we should consider making something that everyone would enjoy. That’s why mapo tofu bao are ideal for celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Also known as the Zhongyuan Festival in Taoism and the Yulanpen Festival in Buddhism, it’s essentially the Chinese version of Día de los Muertos, when family and friends who have left this world come back to visit. To treat our guests of honor, I’d like to suggest these fiery little snacks that are pungent enough to lift the spirits, no matter what state they’re in.

Soft cubes of tender tofu luxuriate in a spicy sea of black garlic, fermented bean paste, and plenty of mala Sichuan peppercorns. Wrapped in a pillowy shell of steamed white bread, each bite practically melts in your mouth, exploding into fireworks of flavor. I wish I could lay claim to such a brilliant culinary innovation, but I’m just as happy to share Chez Jorge‘s brilliant formula, already fine-tuned and perfected.

It takes some time and effort to prepare, but considering the fact that your guests of honor have been waiting all year to drop in, I think it’s worth your time. Besides, the ghosts are fairly generous when it comes to sharing; you’ll be grateful for all the extras when the party’s over.

Cucumber Confessional

I love cucumbers. Full stop. People profess their love to many types of foods, saying they could eat them everyday and never get bored. I actually do; everyday, I’ll eat at least one whole cucumber, sprinkled with just salt and pepper, or dipped in hummus, or chopped up in salad. Tiny Persian cucumbers, large English cucumbers, plain pickling cucumbers- I love them all.

Why hasn’t this obvious obsession factored more clearly into my writing or recipes? It’s not interesting, quite frankly. I’m not doing anything exciting with them, just eating them in mass quantities. Even this idea that I’m here sharing today is far from earth-shaking. Barely the tiniest twist on a time-honored classic, surely it’s been done before. However, it’s good enough that it bears repeating: Make shirazi salad while summer produce is at its peak, but replace the tomatoes with watermelon.

That’s it, that’s the whole recipe. Adding a whole recipe card with formal measurements is really overkill when so much of the dish is based on the produce itself and personal taste. If I can be honest and break down that fourth wall for a minute, the recipe card is for Google. For you, I trust you can figure it out.

Consider the chopping an opportunity to practice your knife skills, to meditate, or simply revel in the aroma of summer. The minute you slice into a cucumber or watermelon, that aroma floods the air, setting the mood like candles for a romantic evening, only with notes of whimsy, sunshine, and a cooling breeze.

To anyone complaining about the amount of liquid leftover at the bottom of the bowl: Congratulations! You completely missed the point. That heavenly elixir, my friend, is a beautiful meeting of the worlds, the best parts of fruits and vegetables, sweet and savory, existing in harmony as one. Don’t you dare dump it out. When you pick up the mostly empty bowl, the only option is to bring it to your lips and drink every last drop.

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Keema Curry for Keeps

To define shiitake as a Japanese ingredient would be correct, but also incredibly shortsighted. Umami transcends all cuisines and cultural boundaries, whether it’s added in the form of aged cheeses, seaweed, soy sauce, tomatoes, kimchi, green tea, and beyond. Shiitake can amplify those essential ingredients, harmonizing and accentuating their inherently rich flavors. What sets Sugimoto Shiitake apart from other umami powerhouses is the clarity and quality of savory depth, in addition to its uniquely meaty texture.

Previously, we’ve explored primarily western dishes like hearty hamburgers and comforting meatballs, bolstered with this plant-based dynamo. It’s about time we shifted focus to some more spicy fare. India, with an extensive history of vegetarianism, is ripe for an umami revolution.

Immediately, I thought of keema curry. Keema means “minced meat” in Urdu, which usually translates to ground lamb, goat, or sometimes beef when it comes to curry. The protein isn’t the defining factor of this dish, though; it’s the intense blend of pungent spices, tempered over a hot stove and then simmered gently, which unlocks a bold new world of flavor.

This is a great opportunity to use up any extra shiitake stems you might have been saving from other recipes. Minced finely, they add an ideal toothsome texture that approximates ground meat, working in concert with the walnuts and lentils to make a satisfying plant protein. Each bite is layered with nuanced, contrasting, yet complimentary textures and flavors using this easy approach.

How Can You Made Keema Curry Your Own?

No two cooks make the same exact keema curry. Spices are always highly subjective, so don’t be afraid to season to taste. There are plenty of other options to explore, including:

  • For a lower-carb recipe, you can either omit the potatoes or swap them for fresh cauliflower florets.
  • Bump up the beefy experience by using a meatless ground beef substitute instead of lentils. Be sure to brown it along with the onion before proceeding with the recipe.
  • If you’re working with a limited spice rack, you can use about 3 – 4 tablespoons garam masala instead of the whole and ground individual spices.
  • When tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use fresh (1 1/2 – 2 cups diced) instead of canned.
  • For those who like it hot, add diced Serrano peppers or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

While keema curry is brilliant right after cooking, it actually improves over time. If you can plan ahead and make your curry in advance, the spices can mingle and meld, becoming richer and more harmonious when reheated. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, leftover should keep for 5 – 7 days. Consider doubling the recipe to fully appreciate it, now and later.

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