Thursday, December 31, 2015

How to Help Flood Victims in My Community: Arnold, Missouri (Red Cross of Greater St. Louis, Missouri)

For nearly all of my life, I've lived along great bodies of water: Lake Michigan as a child, the rest of my adult life along the Great Mississippi River and its tributaries. We have logged hundreds of miles both walking and (me) running along the trails of the Meramec River. It is by far one of the most beautiful rivers in Missouri and home to many parks I hold dear, visiting one nearly every weekend with our dogs in tow. 
The many parks and trails surrounding the river are a testament to its glory.  
However right now, there is not a trail in sight. And there won't be for months to come.
The Meramec River is causing historical flooding in my community. 
Rivers are a way of life for us in the Midwest--they are both beautiful and devastating all in one. The Meramec River feeds directly into the Mississippi River. With the latest rounds of rain (nearly twelve inches in three days) the Mississippi is no longer able to do her part to help carry the Meramec's excess away. As a result hundreds of families are being displaced by this unprecedented storm's fallout. It is beyond comprehension. 
On the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning is a heartbreaking yet telling photo of two women carrying belongings from their home as the water behind them covers the street. It broke my heart. I feel helpless and searched frantically this morning for ways to offer assistance in this emergency so that a donation would go to my community and directly support the effort to help the displaced families in our neighborhood. 
Here are ways you can help:
The Red Cross of Greater St. Louis is on site offering support, food and shelter assistance. 
The Humane Society of Missouri is offering shelter for animals for owners unable to take their pets with them.  

We watched the evening news all night in disbelief as our community was swallowed by the quickly rising waters. 
The encroaching water is only the first part of the disaster, the second part of the disaster will occur after the water recedes and people's lives are forever changed--some not having a home to return to, only left with the belongings they could carry with them in the short window they had to evacuate. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Godspeed Annie (rescue lessons learned: a dog from the streets to our home. . . we were never the same again)

When we brought Annie home, or I should say, when I brought Annie home, it was during a time when I was knee-deep into "rescuing" dogs, doing volunteer work with a couple of local animal organizations. We had more than a few rescues at home already. But some well-intended person I had met within the "dog rescue world" mentioned they had a lab mix that had been returned twice for "behavior issues". I don't know why this statement fell on deaf ears. It broke my heart. At the time, I had absolutely zero tolerance for such humans and their intolerance of dogs. I was shocked, "She's not an ill-fitting coat for crying out loud!" She came home with me joining our already growing family of canines. That was fourteen years and many traumatic encounters ago. I have to be honest with you, Annie was a wonderful dog, but also a very flawed dog owing to some obviously flawed humans. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Vegan Apple Streusel Pie Cookie Bars (and the "parking lot" incident)

This looks like apple pie. It tastes like apple pie. The topping is streusel. The middle is, of course,  filled with a staggering amount of sliced granny smith apples and a whole lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and what have you. And it was heavenly. The trick is to "chill" the finished pie. This requires planning as you may want to make it the day before you are planning to serve.
As the pie bakes, the apples shrink, the streusel topping gets crackly and yummy. With the thick pie dough to hold the pie up, once the dough is chilled, you slice the pie and serve on a plate as 
apple-pie-cookie bars. No fork required. One solid slice that stays stacked and solid after sliced. Skinny slices work--not your "normal pie thick" slices--to really get the true cookie experience.
(*Note: As you can see, I baked my pie in a pie shell, however, to get the true "bar cookie" effect, you may swap out the round shell for a square 8" pan.)
The parking lot incident is told after the recipe so as not waste anyone's time.
Here's how the "pie-became-cookie" recipe happened. 


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