Possum relocation


This weekend, my wife and I headed up to my parents’ house in New Jersey for a visit. During the visit, I went for a run out near where I went to high school. During the run, I saw a small, mouselike animal sitting on the sidewalk. As I got closer, I saw it was a baby possum. He didn’t seem freaked out in the least, so I let him be.

As I looped around and passed the same spot about 15 minutes later, he was still there, this time cleaning himself, but still not looking in distress. So I finished up my run and did a little research. Though PossumRescue.com is a good site, I didn’t find the answers I was looking for. I gave a call over to Cedar Run, a nearby wildlife rescue to find out what I should do. They said as long as the possum didn’t seem injured and was about 6 inches big, he could survive just fine on his own. “If he’s out in the open, though,” the woman from Cedar Run told me, “You can move him to bushes or somewhere where cats won’t find him.”

Huyen, my mom, and I headed back out to see if the possum was still around. He had moved from the sidewalk, but was working his way towards a busy road, so I decided it was best to move him. The woman I talked to suggested using either towels to carry him or just to pick him up by his tail. I opted to go for the tail. We moved him over to a patch of trees far enough from the main road that he should be safe. I was a bit concerned about moving him from where his mother might see him, but there was no sign of her or any other siblings, so I think moving the little guy/girl was the best choice.

Here’s a shot (and a few more):


Some interesting possum facts that I didn’t know, gleaned from the aforementioned Possum Rescue site:

  • The opossum doesn’t have a permanent “nest” because it is nocturnal and transient. It will spend and average of 2-3 days in the same hideout, then move on. Some weeks later it may return to your place, depending on your hospitality.
  • Opossums lived during the Age of the Dinosaurs.
  • Besides their natural predators in the wild, humans, cars and cats are the demise for this docile creature. Very few survive to adulthood , and usually live only 1-2 years if they do.
  • “Playing Possum” is one of the most effective ways the opossums defends itself. When unable to flee, extreme fear places the opossum into an involuntary coma. They become stiff and their mouths will gape open. This condition will last 40 minutes to 4 hours. Most predators will abandon their attack, once the opossum is thought to be dead. [Our possum went into this mode, too, but recovered after a few minutes.]

Apparently, this time period is a time when a lot of possums are hit by cars. Sadly, many are mothers carrying their infants, who may survive the accident. Read more about saving these infants.

Zucchini Lasagna


Last year, my wife and I ate at Pure Food and Wine, a raw food restaurant in New York run by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis (Kenney has since moved on and started a new restaurant). It was one of the most amazing dining experiences of our lives. We were blown away by the food, no other way to describe it.

Not to menion that Melngailis and Kenney are officially the two most beautiful people on the planet. I think they were made from some supermodel mold hidden deep in the forest, amongst the raw berries and mushrooms.

Raw Food, Real World, a raw food cookbook by Kenny and Melngailis, was released last year and is one I’ve been meaning to give more space to here. I reviewed it for Herbivore, but honestly, I haven’t had too much of a chance to make much from the book. However, tonight we made one of the dishes that we ate at the restaurant last year, a Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna with Basil-Pistachio Pesto, sun-dried tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta. Here’s what I had to say about the dish in the restaurant:

I savored every bite of the lasagna dish. The thinly sliced zucchini was a nice replacement for the standard pasta slices. The tomatoes were wonderfully fresh and flavorful, even in spring, and the pignoli (pine nut) ricotta was creamy, only slightly nutty, and a perfect compliment to the sun-dried tomato sauce. Needless to say that the pesto (a food that’s traditionally served raw) was flawless, given a nice twist by the use of pistachios.

After soaking the pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes for a few hours, and doing some vegetable chopping/slicing, the dish actually was pretty easy to make. And even with ingredients not exactly at the peak of freshness, the end result was still amazing. The individual components were incredible and the blend of flavors when eaten together was both fresh tasting and filling. Sure, it’s a little expensive to make with two cups of pine nuts, a package of sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of pistachios, but this is the perfect summertime dish to serve to guests, especially considering how much of it can be made ahead of time.

Zucchini Lasagna

I look forward to making more from this book. The photography is gorgeous and makes me want to try it all. I’ve borrowed a dehydrater from my sister-in-law, so now all I need to do is pick up a few of the odd ingredients and learn how to hack apart a coconut. Then I’m good to go. I’d venture to say that Raw Food, Real World is the definitive gourmet raw food cookbook.

(Incidentally, the recipe for this dish is available in the middle of this interview with Sarma Melngailis.)

Cookbook Review: Vive le Vegan!


Vive le Vegan!Vive le Vegan!
Dreena Burton
Foreword by Erik Marcus
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004

Dreena Burton’s The Everyday Vegan (2001, Arsenal Pulp Press) is one of those great general purpose vegan cookbooks, the type that you can lend to a non-vegan friend and they’ll get a lot out of it. Dreena’s latest, Vive le Vegan!, takes the next step with an even better batch of recipes.

Both The Everyday Vegan and Vive le Vegan! accomplish one important thing: they collect recipes that are accessible, but not the same ones you’ve seen a hundred times before. You’ll see a lot of ingredients you may not be familiar with, but used in such a way that you’ll be anxious to try them out. For instance, the recipe for Miso-Curry Roasted Potatoes takes basic yukon potatoes and tops them with miso, one of those ingredients that a lot of people don’t find until they become vegan and start exploring international cuisines for the first time. It’s an easy dish with complex flavors. And if filling, spicy meals are your thing, the Last-Minute Chili and Taco Filling will do the trick.

Breakfasts are well-represented with some wonderfully delicious, but easy choices. The Orange Mango Smoothie and Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal are both healthy choices, but the real stand-out comes in the form of Apple Oat Pancakes. We’ve made this recipe more than any other in Vive le Vegan! so far. It’s one of those recipes that as you’re making it, you think, “There’s no way this will turn out,” but magically, it does. The fresh slices of apple are the perfect compliment to the the oatiness (oatiness!) of the pancakes.

The Apple Phyllo Strudel was a bit tricky since we had never worked with phyllo pastry before, but the end result was a deliciously crispy and lightly sweet. Other desserts came out equally as well. I made the Pineapple Lemon Bars for a potluck and they got a good reception (though I think I ate more than everyone else combined… I had trouble keeping my hands off of them) and the homestyle chocolate chip cookies will be going into my cookie repertoire. But the real winner in the dessert chapter is the recipe for Coconut-Lime Cookies… holy crap they’re good. Thanks to the tanginess of the lime and the sweetness of the coconut, I’d rank them among the best tasting homemade cookies I’ve made.

In addition to the all the great recipes, one small–but very important–thing that Dreena and her publisher got very right with this book is the format. It’s attractively laid out, easy to read, and best of all: all of the recipes are listed in the table of contents rather than just the section headers. See, around our house, we rate recipes on the front page of each cookbook by noting the page number and + (good!), – (don’t make again), and ~ (requires changes) and then a longer comment on the recipe page itself. With all the recipes listed up front, we can put our notations right next to the recipe name and see everything at a glance, making life just a tad easier. It’s the small things, folks.

While The Everyday Vegan offered up a solid introduction to veganism, Vive le Vegan!‘s big bonus is the “Feeding Your Vegan Baby and Toddler” section. Dreena’s done a lot of research on how to properly introduce foods to baby to avoid potential food allergies while also exposing them to a wide variety of flavors. It’s a handy guide and I’m glad Dreena shared what she learned.

The Everyday Vegan is a very good cookbook, but Vive le Vegan! is a great one, one that we’ve come to rely on. Dreena’s also been quick at responding to my stupid questions (“How much oat flour should I use if I don’t want to grind oats myself for the pancakes?”)… there’s something nice about that personal touch. I don’t think e-mailing Julia Child would have worked so well.

Well done, Dreena! We’re anxiously awaiting the next one to see what you come up with next.