a dog a story and a date biscuit slice (vegan version)

1st February 2014

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January always seems a time of simplifying and focusing my energies, cleaning up and organising our living space.  Refreshing everything, developing new rhythms or putting back into place the old ones that have slipped by, getting rid of that old energy and allowing space for the new.  So apart from re-organising my workspace, I decided to try to make this favourite sweet vegan.

These are a favourite in our house, especially for me, as they bring back a lot of childhood memories and it is the one sweet I eat, that feels like it is for filling that overly sweet decadent side when needed.  This is now our preferred version.

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date biscuit slice

ingredients :

½ cup coconut oil

2 Tblsp molasses

1 Tblsp vanilla essence

1 cup whole-spelt flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup pitted dates, chopped into small pieces

¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or sunflowers seeds

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tblsp cocoa powder

2 Tblsp water

for the icing:

150g sugar powder/icing sugar

2 Tblsp cocoa powder

extra desiccated coconut for sprinkling on top

preparation :

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease a rectangular 21cm x 29cm tray.

Melt the coconut to form a liquid and add the molasses and vanilla essence to the melted liquid.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, coconut, dates, walnuts, baking powder and cocoa powder.  Mix well, then add the melted coconut oil mixture and the water, combining well.

Spread evenly with the back of a spoon into the tray.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder together with just a few teaspoons of water at a time.  You do not want the icing to be too watery, but not so thick that it will not spread.

Allow to cool, then ice.  Sprinkle with coconut, then cut into squares to serve.

These photos came about because I needed a photo for this post and my daughter Yasmin needed a photo for her essay she was writing for school about our dog Inbar.  I thought you might enjoy her essay.  It is very touching and beautifully written.

inbar by Yasmin fisher

At home, I  have a dog.  Her name is Inbar.  She’s very old now.

People always ask how old she is and my father always gives the same answer  “she’s the same age as Yasmin.”

Maybe that’s the reason I have such a close relationship with her because we were born in the same year and basically grew up together.

I was born in Israel, to parents who at the time were very interested in Yoga and a 7-month-old baby (me) did not stop them driving to a yoga retreat in the north of Israel.  As we were approaching the retreat centre located in the hills by the sea of Galilee my father got lost and as customary for men, he refused to ask for directions.  Driving around in the car, my mother explained that she was not feeling too well and wanted to stop to get something out of the boot.  When they stopped my mother got out of the car and suddenly heard this strange noise coming from the bushes.  It was dark and Israel is known for having poisonous snakes but it turned out to be this small scared puppy.  My mother could not resist and picked it up.  Only in the car, my mother could see that this puppy was unhealthy and clearly abandoned.

My parents decided to take the puppy with them and named her Inbar after the village where the yoga retreat took place.  My parents feed her and took care of her.  As my parents tell me,  it was obvious that Inbar had been abused because she refused to enter the house.  My father tells the story that a few days after finding Inbar I took my first steps.  However, as soon as I went outside Inbar would be so excited to see me that she would knock me over.  It was not long before Inbar stopped knocking me over and started looking after me…

As I grew older Inbar took more and more care of me.  Whether it was from another dog, person, or even if I just got lost in our village and forgot my way back home.  One day I was walking to my friend’s place and as usual, Inbar came with me, a dog catcher drove by and saw that Inbar was not on a leash as required by law.  In Israel, it is very common for dogs to be taken away and if the owner would not come to claim the dog, the dog would be “put to sleep.”  It was traumatizing to see that Inbar had been taken away despite my protest and crying.  For the first time, I realised I needed to take care of Inbar too.

Inbar was always a part of important things in my life.  She is part of our family.  When my parents told me we were moving to Portugal it was never a question if we were to take her with us, even though she was very old.  It was a difficult journey but she liked all the attention and was so happy when we arrived.

And now, since arriving in Portugal.  I am the one that looks after her and gives her medication daily, and I make sure she gets attention.

Out of respect for her age and due to the colder winter here, Inbar has become an indoor dog.  She sleeps inside next to the hallway and since my room is closest, she comes into my room in the middle of the night if she wants to go outside.

It is clear to me that Inbar is on her “last legs” and that she will not live much longer.  When I think about her I can only think about how thankful I am to have shared my childhood with this kind and devoted animal.  Through my childhood with Inbar, I have learnt that life is a circle of giving and taking.  It is ironic how so much good came out of Inbar’s unlucky beginning.

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