it's poppy season, and poppies always remind me of you. the start of another wet Belgian autumn, summer long gone. a reminder of the sun and warmth in the tractors ploughing the fields. they leave behind the champagne-hued stubble of the wheat and a little verge of green by the path, along which the poppies grow. red and tender petals moist with drops of dew. you wouldn't notice that the wheat stalks poked your paws, you'd run with ferocious joy through the furrows, with the wall of wheat gone you could roam for miles. you'd run far from the path, come back to us, following your nose. you'd be caked up to your elbows in dark mud with little water droplets on your muzzle. the wind hammered us on that dusty track and your ears would flap like wings as you gambolled around. you are a bird, your wings took you places and kept you airborne when you fell.
places. we opened the door of the car and you stood next to me on the back seat, you sniffed the air. it was a hot French summer day, the sky was a water color blue; a Monet painting come alive. trees were green and heavy with leaves, cherries had tumbled onto the lawn and dotted it with rich red baubles, the vines on the side of the house grew cheerful and rife next to blue shutters. you knew where you were when you jumped out, you remembered straight away, the wag in your tail became sweeping brushstrokes and there was a light in your eyes. This is the place! you thought, as you set off at a trot through the garden. The place where last time I found a hedgehog by the table tennis set! The place where they eat picnics and sit on the grass, so I can take sandwiches right from their hands! The place where walks are on small lanes that weave through fields in black ribbons of tarmac! The place where if they don't finish all that goat's cheese, they give it to me! you would run with your legs almost a pendulum, as if they moved subconsciously, so you could keep your nose close to the ground and take everything in. you ran with pure joy.
you fell; you fell hard and fast, quicker than the dollar, you're worth more than your weight in gold. just over four weeks ago, we almost lost you and you fought your toughest battle yet. like the soldiers in the trenches, you fought hard, you dug yourself out, through a battlefield with the all the guns firing your way. little prune girl, you are the bravest fighter. your fought so your wings could catch you, so you could pull through that long, low night. you fought to give us these four weeks, to give us more than four weeks, to give your wings a chance to take you places again. take me with you.
poppies and battles. the red petals will make me think of you, prune. your places, your wings, a brave soldier in a battle you never chose to fight. we will never, ever forget. you can teach anyone about courage. so much love for you, prune girl.
I wrote a little about Prune's operation on my about page, and it's just over 4 weeks since she came home to us - I never thought we'd have four weeks with her and I am so so glad we did. pruney is a banana lover and suezie loves creamy things so to celebrate my furries, I made a dairy-free ice cream and oh my god it's so good. like a classy banana milkshake or smoothie. usually dairy-free ice creams are made with coconut milk but I was saving my one can for something else - I was worried this would be too icy, but the banana makes it super creamy and smooth, all dreeeamlike it's so good ok I'll stop now. remember life is fragile. make time for those you love and here's to you winning your battles. xo
ROASTED BANANA & ALMOND ICE CREAM WITH VANILLA BEAN
makes about 700g (about 3 cups or so) // gluten free + dairy free
3 ripe bananas, medium sized
3-4 tablespoons honey*, depending on the ripeness of your bananas
2 cups / 5ooml unsweetened almond milk
seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
chopped almonds or walnuts to garnish, optional
preheat oven to 180’C/350’F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper
peel (was that obvious? sorry if it was) and slice your bananas into pieces of around 2cm (3/4ish inch), lay them out on the baking sheet. Drizzle around 2 tablespoons honey over the pieces, toss them around to coat
roast for around 35 minutes till the bananas are a deep caramel color, stirring once if necessary (they will also smell insanely good)
allow the bananas to cool a few minutes – while you wait, add the almond milk, salt and vanilla to a blender with honey to 1-2 tablespoons honey
scrape the fruit and any honey from the baking sheet into the blender, blend till well combined
you’ll need to chill the mix before you churn it: mine waited overnight, but 3-4 hours should do it (maybe quicker in the freezer)
churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s individual instructions. pour the mix into a freezer safe container – if you prefer a soft-serve consistency, freeze for about one hour. If you’d prefer it a bit more firm, freeze overnight, then let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping
garnish with toasted chopped nuts, chocolate shavings or whatever you’d like!
if dairy isn’t an issue, you can of course use regular milk. and if you don’t have an ice cream maker you can just add a bit more milk & ice and have yourself the best banana milkshake of your life. simple.
*to keep this vegan, feel free to use maple syrup in the same quantity as the honey. If your bananas are very ripe (bright yellow and spotty) you may need 3 tablespoons, if they’re less ripe, feel free to up it to 4 or whatever you’d like. ice cream is pretty forgiving.
also, I think that some chopped chocolate would be a nice addition if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more of a dessert than a frozen smoothie (and if you’re not sharing with pups)
prune, soon after her op. suzi in the background.
just quickly, I want to ask that if you're in England and a dog owner, would you consider volunteering your dog to be a blood donor? I'm not affiliated to the charity in any way but with the severe haemorrhaging in Pruney's case, without the blood transfusion she would not be here today - it's thanks to another brave dog she pulled through. There are some criteria to fulfil, but perhaps you can think about it, the blood could really save a life and I can not thank whichever dog and owner who helped out enough. sometimes you can also donate via your vet. Also, this page has some information about ruptured spleens/tumours in dogs - with symptoms, because you can never be too careful.
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