Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Currant Price Of Muffins

One of the things that never occurred to me before I retired was that during this garden-harvesting time of year I wouldn’t be able to walk into the break room and grab one or two Flintstone-club-sized zucchinis for my yearly zucchini bread.  It also hadn’t occurred to me (since we’d never needed one before) that Dean, forward thinking as always, would grow a zucchini plant in the garden.  The up side is that now, instead of baking my traditional artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing, blood-pressure-spiking treats, I have zucchini right out my back door and I am baking with a healthy vegetable.  The down side is I have a bajillion zucchini right out my back door and I am under pressure to pick, grate, mix and bake dozens of zucchini muffins, loaves of bread and a cake or two in order to keep Dean from making me eat it in a casserole or salad or pancake or lasagna or way too many other zucchini dishes where sugar is not the main ingredient.  In case any of you are also trying to stay out of the stuffed zucchini boat, you can click here for an awesome zucchini muffin recipe I recently found. 

Unfortunately it only makes six muffins.  SIX muffins!?  What’s the point?  All that shredding and mixing and waiting for them to bake for six measly muffins?  Get real.  So I quadrupled the recipe.  It’s become my new favorite recipe and the last time I grabbed a green club from the garden and whipped up another batch I got crazy healthy and cut back on the sugar to only triple the amount.  Next time I might lose control and try substituting applesauce for some of the vegetable oil.  Although vegetable oil … it’s a vegetable … right?  like zucchini … which is good for you … Anyway, don’t these just look, as my mom used to say – luscious?   Mmmmm.  They were.   I love them. 

No.  Those aren't little lightbulbs.  They're our first tomatoes.
You know who else really, really loves them?  Baxter.  That little tinkling sound Dean and I heard as we watched TV one night (and thought it was Maisie or Sophie playing with a glass on the counter) was Baxter’s rabies tag tinkling on the cooling rack as he ate zucchini muffin after zucchini muffin after zucchini muffin – nine muffins plus that small loaf of bread.   I think the only reason he didn’t eat them all was because he couldn’t reach any more.  And I’m using the term “ate” loosely because Baxter does not chew.  He swallows his food whole.    

Oh no!  Oh no!  Oh no!  That’s what I said when I walked into the kitchen about 9 p.m. and saw what Mr. Sneak had done.  Dean came to see what was going on but didn’t care about the missing muffins.  He pointed out to me that raisins and grapes and currants are bad for dogs.  And those muffins were loaded with currants.  Based on the amount Baxter had wolfed down we figured he’d eaten about ½ cup of currants.  What we didn’t know, until Dean Googled, was that currants are so deadly that small amounts can cause acute kidney failure.  

Oh no!  Oh no!  Oh no!  Is that what you just said?  That’s what Baxter should have said.  Did you know there is a Pet Poison Hotline?  There is.  Did you know they charge $49.00 per call?  They do.  I called our vet office’s emergency number instead.  As Dean paced with furrowed brow, I dialed, crossed my fingers and hoped she would tell me that all those websites saying currants could kill our dog were exaggerating and ½ cup was nothing to worry about.  Only she didn’t say that.  She told me to call that Poison Hotline for Idiot Pets.  So I called, gave them my credit card number and crossed my fingers and hoped this person would tell me that all those websites stating currants and raisins and grapes could kill my dog were exaggerating and he was an idiot, but he’d be fine.  Only she didn’t say that either.   Ms. Poison said they were deadly.  And, she said, nobody knows how many it takes to be deadly so we have to assume that even one little currant could shut down his kidneys.  And then she asked me if we were positive that Angus hadn’t eaten any of the muffins.  Uh oh.  We didn’t think he had.  We thought he was lying on his pillow under the desk the whole time we were watching TV but we didn’t know for sure.  We couldn’t be positive.  

She told us to give each of them 2 ½ tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in order to induce vomiting. We were supposed to squirt it in the side of their cheek using a syringe.  We had the hydrogen peroxide, but not the syringe.  Dean was frowning and grumbling and heading for his shoes and keys.   But wait!  I remembered he had a small blue bulb syringe he used to clean the wax from his ears when his hearing got so bad that even though he was happy not to hear my latest project ideas, he couldn’t hear anything else he wanted to either.   He carefully measured the hydrogen peroxide into a little shot glass, sucked it up into the little blue bulb syringe, and slipped the tip right along Baxter's clenched teeth, into his cheek, and squirted while I tried to hold on to 87 pounds of snorting, squirming dog.

Have you ever given your dog 2 ½ tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide?  No? Well let me tell you what happened with Baxter.  The liquid began foaming as soon as it entered his mouth.  And he made this nasty gagging noise and fought like crazy to get away from me.  Ms. Poison Lady had told me it could take up to 10 to 15 minutes for him to vomit – or as she phrased it – induce vomiting and get a good result – but the way he was gagging I didn’t think he’d make it 10 to 15 seconds.  Baxter and I ran to the back door and along the way he shook his head which caused all that foaming hydrogen peroxide to fly everywhere.  On the wall, on the couch, on the floor, on the desk ...

As it turned out he did not “have a good result” within the 10 to 15 minutes.  He did not have any result at all.  So he got a second 2 ½ tablespoon dose.  The second time, I straddled him, wrapped my arms around his chest and held on for dear life while Dean squirted the liquid into his cheek.  That time I could feel him swallowing.  Once again we ran to the door and that time, as soon as I got his gagging, foaming body outside he had a very good result.  Two very good results actually.  Both loaded with currants.  

Poor Angus.  He also had two very good results with only one dose of Hydrogen Peroxide and, as we suspected, nary a currant in sight.  

I crossed my fingers when, around 10:30 p.m.  I called back the Poison Control Hotline For Stupid Parents of Idiot Animals to report that we’d had very good results hoping she’d say all was fine.  After all, we figured all those muffins had been in his belly less than an hour so pretty much all of them had to have been abruptly relocated along with his evening's dinner.  But she did not say that.  She felt we should call our vet back and take Baxter in for some kind of charcoal treatment to soak up any toxins which might have been left in his belly.  Ms. Poison Lady said he would also need “supportive care” which apparently meant somehow flushing his kidneys but which I assumed really meant me handing over my credit card number, my checkbook, and my first born child at our vet’s office and leaving Baxter with them for who knows how long.  

Poison lady didn’t even change her mind when I told her I'd shined a flashlight at Baxter's results so Dean wouldn't miss any when he scooped it into a colander which he then swished with his fingers while I rinsed it with water from the hose until there were only currants and a few dog food chunks left.  So we were close to positive that almost every stinking currant from his “very good result” was now in our colander, not in his belly.  She just pointed out to me that animals never empty their stomachs completely when they vomit and we had one dog once who had eaten only one little currant and died and another who had eaten a lot but was fine so you just never know. So I thanked her for her help, hung up and said, “forget that.  I’m not doing that.  That’s too much.  That’s over the top.  Seriously?  One little currant could kill Mr. Iron Belly?  Mr. I Eat Pies and Hearing Aids and Leggos and Fabric?  His kidneys would shut down if one measly currant was left in his belly?  No way.  Not doin’ it.”

I went to bed.  Dean went to bed.  Angus went to his pillow.  Baxter went to his pillow.  And then I got up the next morning and Baxter was still on his pillow.  His eyes were open, staring and glassy.  

Ohhhhhhhh Nooooooooo......................  Is that what you just moaned quietly to yourself?  Sorry.  He was fine.  He has an iron belly, remember?  I did worry that I’d screwed up and he would have a delayed reaction and I'd have to live with the guilt.  And when the vet called me in the morning to check on him I worried she might think I was a bad dog mother when I told her I didn't think the risk was great enough to bother her  late at night and bring him in (which she probably knew meant I didn't want to pay what it would cost).  But she was very understanding.  She just asked for our case number and called the Poison Hotline for Really, Really Stupid Owners of Dogs herself.  It was decided we should have a blood panel run on Baxter three days in a row just to be sure he really was okay and his kidneys weren't going to shut down.  So we did.  And guess what?  He was fine.  My bank account – not so much.  I really hope he enjoyed those muffins.  They cost $18.00 a piece.