Sunday, February 18, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Do you think it's weird that my friends sang me "Feliz Navidad" on my birthday? Yeah, I guess it does sound weird. But it was really special to me.

Let me start from the beginning. Bob planned a surprise birthday party for me, and I never suspected a thing. One of my friends had to work in the afternoon and wouldn't be able to make it to my party, but she asked me if we could have breakfast together. I love cooking breakfast, so I was very excited to have her. I made these basic waffles courtesy of Alton Brown, using Ener-G for the eggs, soy milk + vinegar for the buttermilk, and oil for the melted butter. They're delicious, basic waffles that we have made before, and this time there was enough to freeze some leftovers. Also, since it was my birthday I decided to get fancy with the topping. I found this recipe for apple ginger syrup. It was very special. I know it doesn't look terribly special from the picture, but if you ever try the syrup you'll know what I mean.

Then, around lunchtime, Bob told me I had to leave so he could make me a cake. I thought he wanted the cake to be a surprise. So I went shopping, and when I came back everyone was there, and they broke into the aforementioned song (as is tradition on birthdays around here, for some reason), complete with Bob on guitar! And Bob didn't make the cake, but my friend Mary did. Pumpkin spice cake with Tofutti cream cheese frosting. Apparently the cake underwent some jostling in transit, but it was so tasty that no one even cared about the lopsidedness!

I think it was perhaps the best birthday I've ever had. Bob took me out to dinner later yesterday evening, but the cake was so rich that neither of us was extremely hungry so we split a salad and an entrée. There is a restaurant here in Athens called Farm 255, and it is 100% organic and mostly supplied from Athens farms. It's a really cool premise, so we wanted to try it out. "The" vegan entrée was roasted red potatoes, sautéed fancy mushrooms (I don't even know what kind they were), a baby greens and barley salad with a warm vinaigrette, and whole wheat bread with olive oil. After dinner we enjoyed a French press of organic, locally roasted coffee. All in all, it was a nice experience but we found the restaurant to be fairly overpriced and not as veg-friendly as it is touted to be.

Bob gave me a dessert decorating set, so now I will be making beautiful, artful cupcakes (but hopefully not too often). He also got me some vegan gummy bears and some chocolate-covered espresso beans. My goal is to make all these sweets last FOREVER. The best gift he gave me, though, was a 1-hour professional massage. That happened today, and it was pretty heavenly. Two of my friends gave me a gift certificate to The Grit (my old favorite restaurant), and they "wrapped" it in an empty Tofutti cream cheese container. How clever! I received a couple of other gifts too, and I felt very loved, which was the best gift!

Well, today we had to eat as well. I made a quick hummus for lunch--great on a whole wheat tortilla with spinach, sprouts, and cukes.

I was quite pleased with this particular variety of hummus, so I'll share the recipe with you at the end.

For dinner I made some gypsy soup that I have made before, except this time I used sweet potatoes instead of squash. It's a deliciously spicy and healthy pot of soup. Anyone else like to eat soup out of a mug?

Back to life as usual tomorrow. I shall see you all again soon!


Toasty Sesame Hummus

2 cups chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 bunch green onions

Place all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to smooth it out and reach a nice, "fluffy" consistency.


aTxVegn said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your birthday, Laura, and again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! In addition to all the food and friends, the decorating set is a great gift from Bob.

I've made the gypsy soup and it is so good, although I sure will be glad when soup weather is over. And the hummus looks great, especially in that beautiful bowl.

Vegan*asm said...

Happy Birthday! Your cake looks cute and I'm sure it tasted even better than it looks. I hope you have alot of fun with the decorating set, I know I would. And, I must say, I find it hard to eat soup if it is not served in a nice big mug, so you're not the only one.

Harmonia said...

Glad your birthday was a special one! Pics look yummers, btw!

Ruthie said...

Happy birthday Laura! It sounds great! What a beautiful cake.

I wanted to let you know that I made my own soymilk twice last week. Thanks for the inspiration!

laura jesser said...

Diann, thanks! And I hear you about the soup weather, although warm weather never stops me from eating soup--even chili!

Vegan*asm, thanks for your comments! Yes--curled up on the couch with a mug of hot soup on a freezing cold night is the ultimate comfort.

Thanks, Harmonia!

Ruthie, I'm glad to hear that about making your own soy milk--thanks for telling me!

Just call me Orangie said...

Happy Birthday! Everything looks great, though I tried the gypsy soup, and idn't like it, hmm...And thanks for the link for that apple maple syrup. I'm eatin (vegan) french toast for breakfast and I might make some of that :)

Candi said...

Happy Birthday and Feliz Navidad!!!!

I loved the story of the surprise party! Sounds like lots of fun!! You sure were treated like a queen!! The massage sounds wonderful, and Bob is so thoughtful to think of that!

The home made cake is classic! You've got such great friends and family!!

I can't wait to see your pretty cupcakes now that you have a decorating set!! :)

The hummus looks great and the gypsy soup is one I have yet to try! Yes, I eat soup out of mugs ALL the time! (Today, in fact!) lol!

I had a question on your waffle substitution... the entire recipe and the syrup look SO good that I'd love to try them both, but I don't know how to substitute soy milk + vinegar for the buttermilk. What ratio did you use, if you can remember? I'd hate to over or under vinegar mine! Lol!

I'm so glad you had a great time on your birthday. Feliz Navidad to you!!

maybepigscanfly said...

I'm glad you had such a special birthday Laura. That was sweet of your friend to bake you a cake, and even sweeter of BOb to throw you the party. You deserve it girl!

I love whipping up hummus too- quite a satisfying lunch with some raw veggies and/or pita. YUM


Midwest Vegan said...

I'm glad you had a great birthday! The decorating set was also a gift to all of us as we'll get to see what you create with it. Bob was very sweet to organize a party for you. I love that they sang Felix Navidad to you - what a great tradition.

bazu said...

happy belated birthday and feliz navidad, Laura! I'm sorry I missed your post earlier. You have the same birthday as my best friend, Dorota. And your b-day sounds SO fun. I love that it was filled with friends land love and fun and surprises. A professional massage? Oh yeah. Chocolate covered espresso beans? Perfection.
And that cake is so cute. Somehow, the more lopsided and homemade a birthday cake looks, the better.

Kati said...

Oh I'm so glad you had such a happy birthday! I'm dying to get a decorating set myself, but, like you, I fear that it may tempt me to make more cupcakes than I probably should (especially since I don't have anyone to give them away to!). I really love homemade birthday cakes - and yours was so cute! Who wants a perfect store bought one, anyway? There's no charm in that. It seems that you are blessed with wonderful friends - lucky you!

Feliz Navidad! :)

Caty said...

Happy Birthday, it sounds like you had a great time!

All the food looks good, especially the waffles. The apple ginger syrup sounds delicious- hopefully I'll get a chance to make some soon.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Happy Birthday! Love is definitely the best gift of all. Glad you had a nice celebration.

KleoPatra said...


The cake is so cute, i really love its unique qualities and the love behind it... pretty sweet!

The waffles sound great, by the way. Love the tweaking of the recipe. Thattagirl! The syrup sounds like the topper of 'em all, too.

May you have many, many happy birthdays and hope they're ever better than this, the best so far!

And just for the record, i'm all about soup out of a mug. I can't recall the last time i had some out of a soup bowl.

SOUP-er post, b'day girl... (i know i'm a little late but the sentiment i hope isn't!)

Vicki said...

I love to eat soup out of a mug! (looks good) Feliz Navidad, LAURA - sounds like sucha wonderful celebration with friends & family.

Johanna3 said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! what a great day you have!

laura jesser said...

Orangie, I can understand not liking the gypsy soup--my hubby isn't exactly crazy for it either. It's a different kind of taste. You will like the syrup, though, if you try it!

Candi, I used 2 teaspoons of vinegar to sour 2 cups of soy milk, and I think it was about right.

Teresa, oh yes. Hummus with raw veggies is hard to beat for lunch--it just feels so light and healthy.

Midwest Vegan, I can't wait to use my decorating set! I hope you had a good birthday too. :) Let me know!

Bazu, thanks for the belated wishes! I like finding out that I share a birthday with other special people--it's just cool!

Kati, you're right--homemade cakes are always better, more special!

Caty, the syrup was so easy to make and really easy--you should try it!

Crystal, thanks! And yes--love is the best gift, because it's the only one that lasts.

Kleo, thanks for your kind wishes! And I love it that you like your soup out of a mug too. :)

Vicki, thanks! It was a wonderful celebration--the only thing that would have made it better is if it were shark-themed. ;)

Johanna, thanks! I hope you and your family are doing well!

Melody said...

Happy belated birthday! It sounds like an amazing day.. surrounded by your family and friends..

laura jesser said...

Melody, thanks! I do have wonderful friends... that includes my blogger friends too, naturally!