ha ha. it’s not actually super-glamorous to turn 45
This past weekend was my birthday (woot! 45!) and I had a pretty great weekend from start to finish. Usually we have a little family dinner or gathering to recognize each other’s bdays, but this year my bday was (happily) eclipsed by my nephew’s high school graduation (more on that below!). Obviously a high school graduation is a more festive and important life event than a 45th birthday. Nonetheless, I was feeling festive, and I was especially in the mood to have some friends over and have a friends party… so I decided to throw myself a bday party!
My day started off great with a trip to the farmers market, a great workout, and a nice long yoga practice at home. Then I started getting ready for my party, and one of my best besties (ever since high school!) came over to spend some time together and help me get ready. It was so fun to see her and to have company as I puttered in the kitchen and back yard.
Because she knows me *so well*, she brought me some amazing bday gifties (all edible, of course!) – fresh mulberries from her farmers market, a gorgeous basket of strawberries, and two baggies of “energy bites” from a fancy retreat center that she went to recently… so many delicious treats!
I just love mulberries so much. They are funny looking (like giant caterpillar berries) and so sweet and delicious. A long time ago, my pal and I were talking about mulberries and how there is a vendor at her farmers market who sells them. I have never seen them at the markets I go to, and I was so touched and stoked that she remembered my love of mulberries!! There are only a couple left and I am going to savor them.
For my birthday, I really wanted to have a vegan potluck… even though only two of the people I invited are vegan, everyone else very lovingly played along (thanks, pals!). I declared it to be a Mediterranean-themed vegan potluck and told everyone I would make a vegan lasagna, some cookies and buy ice cream.
At first I was going to make minestrone soup, which I also love, but then I soon realized that I had to make lasagna instead because lasagna is the #1 food of all time and I love it so much. I actually made TWO lasagnas – one for the party and another one to eat all week. Because the idea of going to all the work of making lasagna and not having leftovers was just too tragic. I used my very own “Amey’s Birthday Lasagna
” recipe – a recipe I am very proud of!
glorious array of goodness!
My pal L brought this awesome mix of spreads and veggies and breads. SO RAD. Regular hummus, beet hummus, a very cool pomegranate and olive tapenade, olives, veggies, pita chips. So much good stuff!
I wish you could see just how huge this platter really is – my friend J brought this huge and glorious salad platter with one of my most beloved spring ingredients: fava beans!!!! Oh man it was really good: spinach, crunch from sugar snap peas and celery, shredded beets, ** favas ** and a creamy avocado. Plus some nice dressing she brought too. So good.
This picture looks silly but this salad was really good and special! J brought a really nice salad with greens (underneath all that good stuff) and then when we were ready to eat, she poured on a big mix of veggies that had been marinating in dressing: cukes, tomatoes, corn, and cranberries! It was really good! I like the idea of marinating the veggies in the dressing for maximum flavor delivery.
Yaaaasssssssss. Dolmas for President! M and M brought a glorious array of dolmas that were so extremely good. Who even thought of dolmas and figured out that they could be so delicious and perfect??
Another non-stellar photo – but this was a really nice salad. K brought an orzo and lentil salad with “a bunch of other good stuff” ha ha. Artichoke hearts, sliced almonds, bell peppers… it was a nice hearty salad to go with all the other lighter salads.
Birthday party dinner plate – first pass!
It turns out that a Mediterranean theme vegan potluck is a good way to go! It’s a pretty loose theme, and people will bring delicious and overall pretty healthy food, which feels good. Even after eating this huge plate of food, I didn’t feel like I had eaten way too much. It was perfect!
We had lots of different drinks on hand – fancy juices, fizzy water, beer and wine, and we even made Aperol Spritzes! I almost never drink alcohol, but I’ll make an occasional exception for an Aperol spritz. They are so beautiful and not too boozy and transport me back to my wonderful trip to Italy with Mr VE&T a few years ago.
Cherries are probably my very favorite fruit of all time and I promised my party pals that I would have a big bowl of cherries on hand. I love that cherries are in season for my birthday, I think it makes me feel a special kinship with them. I have been eating so many cherries, you guys. SO MANY.
cherries are the best, forever and ever, AMEN.
In addition to the big beautiful platter of salad, J also brought a big bowl of organic strawberries, straight from her farm. SO good. I feel so lucky to live in the land of strawberries.
We had a really fun evening, eating dinner outside (with blankets and pillows to keep cozy). It was so fun. See our new solar-powered party lights? I love them!
My daring and wonderful pal A brought a homemade vegan cheese cake with some nice raspberry sauce! It’s so beautiful. Then she took one bite of her own creation and declared “oh no, this cheesecake is terrible!” Ha ha. I didn’t think it was terrible, but it was better to think of it as something other than a cheesecake!!
I decided to make cookies for my party and figured that in the end, there is no better cookie than the classic chocolate chip cookie. None of our guests were gluten-free, so I went for a straight up gluten fest! These are the Soft Set Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Aquafaba Cookbook, my favorite chocolate chip cookie ever. I made a double batch, because I made them the day before the party and I still wasn’t sure how many people were going to come. Now I have a big bag of cookies in the freezer, which is kinda like a birthday present to myself.
When I told my trustworthy pal J that I was going to make cookies and buy ice cream, she wisely suggested that we make ice cream sandwiches. DUH. So I went all out and bought a ton of vegan ice cream. I didn’t know what kind people would want, or if someone might prefer coconut base or almond base etc etc. OH SHOOT, I had to buy four kinds of ice cream. Ha ha ha. Now we have so much ice cream in the freezer to eat. Another bday gift to myself. I bought Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate, So Delicious Cold Brew (my new favorite!), So Delicious Salted Caramel Cluster, and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Heaven on Earth!
My cheesecake slice with raspberry sauce, and my ice cream sandwich (half cold brew, half cherry garcia). I don’t know if you can see, but I also put out a bowl of mini chocolate chips so that we could roll the outside edges of our ice cream sammies in mini chips. yes! These cookies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches because they are so soft, so you can bit through them and they don’t crack or crumble. I highly suggest ice cream sandwiches as a summer activity.
In case you were wondering. Snoopy is still adorable.
He’s had most of his bottom front teeth removed, and now his little tongue often slips out into a sweet little DERP. I love it.
Like I mentioned before, this year I shared my bday weekend with my wonderful youngest nephew, who graduated from high school on Friday. We all went to his high school graduation and it was a really powerful and moving day. All the seniors had to present their senior projects and they each gave a speech. It was so emotional and wonderful. I think you can see how excited we both were.
Of course on graduation night, my nephew went off to have fun with his pals and it sounds like they had a fun night. But we were determined to have a big family party for him — to celebrate his accomplishments and our love for him. I made a big huge chocolate cake! (I used a triple batch of batter from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). I also made one little cupcake, which I inverted and used as a graduation cap. The mortar board is a graham cracker with black frosting on it! I even bought yellow fondant to make a little edible tassle, and used parchment paper for the mini diploma. I went to the party store for the fondant, and to get that nice silvery cake board, and ended up also spending $6 on a tiny little container of edible gold star glitters. I mean, how could I possibly have resisted??
I’ve never learned how to use all the fancy frosting tips, but I really wanted this cake to look fancy, so I did my best! I was really happy with how it turned out, and – more importantly – it was also super delicious and well appreciated by all!
What a wonderful weekend of festivities and fun and family. Phew! This weekend, I have a much more lowkey agenda. There will be sitting around, no baking, no parties… just some pet snuggles, yoga practice, and cherry eating.
Also! Thanks to everyone for entering my giveaway for a copy of the wonderful new book “Wicked Healthy.” I used the random number generator… and Josiane Richer is the winner!
Send me your mailing address and the book will be on its way to you.