October 19, 2010

It's my birthday

I'm not a big celebrator of birthdays — mine, I mean. But I've definitely enjoyed this year's festivities, starting Sunday night with a family dinner at my son and d-i-l's house. My d-i-l made the most delicious lentil burgers and roasted potatoes. She found the red lentil burger recipe here, and they were excellent —crispy on the outside and light on the inside. She didn't make the yogurt sauce from the recipe, but subbed a vegan curried mustard sauce instead.

The burgers were supposed to be broiled but because the oven was in use, she cooked them in a pan with oil. For dessert we had fabulous cookies.

My son made a curried mustard sauce to top the burgers.

Today, my actual birthday, I went out to lunch with Bethany, and we went to Café Flora, an upscale restaurant with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu choices. I didn't take my camera, so I can only tell you I had a fragrant and wonderful root vegetable soup, a side of roasted potatoes, and bread with excellent olive oil. There was dessert, too, but I was too full to eat more than a yummy mouthful of nectarine upside-down cake and vanilla ice cream. I'm hoping to recreate a soup similar to the one we had, and post a recipe, soon.

Not only is the food delicious at Café Flora, the atrium where we ate is the place I would most like to live. While Bethany was off secretly arranging for the waitress to bring a candle to the table, I was lost in thought, picturing where I'd put the bed, the sofa and the studio! If only.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the friendly, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable waitstaff. They are unfailingly helpful and kind.

Of course, my birthday wouldn't be complete without a dinner out with my husband. After much debate, we decided to go to Bamboo Garden Vegetarian Restaurant to indulge in my favorite hot pot — tofu skin (yuba) and mixed vegetables in Szechwan sauce.

Because I couldn't decide which yuba dish to order (and it was my birthday) we also ordered Golden Petals on Jade Platter (marinated, crispy-fried soy bean wrappers over stir-fried baby bok choy).

Back at home, my husband gave me a copy of Jonathan Franzen's new book, "Freedom," for a gift.

Going back to Sunday night again, after the family dinner we gave our middle son a ride back to his new apartment, and while we were there he brought out a collection of Polaroid photos that had been in my father's condo, and which my son came into possession of, after my father passed away two years ago. They were all photos of our family taken when our kids (and we) were very young. The above photo of my husband and me with our oldest son was taken when we were visiting my parents — so many years ago.


  1. Happy happy happy Birthday!!! Sounds like two yummy meals. I will definitely have to try Cafe Flora one of these days!

  2. The scan looks pretty good.

  3. Happy Birthday !

    And thank you for these delicious looking fotos: We are just beginning to live vegan (after having lived for about 8 years vegetarian) and there are days when we ask ourselves if we really want to keep on. The delicious dishes you show keep me going on - especially today as I´m a bit ill and motivation is ab bit down.

    Dearest greetings from Cologne/Germany


  4. Happy birthday! Looks like good eats and great celebrations!

  5. Happy birthday! I am glad you enjoyed your birthday this year. I like the old photo of you. When my cousin and I were younger we used to love looking at all the old polaroids of my family, It's funny how much people change (or don't change) over the years.

  6. CArbzilla,
    Thank you! If you do go to Café Flora, be sure to sit in the atrium — it's the best part about eating there. (especially nice on a sunny day. haha.)

    Yes, it does, especially since I couldn't figure out how to control any of the settings — or if there were any settings to control!

    Thank you! Yes, you do want to keep on. It may seem hard at first but it will eventually get so much easier you won't remember why you ever needed animal products. I hope you're feeling better fast, so you can enjoy cooking and eating again.

    My youngest son has been traveling in Europe, and he especially loved the time spent in Berlin and Munich.

    Thank you. I seem to have eaten my way through this year's birthday!

    Thanks! It really is fun to look at old photos, and I miss being able to do this as our photos, except for the digital ones, are all still back in Wisconsin. Having digital photos makes looking at them so much easier.

  7. Happy Birthday Andrea!

    The sauce your son made sounds great. I haven't bought Franzen's book yet but will probably soon. Hope you enjoy it.

  8. happy birthday, andrea! yumm, yuba skin! did you ever try the vegan "unturkey" by now and then foods? it's not made anymore but it was the best thanksgiving non-turkey roast i've ever tried, and it was wrapped in tofu skin that you basted just like an actual meat turkey. kind of creepy, pretty sure i grossed out a lot of people telling them about it but the taste was to die for.

    i hope you like "freedom"--i heard an NPR interview about that book and it sounded awesome. my mom scheduled franzen for a reading/lecture next year through the literary center, i probably need to read the book before then.

  9. Happy Birthday Andrea!

    I love the old polaroid...how adorable you guys are!

  10. I've never had yuba, but that looks incredibly intriguing.

    Happy Birthday!

  11. Ooo! Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday: your daughter-in-law's burgers look scrumptious; Cafe Flora sounds gorgeous; and dinner with your hubby - even better!

    I love that it was a food-themed b-day for you (especially since I tend to do the same thing!). And that old photo is adorable - thanks for sharing it :)


    PS I just finished "Freedom" several weeks ago. It's definitely an interesting book... you'll have to let me know what you think.

  12. Mihl,
    The sauce was really simple — he just whipped it together in a few minutes. I should get the recipe.

    I've never tried that brand, but I can tell you the yuba skin in the hot pot is unbelievably good. It tastes just like ... yuba skin!

    We heard Franzen speak a few weeks ago and he barely mentioned his newest book, instead giving a talk he'd delivered elsewhere two years ago. It was interesting, but a little disappointing because i wanted to hear more about Freedom.

    I'm amazed how well the color in the old Polaroids has held up. They're a little blurry, of course, but still in great shape.

    You should try it. You can find dried sheets and long, skinny rolls of yuba in Asian markets, and recipes on the Internet. It's chewy and delicious in soups and stews. I'd like to find fresh yuba.

    Thanks! It was definitely a food themed birthday. (With leftovers for today's lunch!) As soon as I finish the sci-fi book I'm reading, I'll plunge into Freedom. I loved The Corrections.

  13. Happy Birthday Andrea! I hope you had a wonderful day and that you feel celebrated :-)

    I am the same way about my birthday. Mine is coming up in a few weeks and I really hate for people to make a fuss or do anything. However, I make a HUGE fuss about everyone else's birthday and always make sure to do something special and make sure the birthday person knows they are loved. I don't know why I am so bad at accepting birthday wishes from others.


  14. Happy Birthday (+ 1 day), Andrea! It sounds like you enjoyed a fun and delicious celebration, as well you should! All the food looks and sounds just delicious! Thank you for sharing the link to the red lentil burger recipe, and I'll be looking forward to your Café Flora soup recreation.

    Your Polaroid photo is really fun (I remember when Polaroids were the cutting edge of photo technology), and it sure looks like the intervening years have been very kind to you!

    Enjoy your next 365-day trip around the sun. Maybe next year for your birthday, you'll get your own Café Flora-like atrium! :-)

  15. Multiple birthday parties are right up my alley! Glad you got to enjoy several. How I love yuba...I've never had it in a restaurant, though. That crispiness looks so interesting. "Golden Petals on Jade Platter"--we should all start naming our dishes like this! That's a MoFo idea that anyone can adopt--you wouldn't have to do anything different than you normally would, just come up with beautiful and poetic names for what you were making ;)

  16. Courtney,
    Thanks, I had a really nice birthday in spite of my bad attitude. I'm going to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY in advance!

    Thanks for all your wishes. I loved the instant gratification that came with a Polaroid session. I wasn't as picky about quality in those days as I was about speed. And those cameras were fast and fun — no waiting for the corner drugstore to develop the prints.

    Maybe I should just get a job at Café Flora so I can spend more time in the atrium. :D

    I love your mofo idea. How about "snowy mountain with gentle river" for mashed potatoes and gravy?

  17. Andrea,

    We never had a Polaroid camera but I envied those who did because of that instant gratification factor! It's probably my favorite thing about digital cameras!

    A job at Café Flora would certainly be a lot more cost-effective than building your own atrium, but it would cut into your blogging time, and that's no small downside! ;-)

    I think you and Zoa could start a new kind of business - publishing haiku menus! Those meal names are like moments of Zen!

  18. lentil burgers look delicious. you should scan some pictures with me in them.

    p.s. we are in Norway

  19. Laloofa,
    I was slow to move into the digital age but once I did — yes! I love digital cameras. Working full-time and blogging wasn't a problem; being jobless is more of a problem. Working 30 hours a week would be perfect. It's getting harder and harder for me to think up recipes, let alone names for them. I think I'll leave that to Zoa. :-)

    You should make the burgers when you get back! All of my old photos are in Wisconsin. :-( I hear that you and A are quite busy in Norway!

  20. Happy late birthday! Those lentil burgers look delish! Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday. :o)

  21. Happy Bday! What a great picture! Times like those seem both near and far!

    Back then, none of us could have imagined the internet...


  22. A belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Your blog has kept me going, Andrea! We've never met, and this is the first comment I've posted, but I feel as though we're long lost friends! I look forward to reading more.

  23. Michelle,
    You should definitely try the lentil burgers — so good.

    Thanks! Ah yes, the Internet has changed everything, hasn't it?

    Thank you. You made my day! Maybe we ARE long-lost friends! I can't wait to follow your new blog.

  24. Happy birthday!!!!

    And I love that old photo - looks just like the two of you!

    xo C

  25. Claire,
    Thanks! I'd say the photo looks like the two of us looked many moons ago. :D

  26. Happy belated birthday! Sounds like a lovely, lovely day... and how fun to discover old photographs! :]

  27. Thanks, Kelly, it was a great day. And yes, the stash of photos was a wonderful discovery.

  28. I can't believe I missed your birthday! Happy belated birthday! I'm glad you enjoyed all the awesome festivities - and all the eats look amazing.

    That is such a cool picture! It's nice to find old treasures :)

  29. Thanks. It's completely true that I had a most delicious birthday!

  30. Happy Belated Birthday! It looks like you had a very yummy day! Love the yuba dishes! :-)

  31. Happy (belated) Birthday! So sorry I missed it (can I use the excuse that I was in New York--for my own b-day?--we are practically twins!) ;)

    Sounds like such a lovely celebration. And look at you two hippies in that photo! What a riot. And what a great pic. Glad it was a good bday! :D

  32. I know it's late, but Happy Birthday! Whoa! The food you prepared made me drool - literally! Wish I know how to experiment food. Then, I'll be able to make a blog just like yours.

  33. Chow vegan,
    Yuba is one of my favorite foods. I like it so much I don't even want to know its nutritional profile. :D

    Yes you can. I know you were in NY (now THAT counts as a birthday celebration) and I noted on fb that our birthdays are very close together. I knew you were a Libra but I didn't realize we were practically born on the same day.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes! I personally only ate the food, but didn't make any of it. My daughter-in-law made the lentil burgers, and they were easy to make using the recipe link in the post. The other food is from a restaurant, but I do want to try to make it at home, since I love it so much!


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