teens talkin' on the phone
Well, I'm 42 years old, so my teenage years were a while ago. But way back in high school, I made a super, super special friend. JJTWH and I just fell in love - we had such a rich and intimate and vibrant friendship. We spent as many hours, days, and nights together as possible. We pretty much always wanted to be together, and when we weren't together we were probably talking on the phone with one another.
JJTWH lived quite a ways out of town, whereas I lived right in the center of town-- just one block from our high school. It was inconvenient for our parents to drive us to one another's houses... so we managed to work this situation into countless sleepovers, even on school nights. We spent so many nights talking, listening to music, laughing, adolescent fretting, and - in particular - singing along to the super-cheesy Dolly Parton album "White Limozeen." ha ha ha
bedroom door closed for teenaged privacy, lights down low, red chili lights plugged in -- time for a dance party! I loved those lights so much - they were like christmas lights with bright red plastic "chili peppers" that glowed when they were plugged in.
Pretty soon, she was part of our family. After JJTWH and I went to prom together, my grandparents hung our prom picture on their wall and there it remained, until they both passed away. One summer during college, her parents had moved away from Santa Cruz, and I was off studying in Italy, so she came and spent the summer living with my parents. So, you see what I mean!
Happily, all these years later we are still very close -- I even asked JJTWH to be the officiant at our wedding, and she did! We live about an hour's drive away from one another -- which isn't as great as being next door neighbors, but is pretty damn great. JJTWH has a most excellent daughter, who is 7 years old and is super fun and funny and smart and I love her so much. Now I get two friends for the price of one!
So, after all those nights together as teenagers, something pretty great happened recently... we had a slumber party again! JJTWH and her kiddo came to our house and spent the night! AND it was JJTWH's birthday so I got to cook for her!! You guys, this was SO FUN for me.
Oh She Glows African Peanut Stew. and mystery trolls
For dinner, my friend requested something with interesting spices, since her daughter's lack of interest in spicy foods has changed the way they eat at home (at least for now). I had so many ideas, I couldn't decide what to make! Most of all, I wanted to be able to spend all my time with them and not cooking, so I decided on things that I could make in advance. One of my favorite recipes from The Oh She Glows Cookbook is this African Peanut Stew ~ recipe shared online here. It's so flavorful and delicious and chock full o' veggies. Everyone I've ever made this soup for has loved it, and so did my friend.
Don't worry, I made La Kiddo a bowl of spaghetti since I knew she wouldn't be interested in the other food I made. She loved her spaghetti, so everyone was happy!
The Best Shredded Kale Salad from Oh She Glows with mysterious troll tablecloth
To go along with the stew, I also made this kale salad from the OSG website and it was spectacular! We all loved it! Well, the grown-ups did at least. I don't think La Kiddo even gave it a go. I hadn't ever made this recipe before, but I thought it looked good and it was. Will definitely make again. I wish I had made a double batch, because it totally disappeared. It's amazing how huge batches of kale can just wilt into such a small salad... kinda like how a giant duffle bag of fresh spinach gets steamed and turns into barely half a cup. ha ha. The "parmesan" is made with pecans and nutritional yeast. It's really delicious. I recommend this recipe!
This recipe is on her blog, but Angela at Oh She Glows is actually about to launch a new app - and I was one of many testers for it... so I actually made this salad using the app, on my ancient iPhone4s - and it worked great. I've never cooked from an app before now, but this one is so beautiful and easy to use and I'm really excited to see the final product (it launches today, April 11!). I plan on buying it because I found it really useful and fun to use. Some of the recipes are from her site, but others will be unique to the app. Also it has cool features, like you can take notes and you can cross ingredients off after you've added them... so it's different than just working off the blog.
birthday trolls!? what is going on here??
So, uh... I guess it's time to address the elephant in the room. Ha ha. What's up with these cheezy trolls in my otherwise charming food photography??? WELL. At some point in high school, JJTWH and I decided that these trolls were just so ugly and so sometimes we would try to hide one of them at the other person's house. I don't even know how it started, but it was a little challenge between the two of us. Remember how I mentioned that JJTWH spent a summer living with my parents while I was overseas in Italy? When I came home from that trip, I quickly discovered that JJTWH had somehow come across an entire pack of troll-themed valentines (those little cheapo ones from grade school) and she had meticulously hidden them all over my bedroom. I mean, honestly, I continued to find them for several months. It was an unparalleled triumph.
my mom, the final victor
But then, I think maybe my mom got the last laugh. My mom loves to scour the thrift stores for good finds and somehow, somewhere, she had found this *complete* troll-themed Birthday Kit: hats, cups, paper plates, paper napkins, and even that hideous paper tablecloth. I guess she's just had this stuff tucked away for some time now... and when I mentioned how excited I was to have JJTWH over for a bday slumber party, my mom's eye's lit up. Ha ha. So, of course I had to surprise JJTWH with a beautifully prepared birthday dinner, plated on troll-themed paper china. PERFECT. 20+ years later, my mom takes the troll trophy!
Of course there was dessert! I didn't get a glamorous, fancy picture of the cuppers I made, but I did get a totally adorable picture of La Kiddo before she surprised her mom with a birthday cupcake. I checked in with JJTWH before our big weekend, and asked her what kind of birthday treat she was in the mood for -- the directive I received was "something lemony or fruity." Fun! I always love fruity desserts. So, I turned to the trusty tome of vegan cakes, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and made a recipe I'd never tried before: Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Filling (and lemon buttercream) ~ recipe is reprinted online here. Oh man they were sooooo good! We all loved them!
Actual picture of the cute scene. La Kiddo showed up for our slumber party with a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and about 10 "stuffies," or stuffed animals. SO CUTE. Snoopy and Footie *always* sleep with us, but as soon as there's a kid in the guest room, we lose all our appeal. They both slept all night with JJTWH and La Kiddo. I knew our guests were awake the next morning when I heard them giggling because Snoopy was trying to lick their faces. It was so darned sweet.
Fiesta Scramble, lime slices, and Guacamole
savory component of our morning birthday feast
I cannot even tell you how fun it was to wake up and have two of my world's favorite people right there in my own house!! SO FUN. Especially since we had a super breakfast feast ahead of us, and then plans for a fun day together.
JJTWH and I are in agreement that a proper breakfast has a savory, protein-y component AND a sweetie component, so I did not let her down. Following her request for spicy food "and lots of avocado," I decided to make the Fiesta Scramble from The Great Vegan Protein Book. I had read kzcakes' post about this scramble, and decided to go for it -- even though I'd never made it before. (One of my real specialties is making completely new-to-me recipes when I have company over, ha ha). To go along with it, I made a batch of Guacamole *food of the gods* -- using the recipe from Viva Vegan. I love that recipe because it's simple and perfect.
Let me just say, that scramble was an instant favorite. It was a big hit with all of us ~ full of well-balanced flavors, and packing a serious punch of heat from adobo sauce and fresh jalepenos. Sooo good. Probably not kiddo-friendly, but it was 100% adult-approved. In fact, I have already made it twice more since then for dinner. We really love it.
Carrot Cake Pancakes
the sweetie component of our breakfast fun
For a breakfast sweetie, I made the Carrot Cake Pancakes from Isa Does It (recipe here). This is one of my all-time favorite breakfast treats, and I was so happy to share them with my special guests. They're packed full with shredded carrots, warming carrot cake spices, and pecans... and they are delicious and perfect and glorious. We were hoping that La Kiddo wouldn't object to "different" pancakes, and indeed she did not object! These were enjoyed and devoured across generational lines!
It wouldn't be a fancy breakfast without some fresh fruit: satsumas, navel oranges, and strawberries.
My breakfast plate
My pal JJTWH and I share a great love of farmers markets and local produce. We often trade notes about our favorite vendors or our favorite variety of stone fruits or nerdy things like that. We like to bring each other foodie gifts all the time too. So, even though it was her birthday, JJTWH showed up with a jar of "Pearlicious" pear jam from a local farm called Prevedelli Farms. It was so delicious with the carrot cake pancakes! Actually, let's just say, it was so delicious even straight out of the jar. The whole jar disappeared so quickly... within days. It basically just tastes like a jar of pureed perfectly perfect pears. This farm also sells at my farmers market - but they're on a break until berry season. I plan on stocking up on pear jam ASAP (apparently you can also order off their website, if any of you are interested!).
La Kiddo, JJTWH, & me ~ in our jammies and bathrobes, wearing our troll hats, and ready for a day of fun together.
Santa Cruz is one of the winter homes for monarch butterflies, before they fly way, way back up north during the summer. It's pretty amazing. There were just a few left when we went, but it was still pretty neat.
After breakfast, we headed off for some fun time at the beach and we saw the last of the monarch butterflies before they migrate north for summer time. It was a really wonderful weekend, and I missed them so much as soon as they left. I'm already dreaming of a future full of more sleepovers.
ps. I followed my pal Cadry's advice and finally checked out Bloglovin, and added my blog to it. Do you use Bloglovin to follow blogs? If so: Follow my blog with Bloglovin And let me know if you have a blog there so I can follow you back. I'm just starting to use it. .