Happy Birthday to Me! And a Present for You!

Yes, my friends.  It is that time of year again–my birthday! And I’ve been getting birthday wishes all day–so lovely! 

Ever since I was small, I loved having my birthday on this day.  It’s close to Christmas, which means everything is festive and everyone is cheerful.  When I was in high school,  I used to love it when my mom booked the party room of the Round Table Pizza (so ironic to look back on now that I’m gluten-free) for my birthday.  It was always pretty and I loved the decorations.  Even as an adult, I love the fact that everything is so magical this time of year.  And sometimes it even snows–the perfect birthday gift for me because I love snow!

Growing up, my mom instituted a terrific tradition for birthdays among us kids.  There were four of us–which now that I’m a mom I know is lot of kids to raise as a single, divorced mom.  Wow.  Anyway, my mom asked that we give a gift to each of our siblings on our birthdays.  The un-birthday gifts were to be small–more tokens than anything else–but they were always so fun to give.  I remember very fondly giving gifts to my brother and sisters, even though I was a little kid.  I think what it did was instill in us a sense that even though it was our birthday, we should try to think of others. 

So, in keeping with this tradition, this year I’d like to give you a gift.  As I’ve discussed on this blog, my dear friend Kim O’Donnel published her cookbook this year, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour

As you may know, Kim is a trained chef.  She is the former online food writer for the Washington Post and for True/Slant.  She currently has a food column in USA Today.  What this woman doesn’t know about food could fit in a very small box, I think.  And now she has added “cookbook author” to her list of achievements.

In addition, Kim is one of the most funny, caring, and fabulous people I know.   We met when she started the Canning Across America project and website.  One day a couple of years ago on Twitter, she asked folks if they wanted to be part of a canning and preserving advocacy group.  Many of us said a resounding “yes” and joined the team.  The lovely thing was, she just asked people what they wanted to do and then let them do it.  I said I would do the website, and so I did.  So fun! 

I had the honor and pleasure of helping her as a recipe tester and as kitchen assistant during the photo shoots for her cookbook along with the photographer, our pal and another fab gal, Myra Kohn.  Even though we worked long and concentrated days, we had such a fun time during those photo shoots.  And the best thing was that we got to eat all of the food that we prepared for the photographs.  Yum!

 What all of this means is that I can honestly say that I have made and eaten almost all of the recipes in this book and every single one of them is delicious!  How often do you hear that about a cookbook?  Many of the dishes have become regular parts of our dinner rotation in this house.  Girlfriend loves them and will ask for “Kim’s Shepherd’s Pie” or “Kim’s Dino-Mash.” Some, like the Kale Chips on p. 57 and the Oven Sweet Potato Fries on p. 51, have become regular snacks in our house, too.  I served the kale chips at Girlfriend’s birthday party last year and after the initial “green chips?” questions, the girls ate all of them and demanded more.  I’m not kidding you–kids and adults love them!

The recipes in the cookbook are vegetarian dishes that are designed for meat lovers. Kim’s goal is to encourage folks to take a break from meat once a week and cook vegetarian on that night–inspired by the Meatless Mondays campaign by Johns Hopkins University.  Not only is this a terrific idea health-wise, it’s a great way to shake up your routine if you’re in a meat rut (heh).   Kim designed these recipes not to be meat replacements (there’s not a single fake meat item in the book), but to be vegetarian meals that are so flavorful and satisfying that you don’t miss meat.  It’s got 52 menus for each week of the year and is divided by seasons–starting with spring and ending with winter.  It’s also got handy markers for each meal: gluten-free, kid-friendly, vegan, dairy-optional, or leftover bonus.

I couldn’t be more proud of this book if it was my own.  Added 12/17/10: This just in: the book won the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award: Best Vegetarian in US. Yes indeed people, this book is amazing and I’m so very glad it’s getting the recognition it deserves!

So, as an un-birthday present to you, I’m giving away a copy of this cookbook, signed by Kim to a lucky reader.  Just leave me a comment and I will randomly pick a winner on Monday, Dec. 20th.  And even if you don’t win, check it out at your local bookstore or on Amazon–you won’t be disappointed!

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  1. Janine O says

    Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for taking the time to share all of your wonderful recipes with us.


  2. says

    Happy Birthday! I love your unbirthday tradition! We’re transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, so this cookbook comes at the right time!

  3. Gayla says

    Ok, I’m convinced! The recipes sound absolutely delicious! We are meat lovers, but I like the idea of going meatless once a week. I also like 1) the idea that the meatless dish has to be so delicious that you never miss the meat; 2) that there is no “fake” meat (ugh!) anywhere in the book; and 3) that there are 52 menus for each week of the year.

    • admin says

      Thank you everyone for the kind birthday wishes!! What a lovely birthday I had! Thank you!!

      Much love,

  4. Nancy Pflug says

    HaPpY HaPpY BiRtHdAy!!
    I just saw this book at the bookstore yesterday…looks great…there wouldn’t be a more excited recipient of your un-birthday present….thank you!

  5. Matt says

    I just discovered this website and I’m so excited about it. My wife has Celiac disease and has missed some wonder recipes over the years. Your fantastic blog will make many of those recipes available again.

    Best birthday wishes!


  6. laurie roth says

    What a wonderful idea! I don’t think without your description I would have ever looked at this cookbook, but now my mouth is watering. Sign me up for the giveaway! Always looking for new meatless creations that are also gluten free, and as a newbie, its tough. Thanks so much!

  7. GF Steph says

    Happy Birthday, Jeanne! I love the tradition that your mom started. What a lovely idea! Do you and your siblings continue it as adults?

  8. Pat C says

    This sounds like a great book! My husband, daughter and I have just started on a gluten free diet. My older daughter and son (away from home) are both vegetarian–this sounds like a cookbook I could use for everyone!

  9. Kelley says

    Happy birthday! Thanks for posting about the book. We have been trying to have a meatless night- but I have 2 in my family who will not eat many vegetables — so it has been a very hard venture finding somethin we will all eat. I will add this cookbook to my list of books to try!

  10. says

    oooh. I must put this book on my Amazon wishlist! What a nice birthday tradition! So many people with birthdays around this time are bitter because their birthdays compete with the holidays. I love your positive attitude!

  11. says

    … forgot to mention, am gluten free and so am adding more veggie dishes as well as gluten free – love adapting baking and cooking to gluten free.

    Happy Birthday!

  12. says

    … saw Happy Birthday and thought it was for me!
    My Bday is December 31 – yes, New Year’s Eve and the next day , I’m a whole year older when you look at just the year. Did you ever get birthday/Christmas present (yes, singular)?
    So, this great book would really be a birthday present for me.

    • admin says

      Ginger: Happy birthday, birthday buddy! Yes, I do get some combo presents–but they are usually pretty great, so I am OK with that!!

  13. says

    Happy birthday! This cookbook sounds absolutely amazing! As a vegetarian foodie I am always looking for new exciting cookbooks. This one definitely seems like a must!

  14. Kath Phelps says

    I loved this story you posted on giving to others as a birthday gift FROM YOU on your birthday! I started a tradition some time back that is somewhat similar…I invite a small group of friends to a special dinner party that I cook for them on my birthday as my gift to them. They love it…and so do I, because cooking and baking brings me so much joy. I love the creativity of it…the challenge of experimenting…and the gift of sharing it with others. Happy, Happy Birthday Jeanne. You have been a gift to me this past year and I am forever grateful for you.

  15. says

    Happy birthday, hope it was good to you. :)

    We love Kale Chips! A friend told me about them last year when we had an overabundance of kale and didn’t know what to do with it. This book sounds fantastic too. We use meat a lot in our diet as part of our daughter’s intestinal healing, but it’s nice to pop in a couple of vegetarian meals.

  16. Kathleen says

    Since my husband would love to have meatless dinners much more often than we do, I’d love to have more options at my fingertips.

  17. Nancy says

    Happy Birthday!!!I have been trying to go meatless but never wanted to try those meat substitutions. So this sounds like a book i would love to try out. Also what a smart woman your Mom was to start that fun tradition.

  18. Lydia says

    I’d love to try recipes in this book. So far most of what I’ve tried that has been explicitly pushed as vegetarian or vegan has been pretty nasty tasting. But these sound more reasonable :)

  19. Becca says

    Happy to celebrate your birthday with you in this way! And I’m eager to use this book (whether it comes from winning or the bookstore…_

  20. Cassidy Stockton says

    Happy Birthday! This book looks amazing. Especially for making meals for friends and family that aren’t veg. Been reading great stuff about it all over the web lately.

  21. Phyl says

    Since being gf I have upped the ante on vegetables so this book would be great to have. Kale chips – what!

  22. Scott says

    Happy Birthday! And, what a cool idea!
    Looks like a great cookbook. My daughter is vegetarian and we’re always looking for new ideas. Put it on hold at KCLS – they’ve ordered it and lots of people are putting holds on it. Good to see!

  23. says

    I LOVE giving gifts to others on my birthday too! I started doing this as an adult so love your mom for starting you on the journey early. Have a lovely birthday/week/month/year :-)

  24. Marilyn says

    Happy birthday to the best GF baker around! Hope you have a wonderful day & an even better year. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.

  25. Alice says

    Happy Birthday! That sounds like a lovely family tradition, and thanks for including us in your gift-giving on your Birthday!

  26. says

    Happy Birthday from another December baby. ; }

    A *very* nice giveaway. I’m a vegetarian with meat-loving husband – I’d enjoy trying some of these recipes out on him.

  27. says

    Happy Birthday!
    This book sounds fabulous. As much as I love my meat, I’ve been moving toward deliberately eating more vegetarian meals. The hardest part is making something so my husband does not say, “where’s the meat?” which is why this book sounds wonderful.

    Your new site looks great by the way!

  28. says

    Oh what a nice tradition to follow! I’m telling my kids about this…they will love it. Now, about the cookbook…I’m a vegetarian-in-training (via my daughter) and am trying recipes for more meatless meals. I would LOVE to win this book!! Otherwise, it’ll go on my wish list, for sure.