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!