Sunday, December 21, 2008

29 Candles

I love birthdays! Some people look at them with doom and gloom but I for one think they are fabulous! A day when you can look back and celebrate all of the fun you have had in life thus far and at the same time look forward to all the adventures and new experiences that still lie ahead. With each passing year comes an increase in knowledge about so many things, practical stuff like how to change a tire or bake a decadently delicious 4 layer cake but also about soulful things like how to better love others or what you are most passionate about in life.

Not only are birthdays a day of recollection and reflection but also a day of fun filed jubilee! In my opinion whatever it may be that you love and enjoy most in life is what you should be doing. So, in celebration of the start of my 29th year on the planet I decided to plan a festive day full of all of my most favorite things!

 

A leisurely breakfast involving banana

Now it’s no secret that banana oatmeal is my most favorite breakfast food but since it was a special day I thought I should try making something new and since I have been on a vegan baked goods kick I decided to incorporate that too.

 

Banana Birthday Pancakes

Vegan and Gluten Free!

Makes 10-12 small pancakes

 

Ingredients

¾ cup brown rice flour

¼ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup potato starch

1 teaspoon xanath gum

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups light coconut milk (or soy milk if you don’t have coconut, but you should because its delicious!)

1 large really ripe banana, mashed up

 

Optional Topping Ingredients

Toasted walnuts or pecans

Maple syrup

Earth Balance spread or butter

Honey

 

Preparation

In a large mixing bowl sift all of the flours together using a sifter, fine mesh sieve, or whisk. Add to this the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until all the flours and spices are well combined. 

In a separate bowl combine the vanilla, coconut milk, and banana and using a hand stick blender blend until smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender you can also use a regular standing blender, if you have absolutely no blending device you are going to get a work out when you use the whisk to power mix until the liquid ingredients are as smooth as you can get them.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. 

Spray a large skillet lightly with cooking spray or coat with a smear of oil and heat to medium high heat then lower to medium.  Pour the batter into the pan and let cook until little bubbles start to form atop the pancake, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the pancake (I find its easiest to run the spatula around the perimeter of the cake then after loosened a bit in one quick push of the spatula under the cake lift and flip). Let the cake cook on the other side for another minute or two and its done. If your skillet is large enough you can cook multiple pancakes at once. I like to keep the completed pancakes warm on a plate in the oven set to the lowest heat.

Once the cakes are all done you can top with any number of scrumptious additions. I choose to use toasted walnuts for a bit of protein, earth balance, and some of the delicious maple syrup my dad brought me back from his trip to Montreal.

 

Delicious! They tasted like a cross between banana bread and a pancake. I can’t imagine a tastier way to kick off my 29th year of life.

 

Pampering and playing with Kate

Birthdays are the perfect time to pamper your body and thank it for getting you through another year. My feet walked heavens knows how many miles this year so my oldest and dearest friend Kate and I decided to treat our toes to a pedicure at the lovely Bergamot spa in Encinitas.  We both got the Island Style treatment which included a relaxing soak in coconut scented water complete with beautiful floating plumaria flowers (my favorite!)

After the soak we were treated to a sugar cane scrub, coconut butter massage, and a bit of pretty polish. We left feeling rejuvenated and ready for the rest of our day, which included more of my favorite things like…

Shopping at Anthropologie and drinking my favorite holiday beverage, winter dream tea lattes from the Coffee Bean and then gluten free panini’s from my favorite lunch spot Water’s Catering in Solana Beach.

 

Bubbly beverages with the woman that gave me life

My mom and I have so much in common which is one of the reasons why I consider her not only my mom but one of my best friends too.  First and foremost though she is my mother and so my birthday is not only a special day for me but for her as well. That’s why I am always sure to wish her a happy birth-giving day and take time to celebrate the day together. This year we shared a few glasses of one of our favorite celebratory beverages, champagne with maraschino cherries.

 

Deliciousness and dancing with loved ones

A few days prior to my birthday this year Josephine and my Dad were sweet enough to come down to Encinitas and treat me to dinner at a restaurant I have been longing to try, Q’ero. As always spending time with my dad was wonderful and the dinner was one of the most spectacular I have had all year. Warm spinach salad with roasted beets and goat cheese, arepas stuffed with cheese, blackened snapper with grilled yucca, chocolate truffles, and the most scrumptious sangria I have ever tasted. Sharing delicious food with my loved ones is possibly one of my most favorite things in life, which is why I decided to do it again on my birthday with 18 of my nearest and dearest friends.

The delicious evening started off at a super cute Mexican restaurant in South Park called El Camino. The owner of the restaurant is also a designer and his creativeness is most definitely reflected in the décor of the eatery. From entrance to exit the restaurant is decked out in colorful kitschy décor. Everything from extravagant murals painted on the walls and religious figurines to collages made of chiclets and old wrestling movies playing at the bar.


             

In addition to being beautifully decorated the food at El Camino is incredibly scrumptious. We ordered a few pitchers of the house sangria for the table and they brought us some chips, jicama, and cucumber sticks along with a wooden block fitted with four bowls of delicious salsas for dipping.

For dinner I ordered my favorite, the sweet potato soft tacos, which came with darling little pots of black beans and rice.  I also ordered a side of esquite or corn with cheese, mayo and hot sauce (yummers!).

At the end of the meal they brought me a piece of cake, which I could not eat but none the less thoroughly enjoyed the happy birthday serenade, blowing out the candle on my gluteny cake, and then eating the cherry off the top of it before passing it around to my friends.

After our dinner we headed across town to one of my favorite bootie shaking establishments, Air Conditioned Lounge.  We twirled, giggled, and danced the night and first few hours of the morning away to the musical styling’s of Dj Schoeny

It was the perfect way to end an absolutely perfect birthday. After so much fun, love, and deliciousness my heart was full and I was exhausted and so I headed home and said goodnight to my first day as a 29 year old Rachel Marie.

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