I have this quirky tradition where I celebrate my birthday for more than one day. This is because my birthday usually falls on a day where I don’t have enough time for a proper celebration due to work, school, studying, or anything else that’s extremely taxing on time and energy. This year, it just so happens to land on a Thursday, aka my most packed day of classes with very few periods of time to relax.
You know what that means? It does not mean taking no celebration for an answer.
It means game-plan time.
I’ve purposely scheduled at least ONE birthday-celebratory indulgence per day of this week.
- Monday: Purchase groceries after my lab final exam, and figure out a plan on how to use the birthday candles I bought from Food 4 Less because I totally forgot that flammables are forbidden in our on-campus apartments.
- Tuesday: Finish Heartless and dream about playing Cath Pinkerton in a television show remake. Hey, it’s my birthday and I can be as imaginative as I want!
- Wednesday: Make myself a two-layer one ingredient cake with the birthday candles, whether lit or not, as well as a batch of sweet potato brownies (recipe will be from Arman’s site!). That same night, I’m also hanging with my friends in a study session (aka crying and dying), but hopefully cheer them up by bringing some delicious snacks and Asian jokes! 😉
- Thursday: Bring the sweet potato brownies to my vegan club meeting, visit the farmer’s market to purchase more sweet potatoes and find the best vegan food downtown!
- Friday: Make myself yet another one ingredient cake with candles, and partake in a fabulous secret santa gift exchange with my apartment buddies!
- Saturday: Shalimar Indian buffet with the girls. Hopefully don’t have to work that day, but if I do, then my coworkers better be extra nice.
- Sunday: Serious work-work-work to catch up on for final exams…AND in the gym to burn off whatever junky food I had from the Indian buffet the day before.
You gotta treat a queen with the best.
Truthfully, I’m no queen whatsoever, but in my mind, I believe that it’s absolutely necessary to be somewhat selfish. When I’m extremely stressed out, I don’t ever focus on my well-being whatsoever, whether that’s through overeating, undereating, not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, not being active, or even not grooming myself or cleaning my room. The bad habits eventually come back to bite when I feel disgusted with myself or even more stressed out from all the clutter I have to take care of!
Therefore, I’ve promised myself to look towards my essential needs before everything. Note that I say needs and not desires, because sufficing the needs will influence desires. In my opinion, the less that you need to take care of, the less that you want because there are no voids in your life to sustain. In general, when I start taking care of myself more, I ask from others much less than usual. And nothing feels more amazing than being self-sufficient!
Speaking of self-sufficiency, I created what I believe is my best version of any spicy and flavorful vegetable stew. Best of all, there’s no oil, no coconut milk, no yogurt, no broth and no other crazy superfood ingredient that is overpriced and hard to find! In fact, you probably have all of these ingredients in your fridge right now. Just find a large jar of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, any vegetables you’d like, and any spices in your pantry. It’s a great way to use up leftovers as well!
This stew is a couple notches away from any tomato curry or a Moroccan tagine, one that I could probably live off of for eternity and the other being a dish that I’ve wanted to try for the longest time! It tastes absolutely phenomenal, and I really hope that you enjoy it if you do try it out!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I best be off to scheming with my birthday candles. Happy (super early) birthday to me? 🎂
- 1 25 oz jar of freshly canned and crushed/diced tomatoes or any vegan tomato sauce; I used Cadia’s organic Vegetable Marinara sauce
- 5 cups of broccoli florets (approximately 1 large head of broccoli)
- 2 cups of sliced red onions (approximately 1 medium red onion)
- 1 large red bell pepper (approximately 1/2 cup diced red bell peppers)
- 3 small Japanese eggplants (approximately 2 cups of sliced eggplant)
- 2 blocks of firm tofu (approximately 8-10 cups of cubes)
- 2 TBSP curry powder or an Indian spice blend
- 1 TBSP turmeric
- Black pepper to taste
- Opt: salt to taste, other spices, coconut milk, vegan yogurt, vegetable broth, any vegetables of your liking
- In a large pot, pour in 5-6 cups of water and set on medium heat.
- Stir in the broccoli florets until warm.
- Increase the heat up to medium-high.
- Slice three Japanese eggplants evenly and stir with the broccoli.
- Repeat step 3 with the bell pepper and onions.
- Once the water begins to boil, cover the pot and bring the heat to a simmer, stirring the vegetables occasionally.
- Remove the lid from the pot once the vegetables are completely cooked.
- Take the pot away from the heat and carefully drain most of the water. Make sure to leave a few tablespoons of water in the pot to prevent the vegetables from sticking.
- Bring the pot back to the stovetop and set the heat to medium-high.
- Mix all of the tomatoes or tomato sauce thoroughly into the pot.
- Integrate the spices into the stew carefully. If desired, stir in any coconut milk or vegetable broth.
- When the stew begins to boil, cover the pot and simmer the stew, stirring periodically to prevent the stew from sticking to the edges.
- Remove the pot from heat and serve warm, or store in the fridge for up to a week and reheat leftovers when ready to eat!
Would you celebrate your birthday for a whole week? What book protagonist could you play in a movie or television show?