Saturday afternoon, we hosted a đầy tháng party for our new goddaughter (which happens to be my husband’s baby cousin). A đầy tháng is the celebration of the first month of a baby’s life. Infant mortality has historically been a major concern in Vietnam, so families would not celebrate a new baby until she had survived the first month of life. Once one month had passed and the baby remained healthy, the family would host a party so that all their family and friends could meet the new baby. This is when a baby’s name would be announced as well. Traditionally, Vietnamese people believed it was bad luck to name the baby or say nice things about her (for example, “she’s so cute”), because that would draw attention from spirits, and if you caught the spirits’ attention, they might steal the soul. They believed that once a baby reached one month of age, her soul was sealed inside of her and could not be easily taken. Nowadays, Vietnamese families still celebrate đầy tháng, but in a more modern way. People come to the hospital to see the baby and parents tell the baby’s name (sometimes even before the baby is born, although we know a lot of Vietnamese people who will not share the name, or sometimes won’t even choose a name, until after the baby is born), and while mothers still do not leave the house for a month, people can stop by the house to visit during those weeks leading up to the big celebration. I guess you could say the modern đầy tháng is sort of like a baby shower AFTER the baby is born, because people bring gifts or money.
So, all that to say, I hosted a party, which means I made a lot of food. When hosting a party, I think the best approach is to make as much in advance as possible, because once you see the to-do list (cleaning, cooking, baking, decorating, invitations, etc.) you realize there are a lot of last minute things to do and you don’t want to be stressed out the day of the party.
I started with the dessert. I originally thought about ordering a cake, but vegan cakes from a bakery are pretty pricey; not to mention, EVERYONE has cake for these types of parties, so I decided to make homemade sugar cookies. I had never made vegan sugar cookies before, but I found the most amazing recipe for them online (see recipe below), and they are seriously the best sugar cookies I’ve ever tasted. They were a big hit at the party!
I chose a butterflies and flowers theme for the party since the baby is a girl, so I bought some cute cookie cutters and decided to use pink frosting, but I didn’t want to feed people Red 40, which is well known for causing hyperactivity in children and possibly cancer in adults. So, I used beets to add a natural pink color to the icing. It’s so easy! Just wash and peel a small beet, and then cut off a 1 inch chunk. Cut the 1 inch chunk into little cubes or rectangles and microwave them for about 30 seconds (or until some juice starts leaking out). Add the beet chunks to the bowl of icing and stir until you reach the shade of pink you desire, and then remove the beets with a spoon. You can’t even taste the beet juice! No one would have guessed I used beets to dye the frosting, and the color was perfect!
Next, I moved on to salads. I made a broccoli salad and my mom made a pasta salad. Her pasta salad was very simple but delicious. She used tricolor spiral noodles and added several different kinds of chopped vegetables and tossed it in an Italian vinaigrette. For my broccoli salad, I used a “rainbow salad” mix (sometimes called “broccoli slaw mix”) and added raisins, green onion, and sunflower seeds with a homemade Veganaise-based dressing (see recipe below).
Finally, I prepped veggie burgers the night before. This is one of our favorite veggie burger recipes, which I’ve written about before, although I’ve never shared the recipe on my blog. I got the recipe from ohsheglows, and they truly are some of the best veggie burgers! The only difference in mine is I add about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper to the mix.
The party was a lot of fun. Actually, I should say parties (*plural), because I hosted a party for D’s friends at our house in the afternoon, and then we had another party with family and Vietnamese family friends at a friend’s Vietnamese restaurant late at night after everyone was off work.
Vegan Sugar Cookies (recipe from veggie-kids)
1 1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
In a large bowl, mix together Earth Balance and sugar with electric beaters. Beat in applesauce and vanilla.
Using a large spoon, stir in baking powder and flour, starting with 2 cups of flour and then gradually adding the last 2 cups. It may take several minutes to get the dough softened up, and you may even need to add about 2 Tbsp of warm water, but it will soften.
Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350.
Roll dough onto a floured surface about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters of your choice to make cookies, and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before frosting them. I had to bake these in 2 batches. This recipe made 42 cookies for me.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Earth Balance, softened
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk (I used vanilla coconut milk. You may need more or less milk depending on the consistency you want the icing to be.)
1/2 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, use a big spoon to stir together the powdered sugar and Earth Balance. Stir in vanilla and then the milk, adding 1 Tbsp at a time until you reach the consistency you want.
If you want pink frosting, follow the directions I gave above using beets. I know there are other natural ways of dying frosting, but I have not tried them yet, so pink is all I can tell you for sure.
1 rainbow salad mix (sometimes called broccoli slaw mix)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
For the Dressing
1 cup veganaise
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp white vinegar
In a medium bowl, toss together the rainbow salad mix, green onion, raisins, and sunflower seeds. In a separate small bowl, mix together the veganaise, sugar, and vinegar. Slowly add the dressing to the salad and mix well. You probably won’t need the entire amount of dressing. I usually end up using almost all of it, but there’s always just a little left in the bowl.