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A few years ago, I had a grand plan to build a database of recipes that cross-referenced a ton of food allergies and dietary restrictions – so you’d know exactly what you could make for that dinner party to which you invited a vegan, someone with celiac disease, and someone who was allergic to nuts and legumes (for example). Although I’m pretty good at handling those situations in my actual life, the site turned out to be way more than I could handle, so that fell by the wayside (although as some of you know, I’m working on a scaled-down version that’s about being vegan without consuming soy).
[MUSIC TANGENT! I must go here when the word "wayside" occurs.]
Anyway, because of our current financial situation, I haven’t been entertaining guests lately – so when a friend of my son’s who was allergic to nuts and chocolate visited yesterday, I was WAY out of practice and all the treats I’d made contained one or the other – usually just a little almond milk, but THAT’S ENOUGH.
The kids were hungry and I had to act fast – plus it was the last day before our weekly grocery shop and I was out of a lot of stuff. So naturally, I turned to Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. This hefty tome by two of my favorite cookbook authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, seems to have the answer to every question you might ever need to ask. I’ve had it for seven years and I’m still running across brilliant-sounding recipes I swear I’ve never seen before. It may actually be magic.
Plus, doesn’t that title make you feel firmly supported by a powerful yet cruelty-free force?
It came through in a big way; the book opened right to Jelly Donut Cupcakes (recipe online here). I used the rice milk option and made six with cherry preserves and six with apricot, since that was what I had on hand, and they came out AMAZINGLY GOOD – the cherry ones in particular were magical.
Happy children! No trips to the emergency room! That’s really all I can expect out of a Saturday afternoon.
Another weekend, another couple of cookbooks by my favorite authors on sale. Since it looks like a bunch of you actually bought the ones I posted last week, I thought it’d be worth letting you know about these as well!
500 Vegan Recipes: An Amazing Variety of Delicious Recipes, From Chilis and Casseroles to Crumbles, Crisps, and Cookies
by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen could conceivably be the only vegan cookbook you’d ever need to own. The breakfast chapter, specifically the granola and muffin recipes, is where I’ve spent most of my time – if you don’t count the Butterscotch Pecan Cookies, which are absolutely magical and one of my favorite-ever recipes in any category. I would make a batch every day if I weren’t so confident in my ability to also eat a batch a day. The breads, the soups, the casseroles… there’s a lot to love here, and it’s only $2.99. The only possible negative (could be a problem with the book, or it could be something I’m too chicken to try and it’s perfectly fine) is that a bunch of the cupcake recipes contain neither any sort of fat or any of the things that are sometimes used to substitute for fat (for instance,applesauce, banana, tofu). I read pretty much every review or discussion of the book on the entire internet and couldn’t find anyone who said they’d actually made any of these specific ones. Even if there are a few errors, though, that still leaves you like 495 recipes to work with. $2.99!
The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet: 101 Globally Inspired Vegan Creations Packed with Fresh Flavors and Exciting New Tastes,
also by Newman, really pushes the boundaries of the definition of “burger.” I checked this out of the library a while back and, while there were a bunch of recipes I really wished someone would cook for me, I didn’t end up making any – mostly due to my having checked out Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine that same week and become completely obsessed with it, but also partly because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand for any of the recipes I was most interested in. I’ve had it on my wish list ever since, but for $2.99, I’m taking the plunge today. Besides, someone titled a review “I will forgive her spelling” and elaborated with “I don’t get why vegetable is one g and veggie has to be two, but this book is such a find, I will forgive her for it,” and frankly, I think she deserves some sales for having to put up with that sort of nonsense.
A pittance, I tell you.
At least for today (Jan. 5), Amazon has the Kindle versions of some great cookbooks on sale for $1.99 – $2.99.
I picked up Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less. Robertson is pretty much a legend in the vegan/vegetarian world; she has approximately eleventy billion books out, and this one has been at the top of my wish list for a while. Meals in 30 minutes or less! Do you know what that means to me? It means meals in an hour or less, because I’m slow at food prep. But relatively speaking, that’s still exciting. These are good, solid plant-based recipes with a minimum of “weird” vegan ingredients.
Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites has been on my shelves for a few years, and has gotten a lot of use. Authors Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman aren’t kidding about the Monster Appetites thing; if you ever wanted to veganize that KFC sandwich that uses fried chicken for bread, this book has got you covered. If your tastes are somewhat less gluttonous than that, there are still dozens of amazing comfort-food and baked-good recipes. If someone ever demands 75% of my cookbook collection, this will be in the 25% that stays.
The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions is another offering from the dream team of Steen and Newman. It took me a while to check this book out despite my admiration for the authors, as I’ve been vegan for a quarter-century and am pretty familiar with substitutions. I was glad I checked the eBook out of the library; had I looked at it in a store, I’d have been unimpressed by the first chapter (dairy substitutions: instead of milk, soy milk! Instead of butter, vegan butter!) and moved on. I’m so, so glad I didn’t; turns out later chapters offer some completely new-to-me substitutions – not only for animal products, but for things like gluten, soy, alcohol, nuts and sugar. Which is great and all, but it’s also a cookbook that contains some genuinely fabulous recipes (savory artichoke pie! Fruit and cheese Danishes!). So happy I could finally acquire my own copy!
UPDATED: Oh! Also Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza is only $1.99. I’m a huge fan of Hasson’s Vegan Diner and I just this minute got Vegan Pizza in the mail; I think I’m OK having paid more for the hard copy, as a quick look through gives me the impression this book may never leave my kitchen counter. Every single recipe sounds great – she offers a ton of soy-free and nut-free alternatives, so I feel like they’ll all be workable no matter which of my food-allergic friends or family members I’m attempting to feed.