Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

Review on All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason

Okay, you know that little saying that I write at the end of all my reviews (that I get from publishers?) The one that says a positive review isn’t required of me?

 

Well, this is what this is. A non positive review. (But to be fair, it’s a not a negative review either). this is a Confused review.

I am not going to claim I am the biggest official on bread making. I really got into it a few months ago when I made some Sweet spelt rolls. (which were awesome). And then I made Vanilla Raisin Bread (American Vegan Kitchen – which was yummy, but deformed, I don’t get the whole “shape and tuck thing”), and then I made bagel rolls (Best Veggie Burgers). So I’ve had a good roll (no pun intended) going on, and then… along comes this gorgeous book.

And I squealed and said. “Bread!” (Really, I did. I said. BREAD! – duh it’s a bread book. but remember I get excited over simple things).

 

 

All You Knead is Bread
Jane Mason
Ryland Peters
175 Pages
copyright 2012

When I tell you guys, this is a gorgeous book. It’s a gorgeous book.  It’s rift with pages, full of techniques (on kneading, rolling, and tonnes and tonnes of bread). It just makes you want to yank out all your bread flours, yeast and mixing bowls and get started. (I am am an old school girl. I knead with my hands, I don’t have the spiffy dough hook thing. As much as I want a Cuisinart Stand Mixer, I’d probably do it so I could get a lot of loaves done at once).

I have this love affair with sourdough bread, so instantly this is the first thing I go to make. (both the Rye + Wheat).

And… well let’s just say. It didn’t work out. At all. I’ve never made a starter before period, so I don’t know what I was expecting, but I just got… really dry dough that had met water. (I did this for about 3 days, and It wasn’t bubbly, watery or anything). The rye just dried out. I was very bummed out.

But I dusted myself off and thought, you know, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to start with a starter, let’s just go with a basic brown bread. So I made the Brown Cob. (Which is a British style bread). And here is where (my) issues started.

A: Jane doesn’t proof with sugar. Now  I’ve never not  proofed without sugar before. So this “water and yeast in the dough.” kinda freaked me out. But I did it, and it never really… “exploded”. like it does with sugar. (You know, volcano action everywhere!) .  But I used it, and kneaded and everything, and it never really…. rose like dough does. I was tres. disappointed.  (it “puffed” up overnight though, but it was more of a surprise than anything).

B: Jane likes her salt. My first red flag was that she called for 1 1/2 tsp salt. That is a LOT of salt, and she didn’t add any sugar or milk to balance it out. But in it went.

And it was a not very well risen, salty, slightly soggy bottom bread. Like it was eating into a ball of salt. Was not impressed.

I did email Jane right away and wondered if it was errata or anything in the book, and Jane did come back to me saying that while she did prefer her bread salty, 1 1/2 tsp did seem like a lot. (the book has measurements + weights).

But with three flops, you can understand while I am a little gunshy about trying anything else. (to be fair, the water + yeast thing was my fault).

So this was just based on my baking attempts, this would totally not get the Veganly Delicious Seal Of Approval, and give this book a Fry raving.

With this book though, you can learn a lot about making bread period. And the pictures are gorgeous, and with Jane’s fast response to my questions, I’m not really going to say that the book is a total flop. I think it just has a learning curve to it (maybe a big learning curve).

This book is accidentally vegan. (She does use eggs and milk and lard, but that just translates to flax/chia seed eggs, tofu, almond milk and coconut oil). There are a 50+ recipes to choose from (plus some starters of course). It would be a good book to work with and I think if one never had a bread book it would be all you “kneaded” (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

So…I don’t know. I’d say try the book out and see how you fair with it. I’m going to try again, and I’ll totally amend my review.

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A Sniffly Review of Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon

I have the flu.

Or a really bad cold.

Either way, I can’t smell, and my tastebuds are going. Luckily, I got a lot of my testing/reviewing done before I got sick. (I feel really bad for the Vegan Slow Cooker. it’s not getting the love and attention that it deserves from me. I got sick this Thursday – well Wednesday night), so everything was starting to hurt my throat a lot, and now basically all I’m eating is orange juice, club soda, some crackers. Even cookies aren’t doing it for me. Yeah, you know I’m sick).

I did make menu #3: It’s all Indian fare. (I figure the spices will help my nose clear up).

Channa Saag (Greens with Chickpeas), Butter Chicken (used kidney beans), and Carrot Cake & Zucchini Bread oatmeal. I also made the macaroni and cheese, and I realised something really, really important:

My Crockpot. (not the Cusinart) doesn’t really burn off the liquid like it’s supposed to. Which what would explain why my onions didn’t “marmalade” but was a big sopping mess. It clicked home when I made the macaroni and cheese (which is GOOD) and the channa saag in there and it didn’t really thicken up, it was just soupy. I’ll just use Chuck, until I can buy his little brother.

So,  Bean by Bean by the coolest name I’ve ever seen/heard in my life. Crescent Dragonwagon. Like honestly, can you imagine going through life with a cool name like that? And it is a gorgeous book. I am one of the people who get attracted by the spine first, and then the cover. (I know that’s a bit weird but generally, when you live in a big city, you have a big bookstore. And when you have a big bookstore, book covers usually don’t face you unless it’s part of the display, you notice the spine. Anyway.the font/spine is really beautiful (it’s like wood).

But let’s get started with this review. (which was supposed to be up last week, I know, but, again: work is working me dead, and now I’m sick. You love me. Y’all are invited over for food. You know, after I get better).

 

you could say, it’s full of beans.

Bean by Bean
Crescent Dragonwagon
The Workman Publishing Company
copyright 2012
400 pages

I am going to start with the preface: this is not a vegan book. It’s not really a vegetarian book. There’s ham in here, and shrimp and all those things there. (which kind of surprised me because Crescent is a vegetarian. But as she writes in the introduction, she’s more laissez-faire about it and the book isn’t to advocate anything. (Except how awesome the bean is). And most of it is optional. (the meat-y bits, I mean).  And the ones that aren’t (see: chicken-salad), well there are a lot of vegan-ish things you can use. (Like say, seitan, tofu, tempeh, etc that taste chickeny, and continue with the recipe).

I was kind of nervous though because this was my first “non-vegan cookbook” I got since I became vegan. (or rather solely plant-based  in my eating). So I was sitting here wondering, how to review a book that’s not really vegan – not even accidentally vegan?

Well, easy. By focusing on what this book is.

And it’s full of beans. Really.

There are ten chapters. (from Bean Basics, a chapter on Hummus (a girl after my own heart. Hummus always needs it’s own chapter), Soups, Salad, Chili, Stew & curries, Bakes/casseroles, Stirfries, Beans and Grains, Sweet Beans, and a lot of other information at the back.

And naturally, that my love of hummus/spreads nearly rivals my love of cookies, I spent a lot of time in chapter two. I made the Salt of the Earth “Bread Spread”  (snicker. I love someone who can make a great pun, and/joke when the opportunity arises… like a good loaf of bread… okay that one was lame).  I used my brown miso for this, and it was awesome. I had some of Joni’s  bagel buns with this spread, and it was just.. it was love. That’s all I have to say. This would be awesome with a bowl of soup (chickpea noodle, split pea), or just on its own with some homemade pub cheddar  homemade-cheese. It barely really took any time at all, to make.  It has this nice salty taste to it. So if you had a baguette and toasted it, and then schmeared this on top, your tastebuds will bow to you.

I also had a delicious salad from this, which was the Sugar Snap-Pea, Orange and Spinach Salad. (I did not make the citrus vinaigrette). Never really had sugar snap peas (or if I had, I didn’t realise that’s what they were), and I never really had “fruit” in a salad before. It was (clearly) a snap (no pun intended) to make. (The peas get boiled for like 3 minutes), then you mix everything else together. It was really nice to go with my chik’n casserole from Vegan Slow Cooker.

But the star of the show isn’t so much the recipes, but the reference guides. (I’m a librarian. I live for this stuff).
Like, did you know a vanilla bean isn’t a bean? It’s just a pod. (Who knew? Well, maybe you did). Ditto Cacao beans, and coffee beans.

Then there is an entire list of beans. (I was flabbergasted. I could name like. 9? maybe – Lime, green, chickpea, blackbean, soy beans (Tofu!), sweet peas, black-eye peas, kidney, and broad). I just learned about adzuki this year. And probably some others that I knew but can’t name. or things I didn’t consider as beans (see: lentils), But there is not only the name of a bazillion (okay not a bazillion, but a good lot) of beans, and how available they are, what can be substituted,  and the like. I think that’s ace.

This book if full of information, (very reference-like), and it does have a lot of yummy recipes, a lot of illustrations (but no pictures for those who need them).
It does get the Veganly Delicious Seal of Approval and I award this book…
A Try.

Yeah. A try. For a few reasons. A: if you aren’t very strong at removing “meat” and adding “whatever” and still having it taste good. (like for me, what made my eyes bug out of my head was the beans that had ham hocks simmering it in for hours). Now – at this stage of my cooking life, I would know exactly what to do to get the flavour of ham (which is mostly the salt – liquid smoke) and the meat source (out of all the options, a beef-y flavoured seitan would do the trick). But 6 months ago? I would 100 percent have to Google it up.

Ditto with the “4 eggs” (well maybe not so much, Just that much chia-seeds or flax seeds). But newly minted vegans or vegetarians that give up animals completely (but don’t mind the byproduct), could very much have an issue. It’s not rampant, the animal usage, but I think enough to make some people think.

But I think the reference guides, and the information that’s found within the book save it. So see if you can find it in your local library, go a little beany, and see if it’s right for you.

Now if you excuse me, I need to blow my nose.

achoo!

I was given a review copy by the Canadian rights holder of this publication ThomasAllen. No compensation or gift was required for my review, all thoughts (even addled with the flu-cold) are my own. A Portion of this review will be found on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. 

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Review of “Caribbean Vegan” by Taymer Mason

I’d first like to say – Thank you very much to those who fought in World War I & II, and any other Peacekeeping missions to give me the rights and freedoms that I sometimes (maybe all the time) take for granted. This post is dedicated to you. Enjoy the (ginger)beer. 

You may not know this about me. My daddy’s from Jamaica. (My momma is from England). So I grew up with a culinary palate of 1/2 island food and 1/2 European/Canadian. My personal tastes run more to my Momma’s side of the pond and even when I cook internationally, It’s more European/Asian. Curries. Dals, Asian fair (Thanks Korea).

When I was pregan, I did love me some … well. curry chicken. It was yummy. And even better, curry goat. (Okay look. It was good. I loved it. With some roti and rice with black peas? It was me and my dad’s favourite meal).

Moving on. 😉

I do love me some Island flavour, and when you have 48 hours of consecutive snow fall – no, I am not lying, you want to do test out a book that will make you think of warm breezes and coconuts.

Thank you Tamyer Mason and the Caribbean Vegan. I feel warmer already.
And ThomasAllen for graciously giving me the book to review! A portion of this review will be found on Amazon. Per usual, while Thomas Allen (the Canadian rights holder of this publication) provided the book for a review, a positive review is not required, so if I feel that the book is not good, I will let you all know.

 

Jamaica, Bermuda… Oh, you know I wanna….

Caribbean Vegan
The Experiment
copyright 2010
239 pages.

This book is a celebration Island Fare. Bahamas, Jamaica and the like 🙂 It’s a bright pink book (I feel warmer already!)

The book opens up with the introduction,and what you need to stock an island vegan kitchen. A lot of these things, I would have had at home – Essences (a weaker version of extract – I like extract better you get that punch in the gut, but essence is what is used in island foods) and the normal stuff you’d probably have. (Nutritional yeast, etc). And put away those food processors, it’s all about the box cutter! 😀

(If you are adverse to using analogs (tvp, Energ-g replacer, etc, she uses it a touch. I’m not really sure of “a lot” but I mean if you don’t use it, you don’t use it, so you might want to take advantage of Amazon’s “Look” feature here).

Like most vegan international books I’ve seen, we open up with the Condiments & sauces. (Mostly because these are going to be the base of anything/everything you make, rather than going to the West Indian Store and buying bottles of the stuff. Here is my little tip: if you can get away with making your own, make your own. It’s more flavourable (okay, fine, flavourful!), you can guarantee the vegan-ity of the item and so on. Plus the measurements that is called for will give the right “punch” to the food. Storebought might be weaker or even a bit hotter than what is called for). 

This book is like Quick & Easy Low Cal Comfort Food as there is a blurb/write up of what the chapter is intending to do. I like this, it feels very much like a book (that you’d read) and get into the mood.

Then we have breakfasts. (YAY! Breakfast is first. Honestly, it is a teensy bit of a pet peeve for me to have it buried at the back). Appetizers,  soups and so forth. (ending with drinks). Hmm. Drinks.

Which is what I made. If my momma were here, I would have made her Sorrel. (which is hibiscus). Or Mauby. (I don’t know what is, but my momma and all her friends love it. It’s part of a tree). However, I made. ginger beer.

Let’s just get something straight.
There is gingerale  which is good. And gingerbeer which is what gingerale wants to be when it grows up. It’s not alcoholic  but the ginger is just much more potent. It’s just a mouth-feel awesome explosion of flavour. If you close your eyes (well keep one eye open to read this), and just imagine a hot warming burn in your throat and stomach, your mouth full of heat and ginger and a little something extra… that’s ginger beer.

(And storebought, while it’s passable, has nothing on homemade. I’ve grown up on homemade. My aunties make it homemade when time permits, and you can always tell the difference – generally from the “Holy *wheeze* crap!” You want to emit when you have it. Gingerbeer is HOT. (taste wise, not temperature wise).

Tamyer has a “fermented” version and an unfermented version, which is what I’ve made. It was good, good stuff, y’all. The base for this is “Island Simple Syrup” (which is basically simple syrup, but you use brown sugar instead of white. Tadaa!)

I also made Eggy Tofu open faced sandwiches. Which was very delicious. (I am slowly getting into this habit of having “eggless” sandwiches. I never liked it as a pregan, but vegan.. yum). Use your black salt for this recipe. Basically, anything that you are making “eggs” with and tofu is involved, get black salt. It makes it eggy. (it was a nice spread on some toast)

and then I made some Orange coconut pancakes.
Yes. Please.

These were a plate-ful-of-yum.

The book is rift full of “island tips” (what to use, what to substitute, what to do when). The book is very “black and white” (even the island tips look like dark), and there aren’t a lot of pictures. But what there is, is a nice section of how to fold and make your Doubles. (This was what my mom and I ate all the time if we had a doctor’s appointment. They are nice puffy pieces of dough stuffed with chickpeas and pepper sauce and other stuff. Yum, yum in the tum).

The pictures might be a deterring factor for a lot of people who haven’t had Caribbean food before. Also, I will point out (and I am actually reminded of a review on Amazon who claimed this book was ‘too authentic/Caribbean-y for her, which made me laugh, and slightly roll my eyes), but it is. If you were a vegan on the Islands, you’d have this book, and you’d cook from it and you wouldn’t really miss pre-gan treats. There’s recipes how to make your own Ackee and Saltfish, and ham.  (I kid you not. Pork was the one thing I’ve never had ever, and when I told my mom, who also never had pork, ever, said “But why would you even want to try it?. To which I had to stop and think, and go.. “Well.. why not?”)

(And Alicia C. Simpson uses this ham-style flavouring to make her sausages. See? It’s good to try).

I award this the Veganly Delicious Seal of Approval (I need to really make a seal), and award this book a solid Try rating. It takes some sourcing to get some original ingredients that may or may not be in a well-stocked supermarket. (Ie: Mauby) but if you are in a large city it will be worth getting some to make a lot of these recipes. Again if you are the kind of person who is vegan due to “health” and don’t want analogs, or against them in some way, she doesn’t use it a lot, but enough to make people go “ugh, why?”

But try it. There are a lot of recipes that don’t require exploring new territories, the recipes are easy enough to read and follow, and then you can imagine warm island breezes as you drink your (ginger)beer, and eat some eggy sandwiches with ham.

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Let’s Get Ready to Slow Cook! (Menus #1 & 2)

Work is working me dead.

Sorry everyone, for being so quiet. But it’s only seven more weeks (sigh) of working overtime. I also started working out so basically my day starts at 3:50am and I keep going until 9:00pm when I fall into a very amazing dead to the world sleep, and then I rinse, and repeat. I have some reviews to post up (I was busy testing out some recipes from a few review copies books that I got recently,so it’s going to be a big posting baloozza)
And I’m running on hot chocolate right now. Not even breakfast. That’s how bad I feel about ignoring you guys.

So the plan had been to compare two crockpot cookbooks. It was a brilliant plan. However, I got really tired of that idea really quickly. It’s easier to concentrate on one for these kind of reviews, so I am going to do the one I had picked first.

 

The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.

This was one book I purchased that didn’t have “Celine & Joni, Isa & Terry, Robin or Dreena” attached to the cover. The reason why I chose this book (to buy) was kinda 2-3 fold.

A: Isa reviewed it and had a comment on the cover. (This instantly makes me sit up and take notice)
B: My friend Val had it and had great results from it.
C: I needed a vegan slow cooker cookbook.

It really was that simple. I am a simple person.

This book was published in 2011 by Fair Winds Press (The home of Joni & Celine). So right away your book quality is good, and there are a decent amount of pictures. Not rift like Allyson’s, or Kelly’s books but a decent amount of pictures. The book is going for a “grunge” kinda thing with the font. (Like the main font is a spray-painty motif, which carries on to the headings of the chapters and the recipes themselves. Kinda cute). There are 150 recipes for your tummy’s pleasure. (Why thank you Kathy. I can’t wait).

This actually fits in my cookbook stand. Colour me surprised.

What  I like about this book is that you have the title of the recipe like so

RECIPE TITLE
a little blurb underneath.

And then the ingredients on one side, and how to proceed.

Note: if you are one of those people who don’t like the prep work for your slow cooker – ie: doing some sauteing, etc and whatever, then you aren’t going to like this book. I’m just saying. It is hilarious how many people get upset/mad that the book isn’t a big “dump and go” thing. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of “dump” and “go” in this book, but there is always a bit of prep to get the best, ultimate flavour. Do do it.

The book is broken down to
Slow Cooker Basics (what to do with your slow cooker, the history of it, basically: read your manufacture instructions. They built the thing, they know how to use it).

Then there are Twelve chapters dedicated to yummy yummy eats And breakfast is all the way at the end. (It just beats out desserts. I will never understand why poor breakfast gets the shaft and is stuck at the end. Don’t worry breakfast! I ❤ you!) The font is readable, It looks a little like Arial (nice and rounded, 12 font) so easy to read. (Thank you).

The one drawback is – you don’t really know what size crockpot to use. It’s not listed anywhere in the basics (I looked) or in the recipes, unless your specifically told it’s for a baby crockpot (1 1/2-2 1/2 quart). I found that really strange. I emailed Kathy and she said most of the recipes are for a 3.5-4 quart while some can. go to a 6 quart depending on the recipe. (so there you go, write it down).  I just found it really strange that it wasn’t there. Everything else (serving sizes, length of time in said crockpot, etc) was listed.

Menu #one was:
Cranberry Vanilla Quinoa
Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Dal.

Menu #Two is
Balsamic Onion Marmalade
Apple Sage Sausage
Savoury Cheddar Sausage Bread
Chickn’ And Mushroom Casserole
Cheddar Broccoli Rice. 

 

The cranberry Vanilla Quinoa (with slivered almonds) was really good, however I don’t think I would make it again, or if I did, I would make it with steel cut oatmeal. The reason: texture, texture, texture. It came out really soft, and there was no real “bite” to it. I just can’t handle … certain kinds of mush, for a lack of a better word. Something that you always need to remember is that the seasoning kind of… melts away in the crockpot. so I always added a bit more salt and a tbsp. of maple syrup to kick up the flavour.

This was great for leftovers and it kept me full all day. Had I thought about it, I would have swirled a little cranberry apple butter in it as well, to help thicken it up. So I will probably make it again – but again just to be more wary about the ‘mush’.

I finally found a use for all my sweet potatoes – and made this dal. I love Indian food, and this was just fantastically delicious. I passed out (literally) from exhaustion when I was making it, and my roommate (Bless her) turned off my crockpot for me. Ergo – she didn’t know that I had to add the chard in for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Luckily, I used my steamer, and swirled it in, and there was no problems. (so a little trouble shooting for you).

This was fan-freaking-tastic. Extra S&P were needed to just enhance the flavours, but yum.mo. I was very sad when this was over.

And now a little lament.

I suffer from Week Two-Itis. If you watch the Biggest Loser (I don’t any more), you always hear Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, My Future Husband Dolvett Quince complain about the “Week Two” syndrome, where people don’t lose weight, no matter what they do, blah blah blah blah.

Since I started this blog, I’ve never had a cooking issue except for one certain meal, during the second week. It is nuts, it is crazy, I can’t explain it.

With Quick and Easy Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food – it was the Lasagna.
Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats – It was the Compassionate Calamari
With this book –  it was the balsamic onion marmalade.

Y’all have had marmalade, or you know what it is supposed to do. Be nice and spreadable. No siree, not mine, mine is a bunch of (delicious, smelling) onions, and a big crock of liquid. I don’t know what happened, I can’t even explain it. Most likely, it’s because I used agave as my sugar (the option was sugar, agave or maple syrup). Maybe that means I had a bit more liquid and it needed to steam more. Maybe my onions were too much. It’s a mystery. So It’s not the actual thing I wanted, however, I have rice, so I know if I mix this up with rice and some steamed Brussels sprouts, I should be good to go. But honestly. Week 2 curse struck again.

The sausage, was a bit of the same. It came out awesome (Kathy doesn’t specify what sage to use, I used rubbed, not ground), and it came out in like some chunks, but still loose. I was expecting like a loaf or something to break up. (also my middle never really set, while the ends were geting nice and sausage-y. But it tasted great. So this is the first time in Week 2, I didn’t have to throw anything out. Woo and hoo.

The curse struck again in the form of the rice and broccoli dish. I swear I had brown rice. But I didn’t. I wrote brown rice  on my shopping list and I somehow, for whatever reason, bought a big bag of white rice. (Not even jasmine or basmati. Boring old white). I wasn’t sure of the liquid measurements, so I figured, hey, why not use the little bit of long-grain wild rice, and mix it with the brown, and it’s still healthy, and it will work, right?

Well yes. If you like really hard, chewy rice. I keep forgetting wild rice is more of a grass (now YOU know), then a grain, so it takes more water, and longer to cook. So I’ve once again have hard, chewy, rice. Way to go week 2.

(and just to finish everything, my casserole looks a little bit, a touch, dried out. I am hoping once it gets warmed up, the liquid will release, and make it all nice and edible). My bread is cooking right now.

Oh and I made Boullion. I don’t know what it was supposed to look like, but mine is thick and awesome, very flavourable. <– that is a word. I just invented it.

So there we have it. 3 weeks of posting done in one mammoth post. Time to do some reviews, but first we break for some cookie making.

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Interview with Allyson Kramer

Allyson was so sweet to agree to interview with me! I contacted her last week, and she got back to me today. She got “Sandy-ed” and was apologetic for holding me up, which was clearly okay under the circumstances 🙂
(I am really hoping that these continue. If anyone ever has questions they want me to ask, shoot and I’ll put it in my transcript notes!). 🙂

 

And now.. Me & Allyson!

 

So how long have you been a vegan? What inspired you to be a vegan?

 

I first became vegan 17 years ago, but I had a few instances towards the end of high school and during college where I “fell off the wagon”. I guess it was around 6 years ago when I realized there would be no more slip-ups due to peer pressure, and that veganism was a lifelong commitment for me.

 

 

And the next big question – why Gluten Free as well as vegan?

 

I have celiac disease, so gluten-free unfortunately is a diet I must follow in order to stay healthy. I was diagnosed in 2009, only a few monthsafter I started my blog Manifest Vegan. I like to say I’m a vegan by choice, and gluten-free by necessity.

 

What inspired you to start your blog Manifest Vegan?

 

I had just begun my career in the arts (after graduating with a BFA in both Painting and Sculpture) and once I starting working in the museum and gallery atmosphere fulltime, I realized quickly that the art scene just wasn’t for me. I wanted to choose a career path that would give back a little—to the animals and the environment. I had been enamored with cooking and recipe development since I was a little girl, and I had seriously considered majoring in English (Journalism) in college rather than Fine Arts, so I thought I could use the skills I gained in my art training to launch some sort of career as a cookbook author/food writer. I learned about blogging, and decided that it would be a good thing to do for practice–to more or less develop my own voice with writing. Lauren Ulm of Vegan Yum Yum was a huge inspiration for me. I watched her go from blogger to cookbook author in just a few short years, and I liked her approach. And, I figured if the author thing never took off, I would still be doing something meaningful (and satisfying!) by sharing vegan recipes with others.

 

Why thatname, “Manifest Vegan?”

 

Basically it’s a play on “Manifest Destiny”… sort of my belief that veganism is destined to expand across the world (or at least the United States). It’s certainly a romantic idea, but one I do believe in wholeheartedly. 

 

What prompted you to write your cookbook? Tell us about the process?

 

Honestly, writing a cookbook has been on my bucket list since I was achild. Cookbooks (and poring over them like novels daily/nightly) are such a strong part of my identity; it felt very natural for me to try and create one of my own. Plus, I have always wanted to be a writer… and often I regretted not getting that English degree in college along with my Art degree.

When I got the idea to finally write a vegan cookbook, I started to do my research on what it would take to get a cookbook published. I had hundreds of recipes to share (I’d been cooking daily for years since I was 8 years old, and recipe developing on my own since I was 14), so I just started with a simple list in a Word document. And then it turned into a rough draft …and, my to-do list grew from there.

 

It went a little like this:

Create Book Proposal, Make a Ton of Connections, Query Agents, Get Agent, Sell Book, Secure Cookbook Testers, Sign Contract, Complete and Test Recipes, Write, Write, Write, Take Photos for the Book, Write More, Edit, Turn In Manuscript, and once my editor (and a whole team of wonderful people, honestly) was finished with it, Do Final Edits to the Manuscript. Then I waited a few months for my publishing house to work their magic and eventually the book hit the shelves.

 

It’s pretty fun actually. And a lot of hard work! I wouldn’t trade in the experience for the world.

 

What did you want to accomplish with this book?

 

I want to show skeptics that eating a vegan and gluten-free diet does not have to be restrictive—that you can enjoy many of the same foods that omnivores enjoy, such as cupcakes, pizza, ravioli and donuts! That’s one of the main reasons I include photos with every recipe—more proof of the final product, if you will.

 

This hasdeclared the “The year of the Vegan Cookbook” Why do you think vegan cookbooks are so bountiful now?

 

I think the Internet and the current ease of sharing information has a lot to do with it. Veganism is a powerful movement because much of the time a person’s decision to become vegan is based on compassion—not weight loss or other dietary motives. When the word gets around about how our foodstuffs are produced and the unfortunate realities behind the food industry come to light, it’s sometimes harder to ignore the facts than to simply adopt a more compassionate diet. It’s an easy change that almost anybody can make instantly, and it has a huge impact. I believe the demand for vegan cookbooks (and vegan food in restaurants, etc.) is just echoing the new awareness that people have for how our food is produced.

 

There isalso a big explosion of gluten free cookbooks (both vegan (aka xgfx!) and non-vegan). Why do you think that is?

 

Again, Ithink the sharing of information, and the newfound knowledge of wheat intolerance or celiac disease has a lot to do with it. I believe many doctors nowadays know a lot more about how diet impacts health than they did several years ago.

I had suffered multiple health problems from a lack of diagnosis for over 5 years, even though I had been routinely getting examined by a number of doctors trying to figure out what was causing my issues. At the time, none of them even knew about celiac disease; I was actually diagnosed by a final year med student who was specializing in autoimmune disorders. He recognized it right away, did the bloodtests and shared the info with my physician. So, I think awareness is key.

 

What were your favourite recipes in Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats?

 

The Butterscotch Amaretti and The Spinach Artichoke Dip are my top faves; but, the entire book is a collection of my favorite recipes, so all of them!

(y’all: go to youtube – search the name, and then just make yourself a batch. You’ll love the both of us for it).

 

What’s your inspiration? (to come up with all these yummy things) 

 

Every single cookbook author, chef, home-cook and food writer I’ve ever had the pleasure of either meeting or reading about has been a huge inspiration to me, from my mother to Martha Stewart. In a way, you could say the simple pleasure of eating drives me to do what I do every day. I live for food, and creating recipes is my passion.

 

Whose your favourite chef (vegan or otherwise?)

 

Goodness, that’s a tricky question! I wouldn’t say I have a favorite, per se, but a few chefs who inspire me are Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, David Chang, Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton …and countless others.

 

For those who can’t find specific flours. (as of this date Superfine Sorgum, White & Brown Rice flours aren’t available internationally/Canada), would there be a significant difference in some recipes? (Bisquik, Pasta, Strawberry Shortcake comes to mind right away). 

 

I think you could get away with subbing regular sorghum or brown riceflour in a few of the baked goods, but the texture will be different than the recipe intends. Superfine brown rice flour has really changed the game as far as gluten-free vegan baking and cooking goes—it’s really a huge difference from the flour that is regularly milled. For the pasta dishes and pie crust superfine is a must. I do hope that it will be more readily available internationally soon—it’s such a great ingredient for us gluten-free folks!

 

For those reading and wondering if veganism (or at least very strict vegetarian) is for them, what would you suggest for them?

 

I’d say do your research (everywhere from the library to google) and see how a plant based diet compares to the diet you are currently following. I think once people understand where their food is coming from, veganism really doesn’t seem so odd (or unhealthy) compared to the standard diets most people enjoy on a daily basis–especially diets that contain a ton of processed foods that have only been introduced within the past 60 years or so.

 

Would you say your book are for the newly veganist?

 

I’d like to think so, yes. But I also would like to think that anyone could benefit from my book, even if it’s just a place for inspiration or further enlightenment about vegan eating.

 

 You have a new book coming out next year, tell us about it.

 

My next book “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats Gone Global” is a lot like the first book but instead of featuring my favorite recipes, the recipes in the next book are a celebration of foods from around the world—with traditional recipes as well as recipes I like to call “global fusion”. The chapters are divided by continent and almost every recipe has a corresponding photo. I had a blast creating this book and look forward to its release in the Spring of 2013.

 

Thanks Allyson! 🙂

See? isn’t she so cool and sweet?

She even suggested to me to try milling it in the food processor (which I didn’t do), I just couldn’t be bothered. I tried seeing how much it would cost for me to get a 3lb bag of brown, white and sorgum superfine sent to me, and it was over 100.00. (And Amazon just won’t do it). But I am going to try my bestest to get this, write letters or something!

I really enjoyed cooking with Allyson’s book 🙂 I do stand behind my suggestion of “Try” but this is a darn good book. 🙂 (and if you make the cookies first, y’all know it’s going to be bumped up to buy!).

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Happy (Inter)National Vegan Day! (aka: Allyson Could Make Me Give Up Wheat)

Happy (Inter)National Vegan Day!

I didn’t even know, but I saw it in my email and I figured how awesome is this. I can wrap up October’s book, and announce this month’s and celebrate by having the best darn cookies in the world. (Well one of the best. My best friend J made them for me us, and she veganized them for me. Wasn’t that sweet?)

I am finishing off my day eating some breakfast sausage, Hannah’s cheese biscuits and some chowder.

Okay – so. my overall thoughts on Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats

First of all, I am going to be thanking God every day that I can handle wheat. (or if I am one of those weirdos who does have wheat issues but just doesn’t know it, that It’s not that bad that I can continue to ignore my ignorance and continue eating wheat). With that said.

Allyson could make me give it up. No fooling.

I tried to do my best to eat ‘gluten-freeish” as possible – ergo, I didn’t have a lot of bread, or gluten based products. (cookies and brownies aside). I did shop and stock up on items to make the total book experience a  good one.

As a recap, this is what I made from the book

Cranberry Spice Bagels, Basic Brown Bread, Stroganoff, Pumpkin Chili, Cashew Creme, Cheesy Broccoli Soup, Mushroom Corn Chowder, Basked Corn Pudding, Roasted Cinnamon Cauliflower, Butterscotch Amaretti, Compassionate Calamari, Fajita Soup, Potato Salad & Mushroom & Asparagus Tacos with Cilantro Mayo Sour Cream. Oh, and Pizza Crackers. 

(I think that’s all of them).

Everything was really, really good. (Except the thing that won’t be named, and You know what it is, so we’re not going to discuss it again). Everything for the most part was really easy to make and the stroganoff and the pumpkin chili will be made. Often. (well not for a while, but like random “what does Liv want to eat?” Stroganoff will be like right up there.

Leftover wise, these things just taste better the longer it sits. I swear when it comes to the end recipe (which generally means soup), my tastebuds must be regenerating or something because they are always bland. the Broccoli soup was kinda dull (thank you S&P) as was the chowder (like really bland) and then again, whamo. (except, naturally, today where I oversalted it and now I am having some cereal for dinner. No big worries – see, this isn’t planned y’all. This blog post is live. You get to see how my scary mind works.

Be afraid.).

The Overall Pros

This is one gorgeous book. I am the kind of girl who likes to crawl into bed and snuggle with the cookbook (or in the bath. What can I say?), and read it like a novel. Most good cookbook authors realise that and give us great readability. What really pushes this book over the top, (and made it work that I can’t find my camera + it wasn’t working) is that every single recipe has a photo attached. So you can see what you made, is what Allyson made. Which is awesomeness . Plus the book wasn’t that expensive.

(we’ll ignore the fact that I won it in a giveaway)  B.F. (before flood) I had this preordered and everything 🙂

The instructions for the most part are clear. There were a few bobbles here and there (But this could have been me, being exhausted cooking at 9pm after working 9 hours straight).

Everything is leftover awesome.

Omni-friends will be much impressed

The book layout is very simple, and how you generally eat. Like I pointed out – it starts with “basics” (and the recipes you’d probably need to use for other recipes later on, rather than having the “Meal” first, and then all the “Wait you need xyz” on page 350).  I’m giving up on my cookbook holder, basically it lays flat on my counter and a bowl lays on it.

The overall cons

My overall grocery bill this month – was over my budget of 80 dollars a week. By… a lot. (like over 60 dollars over, a lot). My cheapest bill was around 120? dollars. (some of this wasn’t the books fault, when you see canning jars on sale for 3.00 you snap them up). But if I took out incidentals and stuff like that I was still looking at an average of 110 a month.

Gluten flours aren’t cheap and in Calgary, not that easy to find (for me, when going grocery shopping, and I don’t drive). Had I had had a chance to stock up at the bulk store, I know it would have been a heck of a lot cheaper because, well you know. Bulk.

But I think that is the point. With most cookbooks, you should be able to pop to the shop, and get everything and stick underbudget. You can’t do that with this book. You need to stock up with gluten-flours first.

The availability of the flours comes into question too. Internationally. (or in Canada), Superfine flours (Rice & Sorgum) aren’t available, and Allyson calls for them for a good bit of recipes. While I’m sure it wouldn’t affect the overall product, the texture and taste wouldn’t be the same. (If they would be the same, the specific use of superfine wouldn’t be asked for. Ergo: Dear Superfine Flour – get to Canada. Love, Liv).

I find this book to be very seasonal. I don’t know if that was Allyson’s intention (and I forgot to ask during the interview). So cooking a lot of things that call for cherries – kinda hard in October. (and so on).

Gluten Free breads taste weird. Like not weird. “ewww, what’s in my mouth, ft, pht, tha!” But “This is not really… bread/crackers is it” Just that weird heavy/taste feeling. I’ve never really had GF goods before, so I don’t know if this is common. It’s not really a con, it’s more of a caveat.

Final Tally:

Taking into consideration the cost (of shopping), the book layout, book format, and everything….

I give Great Gluten Free-Vegan Eats a Liv Seal of Approval and award the book the rating of:

Try with a reccomendation to Buy.
If you are gluten free already – buy the thing. It will change your life, I swear.

The try rating is only based on the fact that your kitchen may/may not be set up for the flours which can cost a pretty penny.

Interview with Allyson coming up (Right now!)

 

 

 

 

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