Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

Review of “Caribbean Vegan” by Taymer Mason

on November 11, 2012

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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