Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

A Sniffly Review of Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon

on November 17, 2012

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.


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 and 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: