Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

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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Menu #2 Analysis and what’s up with coffee?

Hi Everyone! 🙂

(Is anyone there? I wish I knew how to add subscribers, or whatever. I’m not used to wordpress and I can’t find things, but I’ll get there!) I also know I am quiet. It will get better. Work should hopefully slow down soon!

 

I don’t like deconstructing my menu when I am sick, because when your stomach hurts all day and then you eat, the last thing you want to do is be like “So how is your meal?” But I was very much unbiased in this deconstruction (also I had omni-people taste everything this week…. and they were in love).
Lunch:
Mushroom Stroganoff

This is hands down top five pasta dishes I’ve ever had in. my. life. I am a firm believer that pasta are one of those dishes that taste better the next day (some are the exception to this rule). If you were to eat this the day you made it, you will have this delish very saucy creamy dish. If you have it for leftovers, it is this light, yet filling dish. (light is the sauce). If you serve it with Ginger Brussels sprouts it’s this amazingballs meal.

My World Order (Cookies)
seriously…. I am a firm believer that cookies make everything better. Cookies will be seen as the ultimate tool to bring peace to Korea, the Middle East, and any other squabble.

Butterscotch Amaretti

This is one amazing cookie. And I’ve had a lot of cookies. A note – if you make these, I would suggest really flatting them out, they don’t spread. (I’ve yet to discover what makes cookies spread, vs. not spreading, but these are a not spreading cookie). They are also really rich (the base is almond flour). And this is what I am talking about. My stomach was really yucky, so I would have one and it was more yucky. (and really, am I going to give up a cookie? Eh, no.) But this cookie got rave reviews all around.

Dinner
Baked Corn Pudding, Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower, Compassionate Calamari

Let’s get this out of the way. The Calamari (king oyster mushrooms), was a fail, but this was a me, not the recipe. So I had no-cluck cutlet sandwiches. (Always, always have cutlets in the freezer for this purpose).

The baked corn pudding – this really needs to be fine cornmeal (the book does state this by the way, I just didn’t have any). so my corn pudding simply tasted like thick cornbread. (Which was equally awesome).

But the star of this show was the cinnamon roasted cauliflower. And I’m thought what you thought, why the heck would you put cinnamon on a cauliflower? Well, if you coat it with cornmeal and roast it, it makes it amazing, that’s why you’d do it. The book does say “serve immediately”, if I had a convection toaster oven, I would heat it up there to get it crispy again.

All of these meals were very much leftover friendly, easy to make and just stinking yummy.
(except again, the Calamari. Again thats my fault).

 

This weeks menu is:
Fajita soup
Mushroom & Asparagus Tacos with Cilantro Mayo
Cranberry Spice Bagels (with pear butter & cinnamon peanut butter)

I’ve not had the bagels yet – but do they ever look like them. Like I bought them or something. my roommate had one and thought they were really, really good.

The Fajita soup smelled delicious. Like..well. fajitas. 😉
I didn’t make the tacos yet, but I mean, come on. Tacos.

So. let’s talk about about coffee.

Im actually allergic to caffeine. I can (thankfully) have chocolate but the caffeine in black tea, coffee and other things gives me violent migraines. So when I see it in things like chili or cookies, or other recipes I have to wonder… why? Why add the coffee flavour? I don’t even like coffee. Even when I had it. (one little sip). or the smell of it, it’s gross. (truly if you ever want a pick me up, detox tea (with gingko, lemongrass and green tea is the way to go).

Here’s the reason. Coffee helps balance the sweetness in the chocolate. (Sort of the same reason why you have a little bit of sugar in tomato sauce). This doesn’t really change the fact that A: I can’t have it, B: even if I could, I hate the taste of it, and C: how to substitute it.

Insert: Chicory, Dandelion Root and well, non-caffeinated coffee.

I’m going to see if I can do things (using chicory/dandelion root), to substitute for some recipes,but its the ones that call for “1 cup strong black coffee”,  “2tbsp espresso powder” etc. How do I replace that? I’ve got to figure that one out.

That’s it for me 🙂 talk to you later

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A ‘Shroom Affair.

Hello everyone! 🙂

So here is the breakdown of the menu one week later (for those who cook like me and eat leftovers during the entire week, or just want to know how things taste like the day after).

Basic Brown Bread
Really good the day after. It got a bit dry-ish on me, but put in the toaster, and put a schmear of ______________ on it. (my schmear of choice was naturally the cranberry apple butter). I still have some slices left over, so that’s going to be used to mop up the Dilly Stew with Dumplings that I made this evening. (I always cook for my best friends when they come over).

 

Banana Bread Scones (w/optional nuts).
Yum yum in my tum. I am not  a banana bread person. Not in the slightest. I always think I am, and then I find that I am not. Weird, I know. but these were good. Not too banana-y and not too sweet. They don’t even need anything, just a quick minute in the microwave, or toaster oven.

Pumpkin Chili
Like this really needs me to talk about it? It was so freaking delicious. Every morsel. This will be made again and again. (this is where you kind of wish books had detachable pages and you can put all your favourites in one spot – I swear I said this before). But this is totally worth it. (and I am not even a big pumpkin fan. Well what North Americans call pumpkin – the big Jack-o Lantern things. When I grew up, my daddy (who is from ‘da Islands, mon), made “pumpkin” all the time, but it was like the ones with the green skin, you know? I think it’s called acorn squash here Or pepper squash? It’s the thickgreen skin. One of y’all know what I’m talking about). And I eat that all the time! But the jack-o-lantern stuff is good. but not in pie.
Black Bean, Potato & Cheese Enchiladas.
These were okay. They would have been fantastic, had I the following

  • bigger corn tortillas
  • or flour tortillas.
  • they weren’t dry.

Yeah, my corn tortillas were a touch dry. (which could be my fault) and they didn’t really re-heat well (sometimes). But it was still really good, and I will totally make them again.

 

All in all – Menu #1 was fan-tas-tic.

 

Now. Let’s talk fungus.

There are some crazy weirdos out there. (You know who you are). who don’t like mushrooms. Why and how, I don’t understand. Mushrooms are amazing. I haven’t tried all of them (like porcini and the other fancy dancy ones) but I add mushrooms to everything. It’s like right up there with onion (a staple) and garlic. Whip up a little mushrooms and bam! A great meal.

So when I chose Menu #2 I was really excited because it was going to focus on the ‘Sroom in the big way.

Stroganoff
Compassionate Calamari
Baked Corn Pudding
Roasted Cinnamon Cauliflower
Butterscotch Armaretti

The pasta dish (stroganoff) was… amazing. Just like to die for. I used tri-coloured rotini (yes the wheat. Backoff, I don’t (thankfully) have gluten issues, plus, it makes the dish look all nice and pretty). And this called for 20g of mushrooms. That, folks is a lot of mushrooms. Deelish.

Then, I made the baked corn pudding, which smelled good. And become I am dumb (and cooked right after the longest day of work ever), I forgot to add the jalapeno peppers, cumin and everything. I just made basic corn pudding. Which, basically is still really good. (I didn’t try this yet).

The roasted cinnamon cauliflower really had me guessing. But it was really good as well. (Omni-Roommate really liked it as well).

So now we come to the calamari. (which called for King Oyster Mushrooms).

I don’t know what on earth made me think that this would be a good idea. I mean, I liked fried food. (Kind of. Sort of. in a way). I’ve fried veganly before. But I’ve never had in my pregan (fyi that’s PRE-gan. not pregnant like my friend thought). calamari. Which is a squid thing. Ever. But I could imagine that it is squishy, ishy and just yuck. And for someone who has texture issues, I would have most likely have avoided it.

Then whydid I decide to make this? I should have bypassed the recipe, gone directly to jail, not collect 200 dollars. But I did.

And..

Well, let’s just say, I won’t be making it again any time soon.

To be fair. And I always am that, if anything else, had I used king oyster mushrooms (not the regular ones), and cut them into size), and had I had fine cornmeal, it maybe would have come out a teensy bit better. Teensy. but they still crisped up really good, and had I remembered to make the tarter sauce, It would have been better,  but….

It was squishy.
And chewy

Not for texture eaters.
(Why do I feel that all mushroom haters just went, “ha-ha!”?)

This is my flop for the cookbook, (I hope). I am instead going to be having gobblers/no-clucks with the meal. Good ole ready made seitan (which means I really should make some more up soon, my backup supply is running low).

But. You know what made up for this?

The cookie.
(Like, there was any other doubt?)

I’ve never had Butterscotch Armaetti before. I never even knew what it was. But It’s Allyson’s favourite cookie. And it was very simple to make, if you dodged the flying bits of dough. (also – cookie scoop didn’t like this batter). And it takes a while to get – 30 minutes. But . holy. cow. Is it worth it when you bite down. It is so chewy. And soft. And tender. and butter-scotchy. (and there’s no butterscotch!) .

These will be made again. Not often. They need a lot of almond meal. Not the cheapest thing in the world.
But hooboy. Worth the cost of the book alone.

Here’s the schedule folks.
I’ve got some interviews for you, so stay tuned (will be up by Tuesday the latest)

Menu analysis by Thursday of this week (baring any mishaps. ie: Market Day takes forever. per-usual).

And pictures.
(oh hush. you know they’re coming).

🙂

 

 

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First Impressions of “Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats” + Menu #1

Happy Thanksgiving To Canadians! 🙂

Well it’s tomorrow, but we’re going to celebrate this a day early. My thanksgiving involved having some Field Roast Celebration with some flat bread and Daiya Harvarti (yum), and my orange sauce (nothing special, just mix mayo, ketchup and mustard together. It’s so tangy and yummy). And the rest of my soup.

I made some more sugar cookies from the book, I had a craving. This is where I have to give a lot of thanks to my cookie scoop. It’s several shades of amazing. I made some pretzel apple cookies as well, for the holiday, and I actually got the 2.5 dozen it should make. (shocked, I know, I never ever get that). 🙂

Again, I am not ignoring the blog, I really am enjoying blogging about my food exploits. Again: 12 hour days, and I do have other stuff to do. 😦
This week that’s not GGFVE related, I made some cranberry apple butter. It… it rocked my world, y’all. I love apple butter. And it’s the beginning of cranberry season so I figured, hey? Why not buy some. I was fully intending to make cranberry applesaucebut something told me to make butter

This was spiced with caradmon, cloves, a little nutmeg, a little mace, a vanilla bean and other stuff. I did add sugar. (Next time, I might reduce it a bit, I don’t think 1.5 cups were needed), and some apple cider. I also used my honeycrisp apples I got at the farmers market. It took about 12.5 hours from start to finish (I used my crockpot. Not Chuck, just a crockpot), to really get it all reduced. Making this teaches patience. I thought it would reduce somewhat quickly, but it didn’t get buttery and thick until like the 12 hour. (and truthfully, I could have made it go another hour, but I didn’t want it to reduce too much).

For 14 dollars. (10.00 for the honeycrisp, 3 for the cranberries, and 1.00 for the apple cider, everything else i had), I got 2 HUGE jar fulls of Cranberry Apple butter, one small pint jar for my friend, and 1/2 a jar for breakfast. I am kicking myself for not canning these so I can have it later, but it ain’t going to be the last time I’m making this. And to be honest, this stuff is really only good for the winter.  (the small tiny jar I buy at the health food store, (or at Superstore) is 6.99. and it is a TINY jar. So for double for what I spent, I got 4 extra jars of the stuff. Chalk one up for homemade).

Book Finds:

Allyson Kramer’s Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats Gone Global is now available for pre-ordering (which I did..), as well as Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.. Now, I don’t really know why I preordered that one. I haven’t even cooked from Chloe’s Kitchen yet. But I have this thing about free shipping. I’d rather spend the extra money to get the free shipping, than the spent like 6 dollars on the taxes + shipping. It’s some weird logic I’ve got. My mom’s tried to hammer it out of me for ages. But I mean if you could spend 14 dollars to get a free book, or 6 on shipping, wouldn’t you want the extra money for the book? See, Logic?

(and crikey moses, I lost 1/2 my blog post. grr!). So Let’s just get into the book analysis 🙂

Book at a Glance

I have to say this is one gorgeous looking book. It’s your average size book, so it doesn’t make your bookshelf look all wonky, but it’s the colouring. It’s big and bright and green (squares), against the white book, so if you were at the bookstore, it would be the first thing that would grab your eye.

What Im giving a lot of bonus points of, is that each section has a different colour heading. So when you look at the signatures (sorry, Librarian term, the pages of the book), you see a rainbow of pink, blue, green, etc. Which means that you don’t need to flag or anything . You can just pick out the section right away. (I have bought a lot of flags from WalMart so I can start separating meals and stuff).

Something that you will notice right away.

Pictures.

Pictures, pictures everywhere. Pictures on the front cover, pictures inside…. There are no plates of pages (sorry, librarian term again), there are not inserts of pictures in the middle. Every single recipe in this book, has a picture facing the recipe.. Win. (I recently found out it is the publisher’s decision to either have pictures or not, and how they will be included. Let’s here it for Fair Winds Press (who actually does a lot of my favourite authors) for making an awesome decision here).

As with all vegan cookbooks we’ve got a Pantry section – which actually tells you how to stock up a xgfx (gluten free) pantry. what flours you’ll need and so on. (Almond Meal, Sorgum, Chickpea, Buckwheat, Teff, etc etc). Allyson uses Superfine Brown Rice Flour, for a lot of her bakes goods. This flour is available on Amazon.com, but sadly it will cost me like 40+ dollars to get a 20.00 bag. (thank you amazon.com and your fair pricing, really appreciate it). I can’t get this ordered in Canada, so I am going to just be using regular brown rice flour/white rice flour. I was told in some cases it won’t be as “all purpose floury” but it will still get the job done. I am working on the Superfine though.

We’re also given an introduction to why Allyson is xgfx, how one can be xgfx & vegan, and encouragement to “make the recipe your own.” 🙂

Then it breaks down to

Basics  (this is attached to the Gluten Pantry, aka, what you’ll most likely want on hand).
that have basic every day items – milk, pie crust, bisquik (heh), a bread recipe, basic pasta recipe and so on

Breakfast, Main Courses, Soups, Appetizers, Dessert, Resources.

Now. I have to say this. I like the order of this. Maybe it’s because I’m single, but I don’t get why the appetizers always go near the front of the book. 9×10 for me, that’s not the first thing I flip through, I go through things I’m going to be eating every day. So the order really works well for me here.

Something that I also kind of like – she has nutritional info!

(I can take it or leave it. It’s very easy to do it yourself on various websites, and there are often variables. E.G: I don’t know what soyrizo is, and I don’t seee it at my store. But I’m assume it’s some sort of soy-crumble, thinger. So I can use t.v.p. All of a sudden the NI is different and I’m eating something different). I might not use the same milk as she does etc. So the NI makes no difference to me because the variables are different. But it’s good to have the basis. Where Allyson gets extra bonus marks is that she says what the severing is (5 balls, 2 enchiladas, 1 scoop), where as in Quick & Easy Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food, the serving wasn’t always broken down.

The font is really clear (and she uses a nice interesting “handwritten” font for the little basic information (like the little blurb at the beginning  of the chapter, for the serving sizes).

My cookbook holder likes this book (but to be fair my cookbook holder is dumb, i truly need another one).

All the recipes follow on one page, so there is no flipping back and forth.

This reads like a gorgeous picture book. If you like to read your cookbooks like novels. (Raise hand) it’s great to to do that with. And there are a little side recipes as well 🙂

So my first menu from this book was:

Basic: Brown bread
Breakfast: Banana Bread Scones (with Isa’s Scrambled Tofu with Mushrooms, & Zucchini)
Main Meals: Pumpkin Chili (It is Thanksgiving after all) &  Black Bean, Potato and Cheese Enchiladas
Appetizers: Pizza Crackers

The cost of gluten free shopping isn’t really cheap, especially when you are not xgfx. I think I have to go to the bulk store and stock up on a lot of flours because it will cost more than buying them organically at my local organic health food store. But then again to be fair, I spent a lot this week, to make a lot of different things. (aka: cranberry apple butter, and spices from the spice shop). If I take those out, plus take out some things I bought for thanksgiving, I spent about 80 dollars on this week’s menu. Which is pretty on par for me.

(and yes. that means I spent a lot this week, but I have a lot of food for the up coming weeks, so eh. Plus I really needed my spices).

 

Pizza Crackers: 
Some came out thin (and burnt) but the ones that were nice and thick, baked up really nice and puffy like real crackers. I was very impressed. The one drawback that I have with this book again is that Allyson is assuming you can purchase pizza seasoning (or soyrizo). Which I can’t, and I can’t. So I made my own pizza seasoning, just by doing a Google. It wasn’t a big deal, but it would have been nice to be given a recipe, or a suggestion of where they could be.

Anyhoo these made up really fast. I finally figured out I had a freaking cookie cutter. (I still intend to get some biscuit cutters the minute I can get to the kitchen store, or Bed Bath and Beyond). The recipe said 70 crackers, I got about 50 or so, so good for me the serving size dunce. I think for me I won’t bake these at the full 30 minutes either, (that’s how some of the thin ones got burnt). but again I think they need to be a bit thicker, so that’s my error.

Don’t eat these until after they are cool. When they are hot, they taste kinda…. off. but I think it just needs to cool down and taste the awesome pizza flavour 🙂


Basic Brown Bread
This came out really well. I need a smaller bread pan (actually I need a bevy of bread making supplies). but this formed out exactly how the book said it will. Mine is a bit more dense. But what whole wheat is for people who eat wheat, Buckwheat is to the xgfx world. It has this nice taste of whole wheat bread but a bit lighter 🙂

Good result. It doesn’t rise like “real” bread (wheat bread) and not as chewy but still good. This bread has a date with some apple butter, just sayin.

Black Bean, Cheese and Potato Enchiladas. 

I will totally tell you the truth. I wanted to do these with large flour tortillas. I wish I had because my corn tortillas were so tiny, the filling popped out. (sad face). but it really worked. I’ve never even had enchiladas before, but making them (including sauce) was easy. But bigger tortillas were totally necessary for these. This was the “longest” thing I had to make, because I did the sauce (and I didn’t read the instructions so I had a tonne of sauce left over, but this just means now I can defrost, and use sauce, without having to worry about other steps, so it saves me time!. I used Daiya pepperjack, but I really have to start seeing about Follow Your Heart. (this one is a soy based cheese, but it melts really well… or you know, just start making some more cheese from my cheesy book!) 🙂

Banana Bread Scones
I was going to wait on these, and let my bananas get really, really ripe, (and just eat the brown bread with the tofu, but I really wanted these now). These. are. good. VERY good. I made these with both walnut and pecans, for extra yum. These didn’t take too long to make, but my batch came out really crumbly. (Like the dough never really came together, very dry, like it needed some milk or something). But I did my standard, “squish with my hand” trick to get most of the flour and it worked pretty well. These are totally makeable. (and really easy). lesss than 45 minutes. start to finish.

 

I will report on how “leftoverable” these are later, and include pictures.

Stay tune for my interviews!

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