Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

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. 

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

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.

Leave a comment »