There was a time when "going vegan" seemed like condemning yourself to a diet of brown rice and textured vegetable protein - with carrot sticks for dessert. Vegan cooking has come a long way since then, and no where is this more evident than in this "Ultimate Vegan Cookbook." If you've ever been curious, intrigued, daunted, or discouraged by a vegan diet, this is definitely a cookbook you'll want to check out!
Title & Publisher: Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Published by DeCapo Press, 2007.
First impressions: This sturdy book is definitely up for some hard use in the kitchen. The book will stay open to the recipe you want and the thick paper can take some splatters from the stove. The pages are laid out in a way that makes the recipes easy to follow. And on a purely aesthetic level, the book is just really pretty!
Number of recipes: There are roughly 240 recipes arranged by course and by dish (ie, "breads" and "one-pot meals"). Many of the recipes include suggested variations, and a section at the back of the book gives sample menus. The sample menus are handy for entertaining or when you're craving something in particular, like Chinese take-out!
The other stuff: While the focus is definitely on the recipes, there are also tips for cooking techniques, explanations of ingredients or equipment, and bits of interesting trivia sprinkled throughout the book.
The angle: Browsing through the recipes, it's surprisingly easy to forget that this is a vegan cookbook. And that's kind of the authors' point - a vegan diet doesn't have to be something mysterious or full of strange ingredients you'd never eat otherwise. It's completely normal and can definitely be delicious!
Strengths: If this were just a book of recipes, it would already be pretty darn good. But what makes it a great book, in our opinion, is the way the authors welcome you in. It's as if our older, cooler big sister decided to write us a personal cookbook that happened to be about eating vegan. They make hard techniques sound easy and throw in an explanation just when we were going to ask. Their enthusiasm is infectious and by the time we were paging through the desserts, they already had us thinking, "Yeah, we could totally do this vegan thing!"
Recipes for right now: Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas, Creamy Asian Pear and Tempeh Salad with Wasabi Dressing, Cauliflower and Mushroom Potpie with Black Olive Crust, Curried Udon Noodle Stir Fry (recipe coming tomorrow), and Caramel-Apple-Spice Cupcakes
Why? Whether you're completely vegan or just want to incorporate more vegan recipes into your diet, this book will inspire you and make you hungry.
Buy the book: Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, $18 on Amazon.com
Related: Recipe Round-Up: Vegan Appetizers