Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero)

Why would I put a picture of a roast chicken with my review of a vegan cookbook? The short answer is that this vegan cookbook is so good that I think you can drop the word "vegan" and just call it an awesome cookbook. Everything we've made from it has been outstanding.

The longer answer is that when I was 19, I became a vegetarian and ate a strictly vegetarian diet for 12 years. About a year ago, I started eating some fish for the health benefits, and now I'm at the point where I do eat some other meat, usually locally produced. That said, we're not doing a lot of cow-based dairy these days because the littlest Duncan still cannot tolerate it. Lucky for us, our local co-op sells many goat-based dairy products that are fine for us all, so we can still have items like butter and mozzarella cheese. But it took me a long time to realize that, and in the interim, I found Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and am super glad that I did.

This book introduced us to Maple Mustard Dressing (now our standard salad dressing), Snobby Joes (the best take on Sloppy Joes I've ever had, using lentils instead of soy), Green Pumpkin-Seed Mole (which we spread on everything we could get our hands on, especially fried egg sandwiches), and a super awesome BBQ sauce (which we used as a sauce for a BBQ chicken pizza, made with the leftover roast chicken pictured above).

The tone of the book is informal, but sometimes so are the directions. I would not recommend this cookbook to the novice cook for that reason, but it also gives you more flexibility in the interpretation. My other caveat is that the time per recipe listed can misguide you. It really should be broken down into active and inactive time. Also, there are some recipes that do take a long time, but those can be broken down into steps and made over the course of a couple days. (The one recipe I'm thinking of is Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping, and oh man was it good.)

A family story we often retell is that many years ago I tasted some soy ice cream, which I was certain tasted just like real ice cream. (It had been a really long time since I had eaten real ice cream.) Yeah, well, I was fully wrong on that. And I'm sure there are vegans out there who are convinced that vegan cheese tastes like real cheese. But none of that matters with this cookbook because the recipes are based on real food, not fake-meat substitutes, and I think that's why it succeeds. So that roast chicken pictured above? Jim made that for our Christmas dinner. Alongside it we served the spiced mashed sweet potatoes featured in Veganomicon, along with my version of the green bean casserole from Moskowitz's website. And the littlest Duncan could not get enough of those green beans. So yeah, really good real food worth checking out.


eggonit said...

Maria! Will you email me the lentil sloppy joes recipe? If that's the same one we had at Doug and Liz's house, I loved it!

I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas. I wish you could come to our Back to the Future New Years party!


Teryn said...

I'll have to check that one out -- I'm eating meat, but not eggs, dairy or soy, so I'm always looking for recipes we'll all eat that don't have all that. Not always easy :)

Hope you're doing well!!