End of 2013~And it’s a wrap! (or maybe a bowl)

Lots to say because I kept putting off making a blog post–for too long I’d say!

Veg Cookbook Club-It’s been a great year to participate, again. I cooked at least one recipe from these 2013 books (remember, you don’t have to buy them all–that would be a fortune and take up a whole lot of space!)…I cooked from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno, How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer , Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Meatless from the kitchens of Martha Stewart, and Isa Does It, also by Isa Chandra. Some I was able to get from the library, and a few I ordered after using the library copy. Britt and the other members usually help you find the recipes that are online in the authors’ blogs and social media, which is nice if you can’t get the book or aren’t sure about buying it without seeing it. Here are my favorites that I have gone back to…

  • Sautéed Chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Everyone I have cooked it for is a fan. Now I think that’s pretty good for non-vegetarians and non-vegans. Ha! They’re eating nutritional yeast in this recipe and loving it.

sauteed chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen

  • Chickpea Nibbles from How it all Vegan, an easy but so tasty roasted chickpea recipe (although my oven required much less cooking time than hers)…and I know I will get back to the applesauce muffins and some of the other desserts because they’re easy and very good.

chickpea nibbles from How it all Vegan

  • Basic Scrambled Tofu in Vegan Brunch. I’ve yet to try the variations because the basic version is flavorful and filling. Vegan Brunch is very “steady” in its successful recipes. I also liked the pumpkin French toast, pancakes, roasted potatoes, home fries etc. I know I’ll get back to the scone recipe too, which I just tried for the first time this month as VegCookBook Club is cooking from all the 2013 books.
  • My recipe of the year goes to: Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Pad Thai has been a favorite food of mine since I was in my early 20’s. But I hadn’t had any in the 4 years I had been vegetarian. The traditional recipe has fish sauce. Love, love this, and the bonus is that Isa taught me how to make amazing tofu in a cast iron skillet, after all my tofu tribulations…I’ve now made 12 items from this book and feel like I’m just getting started. Love it!

pad thai from Isa Does It

As a follow-up, I wanted to show you my Tofurky Roast from Thanksgiving. We really liked it. I ended up fixing it just for my immediate family. I would certainly have to have gravy, and my usual tons of cranberry sauce. My first attempt at the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction (another Isa Chandra Moskowitz book) was delicious. I’ll use that recipe again and again in the future. I cooked the roast exactly as they suggested, with veggies and basting with a simple baste. The “line” on the roast in the picture is from cutting the casing around the roast open. The second picture was later in the day when it was dark, so it’s not the best.

Tofurky roast with veggies

tofurky roast with silky chickpea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance

Finally, here are my time saving techniques/props/devices I really put into play this year for more veg cooking:

my counter

I agonized over spending on a Vitamix. I had several useless blenders over the years that could not handle anything. No regrets on buying this. I got the basic 5200 at Costco at a better price than anywhere else.  It has been awesome for making creamy sauces. I’ve made many already from Isa Does It, subbing in sunflower seeds for cashews, and they all comes out beautifully. Of course it makes great smoothies (you can’t even detect a piece of kale or spinach in there), hummus, and salad dressing. Really it makes all my sauces so good!

The Zojirushi rice cooker next to the Vitamix is great for cooking oats (including steel-cut), each morning with the timer, lentils to use in recipes,  and various types of rice. It can cook any grain, but I haven’t tried much variety. Apparently it has smart technology that helps it find the perfect cooking time/moisture levels and adjusts to water temperature, etc. For me, the timer is the best part. Setting the rice on a timer eliminates a step at dinner time and the bowl is super easy to clean out. I’ve used the quick cook rice setting for white rice many times–works in about 30 minutes with no “work” as you focus on the other cooking. I love how it cooks brown rice too–short grain seems to come out better– without any effort. It is helpful to know that this is a true Japanese product and the instructions aren’t the best. I learned a lot by reading comments on Amazon and other internet sources.

The third time-saver is my jar of measuring spoons, 2 complete sets. I finally figured out that when you detach them from the ring,  you end up making less mess as you try to use the same set for wet and dry ingredients. And having two sets means less cleaning along the way. Pretty basic, right?

What were your top recipes or cookbooks of the year?

I wish you the best holiday season, and see you next year!



End of the Year Cookbook Roundup

I like cookbooks a lot. I like books a whole lot. I guess it’s a logical thing. I’ve seen  a few top 10 cookbooks of the year lists. I’m going to list a few cookbooks that I either bought or borrowed from the library this year that I liked and really used (not just eye candy). These are in a general order of most favored at the top…and some are older, I warn you. I just discovered the world of vegan cookbooks this year. Until then I was using my old cookbooks from my 20’s when I went through my first vegetarian period.

Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way

1. Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli-Interesting yet mostly non-time consuming recipes, that taste delicious. I have fixed the Avocado Toast at least three times. Amazing and so simple. Every time I look through it, I find something I want to make.

2. Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero…very popular, but here’s why I love it…great information in the beginning 44 pages of the book. It helped me learn how to cook many a vegetable and grain. I spent an embarrassing number of evenings last winter reading this part and learned tons that I have been able to apply to my everyday cooking, shopping, and eating. I was so happy when I looked back in my records and found that I ordered this in January, so it could be in my list. I know it’s full of great recipes too, but so far I have only used basic ones such as several in the quite thorough section on cooking tofu.

3. Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson-I used this during the summer when I knew I was getting an unfamiliar (to me) vegetable in my delivery. Quick and simple recipes that seemed to highlight the vegetable and not the sauce, if that makes sense.

4. Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon–I’ve only had it a week from the library, but it’s already a favorite. Her recipes include (mostly) ingredients I already have at home. I will be getting my own copy soon. Heck, it may be at the top of the list soon. Last night I made her Sweet Potato Dal, another recipe with red lentils in it…It had a really rich flavor, and did not include any added oils. (She does not add any oils, in the Forks Over Knives manner-see my last few posts). Later this week I plan to make Sweet and Sour Tempeh, and without planning I already have all the ingredients. Love that.

5. Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan-I find these recipes a little more time-consuming, but I love the book for its information on tools, techniques, etc. (more than the typical cookbook and really helpful stuff). I really like the Un-Tuna Salad I had read so much about. I even bought kelp granules for this one! She uses macrobiotic techniques, which I am just beginning to learn about. I’m planning to make her Sea Veggie Sushi rolls next.

These are all still available through online sources and probably in some larger bookstores.

I am trying to find a good vegan green bean casserole recipe right now. Test number one is tonight. I’ll try to share soon.

Happy Cooking, and please share your fave cookbooks of the year, whatever type they are!