Oldies but Goodies
I so dearly love reading cookbooks. Ever since I was a child, I loved to browse through my mother's collection while I sat and ate my Special K at the kitchen table. Flat bound bread machine cookbooks, thick Good Housekeeping compilations, glossy Martha Stewart tomes... I read them all cover to cover, even (especially!) the recipes I would never think of trying, like liver and onions. I loved to find the secret ingredients to big stews, or the kneading technique to the author's pizza dough. Similar to biographies (my other favorite reading material), cookbooks often tell you more about the author than the subject matter. How could you not wonder about the woman who drew the whimsical illustrations for the Moosewood Cookbook? Or the serene goddess who had time to whip up a loaf of cocoa nut bread for the kids, then wrap it in a towel as they head to the beach? Cookbooks, a lot like blogs, are a window into someone else's day- not the exciting love affairs or professional accomplishments, but the mundane stuff that fills in the gaps... which is also where a lot of life's small, personal pleasures derive from.
At any rate, I sometimes forget that cookbooks are also instructional, not just aspirational! I thought this week I would dig up some dog-eared recipes I have never tried from my treasure trove and see what I've been missing.
First up was Dreena Burton's The Everyday Vegan. Burton has come out with another cookbook at this point, but this is still my favorite. The tone is encouraging, not preachy, and she makes sure to point out that some people are simply looking to incorporate more healthy food into their diet, not defend animal rights, and that's also a perfectly valid reason for cooking vegan. She also includes a list of pantry essentials and health information for new vegans (all the hotspots- vitamin b, protein, ect.) And better still, she is oriented towards entertaining- she has menus and party ideas, along with quick meal tips. (I imagine this book is especially useful for people with small children.)
I've made a lot from this book but haven't checked it out in a while. This time, the Spicy Thai Stew was calling my name. Yams, carrots, peppers and onions in a spicy peanut sauce. Rather than add the chard into the stew, I wrapped it around it so I could tear off little pieces and make roll-ups... This was so good that my roomate was pissed at me for making a half-portion. Also, this recipe was super versatile- I could imagine using the same sauce with green beans, cauliflower, ect. If you have a jar of peanut butter and few veggies, you can make this. Yum.
The next cookbook I dusted off was my all-time favorite, The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. This cookbook, like its predecessor, How it All Vegan is more like an all-around vegan handbook, packed with tips, crafts, and inspirational stories. There's even a section on college meals- when your only kitchen might be a dirty microwave down the hall from your dormroom. The recipes are generally pretty simple, but the carefully measured ingredients and spices ensure things come out suspiciously terrific.
I made the Dinner Crepes, thin delicate pancakes around a heady mixture of shallots, lentils, veggies and walnuts. This dinner, friends, was a glamorous affair. The filling was not at all difficult to put together, despite containing my achilles heel, lentils, and was so aromatic and satisfying. It seemed like just the thing you would eat at a cute french bistro with a glass of wine and a cute guy named Jacque.
The best part? Leftover crepes... to fill with bananas and sour cream, faux nutella, butter, brown sugar and almonds... have I mentioned I love crepes?
I plan to continue on my cookbook revival all week... I've still got some I've never ever cooked one thing from!
Song of the Day: Animal Collective- Daily Routine