Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini Cookbook Reviews - Part 1

Note: I've done a couple book related blog postings so you may want to go back and read those before jumping into this one.

This one was recommended books from last summer. These books are the combo nutrition/lifestyle and recipe books about moving toward a plant based diet.. not strictly the cooking ones except for Veganomicon and The Skinny Bitch Everyday Cookbook.

This one is about investigating cookbooks. This one really is a must read.

Ok.. now onto this post!

I am a cookbook whore. There. I said it. I have over 40 vegan cookbooks right now.. that doesn't include the vegetarian ones or the ones where animal products are mentioned in recipes. Add those and I have a kitchen library. Truly.

Now... people ask me if I like to cook. Some days I love it and spend half the day in my kitchen and those are the days when I make lots of stuff to put in my freezer or fridge for the 'not so excited to be cooking days'! 

Some days I do it because I have to in order to put a good meal on the table and some days I have only the motivation to pour myself a bowl of cereal. 

That is why it's important to have a variety of cookbooks with different levels of recipes.

For example, one day this week I went out for lunch and did some running around so when it came time to make dinner I was kinda tired and a little uninspired so I wanted something quick, easy and not overly involved so I grabbed Chloe's Kitchen cookbook and whipped up a yummy Thai inspired dish that took about 15 minutes and time was mostly spent waiting for the noodles to cook. My husband and I both loved it as much as a recipe I had spent an hour on.

Hopefully you read my blog about investigating cookbooks.. there are so many variables that it's hard to know what each person will love or hate about each cookbook. It's all based on skill, taste and tools! I won't even bother telling you how the recipes taste because it's all relative. It even matters if you want to cook with convenience foods... some cookbooks use a lot of the pre-made vegan meats so if you don't have access tho hose then you probably won't like some cookbooks.

You may want to flip thru these books at your local bookstore to see if they are recipes you are interested in. I buy all my books from because I can get the lowest price there and I need that since I buy a lot of books!

I'll do these types of posts frequently as I spend more time with the cookbooks I have. I have many that I haven't really gotten into yet!

I'll also be doing a post about some of the books I have that are all cookies and desserts!

I'll give you a list of some of the recent cookbooks I've been using along with mini reviews.

In order to classify them, I'll mark them as follows:

Beginner - these recipes are good for beginner cooks that have limited cooking skills, are short on time or don't like to spend time in the kitchen. The recipes are usually easy to understand with a limited amount of steps and contain just a few ingredients. These are not necessarily 'peanut butter and jelly sandwich easy' recipes... but with a little effort they are what I call simple.

Intermediate - these recipes are little more advanced. they may require more ingredients (some that you may not have on hand), more steps and more time but are still not as an involved as some recipes can be.

Expert - recipes with involved steps, longer lists of ingredients and experience in the kitchen with specific techniques.

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin

Review - I just got this book so I've only tried a couple things. This author is the personal chef of Ellen DeGeneres. The recipes are a little more adventurous than some books with unique and interesting dishes. Many use vegan convenience foods like Gardein brand products or pre-packaged vegan cheese (but you could always sub homemade versions of seitan and sauces)  and many use tofu. This non-vegan chef has taken some well-loved non-vegan food ideas and made them vegan. He also has fun with ideas like vegan fried chicken (using spring roll wrappers as the 'skin') and vegan caviar! There are a fair amount of photos but not every recipe is shown. 

Level - Intermediate

Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

Review - Love this cookbook! I've made quite a few recipes and they've all been a hit! Chloe has easy to follow recipes that are a step above some. They are still easy to prepare but have a little more style and excitement than some of the more basic cookbooks I've run across. Lots of great photos!

Chloe has a website so you may want to get a few of her free recipes to see if her style works for you. I love her mac & cheese recipe. It's the best one I've found.

Level - Beginner 

The Sexy Vegan by Brian L Patton

Review - I've really been enjoying this cookbook. The recipes are different and unique but not so weird that you are scared to try them. Some are so interesting that you want to make them just to see what it will taste like. He has some great basics. Its a very funny book.. lots of crazy and hilarious names for recipes (My Balls is his vegan meatball recipe) and each recipe has a funny intro that keeps me laughing. His tempeh bacon recipe is where I found my inspiration to create my own recipe for my own taste. It's great!

Brian has a website and a You Tube channel with hilarious videos of his cooking. That is how he got his cookbook deal. 

Level - Intermediate

Review - I'm grouping her two books together because they are the same book layout with different recipes. Lindsay has quick, easy and basic recipes that give you no excuses.. so get into the kitchen and cook! Most of her recipes are ready in a short amount of time. I find that I sometimes have to punch up the excitement factor for me personally by adding in more seasonings or ingredients but that is just me! Great photos for almost every recipe. She likes to use tofu and she is a no-oil cook so desserts are made with applesauce and bananas instead of oil and sauteed dishes are sauteed in water or broth.

Lindsay has a nice website so you can try some of her recipes before buying the book.

Level - Beginner

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