vegansaurus!

02/21/2013

Cookbook review: Julie Morris’ Superfood Kitchen may make a superfoodie out of you!  »

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I love superfoods. I admit the category is meaningless, but I don’t care. If it’s a food called super and it’s vegan, especially raw vegan, I’ll eat it, praise it, and buy it in bulk from websites run by guys with hair to their knees.

Popular superfoods include açaí, hemp, chia, maca, camu camu, yacon root, coconut oil, lucuma, hakuna matata,  , whatevs. YUM. But why do we call lucuma a superfood while kale, that perfect, easy-to-grow veggie, has tons of nutrients and doesn’t cost your 401k match contribution?

Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris demystifies some of the more esoteric superfoods, but also includes more readily available superfoods like kale and sweet potatoes, which, as we all know, are kickass nutritional sources. I love that Julie shows how superfoods of all kinds can be prepared deliciously!

imageHearty Kale Salad from Superfood Kitchen!

imageHearty Kale Salad plus a bit of sauerkraut and sesame seeds. Yum!

I decided to make the Hearty Kale Salad featuring kale, scallions, nori,  avocado, miso (I used chickpea miso), and apple cider vinegar. I enjoyed it for lunch with a dash of sauerkraut and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Totally loved this recipe!

Some of the recipes in Superfood Kitchen are downright genius: Açaí Berry Jam made with chia seeds, flour-free Sesame Flatbread, Maca Chocolate, and more. I could inhale this entire book, and the pictures are GORGEOUS. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book for superfood snobs and plain-old vegan food lovers alike!

02/19/2013

Seven day challenge to “Get Crunk” with Bianca Phillips starts today!   »

Let’s get crunk this week, you guys. Seriously! Starting today, Cookin’ Crunk author Bianca Phillips is teaming up with both Vegan Mainstream and Book Publishing Company to launch a seven day “Keep On Crunkin” challenge, as a social media campaign for her cookbook! Each day Bianca will share tips and recipes on her blog, Vegan Crunk. The posts will then offer a social media option that you can take to Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, with a chance to win some awesome prizes, including cookbooks and Cookin’ Crunk aprons! According to Vegan Mainstream, if you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #KeepOnCrunkin to join the conversation at anytime. Being a huge fan of pretty much anything Bianca does, I’m pretty excited to check out what this week-long challenge is all about!   

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Remember the challenge starts today (Feb 19th) and ends on the 26th —you can find more information about this lively campaign right here! Now let’s go get crunk! 

01/22/2013

Cookin’ Crunk!: Veganizing the Dirty South  »

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I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime in 2012 I found myself in the biggest creative slump. Even the once exciting outlet of cooking for myself had become a drag, and I knew I needed some inspiration, but from where? Fortunately for me, inspiration came in the mail, in the form of Bianca Phillips’ recently published cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South!

You’ve probably stumbled across (or follow!) Bianca’s blog, Vegan Crunk (a Vegansaurus favorite!), which has been around since 2007. I found it a couple years ago while traveling through the South, looking for a vegan place to eat in Memphis. Bianca had me covered with her Memphis vegan dining guide, and so I got to eat tofu scramble at Brother Juniper’s (which I would love to tell you was delicious, but unfortunately I was so very sick, and therefore had to douse it in hot sauce to clear my sinuses. It looked scrumptious!). Anyway, I was super delighted to find that she had published a cookbook and even more stoked to be generously given a copy for review!

I own many cookbooks that I just love, and Cookin’ Crunk has definitely made its way to the top. The recipes are straight-forward and quite manageable, while the task of gathering the accessible ingredients can be accomplished at one grocery store. Of this Bianca says (via email), “I was raised in a small town in Arkansas, and it’s Whole Foods-less. So I was thinking about those people in small towns. … Of course, there are some things, like nooch and black salt … but I figure most vegans can find those things, even if they order online.”

Another feature of this book I’m taken with is that the recipes are so flavorful, sometimes with only a few ingredients: She knows how to spice food up! Last but not least, the narratives and anecdotes presenting each recipe are warm, funny and make me feel like Bianca’s in my kitchen, guiding me through these culinary adventures, dishing out the history of these meals. Cookin’ Crunk was one of my favorite vegan finds of last year, and I honestly cannot wait to make everything in it. I definitely recommend you add this cookbook to your collection. But don’t just go and hit up Amazon; if you buy it through Vegan Crunk, you can purchase a signed copy!

All right, onto the food!

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The very first dish I made was the Jalapeño-Lime Watermelon Salad. Now, I was taken aback by mixing jalapeño, lime, and basil with my watermelon, and thought for sure I’d hate it. Turns out, I don’t know if I can eat watermelon all by it’s lonesome in the future, EVER AGAIN.

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The second thing I made was the Mess O’Greens with Turnips. I’m embarrassed to admit that this combination of food is too bitter for my California palate, so now I substitute kale and sweet potatoes for collards and turnips!

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Here we have the Deviled Tofu Bites, which were reminiscent of the food at my own family get-togethers growing up.

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Entree-style is the Country-Fried Tempeh Steak with Soy Milk Gravy (and a side of the Mess O’Greens), which is one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was better than any comparable restaurant version I’ve had, for real. Full disclosure: I used the bake option instead of frying it. Looking at this picture reminds me that I need to make this baby again real soon!

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Of course there’s a dessert section! Pictured above is the Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie and it’s KILLER. I’ve made it about five times, I love it so much. I make desserts for a living, which means I’ve both baked and eaten A LOT of vegan treats; let me tell you, this pie is beyond words. I could probably eat the whole thing in one sitting, which is coming to you from someone who usually wants nothing to do with sweet and decadent desserts in her off-time.

imageMagnifique!

What are you waiting for? Go get yourself a signed copy of Cookin’ Crunk!

11/19/2012

Thanksgiving Recipe AND Cookbook Review: Vegan A La Mode  »

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Overall Rating: A
Creativity: A+
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
Best for: Anyone who owns an ice cream maker. Bonus if you have adventurous taste in dessert.

Why review an ice cream cookbook in November?

  1. You should make the Easy As Pumpkin Pie recipe (below) for your Thanksgiving feast.
  2. We like to keep you guessing. 

I know a thing or two about vegan ice cream recipes. For our wedding in summer 2011, my husband and I made 18 flavors in place of having a wedding cake. I sure wish Ms. Hannah had gotten around to publishing this gem of a book in time for our wedding guests to benefit.

This is hands-down the finest collection of vegan ice cream recipes ever made. Hannah Kaminsky is to vegan ice cream what Terry and Isa are to vegan cupcakes or Miyoko Schinner is to vegan cheese. Her creativity with flavors is unparalleled, but so are her solutions for richness and texture. 

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Making the Buttery Popcorn flavor. Seriously.

The book started as a blog, so you can check out some recipes there. At least a third of the flavors are what I’d call “highly experimental”: beet marmalade, wasabi-ginger-sesame-chocolate, buttered popcorn. Others are easy crowd-pleasers: peanut-butter Oreo, French vanilla, maple-pecan. Some are pretty ambitious (Birthday Cake requires that you cook cupcakes, then put them in the blender). Some are super-simple (see Easy As Pumpkin Pie, below). All that I’ve made have been delectable and worth the work.

Each recipe appears on its own spread, which makes the logistics of cooking easy, and most have a sexy glamour shot to make you drool. Some of the thickeners and texturizers might be unfamiliar (guar gum, anyone?), but Rainbow Grocery sells them in bulk, so buy a tablespoonful and experiment. The Banana Pudding ice cream, which includes a hit of guar, is the only vegan flavor I’ve ever made that scooped soft straight out of the freezer.

Final verdict:  If you have an ice cream maker, you owe it to yourself and that little machine to buy this book. (If you don’t have one, you should get one. They’re great. I’ve got this one by Cuisinart.)

AND AS PROMISED, A RECIPE!

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Easy as Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Ingredients
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 14-ounce can regular coconut milk 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed 
1/4 cup grade-B maple syrup 
2 Tbsp. bourbon 
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon 
3/4 tsp. ground ginger 
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves 
Pinch freshly cracked black pepper 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions
1. Mix everything together in a bowl until smooth.

2. Chill for a while.

3. Process in your machine as per its directions.

4. DEMOLISH! WIN THANKSGIVING!

11/08/2012

Hey NYC! Amanda Cohen, the chef at Dirt Candy (a Megan Rascal love!) is giving a talk about her awesome restaurant, cooking with vegetables, and her new cookbook (Dirt Candy: The Cookbook), which looks awesome.
If you want to attend, just RSVP, and then get your vegetable-loving self over to the NYU Fales Library at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. It’s a free event, and there’ll be snacks! It’s sponsored by the Wagner Food Policy Alliance and NYU Meatless Mondays.

Hey NYC! Amanda Cohen, the chef at Dirt Candy (a Megan Rascal love!) is giving a talk about her awesome restaurant, cooking with vegetables, and her new cookbook (Dirt Candy: The Cookbook), which looks awesome.

If you want to attend, just RSVP, and then get your vegetable-loving self over to the NYU Fales Library at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. It’s a free event, and there’ll be snacks! It’s sponsored by the Wagner Food Policy Alliance and NYU Meatless Mondays.

10/11/2012

Guest cookbook review: Veggies for Carnivores by Lora Krulak  »

Last I checked, Vegansaurus is a vegan lifestyle blog. It’s not called Pescetariansaurus or Vegetariansaurus or Omnivore Rex. I feel the need to point this out because this cookbook, Veggies for Carnivores, mentions many non-vegan things. Most notably is the use of honey in a handful of the recipes. None of the recipes call for meat, though some have little blurbs called “A Carnivore’s Choice” that list different types of meat that would “go” with that particular entry. So after reading the cookbook for the first time I was left a little confused. Why would someone take the time to market to a vegan blog?

Per the back cover, Veggies for Carnivores is supposed to introduce new flavors that “will make veggies irresistible—even to the most die-hard carnivore.” Of the seven chapters, only one is on entrees. The others, not including the introduction, are dressings, dips, soups, salads, and smoothies. If we’re moving vegetables to the center of the plate, shouldn’t we have more than one chapter on veggie-based entrees? Sides and starters are thoroughly covered, but if the basis of the book is to get “die-hard” carnivores to move their meat to the side, I would have assumed there would have been more of an emphasis on plant-central plates.

The book does a great job of promoting healthy eating; it’s ideal for all of our stubborn relations who could use an overhaul in their diets. Krulak does an excellent job of spelling out the benefits of vegetables in her recipes and overall as a staple in our diets. She uses her history of world travel with cute anecdotes and infuses her knowledge of many cultures into most of her recipes. I have never thought to use maple syrup in lieu of olive oil in cooking until I read this book. I tried it while sauteing onions, peppers, and Tofurkey sausage, and I was really impressed.


Beautiful avocado dressing on my frou-frou salad.

The first recipe to really jump out at me was one for Sweet Avocado Dressing. It was super small, ingredients wise, and extremely easy to make. I’ve never made my own dressing before, but have seen my partner make them on numerous occasions. It called for avocado, lime, soy sauce, maple syrup, and olive oil. I cut the amount of olive in half; I use a ton of dressing on my salads so I didn’t want to overload myself on EVOO. The dressing came out pretty awesome, even if my blender doesn’t allow me to blend slowly while drizzling in the olive oil, as the recipe states, without making my kitchen look like a crime scene.

Veggie for Carnivores is a good, short cookbook. It may not be aimed at a vegan household, unless you don’t mind having to make some easy substitutions. (You may need some stickers or white-out to cover up the salmon or tuna suggestions.) And as I stated previously, if you have a relative who is notoriously omnivorous and wouldn’t in a million years give up his meat (like my own dad), and who could stand to eat more vegetables, then yes, this cookbook would be perfect for him. But as a vegan looking for new and exciting dishes? Not so much. Maybe the fine folks at Notreallyveganorvegetariansaurus.com would like to give it a try. 

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.

09/17/2012

A vegan global cuisine cookbook is on the horizon! Needs your help!  »


Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash, one of many recipes on Justin’s site.

The Lotus and the Artichoke is a vegan food blog inspired by the world travels of Justin P. Moore. Now, Justin wants to take his recipes and make a whole vegan cookbook! He’s started a Kickstarter campaign to fund its publication, and now is your chance to donate. The perks look nice!

Here are a few recipes the cookbook promises to have:

  • Gobi Tikka (North India)
  • Persian Eggplant (Iran/Germany)
  • Orange Tempeh Teriyaki (Hawaii/Japan)
  • Mushroom-Tofu Stroganoff (Germany/Russia)
  • Knödel & Rotkohl (Germany)
  • Broccoli Quiche (France/USA)
  • Cashew Mushroom Risotto Deluxe (Italy/Germany)
  • Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts (India/USA)
  • San Francisco Savory Crepes (USA)

Yeah, that sounds pretty yummy. The book also promises 50-plus full-page pictures. I am so down with this! I can’t handle cookbooks without pictures. I want to see what the stuff looks like!

If this all sounds good to you, make your way over to Kickstarter and chip in. 

09/11/2012

Mayim Bialik is coming out with a vegan cookbook!  »

You heard it! Blossom is coming out with a vegan cookbook. As she said last week on her blog:

My next book will be a plant-based (vegan!) family cookbook. Yay! It’s meant for vegan and non-vegan alike! I intend to include all of the Jewish recipes I’ve veganized as well as all of our family’s standard beloved recipes.

I’m into this! I like Jewish food and Blossom was my jam. Remember her boyfriend? What was his name, Vinny? He was the hotness. And Six was so great in those Lifetime movies later in her career. 

So, is there vegan matzo brei in my future?!

07/30/2012

UnFish’Wich! UnFish’Wich! Celine and Tami’s new book, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, comes out in a month! It contains 101 sandwich combinations, including this gorgeous UnFish’Wich, and Celine has a few more absolutely amazing photos previewed on Have Cake, Will Travel right now.
Sandwiches are a perfect meal, and I can’t wait to see what brilliance these two wonderful, creative vegan minds have come up with. Sandwiches, oh yeah!

UnFish’Wich! UnFish’Wich! Celine and Tami’s new book, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, comes out in a month! It contains 101 sandwich combinations, including this gorgeous UnFish’Wich, and Celine has a few more absolutely amazing photos previewed on Have Cake, Will Travel right now.

Sandwiches are a perfect meal, and I can’t wait to see what brilliance these two wonderful, creative vegan minds have come up with. Sandwiches, oh yeah!

06/20/2012

It’s summer, let’s preserve some produce!  »


You guys know how I’m all enamored of DIY and bartering with your neighbors and making your neighborhood your actual community? I know, I’m so on trend right now! The latest cookbook to cater to our 21st century homesteading obsessions is Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, and I want it SO BAD.

Bay Area Bites has an interview with McClellan that features her recipes for apricot jam and pickled okra, as well as dates when she’ll be signing books and holding canning classes in the Bay Area. She sounds appealingly pragmatic, and I really wish I could attend one of these events. Maybe you can? I’m totally making refrigerator pickles this weekend. They don’t sound any more complicated that cold-brewed coffee, which I drink constantly now that it’s warm in the suburbs. And with all the extra storage room (closets! garages! attics!) there’s no reason not to put up a bunch of delicious summer produce for savoring during the leaner months. Not that it’s ever lean in California, but we do have growing seasons.

What do you think? Are you creating your own Little Apartment on the Prairie? Or is all this for us deluded, un(der)employed suckers? Who even has the time to make jam out of everything except people who don’t have jobs? I have some time for it, but that’s because the only other thing I do is work, and I don’t have kids or fun to take up my time. Just a new kitchen project every weekend. And canning seems practical! Think of all the homespun sack-garments I’ll be able to trade for my strawberry jam and spicy bread-and-butter pickles!

[photo by Jessica via Flickr]

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