Friday, August 8, 2014

5 Favorites: Cookbook Mania

{Previously published on my old blog in fall 2013}

Made in Hawaii apron... with tonight's dinner
The night before last we had a crazy downpour.  Rain blew almost all the way across out bedroom.  The storm didn't last long, but all day yesterday, there were clouds and breezes, and even though the thermometer didn't register a cooler temperature, without the sun beating relentlessly down on the roof, our house felt great.

So great, in fact, that I did something I haven't done in a while. In my free time,I broke out the cookbooks and meandered through them.  Lately, in our solar oven-house, I've tried to use recipes that require minimal cooking, or that I know so well I can create them without having to check the cookbook all the time.  But yesterday, with it feeling... well, as fallish as it probably will here... I was in the mood to cook -- even (brace yourself!) bake!

So it got me thinking about my favorite cookbooks. I've acquired quite a collection of them through the years, but before our move, I whittled down to (mostly) just the ones I truly love.

And here they are.

1. Forks Over Knives by Del Stroufe.  If you asked me what single cookbook I would recommend for a plant-based diet, this would be it.  There is so much information in addition to the plethora of recipes from soup to nuts, so to speak.  And the recipes are absolutely delicious!  I haven't gotten through them all (it would take a while), but we have a number of favorites -- for instance, the mushroom stroganoff (I made it even though I was missing some of the ingredients and it was still SO YUMMY!), the cauliflower cream sauce, the eggplant and chickpea pilaf.

2.  Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson.  Okay, she had me at "quick-fix," because anything I can make quickly and easily speaks to me.  But more than that, she is not only fine with improvisation but also encourages it(which I do a lot of) and she doesn't have a lot of weird ingredients.  She even allows some pre-made ingredients which I try not to lean too heavily on.  I also like the way the index is laid out.  I know, I'm weird like that.

But the bottom line is, there are so many delicious recipes here, as well!  My family's favorites are the ratatouille (the first time I made it, Matt declared it to be the best thing I'd ever cooked), the Indian shepherd's pie (seriously... so good!!!), and the Tuscan Vegetable Tart.  When Matt's family was visiting us last December for The Nutcracker, I made a bunch of recipes from this.  My mother-in-law said that she thought she could eat vegan if I were cooking for her.  That is probably the best cooking compliment I've ever received.  However, for better or worse, I owe it to this cookbook.

3.  Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow-Cooker, also by Robin Robertson.  Robertson is probably my favorite all-round vegan/ vegetarian cookbook author, for the reasons listed above.  Those same principals that I love about Quick-Fix are applied here to the slow-cooker, and that's what makes it so much better, in my opinion, than Vegan Slow Cooking which requires lots of pre-slow-cooker cooking and harder-to-find ingredients.  I feel like Robertson just "gets" me and the way I like to cook.

4.  The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson.  This is probably the most undervalued vegetarian cookbook, but I think it's because of the name and very "Earth Mama" cover.  It kind of pigeon-holes itself.  So unfortunate, let me tell you, because it's full of tons of great information not just for pregnant women, but for people interested in raising their kids on a plant-based diet.  When I first declared myself vegetarian twenty years ago (you know, before all my babies), I had so many people tell me "that will have to change if you ever want to have a child."  Well... it didn't.  In fact, when I saw a dietitian during my pregnancy with Jayna (at the request of my doctor), she applauded the way I ate.  I know that I owe the health of my children to the grace of God, but I definitely don't think that my eating caused them any harm.

The recipes are also delicious.  There are some great vegan "meatless-loafs" plus lots of healthy, wholesome snacks (and let's face it, kids and their mamas, eat a lot of snacks), but I think our favorite is the Vegan Pad See Eaw.  Bottom line: if you are looking for healthy ways to eat vegetarian/ vegan as a family, this is a great book.  In fact, I hope they rename this book and re-release it with a less goofy-looking cover, because it's great.  Lots of wholesome yumminess inside.

5.  The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon.  I got hooked on Nixon's recipes after trying her Hippy Loaf.  Matt, who describes himself as Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo when it comes to being vegetarian, loves it so, so much!  You'll find that and many others in here.  My only gripe with her is that most of her recipes serve four at the most.  Bummer when you have a family of six very hungry mouths.  I know I can double the recipes... but it's just a bit annoying.

Anyway, thanks to Hallie at Moxie Wife for hosting another Five Favorites!  Happy (healthy!!) eating, y'all!!

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