Top critical review
28 people found this helpful
Unusually fantastic but pricy, fiddly recipes & in a fairly user-unfriendly format
on 18 September 2010
GREAT things about this book:
* The recipes work and are unusually good. In my experience a lot of vegan cookbook recipes tend to be fairly bland and/or just don't work (like the ingredient quantities are made up), Easy Vegan Cooking: Over 350 delicious recipes for every ocassion: Over 350 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion being a good example. This book is VERY different. The author has obviously made all the recipes herself and is a real foodie. Best recipes: Morroccan tagine with spring vegetables, Sweet potato crepes with coriander-tamarind sauce and Spanakopita are all out of this world and were definite winners with herbivores/omnivores alike at my house.
* I found the "punk points", which are basically food preparation tips, REALLY useful. How to cut up a butternut squash and mango with minimum fuss, for example. The sorts of things my Mum might have taught me if these foods were as popular/available in the 80s!
* The quirky, humourous personal touches and auto-biographical stories in this book. It's not just a cookbook, it's a little peak into the Brooklyn/New York alternative punk scene and this lady's life. Let's face it, food isn't just fuel, it's culturally important to most of us. I really enjoyed reading the author's food-related memoires.
* The info on veganism in general (e.g. net resources) and on how to veganize other recipes. I have a LOT of cookbooks and have used the tips to veganize my favourite recipes.
NOT-SO-GREAT things about this book:
* NO PICTURES, AAAAARGH! I have never eaten a knish in my life and have no idea what it looks like. This goes for a lot of the other fabulous, often ethnically diverse recipes too. Next edition: please include photos!
* The colour scheme (orange, brown and white) coupled with lots of capitalization and vertically oriented titles. Difficult to read and all a bit seventies, macho and too contrary. The block-text contents page was also highly user-unfriendly.
* Difficult to get hold of ingredients. It was hard to get ground flaxseeds, nutritional yeast, hijiki, cremini mushrooms, wheat gluten and the like when I lived in the UK. And has anybody EVER seen "liquid smoke" in the UK?!
* Expensive ingredients. Now I live in Norway I can't even find arrowroot powder or sliced almonds, and if I do find any of the quirkier ingredients required in this book I have to remortgage my house to buy them... OK, most readers don't live in one of the most expensive places on Earth like I do, but many of the recipes require lots of ingredients such as herbs, spices and flavourings, as well as tropical fruits and vegetables. It's why they're so yummy. But for the budget-conscious this could mean cutting back.
* The dodgy, annoying and inconsistent page numbering for recipes in the index at the back. E.g. the mango chopping tip is on page 153, not 154. And there are more! Just irritating and almost a bit low-budget.
* High calorie, saturated fat, sodium, sugar and refined carbohydrates in many of the recipes. (Yes, plantfoods do contain saturated fats: coconut, palm oil & cocoa beans.) Probably why so much of it tastes so good! I was trying to lose weight when I got this book and really had to tone down and cut back on some of the ingredients. However, to be fair, the author does give a tip on fat substitutes for cookies and cakes for her chubbier readers :-)
* Complicated recipes. Although the result was ultimately worth the wait, I think it took me a good 2 hrs to make the sweet potato crepes with coriander-tamarind sauce. All those individual crepes to cook, vegetable preparation, blending and grinding took ages!! Plan ahead folks!