The last two weeks have been a steady stream of cooking and baking experiments and voracious reading habits. When discussing this with a friend over the weekend, she told me, “Well, this just means you have more time!” And if that is indeed the case – longer daylight hours and less time parked in front of the television – well, then yes, I do have more time, and I am relishing every second of it!
Two books have completely inspired by cooking and baking of late. I checked them both out at the library, and promptly purchased my own copies. Once you make 11 things from a cookbook, it seems like a good time to buy your own, right?
The Vegan Table pretty much blew my mind the minute I picked it up. First off, it is a *beautiful book* with great photography - nearly every one of the 200 recipes in this book has a full length color photo, artfully arranged and lighted. Eye-catching indeed. Of course, that is purely the aesthetic. Then you start to look at the recipes and your mouth just starts to water right then and there. Give me a vegan cookbook and I am like Pavlov’s dog! This cookbook came out this summer, and the timing could not be better. It is just chocked full of recipes for the fresh fruits and vegetables that you find at the farmers’ markets and your local store. Even if you are not a vegan, there is an endless supply of healthy and fresh recipes in this book to inspire you.
In just over a week, I made nearly a dozen recipes from the book, including: Berry Crisp, Herb-Infused Portabello Mushrooms, Lentil Mustard Salad, Quinoa Corn Salad, Beet Chocolate Bundt Cake, and Eggplant Caponara. And now that I have my very own copy of the book, I am planning to make many many more. There are all sorts of entertaining ideas for holidays and/or seasonal pairings. This is such an amazing book that I think it may be perfect… or at least as close to perfect as anything I have ever seen. [GoodReads review]
The second book, had I not seen Vegan Table before it, would have been my #1 favorite. It is also a wonderful cookbook in it’s own right with SO many ideas. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is written and arranged by the same woman who put together the fun Vegan Cupcakes book that I reviewed a few posts back. With this book, she truly expands and covers the whole vegan gamut. Amazing recipes for hundreds of foods. Like the one above, it is a great resource for anyone who wants to introduce more fresh ingredients and vegetables into their meals, regardless of the vegan name. I used it several times when I had an ingredient in hand, and wanted to find a recipe to use it in. This was specifically the case with some pumpkin puree I had. Last year, we had several large pumpkins in the garden. We pureed the pumpkins and froze them into blocks in the freezer. Needing to make more room for this year’s harvest, I pulled out one of the blocks and searched for a recipe. I came to the delicious sounding “Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel”. YUM! So, I set out and made 2 batches of the cake: one for my friends at Yoga Teacher Training over the weekend, and one for Kris and I at home. One block down and many more ideas to go! (On the pumpkin crumb cake note: It was truly an international cake! The molasses used in the recipe was from a sugar cane farm in Peru -that we visited on our trip in 2007- and the pecans were from my uncle’s orchard in Alabama. I love the memories that cooking can bring back!) [GoodReads Review]
Here is my friend Kath enjoying the Pumpkin cake this past weekend at YTT:
I also surprised my YTT friends with some zucchini bread that I made – with the zucchini fresh from my garden. I used this recipe from the Vegan Street Kitchen and it was perfect! A great way to use the zucchini too. The thing I really liked about the recipe was the lack of refined sugars – maple syrup was the sweetener and it was just right.
Alecia seemed to enjoy it!
The cooking and baking fever continues around here, especially when I look out at my garden – growing so well as the Maryland humidity rises. I am planning a series of posts about cooking/baking with herbs – especially herbs directly cut (or purchased fresh) from you garden: I can’t wait to share some of the delicious recipes I have tried with you… in the meantime, here is one to whet your appetite. A tried-and-true recipe from last year’s harvest that I am repeating this year…
Freshly cut basil from the garden to make the delectable vegan pesto!
* I looked up the word “relish” to get an idea of the etymology – and I came across this definition: to relish – to take zestful pleasure in but I just love this definition. ZESTful! Yes!
PS - Yes, I am gung-ho about my veganism. Yes, I realize that this is a huge topic that could take many posts to discuss and explain. My veganism is very important to me, but I will never force my opinions on anyone. I don’t like to be preached to, and I will not do this to others. Food and what we eat are sensitive matters that can be just as touchy and controversial as discussing politics and religion. The one thing that I will say is that it is very important to know and understand where your food comes from and how it arrives on your plate; for your health, your longevity, and your general happiness. Veganism is a choice I have made, although I have family and good friends who continue to eat meat and dairy products. I myself have not felt the complete conviction to eschew all of my animal fibers in my yarn stash, but I follow the same maxim here – I like to know where my products come from. Thanks for reading, and if you would like to hear more about this, let me know by email or in the comments section… I am considering an addendum page to this blog about food politics and choices, as it is something that I deeply care about and would be happy to provide information about my path.