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Monday, February 14, 2011

Cookbook Club: Veganomicon Review

I said I'd have this up yesterday, but I was in a pretty terrible mood. Today I've calmed down AND it is reading 54 degrees in NYC today! I had a nice walk this morning, got groceries, cleaned, and am sitting with the windows open! Here's the lunch I ate in the sunlit living room, incorporating the last (well, within the time period) Veganomicon recipe I made for Lindsay's Cookbook Club: cauliflower hummus.
Lunch was collard wraps with sprouts, carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes with the cauliflower hummus. The sprouts are something that I'd always like to buy more of but sometimes they're hard to find. And for something so delicate, they are packed with nutrients.

Delicious! The cauliflower hummus is good - very garlicky though. There are also scallions in it, and parsley, which gives it a very gentle green tint, which I like for some reason. It's light and lower fat than the all-chickpea kind, which is nice for a compulsive snacker like I tend to be. It's not hummus per se, but I enjoy all kinds of dips and spreads so I'd recommend this one for sure. The glue stick is to hold the collard wraps closed.

So to close the book on Veganomicon, I'd say that it's nice to have worked from. Its subtitle is "The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook" and I think a lot of people (myself included) took that at face value without trying too many recipes. Theoretically V'con is a wonderful, inventive cookbook that got a lot of people excited about veganism as a real cuisine and not just a lifestyle. In practice, some of the recipes could have been tweaked a bit for salt and flavorings, or edited for typos. I can't remember if I came across any but I know other people participating met with some frustrating ones.
Although the recipes are pretty easy to make - the ones I made were whipped up after work most days - they aren't exactly ones that I'd incorporate into my usual repertoire, mostly because my "usual repertoire" consists of easy salads and wraps and a little less cooked food. The recipes also use a little more oil than I usually like to. That being said, that's just my taste and V'con DID open my eyes to a lot of new ingredients and foods: udon noodles, bok choy, escarole. While most of the ingredients were not unusual or difficult to find outside of my normal grocery store/health food store stops, they were ones I passed over, not seeing how they'd figure in to a meal I'd eat. I also learned more about what I do and do not like. With many of the leftover ingredients, I used V'con as a guide but changed some steps or methods: steaming the bok choy rather than sauteeing it, adding more vegetables and spices to polenta next time, etc.
I'm happy for the opportunity to be "forced" to use this cookbook and to critique it because it gives me more faith in my own cooking and the realization that even fancy professional vegan cooks make a dud or two of a recipe. Practice makes perfect and life is a process. Now that V'con no longer seems like an unapproachable and venerated tome, I see myself using it more and playing around with it. Isn't that all Isa and Terry can ask for? I certainly recommend it as a cookbook. It is creative and beautifully laid out (I'm a font nerd), with a fair amount of pictures, plenty of information about cooking techniques and specific ingredients and still a heartening sense of humor.

To re-cap:
Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Rotelle
Baby Bok Choy with Shallots and Sesame Seeds
Broccoli Polenta
(scroll down)
Udon with Shiitake and Kale in Miso Broth
Escarole with Capers and White Beans

Cheezy Sauce (un-posted about: it was a bit of a dud, but I think that was my fault. It didn't thicken up much but the flavor was good. I mostly used it to drizzle over vegetables.
Lower-fat Cauliflower Hummus (see above)

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day for those of you who care. I'm not big on it but I do have a wonderful, beautiful, talented, kind boyfriend who will probably be eating another Veganomicon recipe tonight. I may post again later. For now, here's Haxan wistfully planning her little kitty picnic in the yard (or so I imagine)


  1. I still have to write up my final review but agree with a lot of what you said about Veganomicon (trying new things, but too much oil, etc.) Happy Valentine's Day, kitty! I'm sure he enjoys the windows being open.

  2. Kitty picnic planning! That's so cute.

    Thanks for the V'con review, you make a lot of good points. I have the book, but have only used it once or twice. I'll be looking up the cauliflower hummus recipe for sure; sounds like a great twist and cauliflower is yummy.

    Your collard wraps are so fresh and pretty. I can imagine crunching into those quite happily.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. Happy Valentines day Maud:)! i like spreads a lot also. ill use them as salad toppers, finger toppers..etc:) has your BF ever done a cameo on blogger? and can i ever get a copy of that mag you do?

  4. Yay for wonderful boyfriends! I love collard wraps! That's a sweet picture of your kitty. I always wanted a long haired one, but it just so happened that all the cats that needed me were short haired :)

  5. Jennifer, I can't wait to read what you have to say about it since you probably made the most of anybody!
    Rose, yeah I hadn't made much from it before either. From your posts you look like quite a talented cook so I'm sure the recipes won't be too much for you.
    Michelle, I hope you enjoyed your day :) Finger toppers - definitely! What do you mean about the cameo on blogger? I'm not super tech savvy...but paper mags I can do! I will send you out a bunch of copies as soon as I remember!
    Carissa, I hope your Valentine's day was good too. It's so good of you to take in all your animals - mine wasn't a rescue per se but I'm glad she's in my life, long hair shedding or no!

  6. You're huffing the glue, aren't you? I can tell.

  7. What a thorough review - I appreciate that. It really lets us know how you felt about the book. And, you've also cooked plenty of recipes to give a fair account. Did you have a favorite from among the ones you tried?

  8. Aimee, I'm lucky I got him too..
    Shen, I'm EATING it; not huffing it.
    Blessed Mama, I probably could have made more recipes (and I will) but I feel like they are representative of the book as a whole. Hmm, my favorite was probably the Miso-Udon soup because I didn't want to alter it in any way; I thought it was great as is. The tempeh/pasta dish is something that I would love to come back to and try a bit differently. Do you have V'con? Any recipe suggestions?

  9. Great review - great writing! Very good point about there being a lot of "Cooked" food in it. I usually eat raw veggies, or less baked dishes in my day-to-day life. We definitely agree on a number things with regard to this book.

    Glad you're taking part in the next one too - I love App. for Red. so far and look forward to reading your blog!



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