Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegan MoFo 31: Going Forward

A few weeks ago, LA Weekly has declared it The Year of the Vegan Cookbook! Pretty exciting stuff. I don't have any of the books on the list. In fact, I didn't read the list, as I don't want to face temptation.

Awhile back, I was subject to a household-wide cookbook ban as my collection had outgrown its allotted space. That ban is no longer in effect, and I've received a few as gifts, but in my efforts to 1. be happy with less and 2. to use the cookbooks I have more fully, I have resisted buying every beautiful book that has come out. Also, serious budget constraints are the worst.

Rather than coveting though, I am recommitting to rediscovery ... or in some cases discovery. Frankly, some of my books are woefully underused. I cook a lot, and I use cookbooks a lot, but some have become go-tos while others are collecting dust.

It says something about me that my two most-used books are Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Meanwhile Vegan Pie In The Sky is in oddly pristine condition. I've only made one pie from it , despite my grand plans to take advantage of seasonal farmer's market offerings.

Given the number of perfectly clean cookbooks in my kitchen, I've chosen five books that I'm going to explore moving forward. I think I'll do one at a time, so this should extend far past MoFo, but maybe that means that blogging will cease to be an annual thing, and that I'll actually know enough to write a real cookbook review in my life.

Are you ready for my list?

1. 5 Spices, 50 Dishes
Double challenge! This is not a vegan cookbook, so in addition to using it, I'll have to make adaptations. This book promises simple Indian recipes using five common spices. I love Indian food, and I'm always game for simplicity. My mom gave this book to me several holiday seasons ago, and I've done nothing with it. The first few pages are promising, discussing philosophy, spices, techniques, and menu ideas.

2. Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations
This one was a gift from my little sister. I made the Tempeh Cakes with Spicy Remoulade once, and I'm pretty sure they converted an omnivore to veganism. The Game Day Nachos are off the hook too. I know I once planned to make a whole bunch from this book, but I didn't and I don't know why. The food looks so fancy yet simple, and every vegan I know loves Alicia Simpson's recipes. So maybe I'll stop being a curmudgeon and I'll actually celebrate some holidays this year.

3. Vegan Fire and Spice
I love Robin Robertson. I'm sure if she invited me over and cooked a bunch of food for me, the feeling would be mutual, but that hasn't happened yet, so I'll continue to admire from afar. Vegan Planet was my first cookbook, and I've been a fan since then. I actually won Vegan Fire & Spice during a past MoFo give-away, but I've only made about one thing from it. I love spicy food, I love Robertson - why has this been an issue?

4. The Sexy Vegan Cookbook
I got really excited about this book because the food all looked like the stuff you eat while nursing a hangover that you got from the drinks in this book. I'm not a big fan of the whole concept of gendering daily tasks. Everyone needs to eat, and men aren't idiots in the kitchen, so I don't like the manipulations of those things as marketing tools. I didn't realize the extent to which this book did that, but oh well, I have it now. I've made one thing from it and my dog stole most of it off my plate while I was elsewhere.

5. The Voluptuous Vegan
This book was a gift from my little sister, and it had been on my wishlist forever, so I was thrilled to receive it. And it's still brand new. I've never made a thing from it. It's organized to make fancy meal planning easy to do: Soups, Main Course Menus, and Desserts. I've flipped through it plenty of times, ready to have a proper meal, but always opted out for something familiar. I tend towards one-dish meals, so it would be nice to do a serious spread, even if it's only once a week.

Vegan Pie In The Sky
Well most of the books have plenty of dessert offerings, but I already mentioned how little I'd used a book I was so excited to get my hands on. I've made the Grasshopper Pie from it, and to be honest, it wasn't the best I'd ever made. It was good, but I have another recipe that I favor a bit. I won't let that hold me back though. Pie will be lovely as it gets colder, and maybe it'll be healthier because of antioxidants in fruit or something ...

So there it is. I have no excuse to not catalog everything I eat all year round. MoFo is fun for the sense of community, for the giveaways, for the pictures and ideas from bloggers, for the regular exercises in writing, and for the encouragement to be adventurous. I really enjoy it, but I feel a little silly investing so much for just one month a year and then staying quiet the rest of the time. I'd like that to change, and we'll see how that goes.


  1. I like to make resolutions like this too. Some people get burnt out from moFo but I remember that last year, it kickstarted me to keep going.
    It's a cool feeling.
    I only have Voluptuous Vegan from yr list but I hear great things about Fire & Spice. I hope you keep with it - I enjoy reading yr posts!

    1. Thanks! MoFo really does that to me too - I remember how fun it is, and it's just enough pressure to keep me going. I'm hoping that by focusing on these books, I'll know them well enough to write comprehensive reviews. Then maybe you'll know if any of the others are must-haves!

  2. I love this post! I also have a ton of underused cookbooks, including some of these. I got the pie cookbook, and I LOVE pie... but there's just two of us, and we're both watching our calories these days... so there's really not a lot of pie going on. Nonetheless, the holidays are approaching, which hopefully means some parties, and more folks to help us eat pies.

    Also, Voluptuous Vegan is one on my all-time favorites. You could do a search for it on my blog and see some of the MANY things I've made from it. Like you, someone gave it to me, and it sat unused for years. But once I stopped being intimidated by it, I was in LOVE. the soups are amazing, and with the menus, just don't feel compelled to make every element (though it is fun to do that for special occassions!) :)

    1. Thank you! I bet you could miniature-ize a lot of the pies, then keep a little for you and give the rest away. I feel you though, I am such a dessert lover and there's so much I want to make.

      Thanks for the VV tip - I'm going to check out your blog right now for inspiration!

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