23 September 2012

Vegan Cookbooks: the bad

Uh-oh, it's about to get nasty in here!

In my opinion, there are two types of vegan cooks and, therefore, two types of vegan cookbooks.  So I lump all vegan cooks into two categories - one type developed their tastes in the 70s/80s, and have trouble leaving, their recipes can be: bland, tasteless, and tofu heavy.  The other type is the modern vegan: with tasty, spicy, and tofu light recipes.

I think a lot of my problem with tasteless 70s vegan food is that I'm a Southerner.  In my world, spicy Indian and Mexican food is king, followed shortly by Chinese (and a load of barbeque, but that's a whole other subject).

In other words, tasteless 70s vegan food does not satisfy my tastebuds.  And the omnivore I cook for can't stand some of the things that result from these recipes.

Unfortunately, I've run into three cookbook writers that regularly, or semi-regularly, fall into this trap.  They are: Post Punk Kitchen Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Veg Kitchen Nava Atlas, and Happy Herbivore Lindsey Nixon.  These ladies and my tastebuds do not align.  I have read rave reviews of their work, so I know they produce a quality product, but it is not for me (nor, apparently, my omnivore).

Now, having said that, I must point out that I own one ICM book "Vegan with a Vengeance," owned one NA book "The Vegetarian 5-ingredient Gourmet," and own no LN books.

Vegan with a Vengeance -

Scrambled Tofu
Like eating air.  No flavor what-so-ever.  An X.

Pumpkin Waffles
I love these.  I could eat them just about every day.  Full checkmark.

While my "Joy of Vegan Baking" was being spiral bound, I had a scone for breakfast request come in.  So I whipped VWAV open and baked it Isa's scones.  Quite tasty.  Full checkmark.

Maple-Mustard-Glazed Potatoes and String Beans
Ick.  No flavor, no bite.  More air food.  An X.

Balsamic-Blazed Portobello Mushrooms
This smelled bad while cooking, but tasted great going down.  Full checkmark.

Seitan-Portobello Stroganoff
The first recipe I ever made from this cookbook and the reason I will never give it up.  It is not the stroganoff my mother made when I was a child.  But it has remarkable flavor.  I have made it with TVP sausage and its turns out beautifully.  Even the omnivore likes it.  Full checkmark.

Revolutionary Spanish Omelet with Saffron and Roasted Red Pepper-Almond Sauce
I think the Omelet gets a checkmark due to the sauce.  Otherwise, the omelet is fairly flavorless.
So half a checkmark for the omelet and a full checkmark for the sauce.

8 recipes.  5 checks, 1 half, 2 Xs.  63/13/25.  Not great odds.  I'm still keeping the book though.

The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet - I haven't owned this book for years and cannot give a recipe list.  However, I tried 5 or so different recipes, and could just about finish the tasteless affairs.  Once again, my heart screamed for spices!

Maybe I was supposed to add my own spices, but then why would I need a cookbook?

5 recipes.  No keepers.  0.  Donated book so it can fly away and find someone who has those tastebuds.

Lindsey Nixon's Happy Herbivore website is where I've gotten her recipes.  I started trying them out in anticipation of buying her book(s), and now I'm real, real iffy about such a purchase.  Besides taste, another big issue I have is that I need to bake ALL of her recipes for at least twice as long as the directions indicate.  Does she have some super duper quick cooking convection oven?  Because my results are coming out way underdone and nasty!

The tasteless -
Hippie Loaf
It's got bulk going for it, but I need spicy mustard to give it flavor.  X.

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche
In a word, blech.  The omnivore described it as paint-like, you know that can't be good.  X.

Black Bean Brownies
Not horrendous.  Very banana-y.  I'd rather spend my calories on a piece of dark chocolate.  X.

Black Bean & Salsa Soup
I don't know how this can turn out to have so little taste when I used HOT Chipotle salsa, but it did.  I have half a cup left, and I'm not sure I'm going to finish it.  I'd rather eat beans, corn, and salsa plain, mixed on a whole wheat tortilla.  I ended up composting that last bit.  X.

The decent -
Tofu Scramble
Better than ICM's recipe, but I just know there is something with more flavor out there!  Half a checkmark.

The good -
Blueberry Breakfast Cake
This is an excellent dessert, especially with a dab of Cashew Cream on top, Mmmmmm.  I replaced half the sugar with date sugar.  Full checkmark.

Low Fat Vegan Nacho Cheese
I think this version is better than Dreena Burton's version, and I really enjoyed it on beans and tortilla chips.  Full checkmark.

So 7 recipes from the Happy Herbivore website.  4 tossers, 1 temporary while I look for better, and 2 keepers.  57/14/29.  I'm afraid to try any more ...

Compared this list to my favorite cookbook author, Dreena Burton, where I've made 29 recipes from two books, and found one dud ... well, maybe two ... one (and one that is not for us) ... so two official duds.

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