Sunday, 17 August 2014

Vegan Slow Cooking: A Cookbook Review


I'm in love! With a cookbook, that is. In my experience, it's much safer to fall in love with a cookbook than with a man. As a matter of fact, when it comes to relationships, if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. But enough about my personal life. I want to talk about this cookbook, but let me start a few years back when I moved into my house. A couple of my friends that helped me move informed me that I had too many slow cookers. And I replied, "No, I don't. I use every one of them." I won't say how many I actually have, because I haven't counted them lately <smile>, but I do use them. Some more often than others, but they do get used.
Slow cookers are my favourite small appliance. I remember years ago thinking that someone needed to create a vegan slow cooker cookbook. Then Fast Cooking in a Slow Cooker: A Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cookbook came out in 2006 and I purchased it. I do love that cookbook as well, but it's more family-sized recipes. And I'm alone (plus the cats, who don't eat vegan generally), and I don't always like to eat the same thing for a whole week. Or more. So this cookbook, Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You: More than 100 Delicious One-Pot Meals for Your 1.5-Quart/Litre Slow Cooker offers ideal sized recipes for my life. And the food is good!
The recipes are generally straightforward and easy to prepare. Most ingredients can be found in your local supermarket, and for those that aren't, there are some recipe replacements. Recipes for "Cashew Cream" or "Italian Seitan Coins," for instance, can be found in the Budget Rescuers section in the front of the cookbook. And no overabundance of mushrooms in this cookbook, or cilantro (both of which I detest). I've tried several recipes, with mostly delicious results. I'd never tried Old Bay seasoning before, but I was able to find it in one of my local grocery stores and it gave a really nice flavour to the New England Tofu Rolls. I used Vegannaise in this recipe and I found the lemon juice broke it down and made it too watery. Next time I think I will either half the lemon juice or omit it entirely. The Spicy Southern Chickpeas and Grits were also quite tasty, though my northern tastebuds weren't too sure about eating what should have been cornmeal mush as a savory dinner dish instead of breakfast. I will probably skip the grits next time and use rice instead. And I might add a little arrowroot/cornstarch to thicken up the tomato juice. Potato, Greens, and Chickpea Curry - yummy! The only "clunker" recipe I've found so far is Tofu Braised with Pears and Brussels Sprouts. I love Brussels Sprouts, but 7-9 hours to cook them when they're shredded was overkill. Overcooking in a slow cooker, I've found, renders a funky flavour, and that's what it did to this dish. And the whole house stank. Now, having said that, I will admit that I think my slow cooker cooks a little fast, even on the low setting, so I could try reducing the cooking time. I also prepared this the night before and kept it in the fridge before starting it in the morning, so not sure if that impacted it at all. Plus, as an abstainer, I used grape juice instead of the port wine. So the funky flavour may not have been entirely the fault of the recipe. However, I don't think I will retry this dish. One experience with funky-tasting Brussels Sprouts was more than enough. I did not eat the leftovers. Otherwise, an excellent cookbook that I'm really excited about. My only objection is that the recipes I've tried so far are too spicy for my tastebuds, but that's easily remedied.