Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some cookbooks are just not worth reading...

I have two cookbooks in my reviewing queue right now.  One is on my kitchen table waiting to be used again tomorrow when I make another attempt at sourdough bread.  The other is right beside me waiting to find a new home...but that home won't be on my bookshelf.  That's the book I'm going to review today.

Sometimes cynicism catches me by surprise.  I know that it has permeated our culture in an enormous way.  In my mind, I imagine it to be like the wild strawberry plants that are growing in my backyard.  They are poisonous, though they look innocuous.  They aren't real strawberries.  They have these little fruits on them that remind one of strawberries but that isn't what they are.

This cookbook in front of me is written in a very cynical tone.  I requested it hoping for a few good ideas on how to integrate meatless, dairy-free meals into our monthly menu.  I should have looked a little closer at the preview before I agreed to review it.

Here's the cookbook's title:  The Part-Time Vegan:  201 Yummy Recipes that put the fun in flexitarian by Cherise Grifoni.
Let me start with a quote from the introduction:
"Let's just get this out there.  I'm not here to tell you how to save the world, maybe just how to save your waistline...Here's the deal: You're curious about veganism but you don't want to read some eco-policing loony drone on and on about how trees are our friends and chickens would rathr be playing poker in their hen houses than lay eggs for us.  I get it.  It doesn't matter if you're a saint; if you're hungry, you're never going to get anything done...That's where I come in:  your no-nonsense, quick-witted guide to veganism." (from p. VII)  The thing about cynicism is that it sounds very "quick-witted" but it's really based on the idea that you can see through what others can't and that you can see what's really real and what really matters, while others can't.

All the vegans I know have a reason for becoming a vegan.  It may be because they care about how food is produced.  It may be because they simply don't like the taste of meat.  It may be because their bodies are allergic to dairy.  But, they all have a reason.

I was disappointed in this cookbook because many of the recipes use nutritional yeast, tempeh, vegan margarine, and egg replacer.  If I am going to cook vegan recipes, 1) I'd like the ingredients to be real without preservatives, 2) I don't want to eat foods that pretend to be like non-vegan foods, 3) I like photos because they make the recipes look appealing, and 3) I want to enjoy reading the cookbook and recipes.  Sometimes books just rub you the wrong way and I think this cookbook was that way for me.

Rather than going any more into why I don't like this cookbook, I'd rather recommend a few others.  Laurel's Kitchen and the Moosewood Collective have published several cookbooks that have many vegan recipes (non-meat and non-dairy) that use real foods without preservatives.  Simply in Season also includes many recipes that would be considered vegan.

I think it's important not to bring non-meat and non-dairy meals into our diets.  I just wouldn't recommend this cookbook as a way to do that.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook from F&W Media for review.

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