Monday, January 4, 2010

Some of my favs from 2009...

so, here we are. new camera... still trying to figure it out, but i thought i'd write a little ditty on my favorite cookbooks acquired over the last year.

i must admit, i am one picky lady when it comes to cookbooks. there are tons of vegan cookbooks out there but there are tons filled with the same old, same old. i also find that the recipes are fairly bland. or rather, safe.

but these 7 moved on and off the shelf the most. sometimes i just use them for reference, but sometimes i do indulge in following a recipe to the nines. so i'll discuss how each book has served me over the last year....

1. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero: clutch book for desserts. who doesn't like cupcakes, and if they happen to be vegan, then fan-cussing-tastic! (if you've seen the fantastic mr. fox, then you might get the joke) It's a cute book with inventive flavours. I don't really even like cupcakes, but i love this book. pictures are good. Isa also wrote Vegan with a Vengeance which was the first vegan cookbook i ever owned and have used it so much- its falling apart. maybe its sentiment. maybe i like that Isa seems punk as cuss. i have a soft spot for tattooed jewish girls.

2. Buddha's Table by Chat Mingkwan: ah, so elusive this thai food. just like indian food. there's a basic 5 to 10 ingredients and its just subtle changes in the quantities and in the order the ingredients find their way into the pot. i suppose that could be said with any ethnic food, but anyhoooo.... fresh. this book tastes fresh. pictures? nope. none. well, one page. my good friend andie LOVES photos in books, and so do i, HOWEVER, often, a good cookbook is straight to the chase. page after page of awesome. it's like going to a dingy, dirty chinese restaurant. 9 times out of ten, the food will be phenomenal. who has time for decor when there's kick ass food to be had?

3. Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa by Habeeb Salloum: this book is like the thai one. no pics, but page after page of gold. there's like 5 or so different versions of falafel, the dips are phenomenal. the stews! the salads! and there is a country of origin for each recipe, the correct name of the dish in its original language and some kind of snippet about the region or the dish. seriously, after reading this book, you feel smarter and hungry.

4. Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry: so, just like with isa, i wish bryant terry was my buddy. this book is mos def a must for any kitchen. what is it exactly? well, the recipes are amazing, but there is a soundtrack. there is a song recommended for every recipe, ranging from soul, r & b, afrobeat, reggae, to rap. yes, even rap. eric b and rakim? awesome! d'angelo? awesome! saul williams? awesome. there's tons of great music, and even some films to watch while eating the food and art to check out. who is this guy? a future BFF, i just know it.

5. The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: i love this girl's podcasts. she is brilliant. she has a podcast called Compassionate Cooks. look it up. she is pretty amazing. lots of photos, great photos. and the recipes are organized by season and occasion, which is wonderful, but it is a cookbook that you will have to leave off your shelf and flip through until you have become acquainted. it's not one of those quick-look-it-up type of books, but it is a great book for brainstorming a menu...

6. The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen: carnivore turned ethical vegetarian. i like this. there are a few recipes in the book that use soy meats, Gardein, to be exact, which i don't think you can get here in saskatoon. i haven't noticed it. to be honest, i don't care much for those "just like chicken" or "strips of beef" veggie foods. i have lost my taste for them, BUT i do celebrate them as transitional foods. i ate a lot of those things as i was leaving meat behind, till you add new recipes to the repertoire. but this book and the next one are FANTASTIC for next level dishes. you know, plated food porn. dishes that you hope ppl feel compelled to take photos of. plus this book is fun to read. LOTS of interviews with vegan chefs and food makers. very informative.

and lastly...
7. The Artful Vegan by Eric Tucker, Bruce Enloe and Amy Pearce: this book is one of my favorite accidental finds of the year. Fancy, fancy. lots of prep work, beautiful combinations of flavors and ingredients. when you read the dish's "title" on the menu, with all of their dirty, naughty adjectives, you think - high end restaurant, but when you read the recipe, its just simple, beautiful and uncomplicated. maybe a bit more prep work, but STUNNING recipes. pictures are amazing. makes me wanna move to san francisco.

so, ta-dah! the list.... a few things i wanted to note: i am not really a vegan. i suppose i am a part-time vegan. i do indulge in dairy from time to time. for new year's, i cooked scallops and mussels. the thought of wine and cheese makes my mouth salivate. i love artisanal foods and have a fierce love of anchovies, but i do believe that a vegan diet can change the world. and it is a practice. so i do what i can, when i can.

perhaps after hawaii, it will be more solid in my life, the veganness. i think back to when i lost my taste for meat. it wasn't immediate, but certain things and flavours just started to fall away. i started to turn my nose up at leather, and the thought of drinking a glass of milk made my stomach turn. these things came gradually and were more noticeable some days and not others... i suppose wanted to throw in that disclaimer so if you see me eating sushi or fish and chips, i can rest in the fact that i have said i am a part time vegan on the internet.

and if it's on the internet, then it must be true, right?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

to blog or not to blog

so, here i am... look at me... trying to blog...

something to write about.... check

something to take pictures with.... check

time to blog?.... just about, check-ish?

so i'll be in hawaii for a
month, the plan is to post my daily rants on here as well as some pics of the food i make. also, if i can get my shit together, you may see pics and videos of me prepping for the trip.

i had a master plan to bring my knives, a small bag of dried levain (sourdough starter) and maybe some cookbooks to hawaii. i thought to bring a small vessel of live levain as well, to see if it would make the trip. a friend of mine who is a competitive baker (
okay, its tracey muzzolini, of chr
istie's mayfair bakery, artisan baker for the canadian baking team - shameless plug)... anyway, a friend of mine said it's fine, that they have tests to make sure that its not: a) drugs or b) explosive and that, simply, i just have to explain what it is.

i have decided to forgo the idea of bringing mysterious white powder onto a plane entering us airspace as well as bringing sour smelling-gooey-slurry stuff in my carry-on, its probably a ridiculous idea. also knives in the luggage? uh, no. seemed like a great idea last week... today? not s
o much.

so begins the prep for the trip. menu testing, recipe tweaking and one-loaf-at-a-time bread baking.

wish me luck.

and the pics seen here are courtesy of 1take photo
graphy's jeremy marucot. i've known this feller since he was like 6? and now he's all grown and laughs loudly exactly like his dad and takes phenomenal photos. jer helped me get the hawaii gig and i love him to bits and want to squish his face.