Cookbook Review: La Dolce Vegan!

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La Dolce Vegan!
by Sarah Kramer
2005, Arsenal Pulp Press
Visit Sarah at GoVegan.net

I may be one of the only vegans that doesn’t have copies of How It All Vegan (maybe because I’m stupid) and Garden of Vegan on my shelf. I realize that admitting this will probably get me kicked out of the vegan club and/or encourage Sarah Kramer to come to my house and stab me with a tattoo needle, but I have to come clean.

I do, however, have a copy of Sarah’s latest, La Dolce Vegan, her third cookbook with the trademark funky design. After using it for the past few months, I’m not quite sure why I her first two books are missing from my collection.

La Dolce Vegan is packed with recipes. And though Sarah went the solo route this time around (her first two books were co-authored with Tanya Barnard), many of the recipes are gleaned from friends and GoVegan.net forum members. I don’t know exactly recipes are included, but every time I open the book, I find an new recipe–or an entire section–that I missed before. How’s she do that?

The recipes I’ve tried thusfar have all been easy to make and really tasty. The Cinnamon-Spice Roasted Veggies with Couscous hit the spot and is a great autumn go-to dish. Jessica’s “Cures What Ails Ya Garlic Soup” is… well… garlicky. Really garlicky. Two large servings contain an entire head of garlic. So, yeah… that’ll clear our your sinuses. And pores. I love me some garlic.

My wife is a big fan of the Mocked Clam Chowder recipe, which I also enjoyed. Nice and creamy and the potatoes stand in well for the clam. And we’ve gotten a lot of use out of a simple spice mix recipe called “Needs a Little Extra” Spice. It’s a blend of common spices that you use when something like potatoes or fries need a little extra kick. We put some in an old spice container and use the blend weekly.

There are a couple of recipes we’ve returned to a number of times, rare around our house since I’m so far behind in my cookbook reviews. One is the Veganica.com Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. We used this recipe a lot last fall when we got more sweet potatoes from our CSA than we knew what to do with. They’re spicy and really flavorful. The other recipe is Cindy O’s “Chicken” & Rice Soup for the Soul. Let me tell you something: if you’re sick and looking for a good chicken-ish soup, this is the one. The “chicken” is made with wheat gluten flour and is about as easy as can be (2 tbsp gluten flour, 2 tbsp water, mix, knead a few times, slice, use) and the soup has all sorts of great flavors from the spices and stock (use Unchicken broth if you can). Great stuff.

While I haven’t tried any of the dessert recipes yet, I did make the Coconut Pie Panckes, which are as good as dessert. These have a nice, sweet coconutty flavor and a very strong banana flavor. If you’d prefer not to have the banana-y flavor, use ground flax seed and water instead.

Of all the recipes we’ve tried, we’ve only run into a couple that we haven’t enjoyed or that we really needed to tweak to fit our tastes. Like the Festive Butternut Squash, which has a lot of spices and nuts, but came out surprisingly bland. Thankfully, these types of recipes are few and far between. I love how modern vegan cookbooks are weighed so heavily towards good recipes these days.

Sarah’s a strong personality and a distinctive aura, so it’s no wonder that she frequently gets recognized when she’s out in public. She sort of reminds me of Aunt Martha in Sleepaway Camp, but in a good way.

Huh. That’s the sound of a movie reference going over an entire audience’s collective head.

Anyway, her personality really shines through in this book. Indeed, some of the best stuff here is in the “Kitchen Wisdom” section, which has loads of great tips on how to use salt, how to make your own cleaners, and why you shouldn’t use old baking powder. She also takes on, with grace, complaints of people who say that they “could never be vegan.” Her response to “I’m too lazy to be vegan”?

“Good luck with that.”

I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to introduce myself to Sarah’s work. La Dolce Vegan!‘s a great cookbook and Sarah’s a genuinely good person. (Be sure to check out her interview on episode 28 of the Vegan Freak podcast.) Go snag your copy. Then, go forth, cook, and eat well.

7 Responses to “Cookbook Review: La Dolce Vegan!”

  1. sarah

    Thanks Ryan
    Nice review… Sleepaway Camp is one of my all time favourite movies. Amityville Horror made me piss my pants with fear when I was a kid…no joke…and this one came very close to making me tinkle.

    That last shot of the movie is so scary that just thinking about it is making me feel like peeing. I f-n love that movie.
    xoxo
    SARAH

  2. Scott

    I got the Sleepaway Camp reference. Your love for that film is at times frightening. The film did not make me urinate. Oddly enough vegan cookbooks frighten me to the point of pants-wetting. Go figure?

    Getting stabbed with a tattoo needle would be a cool death scene in a slasher flick. Keep that in mind for your bit part in Sleepaway Camp 25.

  3. Danielle

    I’ve made a few of the desserts. The maple flax brownies just rock, and my boyfriend really loves the nut butter bars. I’ve made the fudge a few times (but I’ve not always had marshmallows, so I just use nuts), and I double the recipe because it’s so GOOD.

    I’m a sweets freak!

  4. vegancore

    Oh man, Sleepaway Camp… so cheesy good. The last scene IS pretty freaky.

    I have all of Sarah’s cookbooks but don’t use them very often. This has inspired me, so tomorrow I think I’m going to try my hand at the Cinnamon-Spice Roasted Veggies and Couscous tomorrow. Thanks for writing an awesome review – I’m looking forward to the next one already. :)

  5. Karen

    I love their/her recipe books! Well written in a funky ‘n’ fresh style with tons of fab recipes. Great heads up for anyone reading this (also fab) blog!

  6. Eve

    I was just at the bookstore going through this book and the earlier ones. Thanks for posting about it. I totally want to get these.

  7. Karen

    The books Sarah co-authored with Tanya were good. But I have to say that La Dolce Vegan is by far the best of the three! You have to try the punkin pasta. It sounds wierd, but it is savory and delicious! and the PB and choc bars are sooo good!

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