The Vegan Family Cookbook
Chef Brian P. McCarthy
Late last year, Lantern books released Chef Brian P. McCarthy’s The Vegan Family Cookbook, the front cover boasting “over 400 recipes.” Sure, that number’s a bit fudged counting things like “brown rice” and “artichokes” (sole ingredient: artichokes) as one recipe each, but this 300-page book does pack an awful lot of food into its pages.
We had good luck with the high-protein split pea soup, the Morning Pancakes (add some ground flax for extra flavor), curry baked tofu (easy, tasty, and mild), the super-easy Teriyaki Tofu, and the creamy Pasta with Pepper Cream sauce. Our go-to recipe is the simple classic Red Beans and Rice.
While The Vegan Family Cookbook won’t be remembered for its unique recipes, it will be one that you find yourself grabbing off the shelf when you’ve got to throw something together with the ingredients sitting in your fridge about to go bad. Everything’s straightforward and familiar and will please palates of all ages.
Susan C. Daffron and James H. Byrd
Logical Expressions Publishing
Another entry in the “simple and easy” vegan cookbook category, Vegan Success offers up some great dishes you can pull together at the last minute. The faux cheese sauce is probably the easiest of its kind and tastes great as part of good old mac and cheese. The Curried Potatoes and Cauliflower with Cream Cheese is a good go-to dish and the Spicy White Bean Salad was really tasty, even when using a number of substitutions.
Slightly less successful was the Creamy White Bean Soup — it was “too beany” for my wife and “too mushroomy” for me. We also had an issue with the Blender Hummus — sure it tasted good, but it broke our food processor! See, our blender doesn’t blend things nearly enough for a good, smooth hummus, so we tried it in the food processor but ended up burning out the motor in the process. The story has a silver lining, though: we bought an awesome 14-cup behemoth to replace it.
All your favorites are here, from vegan biscuits to eggless egg salad to stews, soups, sandwiches, and desserts. This is one of those unassuming books that’s easy to overlook next to larger, more elaborately designed collections. But don’t let the ultra-minimalist design fool you: there’s good food to be had between the covers.
Please Don’t Feed the Bears!
Edited by Abjorn Intonsus
I love me some cookzines. Every one I own has turned out some amazing and often surprising recipes, despite their low-budget production values. Please Don’t Feed the Bears! is a compilation of one such cookzine. There’s a huge variety of dishes, plenty of attitude, and even obscure death metal recommendations for each recipe. I gave this collection respect before I even started because they managed to name a recipe after one of my favorite ultra-obscure films: Mystics in Bali(nese Tempeh). I haven’t even made it yet, but I know it’s gotta be disembodied-head-on-a-spine-floating-around-the-sky good.
Foodwise, I loved Curly Jim’s Chocolate Chip cookies, thinking they were about the closest to the classic chocolate chip cookie I’d tasted. My dad pointed out that it’s essentially the Toll House recipe, veganized. Hey, that’s fine by me.
Also good: the Broken Jaw Biscotti and Tofu Pot Pie In Your Eye (which I think would be just as good without the tofu).
You seriously get your money’s worth here: at only $7 from Microcosm, you get 160 pages absolutely stuffed with recipes. About the only bad thing I can say about this one is that there’s no freaking index. And with only six sections, it can be tricky to find a recipe you came across earlier. No worries, though. Sometimes serendipitous cooking is the best kind.