Sunday, December 22, 2013

VeggieDag Thursday: Sunday before Christmas edition

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

VeggieDag's Christmas Gift Guide

Four (animal-free!) Cookbooks of 2013.
A Sunday-before-Christmas edition of VeggieDag Thursday.

Isa Does It
The newest cookbook from uber-cool Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen is not only a collection of vegan recipes, but a compendium of vegan-cookery (and baking) techniques, pantry-stocking suggestions, and clear how-tos, limned with wonderful photography. Cheeky, she's entitled one section: Tofu Butchery. My copy of an earlier book of hers, Vegan with a Vengeance, is well-worn. I'm looking forward to cooking my way through Isa's newest.

Moskowitz has a companion video series on YouTube called Make It Vegan. Well-produced, it's definitely worth watching.

Eat Your Vegetables
Joe Yonan is the Food Editor of the Washington Post. Unique among fellow food editors of major metropolitan newspapers, Yonan is a vegetarian; he only recently "came out" came out as such. His second cookbook is Eat Your Vegetables. For a description, I'll crib from Mr. Yonan's Amazon page:
Eat Your Vegetables has been named among the best cookbooks of 2013 by The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and NPR's "Here and Now"! It's a collection of eclectic vegetarian and vegan recipes for singles, vegetarians in meat-eating households, couples who are looking for creative side dishes, and anyone hungry for plant-focused, smaller-portion recipes

Yonan writes in an entertaining, yet to-the-point, style. From a recent column in the Washington Post, here's his recipe for Black Pepper Tofu. "There’s something about the combination of black pepper and tofu that sings. And it’s got a rich, deep bass voice, too."

I own a copy of Deborah Madison's 1990 book, The Savory Way. I can't begin to tell you what an important cookbook that had (has) been for me. A gift well back in the dawn of my vegetarianism, it is well-written, with recipes that, while easy-to-follow and quick to reproduce, aren't simple meals. Ms. Madison was the founding chef of the ground-breaking Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.

She's the author of several cookbooks and has a new one this year: Vegetable Literacy. I haven't read it yet (hint, hint, Santa), but Joe Yonan has. Here's what he had to say:
[Madison] aims to bring us closer to her level of knowledge by helping us think about the subject in a new way. It’s a must-have book for anyone interested in plant-based cooking.

The book’s subtitle is “Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes.” Indeed, her mission is to illuminate the connections among vegetables from the same family, to show how they can be treated in similar ways in the kitchen, used interchangeably and sometimes together. Virtually every page of “Vegetable Literacy” contains a nugget of helpful or just plain interesting information. (I’d call it trivia, except in Madison’s lyrical telling, nothing seems trivial.) Example: One reason to scrub, not peel, carrots is that you’ll rob them of some flavor, not to mention nutrition.

Madison paves the path to literacy with delicious recipes, illustrated by “Canal House” queens Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton and their trademark style of luscious-meets-rustic photography.

Happy Herbivore
Where Isa Moskowitz is uber-cool, Lindsay Nixon, who goes by the avatar Happy Herbivore, is uber-chirpy. "I could chop mushrooms all day. It's soooo relaxing." She's like a goofy (in a good way) home-cook Rachel Ray inviting you into her kitchen. Very easy to follow along, using easy-to-procure ingredients (ketchup!), Nixon generally eschews the expectation-laden terms vegetarian and vegan, choosing instead "plant-based."

Her latest book, of three, is The Happy Herbivore: Light & Lean. Beginner 'plant-based' home-cooks, experienced dabblers, and weight-loss seekers should investigate. Like Moskowitz, Ms. Nixon also has a YouTube companion series. It's charmingly home-grown. See it here.

  • Vegan winter 'holiday' recipes, and tips on navigating the season as a vegan. Via Oh She Glows.
  • Ten vegan main dishes for Christmas. Via One Green Planet.
  • Two Cizauskas family Christmas traditions:
    • Kugelis: Lithuanian Potato Casserole. Via my Nana, with some vegetarian adaptations.
    • Ausukai: Lithuanian fried cookies. Via my Nana, with suggestions from my sister (but not vegan).

  • Isa Moskowitz was in northern Virginia in mid December for a book signing and dinner, but —as a testament to her influence and popularity— her appearance sold out well ahead of time.
  • Why the name VeggieDag? Here. Follow on Twitter: #VeggieDag.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and home-cooks welcomed! Here.

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