More on Isa Does It

If you read my review of Isa Does It earlier this month, then you know that I am super excited about this book. Well, Isa just increased my excitement because now she is giving away a free tote bag with each book. Austin has a no-bag ordinance for grocery stores, so I have turned into a tote bag hoarder. Woohoo!

She’s also posted a recipe from the book, Everyday Pad Thai. I haven’t had a chance to try this one yet, but everything else I’ve tried from the book so far has been tasty and easy.

Advertisements

VeganMofo: Vegan With a Vengeance

For the month of September, this blog will be devoted to VeganMofo. Tune in while I provide short reviews of some of my favorite, and least favorite, vegan cookbooks. If you are new to Libromancy, please check out some of my non-cookbook reviews, such as my review of Pacific by Tom Drury

Yesterday I wrote about my first vegan cookbook, and possibly the one that had the most impact on me–The Artful Vegan. Today I want to recommend my second vegan cookbook, another favorite, Vegan with a Vengeance.

Now, of course, Isa and Terry are vegan celebrities. Many vegans consider them heroes. Instagram, in my opinion, doesn’t know how much they owe them because the Post Punk Kitchen forums were one of the original seedbeds of the food porn phenomenon. When I got this boo, though, I didn’t know what was to come. I just wanted ideas for vegan breakfast foods. The Artful Vegan was useful to me because I had to work so hard for it. Vegan with a Vengeance  was the opposite. I could just follow some short instructions and in a 50s housewife jiffy I could have food on the table.

My favorite recipes became once-a-week regulars for me. Garlicky brussels sprouts. Orange cranberry muffins. Mango ginger tofu. My favorite–Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Patties–were eaten daily. I made a double batch once a week and toasted one up with frozen hashbrowns every morning for months. I no longer need to consult the recipe.

I sometimes second guess myself when I recommend this cookbook to new vegans as their starter cookbook. Am I doing this only out of nostalgia? Is it because of its historical value as the key cultural artifact that shifted vegan cooking from its association with lentil eating hippies to its association with knish-eating Brooklyn hipsters? No, it’s because it hits all of the needs of a new vegan–tasty, easy, supportive.

Personally, I’m not ready to relegate my copy of Vegan with a Vengeance to the vegan history museum yet.

VeganMofo: Isa Does It

For the month of September, this blog will be devoted to VeganMofo. Tune in while I provide short reviews of some of my favorite, and least favorite, vegan cookbooks. If you are new to Libromancy, please check out some of my non-cookbook reviews, such as my review of Pacific by Tom Drury

Today I have something a little bit different from my other VeganMofo entries: a preview of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does Itwhich will be released next month.

The newest book to come from the Isa Chandra Moskowitz vegan empire is Isa Does It, designed to teach how to make quick weeknight meals. The descent into producing a Rachael Ray-make-things-easier book was inevitable; even Jacques Pepin has two volumes of Fast Food My Way and his name doesn’t even work in a silly pun. As you may glean from my tone, I greeted this new book with skepticism.  As Tamar Adler says,  teaching how to cook quickly does little more than make cooking seem more difficult than it actually is. It’s hard to make an egg take more than 5 minutes to cook, or in this case, a tofu scramble. And in most cases, the recipes here are not significantly quicker than the already quick recipes in Moskowitz’s other works. Her works tend to be very beginner and home cook friendly already, so why should you buy this one if you own one or several of her previous works?

You should buy it because despite the “quick and easy” ploy, this book is a solid cookbook with great recipes. I have enough books by Moskowitz and her partner in crime Terry Hope Romero to fill a small bookshelf, and this may be my favorite.

The quality of this book is amazing. This is the kind of book that will convince meat eaters that vegans aren’t missing out on anything in life. Every page is glossy and colorful, and the photos from Vanessa Rees are perfectly styled and shot. This looks like a $50 book, not an $18 book. It’s published by Little Brown for heaven’s sake. Right now on my nightstand I have Pynchon’s Vineland proudly displaying “Little Brown” along the spine. Guys, we finally have a vegan cookbook being treated as well as a Pynchon!

What really matters, though, is the recipes, and these are great. Moskowitz and Romero always have one or two recipes that change the way vegans cook, and it looks like this may also include a few. The  Roasted Butternut Squash Alfredo  has already charmed the vegan Internet, and definitely charmed me and my meat eating boyfriend when we tried it. Soaked cashews and roasted squash form a creamy, sauce which doesn’t replicate alfredo. Instead it’s more strongly flavored, making it–in my opinion–tastier, but harder to pair with other ingredients. Trust me, I put it to the test. I still have some left from a big batch I made earlier this week and have been using as a dip for everything from broccoli to buffalo popcorn tofu. It’s not perfect; my first try was a bit too lemony, so I added more squash and in the future I will probably also reduce the amount of wine used. It’s still going to go into my usual dinner rotation; since that’s the goal of the recipes in this book, I would say it’s a success.

The best part about the butternut squash sauce? It’s not made with oil. The fat in the sauce is coming almost entirely from cashews and white wine. I was initially disappointed to see that this book doesn’t have nutritional facts like Appetite for Reduction, but most of the recipes are reasonably low in fat anyway. It’s just not being advertised this time around.

I know I sound gushy, but I am sincerely excited about this book. I bought Vegan with a Vengeance when it was first published and still cook some of the recipes from heart eight years later. Since then my tastes have changed, however. There was a period of time when I fell off the Moskowitz bandwagon. Cookies? Cupcakes? Not my cup of tea. And Veganomicon was too bland overall for my taste. Appetite for Reduction brought me back into the fold, being one of the few cookbooks that don’t encourage indulging but also don’t resort to “diet” food. It looks like the trend is continuing with this book, so thanks to Little Brown for bringing this into the world. Maybe I can let the name slide after all.