Review time! Today’s Vegan Mofo theme is my favourite cookook, so I’ve been saving this post especially for this occasion 😀 Annie’s is one of the first vegan blogs that I stumbled across (now years ago?? Time, you sly dog!), and I spent a long while stalking her blog before I plucked up the courage to talk to the sweetest person ever. Imagine how psyched I am to be able to review this glorious tome now!
I can’t truly express my glee when I got this in the mail. Annie was sweet enough to pick up on my distress about the lack of international giveaways for awesome cookbooks and offered to send me one – hardcover and signed! ❤ Even so I’m extremely fussy about my cookbooks – I tend to prefer the internet in general for recipes since I often merge five or so different ideas in one and then try and research how to make it feasible, but Annie’s book is one of those where I can spend hours paging back and forth and being inspired by the ingredients, pictures or the message. Apart from a wonderful introduction and a breakdown of different ingredients and why she did or didn’t use them, such as white sugar and oil, Annie’s book also rounds up some guest recipes by luminaries and my favourites such as Dianne, Vegan Richa, Poppy and Brandi, to name a few. I love the fact that Annie features different authors in her book, since I find blogging to be such a collaborative process, and it forms a natural part of my morning ritual to catch up with a large handful of bloggers over my smoothie bowl. Each author brings something unique to the book but also blend wonderfully with Annie’s own recipes. I started off with the basics when going through the book, since smoothie’s are my go-to each day and a good indicator of nom-ness. If a smoothie recipe goes wrong you know there’s going to be trouble. Well, this malted chocolate orange smoothie is SO creamy, flavourful, rich and filling that one batch lasted three days of savouring each sip and gloating at work. I don’t usually put dates in my smoothies but I went out and bought medjools specifically and it was so worth it! What I love about Annie’s recipe is how subtle the flavours are – I don’t go big on sugar and refined foods and Annie’s blog and book is obviously the epitome of unrefined ingredients. Nothing tastes better than real food!
Another big hit, especially when Man-thing, who can be so fussy about more veggie-obvious foods, was this ridiculously tasty Oats e fagioli. I made some minor substitutions, such as used barley, since I had that on hand, as well as two types of beans, but oh my goodness it was good! We finished it up pretty quickly and it made a wonderful, hearty winter treat.One of my favourites is this sweet, hearty and super tasty red lentil & vegetable curry soup. I didn’t have red lentils on hand so made a plan and it is so good! Even a small sub like the lentils did nothing to detract from the wonderful mesh of flavours. Man-thing isn’t a cauliflower fan so I got to indulge in this all by myself, which I can’t say made me sad at all 😀
One of Man-thing’s favourites out of the book was Sarah’s almond & goji berry chocolate bark. I don’t usually make my own chocolate with sweetener but it really helps give not only a less bitter edge but also creates a different consistency. It takes such little time to make one’s own chocolate, especially as delicious as this, that there’s no real reason to buy from the store! My favourite of the whole lot? This carrot-ginger-tumeric steamer. My goodness! Simple but ridiculously delicious and creamy – Man-thing was surprisingly aflutter about the whole thing as well, which is refreshing since he’s usually suspicious of colourful food (which is pretty much everything to me :p). I adore carrot-based food (in case you didn’t know) and this is something I plan to make regularly, and perhaps even chill in summer. It was an absolute treat considering we just ended winter and I was five-layers deep in socks when sipping on this!
The first recipe that really caught my eye though was this mystical mint cookie recipe – the photos especially were just stunning and even in the car on the way home I was reading through the ingredients plotting. It’s a high raw recipe but I ended up baking my cookies for 15 or so minutes and they turned out great (although the growing number of treats that work with a dehydrator is slowly helping to convince Man-thing that this is a necessity in our kitchen!). I crumbled the leftovers as per instruction and then ended up munching on crumbs for a few days, splashing them on cereal and in hot soy milk. With the lack of peppermint flavouring (boo) I made one of the variations, and that’s what makes this recipe great – you can work with what you have 🙂 One could also easily make this a frozen treat, methinks, which is the best kind, and maybe even make a sundae effect with crumbled up cookies. 😀One of the best things to come out of becoming vegan is realizing that food is incredibly versatile; I would never have dreamed back in the day of making ice-cream from stuff like bananas and sweet potato, and now it’s become the easiest and quickest way to glory, since I always have frozen fruit and stuff on hand. Sweet potato really adds a delightful creaminess to a vegan ice-cream, and again this is a recipe that allows for versatility – you can test it as you go along and add more sweetener or less, more dates or not. I almost ate a third of the sweet potato pie & apple pie ice-cream mixture before it was done! I also left out the ice-cream machine step and it still came out perfect. Yum!I can’t be crazy to love this book – Annie plots out her recipes with purpose and always with a balance of indulgence and health, so that every ingredients counts and is still good for you. Too often I see (and admittedly partake in) random acts of sugar, and cookbooks like this are a stark and beautiful (plus tasty!) reminder that using natural, whole ingredients does not mean you skimp on flavour or fullness. I still have so many recipes I want to try, such as the ratatouille polenta cups with mom’s mariana sauce, embarrassingly simple banana bowl, Kristy’s maple-glazed cinnamon roasted chickpeas, and sweet potato fries with garlic, lemon and parsley, buckwheat noodles with spicy almond sauce… in fact the whole book! I love the fact that Man-thing especially enjoyed the recipes I tried out, because he’s my indicator of how non-vegan tastebuds experience food. In fact, I honestly think this would be a great book to gift to a non- or new-vegan, since Annie lays out the basics and does a wonderful job of explaining the methodology and mindset behind her style and food. Nom nom!
And I just have to mention my little kitchen helper, who was there from the point of reading the book to testing out recipes! ❤When I was turning the pages she started getting very interested and then proceeded to try and eat the book, admittedly, but she had the right idea!