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Vegan Soul Kitchen

A couple quick book reviews today. One an impromptu rave from my friend Scott and the other one I’ve been intending for a while now.

OK, this first book comes highly recommended by Scott. He sent me an email last night drooling over the new flavors to which he’d been introduced by this book over the weekend.

The source of his excitement? Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry which was serendipitously just sitting there on the shelf of a small bookstore calling out to him following a date with his wife at a local Thai restaurant (where he inadvertently ordered their hottest boost of heat, which the waitstaff apparently writes down as “HELL SPICY” – LOL).

In particular, he ended up making the Creole Hoppin’-Jean recipe two nights in a row, it was that good. Here’s how it looked with black beans substituted for the black-eyed peas (next time):

Scott’s description, which has me looking forward to trying it…

“This thing was freaking good. I’ve been craving something different from my regular (and boring) recipes, and this delivered. I wish I had the ingredients for his ‘quiona-quinoa cornbread’ recipe too, but we’ll get to that next time after grocery shopping. I think that a key step was the homemade Basic Stock found in his book, plain old simple and GOOD.”

He also noted how healthy everything was, with the only processed food seeming to be store-bought seitan (which I’ll have to show him how to make from scratch), and with the salt and oils likely being unnecessary. The herbs and spices were right on and easily found in a well-stocked pantry.

The other book I meant to review before now is Veggies For Carnivores by Lora Krulak. I was sent this one gratis and still haven’t had a chance to make anything from it, so it’s coming with my next time Scott and I get together for a smorgasbord.

That said, I did get to read it and not just skim. Much about her approach to food feels familiar to me in the way she encourages experimentation. As she writes in the intro…

“Everywhere I traveled, I asked a few more questions of the locals and learned a little bit more about the importance of spices, herbs, seasonings, and freshness. Through my trials and experiments, I became a rare mix of culinary adventurer and dietary problem solver. As I sought to decode my own nutritional riddles, I came to understand how to do that for others.”

As you might expect from the title, it’s not all vegan; there are some egg and dairy ingredients, and even an occasional mention of meat, the latter coming via little “carnivore’s choice” notes. However, there’s a lot here to inspire and the angle is unique. It’s like a how-to guide for preparing vegetables in general (versus becoming a vegan).

While the subtitle is “Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate,” you won’t find a bunch of main dishes here, no casseroles, vegan meatloafs, etc.. What you will find is that aforementioned inspiration in the form of sides (“small plates” which can be combined to create a meal), soups, salads, sauces/dips, and beverages, many with variations and “fun facts.” Recommended for those cooking for a mixed dietary crowd or in need of party food ideas.

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