A Brief Review of The Vegan Cook’s Bible
by Pat Crocker.
Paperback: Robert Rose: 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
More than just a cookbook, The Vegan Cook’s Bible is an excellent resource for the vegan kitchen (no meats, dairy products, eggs, or other animal products), or indeed for anyone who wants creative ideas for reducing the amount of meat and other animal products in their diet. The first part of the book is a system-by-system overview of the human body that highlights what these systems need, and how these needs can be met within a vegan diet. The book’s second part is a excellent guidebook to some of the basic ingredients of vegan cuisine — fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, herbs, etc — and how they can be prepared and used creatively within the vegan diet. As one who prefers to be improvisational in the kitchen, this was the best part of the book and it set my mind spinning with all kinds of ideas of how ingredients could be used in a multitude of new and creative ways! The remainder of the book, approximately half the text, is a more traditional cookbook. The first section of recipes features “Basics,” sauces, dairy substitutes, seasonings, etc., which again lends itself very well to creative or improvisational cooking. This latter half of the book, has some fabulous full-page color pictures of some dishes, which leaves one longing to sink his/her teeth into them! Many of the recipes are accompanied by tips and variations which spur creativity. There are all kinds of scrumptious recipes for main dishes (see the recipe for Black Bean and Four Pepper Stew, below), appetizers and even desserts!
The Vegan Cook’s Bible is an excellent guide for those who want to creative and inspiring ways to minimize or eliminate meat and other animal products from his/her diet. Even though our household is not, and probably will never be, vegan, I anticipate that this book will see much use in our kitchen as we seek to eat more simply and more in tune with the local food economy.
Black Bean and Four-Pepper Stew
The different peppers used in this Portuguese favorite — the unofficial national dish of Brazil give it a rich and complex taste reminiscent of the original meat-filled dish.
• You can use 2 cups (500 mL) cooked
black beans, drained and rinsed, instead of canned.
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (5 mL)
1?2 tsp whole coriander seeds (2 mL)
1 tsp sea salt (5 mL)
1?2 tsp ground cinnamon (2 mL)
1?4 tsp ground nutmeg (1 mL)
2 tbsp olive oil (25 mL)
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper (250 mL)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 cups chunks (1 inch/2.5 cm) acorn or
butternut squash (500 mL)
2 cups Mushroom Broth (page 138),
vegetable stock or water (approx.) (500 mL)
2 roasted red bell peppers, cut into
1?2-inch (1 cm) pieces
1 roasted poblano chile, cut into
1?2-inch (1 cm) pieces
1 can (5 oz/127 mL) chipotle chiles
in adobo sauce, drained and diced,
1 can (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL)
black beans, drained and rinsed
(see Tip, above)
1?4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional (50 mL)
1. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast cumin and coriander seeds until the seeds begin to pop and their fragrance is released, about 2 minutes. Do not let seeds smoke or burn. Remove from heat and add salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion and garlic are soft. Add toasted spices and lime zest and juice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
3. Add squash and pour broth over, adding just enough to cover squash. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Add roasted red peppers, poblano chile, chipotle chiles and adobo sauce and black beans. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until peppers and beans are heated through. Add cilantro, if using, or pass separately.
(Recipe published here with the permission of the publisher)
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com