Why buy a cookbook?
Well, you should buy cookbooks, because splattering cake batter on a book is much less damaging than splattering cake batter onto your laptop. Also, veg chefs and veg restaurants work VERY hard to make cookbooks and they should be supported.
But don’t forget your computer when it comes to cooking. People are constantly asking me what cookbooks to buy, and I don’t have a set list because everyone cooks and eats differently. I’ll list a few of my favorites here, but I think the best thing to do is search the Internet and check out books from the library before purchasing them.
For your culinary pleasure, here’s my top ten cookbooks and recipe websites. If you don’t cook, share it with your friends who do and maybe they’ll make you some vegan treats!
There is no shortage of veg*an cookbooks these days. Junk-food vegan, McDougall vegan, fussy gourmet food or make-in-10-minutes-from-cans food. Raw, cooked, Italian, Thai, Indian, “meat” and potatoes, even books just about vegan cupcakes. I would recommend having a few favorites on your shelf, some books that you know and trust, you like their style of food, their way of seasoning, and you know their recipes work well. That will make it easier when you have a last-minute guest coming down from, say, Sacramento. Or you just got home from work and you’re your own guest for dinner.
Be picky. The vegan cupcake book is fabulous, but if you don’t like to bake, don’t buy it. Or buy it, but then wrap it up and give it your friend who bakes so that you can eat the cupcakes without trying to make them. Don’t buy a bunch of gourmet recipe cookbooks if you think you might start cooking more. First spend some time in the kitchen and see if that really makes you happy. You might find that dating a gourmet chef is much more pleasant than becoming one.
Most veg*n cookbooks have some of their recipes on the Internet, so you can play around with them before buying. At the very least, you can read about their authors and styles of food. There is an almost unlimited number of veg recipes on the Internet.
Just type “vegan recipes” or “cooking with tofu” into the Google or Yahoo! page and you’ll be amazed at what comes up. This is also very useful when you have a specific ingredient(s) you want to use up:
Type in vegan + “hot chocolate” + recipe and you’ll end up with both drink recipes and a yummy recipe for Mexican chocolate cake! Or try vegan + potatoes + dill + recipe and you’ll get recipes for potato soup, potato salad, and even vegan corned beef and cabbage.
Besides Yahoo! and Google, here are some of my favorite websites:
www.VegCooking.com (PETA’s food site)
www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/eating.html (Vegan Outreach recipe page)
www.vrg.org (Vegetarian Resource Group)
www.veganlunchbox.blogspot.com (vegan lunchboxes–adorable!)
www.vegweb.com (A huge healthy food site)
www.theppk.com (Post Punk Kitchen)
www.ecowine.com (organic and vegan wine)
and of course, don’t forget that www.DrMcDougall.com has recipes waiting for you, too!
The Millennium Cookbook (the first one) from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco
This book has a reputation for being very fussy and difficult. It can be, if you let it—but well worth the trouble! Don’t be afraid to cheat with it, though. I usually use it for basic sauce or side dish ideas. Instead of looking at the actual recipes, which can consist of many small recipes to make a finished plate, I go to the index and look under Sauces. A lot of Chef Tucker’s basic sauces are easy, delicious, and perfect for a simple dinner of rice and veggies or grilled tofu. It’s OK to pick and choose and use a sauce for something other than the book uses it for.
How It All Vegan and Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer
The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld
Sweet and Natural by Meridith McCartney
An excellent vegan baking book. Lots of information about cutting back on sugar, wheat, and fat (unless you’re some sort of athlete, into Ultimate Frisbee or running or something, in which case you should just skip those sections). Many of the recipes are simple and basic and you may end up adding more spices or a fancy sauce, but they all work which is so important when you’re talking baking and pastries. This book is in tatters I have used it so much.
The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley
An excellent “basic” cookbook. Recipes for grains, breads, sauces, tofu and tempeh, etc. Great pizza crust. All of the recipes come out perfectly. Like Sweet and Natural, I use a lot of Chef Berley’s recipes as building blocks and then add my own touch to them. My one complaint is the shirt he’s wearing on the back cover. Was his chef jacket really so stained that he had to wear a button-down shirt? I had to remove the dust jacket because of that.
Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz (Post Punk Kitchen)