So far 2018 has brought about quite a lot of changes in how I’ve been preparing and eating food. I don’t normally do resolutions, but this year I decided to give myself a challenge every month. Anyone who knows me, will know this about me; if I decide to do something I’ll do it 100%. I’m either in or out, there isn’t an in-between. That is, until I get bored and stop whatever it is that I’ve taken on.
For one of my challenges coming up in March I will be eating vegetarian for the month. I was a vegetarian when I was younger, mostly because my mom (Hi Mommy) started to eat vegetarian and it was just easier to follow suit (she was making food for me after all). So this will not be the first time I’ve eaten vegetarian, but it will be the first time I will be doing it as an adult and preparing all of my own food.
You might be wondering why I’ve written all the above information in the book review section of my website instead of the random musings section of the site where I tend to post my random musing. Well, I will be writing about my New Year New Challenges Experiment in my random musing posts, but if you would like to follow along daily, check out my Instagram page for all of my postings or you can just follow the hashtag #anynce (A New Year New Challenge Experiment). If you'd like to join in with my monthly challenge experiment or make up your own monthly challenges, I encourage you to do so, and please feel free to use the #anynce tag too! Doing new things and challenging yourself is almost more fun and supportive with others joining in.
I am trying my best not to get bored and stop my new food endeavours, and one way I'm doing that is by getting interested in and reading cookbooks. It took me a little while to decide if I should write a review on a cookbook. Thoughts like will anyone care?, it’s a cookbook not a novel, does it count? and a few other random thoughts along those same lines kept running through my mind. I talked with Michael about these thoughts and his response was that I was just being silly. It was still reading, of course I should write a review he said. Michael was right of course it is still reading, so without further ado, here is my first “book” review of 2018.
Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes
By: Dana Shultz
Since my vegetarian month is coming up in March, I wanted to get a healthy number of good vegetarian recipes under my belt before then. I stumbled upon The Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking randomly on Amazon when I was looking up vegetarian cookbooks. I checked out the blog and found a ton of delicious sounding recipes and even tried a modified version of one of them, Garlic and White Wine Pasta with Brussel Sprouts. Why modified you might ask?, well, I was missing a bunch of the ingredients so I substituted. The pasta turned out so delicious that I was really curious how the non-modified version would taste. So during my lunch break the next day, I popped down to the local Book Warehouse to see if they had the book, so that I could flip through the pages and see what it looked liked. Up on the shelf under new, there it was sitting, all shiny and new. I bought it right then.
When I got The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking home, I immediately started to pour over the pages. There was a picture for every single recipe! Let me tell you any future cookbook authors out there, if you don’t include pictures of the recipes you’ve provided in your cookbook, I will quickly put your book down, likely never to pick it up again. I really want to know what the food I'm trying to cook should look like. This really helps me know if I'm doing it correctly or not. I loved the fact that Dana Shultz included pictures of the recipes in her cookbook, especially since vegan food is an entirely new cooking concept for me.
Each recipe is laid out with an ingredient list, cooking time and serving quantity. Also, most of the recipes could be made in 30 minutes and with under 10 ingredients. Almost all of the recipes also provided directions to make the meal gluten free. At the back of the cookbook there is also a nutritional listing guide for the recipes, which is very helpful if you care about that type of thing.
Now normally the word “vegan” on the cover of a cookbook will cause me not to look any further at that book. I apologize to all the people who maintain a vegan diet, for whatever reasons they have, but I’ve always found the word vegan to be a bit granola for my tastes. If Shultz used the word vegan on the cover instead of of her phrasing of “entirely plant based” I would have missed out on a great cookbook.
So far I’ve only tried one of the recipes out of The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking, the Peanut Butter Pad Thai. I followed the recipe almost completely, so it was in fact vegan this time (I left out the green onions because onions are yucky). I can’t say enough good things about the tofu in this recipe, it was so delicious! Nice and chewy and with just a little bit of heat. The pad thai sauce was a little overwhelming in the peanut butter taste, but that fault lays entirely with me and my measurements of peanut butter not with in the recipe. For someone who usually goes, "that's about the right amount" when cooking I used too much peanut butter (my love of peanut butter took over when measuring it out). Next time I should actually put in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter instead of my approximation of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, which was likely at least double the requested amount. All of that being said about the pad thai being a little too peanut buttery, it was still delicious! I just felt that I was missing some of the other flavours that were called for in the recipe, so I think that next time I make this, it will be even more awesome than it was.
How the steps were laid out in the recipe were really easy to follow. I didn't think that I was missing anything or any steps when I was making the pad thai. Reading the other recipes in The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking is looks like this is the case with all the recipes. Each one laid out nicely and easy to follow.
The other thing that I will mention about Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking that I really liked, the pages laid open flat. This is incredibly helpful when you are following the recipe and cooking at the same time.
Thank you Dana Shultz for your cookbook, and your use of the words "Entirely Plant Based" on your cover. You’ve opened up an entirely new cuisine for my taste buds which will help me be successful during my vegetarian month.