» books Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk!

Whole Grain Vegan Baking: Blog Tour/Review and Giveaway!

The giveaway is over, congratulations Tofu Cat!

Are you ready to bake up some whole grains like a mug*?

I have a feeling that Whole Grain Vegan Baking is the kind of book that people will be afraid to pick up, and needlessly so! I found this book easy to use, despite having only a half stocked kitchen. I went to make my first recipe and realized I didn’t have any dry measuring cups, for pete’s sake. I also don’t currently own any pretty plates or linens so you’ll have to excuse my washcloth-chic food styling. So! Let’s address some fears you might have:

It’s expensive/inaccessible: It doesn’t have to be! Please check out the post I made a few days ago about how people from small towns can easily get what they need. Internet shopping is a gift from Al Gore, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t use it. If you happen to live in a place with a health food store, you can hit up their bulk bins and get a lot of the flours, or if you’re lucky, all of them. Bulk bins are cheaper and you can get the exact amount you need. And while WGVB does use a few items that are pricey, Celine and Tami made a conscious effort to use more affordable ingredients. Overall, of course while grain flours and natural sweeteners are going to cost more than white flour and sugar, but I guarantee that there is something in here for every budget and lifestyle.

Also, someone noted that there seems to be a lot of vegan yogurt in this book, obviously ordering yogurt off of the internet requires purchasing a cold pack and isn’t something most people are willing to do. You can substitute any yogurt in the book with blended silken tofu. Or if all you can get is a fruity yogurt, say the gross new Silk soy ones, you can diligently pick the fruit out and adjust the sweetener a little bit. And maybe your finished product will come out blueberry tinted, but whatever.

I have to buy a million flours and i’ll never use them all: Hey, you don’t need to buy anything you don’t want to! I didn’t make a count, but it seems to me like barley, spelt, wheat/whole wheat pastry flour, and oat are the most commonly used. What I did was mark up a bunch of recipes to try, then I went through and wrote down the common flours/sweeteners in them. I just checked the index and each flour used has a section, and the only flour I got that doesn’t have multiple uses is graham flour. Also, Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills come in much smaller bags than standard flours, so you’ll use them up much faster than a standard sized bag of wheat flour. If you have the room, you can store extra flours in your fridge or freezer, in an airtight container.

It’s boring: Absolutely not. Celine and Tami aren’t the kind of people who will put out a book of plain loaves and bran muffins. The basic recipes are there, but they are far outweighed by things like Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies (the surprise is Sriracha) and Baked Speculoos Donuts. If you think you’ve got whole grain baking figured out because you know how to swap whole wheat for white flour, you are in for a punch to the gut of your tastebuds.

It’s too healthy tasting/god damned hippie crap: Everything I made has passed The Brian Test, and he kept saying that he couldn’t tell that they were supposed to be healthier alternatives. The last thing I made were the Savory Barley and Potato Scones (I made the suggested walnut swap for the raisins), and I warned him that they were totally savory and the most ‘whole grain’ tasting thing I had made, and he still liked them. Using such a wide variety of flours, and combining them, helps the recipes avoid that dry, crunchy, sadness you might expect.

I hate oil/soy/gluten/nuts/joy: Okay, ya’ll are going to be disappointed with this book if you are expecting this book to be free of anything besides refined flours and sugars, and soy (which is an easy swap for milks and yogurt). I don’t think any of my xgfx friends will be shocked to hear that this book isn’t for them, since it’s a baking book that isn’t specifically gluten free. But if you are feeling adventurous and want to try and de-gluten some of the recipes, here’s a good guide to gluten-free flour swaps and when to use them.

And as always, Fair Winds puts out some of the most attractive vegan cookbooks ever.  The design of the book is beautiful, as are Celine’s photos.  I would guess about 1/3rd of the recipes have an accompanying photo.  I found the book very easy to use and despite the fact that I had to improvise a lot based on my kitchen equipment (seriously, how did I forget measuring cups?!), I got great results with everything I made.

Pictures! Followed by words about the pictures!

Wholesome Vanilla Pound Cake, I ate most of this straight up with a glass of almond milk, but I spread these pieces with Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful and cherry fruit spread.  Definitely one of the easier recipes in the book, if you’re looking for the shallow end to dip your toes into.

Double Cranberry Scones, I had to use raspberries in lieu of fresh/frozen cranberries, so for me these were Cranberry Raspberry Scones.  Another super easy recipe, which Brian enthusiastically wolfed down.

Layered Chocolate and Banana Mini Cakes, I used a 6 cup bundt pan because I only have one mini cake pan.  This is the recipe to go for if you have some overripe bananas that you need to use up, and again, super easy.  It’s like a desserty banana bread with a brownie on the bottom (or top, depending on the kind of pan you use).

Savory Barley and Potato Scones, which I decided to make after I realized that I hadn’t made anything that wasn’t at least a little sweet.  These are definitely different, and since I used the recipe note suggestion to use walnuts in lieu of raisins, they would be excellent paired with a soup or stew.  They come out a little dry looking (I brushed a little vegan margarine on top of the ones in the photo), but the inside is incredibly moist.

My final picture is below with the recipe, and I can’t wait to bake more!  For funsies, I asked the authors what their favorite recipes from the book were, if you need some more jumping off points.

Tami:  English Muffin Bread, Cracked Wheat Pan Rolls, and the Strawberry Sweet Biscuits

Celine:  the hazelnut shortbreads, the lemon curd tartlets, and the banana berry breakfast bake

Giveaway!  Fair Winds Press has agreed to send one lucky person (US or Canada only, sorry) their own copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.  To enter, simply comment on this entry telling me what your favorite kind of baked good is!  Be as generic or specific as you like.  I’m partial to cake and anything yeasty, myself.  I will pick a winner at random on Friday, May 31st.  Make sure to comment with a valid email address!  Enjoy the recipe, and check out Denise’s post tomorrow on The Urban Vegan, which is the last stop on the book tour.

*mug is slang from days gone by that only I still use, it means mother somethingsomething.


Braided Almond Oat Bread

This was an instant favorite when I made it, so it was the recipe I wanted to share. It’s small town living friendly: you can grind oats and almonds in a food processor to make those flours and sub the yogurt with blended silken tofu if you have trouble finding those things. I recommend brushing with maple syrup instead of agave, because it tastes like a loaf of french toast! The only change I made to the recipe was to just use some extra almond meal for the sprinkling at the end.

3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm plain or vanilla flavored almond milk, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup, divided
330 g (2 3/4 cups) white whole wheat flour, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
90 g (1 cup) oat flour
120 g (1 cup) almond meal
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
120 g (1/2 cup) plain or vanilla flavored vegan yogurt, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) melted coconut oil or neutral flavored oil
Pure maple syrup or raw agave nectar, for brushing
Chopped roasted almonds, for sprinkling

Combine 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the milk with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup, 60 g (1/2 cup) of the wheat flour, and the yeast. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

In a large bowl, combine 240 g (2 cups) of the wheat flour and the oat flour, almond meal, and salt.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, remaining 3 tablespoons (45 ml) maple syrup, yogurt, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients onto the and mix, adding the remaining 1/4 cup (30 g) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time, if needed, until the dough is smooth and pliable, about six minutes.

Alternatively, knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface for about eight minutes, adding extra whole wheat flour if needed, until smooth and pliable.

Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Punch down the dough, and place it on a clean surface. Divide it into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion out into a 12-inch (30 cm) strand. Place 3 strands side by side, pinch them together at the top to seal, and tuck the top under slightly. Braid the strands. Pinch together and tuck the bottom of the braid as well, gently grabbing both ends of the braid and pushing together to make a neat and tight braid. Repeat with the remaining three strands. (Katie’s note: I found it easier to start the braid not quite in the middle, so I could braid towards each end and ensure maximum braidage before tucking. If that makes any sense.)

Place the breads on the prepared sheet. Cover the breads with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes, until puffed.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C or gas mark 5).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and dark brown on the bottom. Turn the baking sheet once halfway through to ensure an even coloring and even baking of the braids.

Lightly brush the tops with maple syrup or agave nectar once out of the oven. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Let cool on a wire rack. The breads taste even better the next day.

posted: May 27, 2013
under: books, pictures, recipes, review

Vitacost: big haul for Whole Grain Vegan Baking!

If you follow Celine or Tami‘s blogs, you’re probably aware that there’s a blog tour for their new book, and i’m part of it.  A big complaint about vegan cookbooks is if they use any ‘weird’ or hard-to-find ingredients, so if you’re interested in getting the book and aren’t sure if you’re going to be able to find everything you need locally, read on.

When Celine sent out the email asking for participants, we were literally in the middle of moving.  I wanted to participate, but being in a new town that’s small and trying to unpack all of my stuff, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get all of the stuff I needed and I didn’t really have the time to drive around looking for things like barley flour.  I knew i’d be able to find some stuff at Kroger, but I decided it would just be easier to order everything off of the internet.  I had some referral credits saved from Vitacost, and they were having a 15% off sale on some of the stuff I needed.  I didn’t order everything one would need to make every recipe in the book, but I did get a lot of flour and sweeteners.  A LOT.  Two very heavy boxes worth.


Yeah, that’s a lot of flour and sweeteners and some other stuff (plus I got some hand cream and a few other things), but I was really stoked to stock up my new pantry!  I waited for the book to arrive, then went through and marked a bunch of recipes to try.  Then I went through and wrote down the flours I would need that I didn’t know for sure I could get.  I ordered doubles of some flours, like spelt, that I knew for sure I would easily use up.

Vitacost is a neat discount site that sells lots of stuff for vegans:  they have a section just for Leaping Bunny certified items, and a vegan section which is then divided into the normal store categories.  If you get the Healthy Surprise Box, they carry a lot of the snacks that go into that.  There’s also makeup (even Beauty Without Cruelty), vitamins, protein powders, cleaning items, and obviously, pantry items.

I will say that not everything that is vegan in the Leaping Bunny section is marked as such – if you click the ‘vegan’ link under the ‘narrow your search’ bar on the left, sometimes it omits items that I know for sure are vegan, so it helps to already know your brands (i’ve never seen anything listed as vegan that wasn’t, though).  Like amazon, prices are discounted in varying amounts, but if you’re trying to score vegan items for cheap, I think Vitacost is better, mostly because of the sections mentioned above.  It’s just easier to navigate.  They often discount items – like their top sellers – for an extra percentage.  Sometimes they even do sales on Leaping Bunny products!  And right now, they have Bob’s Red Mill products marked down an extra 15% (through 5/29), so if you do want to get some stuff for WGVB, now is the time!

I mentioned referral credits above, so here’s the deal on that:  they have a program where if someone uses your referral code, you both get $10 off (but only for your first purchase).  I’m not really into trying to push affiliate links on people so I can get free things, but this one is two sided.  I actually tried Vitacost because a vlogger I like did haul videos for them and I wanted to help her out so I used her code. This program is featured on their front page so it’s open to everyone, if you ever sign up for a Vitacost account you can get referral credits without signing your first born over to the dark prince.

So if you would like to try out Vitacost, and save $10 (or if you hate me, go to youtube and search for ‘vitacost haul’ and I guarantee you will quickly find a referral link in someone’s video): click here for the referral link, the only catch is that you have to spend $30 to use the $10 (but you get free shipping if you spend $50).  If you’re already a vitacost fan, let people know what your favorite things are to order so they can get some ideas!

posted: May 25, 2013
under: books, elsewhere on the internet, food, products

Most Awesome Vegan Cookbooks – 2012

Oh man, 2012 was a grand slam year for vegan cookbooks. I feel like we got so many interesting new ideas, recipes, and niches filled. We got some many beautifully designed books with pictures. Obviously this is a little late to be a holiday gift guide (unless you want to call it a ‘how to spend your gift cards’ guide), BUT you could still get stuff with Amazon Prime two day shipping OR OR OR Herbivore is having a last minute sale, and tomorrow is their last day to order and get your stuff by Christmas!

Now as i’ve stately previously, I don’t cook from recipes a lot. I just love cookbooks and like to read them. My comments are almost solely related to the design, the interesting-ness of the recipes (like I don’t care about you trying to reinvent the basic tofu scramble), the pictures, etc. That is why I rarely write amazon reviews and just blog my thoughts instead. Onward, in order of how they’re stacked next to me:

Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats, Allyson Kramer: This is at the top because I just got this book in the mail yesterday. I’m not gluten-free and since it’s not necessary for me or anyone I cook for, i’m pretty terrified of gluten-free baking. But I got this book because I know kittee is nuts about it, and I can see why. This book has a great design, a picture for every recipe, and these aren’t just ‘oh this happens to be gluten-free pretty much already so i’ll stick it in here’. Allyson includes a recipe for gluten-free homemade pasta that you can use to make things like Walnut Ravioli with Vodka Sauce. Fancy! There are baked goods that do have a long list of ingredients, but there are plenty of simple and short recipes that still are interesting (Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower, whaaaaaaat). I’m probably going to get this book for my sister-in-law, she’s been eating a lot of vegan meals lately and her BFF is gluten-free so I think the two of them would get a lot of use out of this.

Vegan Food Gifts, Joni Marie Newman: Joni sent this book to me as a gift during VeganMoFo, and since I haven’t made my vegan food gifts for the holidays yet I haven’t used it enough to give a proper review, but I will still talk it up like a mug. First off, you can tell that so much work and love was put into this book. There’s a crafty section for making your own treat packaging and loaf pans, ready-made gifts (like cookies and sweet breads), mixes for people to make soup, brownies, etc. with, themed gift baskets, a whole section on canning with step-by-step photos, and homemade fancy booze gifts. Damn, girl. If that weren’t enough, Celine Steen took all of the photos and Kurt Halsey did the illustrations for the book and the gift tag templates in it (omg fangirl squee [fun fact, Kurt Halsey kind of made me vegan]!!!!!!!!!!!). Brian and I used the TVP Pepperoni from the pizza gift basket, which is an excellent quick pizza topping, and i’ve made the Pumpkin Bread with white chocolate chips several times (I even made it into a bundt cake for one of our Thanksgiving desserts). So even if you aren’t making gifts, you can take a lot of the recipes and make them for your dinner that night or snacks. I love making food for holiday gifts but I often have trouble thinking of things outside of chocolate something-something, so this book is definitely a very valuable addition to my collection.

Artisan Vegan Cheese, Miyoko Schinner:
I said I wasn’t going to buy this book because I really don’t have the set-up to ferment things right now, and it seems like if you’re going to buy a book about making fancy vegan cheeses, you should probably use it. Although i’ve heard the recipes can be difficult to work with, Miyoko herself posts a lot in the book thread on the ppk, helping people figure out any issues they have, so I know she’s really dedicated to these recipes and she wants them to work for people. I think this book is a game changer, especially for people who live in smaller towns and don’t have regular access to vegan cheeses, and certainly don’t have access to fancy fermented cheeses like Dr. Cow. Book Publishing Company books don’t generally have my favorite layouts, but there are some pictures in the book and the pictures are very nice and make me want to make and eat all of the cheeses.

Vegan A La Mode, Hannah Kaminsky: Yes, even as my toes are cold, I still want to talk about an ice cream book. Honestly, I don’t think Hannah is capable of making a bad book because she is a creative person and she takes amazing photos. This book isn’t just your basic chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and then some variations. There are recipes like Sweet Corn Ice Cream, Red Hot Ice Cream, and a Purple Cow Ice Cream that is only three ingredients. ALSO HOMEMADE MAGIC SHELL RECIPES. Some require a little more work, some contain pre-packaged vegan ingredients, most do not. Although there have been other vegan ice cream books, I feel that like the above book, if you’re a small town vegan and you want to make your eating life more interesting and delicious, investing in an ice cream maker and this book is a big step in the right direction.

Let Them Eat Vegan, Dreena Burton:
I’ve said more than once that I want Dreena to be my vegan mom, and I think she is really good at making healthy recipes and using kind-of-hippie ingredients in a way that doesn’t seem boring or gross. There are a lot of alternative sweeteners, grains, and flours here but Dreena isn’t one of those people who completely shuns fat, salt, soy, or gluten. But she also seems to try and please as many people as possible and if something can be made soy or gluten free, she does it. There’s a very large selection of cookies, pies, cakes, and ice creams and overall it’s a very well-rounded book. When I bought this I said I was interested in seeing how Dreena’s recipe style had adapted to the many advances in vegan cooking that had been made since her last book, and I think she’s kept up pretty well.

Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope Romero: Strap on your big person panties, ladies and gents, because this is a serious book. I got it and as I flipped through it, I felt a little intimidated. This isn’t a watered down, americanized version of international recipes. This is serious business, and if you’re one of those people who thinks that no one should ever write a recipe with more than ten ingredients and everything should be available at the corner store in a tiny town in the midwest, go home. I don’t mean that as a diss to the book, quite the opposite. These recipes are genuine and Terry isn’t willing to sacrifice flavor just to make recipes reach the lowest common denominator. That’s not to say that every recipe requires a trip to the international market to get fancy spices and weird produce. There are recipe icons for shorter recipes, recipes for a novice, and cheaper recipes, so if i’ve scared your pants off, rest assured that there is something in here for every budget, schedule, skill level, and…access-to-ingredientness. Includes many gorgeous photos.

Barefoot and in the Kitchen, Ashley Rowe: Do you miss zines? Do you not need fancy pictures and complicated recipes? Do you like super-cute drawings? I have all of the Barefoot zines and enjoyed them immensely, and to be honest I do miss the more carefree writing style that comes with zines. This compilation book is full of Ashley’s illustrations and humor.

>Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes: I already word vomited my tiny heart out about this book, but to sum up: vegan + sandwiches = awesome!

Wild About Greens, Nava Atlas:
As someone who doesn’t really like leafy greens that aren’t spinach because they taste bitter to me, any book that is dedicated entirely to greens piques my interest! Since I see a lot of people say that they don’t know how to incorporate kale into their diet in interesting ways, i’d say a lot of people would benefit from this book. The photos by Susan Voisin are too few, but the vintage style greens prints make for a nice visual throughout the book. I also like that the book doesn’t have any plain lettuces in it because, really, we all know how to work iceberg lettuce into our diet: go out for a meal at a chain restaurant with your omnivore family, heyooooooooooooooo!

And with that tacky joke, I will end this list. I hope everyone has had or will have a happy holiday season, and if you are a scrooge I hope everyone leaves you the hell alone. Happy Festivus!

posted: December 21, 2012
under: books, products, review

« Older |