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A Cookbook Addict’s Guide To Vegan Cookbooks

When I mentioned to someone that said they had a lot of cookbooks that I have over 50 vegan cookbooks, not including zines and miscellaneous books (like Vegan For Life), they were like, “Whooooooooooooa!” And I was like, “I know!” So they asked me for recommendations, and I had to fess up: I actually don’t use them a whole lot. But here is a post about how to lovingly nurture your cookbook addiction without going totally overboard.

***Also, I reference a bunch of books and authors, and i’m not linking any of them because that would take so long, you can look them up via the googles or on amazon. If I only link to some of them, that’s not fair and I am oh so lazy.***

I like to read cookbooks, but I also like to eat what the hell ever, whenever. If I try to make a commitment to making a certain recipe on a non-holiday, chances are that I will buy the stuff and then I will not feel well or it’s too hot to cook or I forgot to buy one thing or I got distracted by the tv. But I really enjoy reading them, like novels. I also like supporting the many friends i’ve made online since being vegan, it seems like half of the people I know have written a cookbook or two.

Back in the days of yore when vegan cookbooks were scarce, I bought just whatever book. Now it seems like there are multiple vegan books coming out every month, and I just can’t keep up! I don’t even try. Every few months, I buy a handful of books. I am rarely so falling over myself to get a book that I can’t wait a bit to have it in my hands. So I start by looking at a list of all of the books that have come out since my last round of purchases. Then I pick out the ones i’ve heard good things about and check the amazon reviews.

A side note on amazon reviews: you should always check out the negative reviews for a book, and I mean actually read them. A lot of the one and two star reviews on amazon for vegan cookbooks will often say: this book uses white flour/rice, sugar, oil, nuts, fat, gluten, soy, etc. and therefore is not healthy/I am allergic to one of those things. Vegan does NOT mean a diet devoid of those things, it simply means no animal products. So if the only bad thing anyone can say about a book is that it has stuff in it that they won’t eat, that is a good sign. I’m not allergic to any foods and I don’t go for that anti-oil/fat hooey, but unless a book claims to be super-healthy or not have a lot of soy/gluten/fat, I don’t think that having those things warrants a one star review. I hate olives, vegan authors seem to love them and I resist the urge to tell them their books suck because they have olive based recipes in them.

Also, you’ll see a surprising number of people who say ‘I flipped through this book and nothing looked good’. Thanks for the help? I really should just save this stuff for the Amazon Vegan Cookbook Review Drinking Game i’m working on.

Another factor for me is definitely author loyalty, but it’s not absolute. For instance, I didn’t own Isa and Terry’s cookie book for more than a year after it was released. I was broke for quite a while when it came out so I didn’t buy any books, and when I did buy books and put them on my scale of most wanted, cookies weren’t at the top. I also don’t own a few books by other people I otherwise like for various reasons, like maybe the subject of that book isn’t something that has me falling over, or I just want another book more. Point being, if I have bought one of your books before and liked it, I will probably buy it over someone who I don’t have any experience with.

On the flip side, I bought Chloe Coscarelli’s book because everyone has been raving about it, and I knew it was filled with gorgeous photos and unique recipes. I’ve never seen her episode of Cupcake Wars and all I know about her is she’s incredibly perky and shiny, but the word of mouth was enough. I also recently bought The Sexy Vegan because I heard the writing was funny. I like humor and people who aren’t afraid to say ‘shit’. I know that most people want their books to sell well so it’s not a good idea to put cusswords in a cookbook, but still. Since I like to really read through my books, tone is important to me.

And then there are pictures. I like pictures, but I know pictures make a book cost more. Some people complain when books don’t have a photo for every recipe, I really only need a handful of pages in the center to be satisfied. I like having a visual jumping off point for recipes I want to try. Of course, these days there are about a zillion pictures on blogs from every cookbook, so if the book you really want has no pictures, just google it, yo.

The last thing I really consider is, does it fill a hole in my collection? A few general purpose cookbooks are great, but specific ones are better. Like if I want a cake recipe, I can just open up a Hannah Kaminsky book instead of digging through the dessert section of almost every other book I have. If I want low-fat, I can open up Appetite for Reduction or Blissful Bites.

Believe it or not, i’ve only bought five new books this year. Like I said, i’m being more picky. Well…then today I realized that it had been a few months since my last purchase, so I bought four more. I can quit whenever I want! Here’s what I ordered:

Wild About Greens (Nava Atlas):
I have heard good things about Nava’s books, but I have none so I decided to get one, and her newest one stood out since it’s all about greens and quite frankly, there are few ways that I like greens that aren’t spinach. So i’m excited to have a whole book of recipes to experiment with and learn from. Also, Susan from Fat Free Vegan took the pictures so I know it’s nice looking.
Let Them Eat Vegan! (Dreena Burton): I have wished for years that Dreena was my mom, even if she’s not nearly old enough to be. This is her first book in dang near five years, so i’m excited to see how she’s evolved with all of the strides that have been made in vegan cooking since her last book came out.
Vegan World Feast (Bryanna Clark Grogan): This one isn’t new, but i’ve heard lots of good things about it and I only have one of Bryanna’s books, so I thought it was time to get another one. I make her seitan tofurkey and pumpkin pie recipes religiously for holidays.
Vegan a la Mode (Hannah Kaminsky): 1. Ice cream. 2. I know it will be beautiful. 3. ICE. CREAM.

Instead of giving my opinion of every freaking book I own, I will break it down into a few categories:

The prettiest books:
Hannah Kaminsky takes amazing photos all the time. Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman always have a really cool design aesthetic that I enjoy. Isa Moskowitz has the best taste in background/fabric choices. And even though it’s out of print, Yellow Rose Recipes has illustrations by Amanda Chronister that make it a collectors item.

Seasonal eating: I don’t know how many other books do this, but Blissful Bites (Christy Morgan) and Color Me Vegan (Colleen Patrick-Goudreau) are both sectioned off by season, and Color Me Vegan is about each color of the food rainbow, so it’s also by color. The Inspired Vegan Bryant Terry) is also divided into seasons, and then separate menus complete with a recommended soundtrack. Also, if you want a catch-all holiday book, Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations (Alicia Simpson) has recipes for over a dozen different holidays/occasions, divided as such.

Zines: Zines used to be the best way to fill your grubby paws with vegan recipes, they’re not as popular now but there are some you can still get. Papa Tofu (Kittee Berns) is still being printed, and you can get compilations like Barefoot and in the Kitchen (Ashley Rowe) (full of her super cute drawings), Please Don’t Feed the Bears, Hot Damn, Hell Yeah/The Dirty South, and i’m not sure if Soy Not Oi was ever a zine, but it’s also old school DIY awesomeness. Leigh (formerly of Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, pour one out) recently put out a zine dedicated to her mom’s recipes, called Down Yonder.

Regional Cuisine: I learn a lot by reading/cooking from books that focus on certain parts of the world/country, especially since I was raised on a steady diet of Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip. Vegan Soul Food (Bryant Terry, Southern), Viva Vegan (Terry Hope Romero, Latin), Caribbean Vegan (Taymer Mason) are good starts. There are many regional cookbooks that I have heard lots of nice things about, but I don’t own.

Best themed books: Vegan Diner (Julie Hasson) warms the heart of this girl who truly misses eating at truck stops. Vegan Brunch (Isa Moskowitz) is great because who doesn’t want to eat breakfast pretty much all the time? Hearty Vegan Meals (Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman) is THE book for the really decadent, amazing, will charm the pickiest vegetable hater you know, recipes.

Healthy/simple/whole foods: Blissful Bites (Christy Morgan) for those of you trying to figure out how to cook without oil, Appetite For Reduction (Isa Moskowitz) for, as always, inventive recipes, and Dreena Burton, the original vegan mom blogger, always uses a ton of different flours and alternative sweeteners in her books. Vegan on the Cheap (Robin Robertson) is pretty healthy because it’s about making super cheap recipes, so there isn’t a lot of room for processed food.

Desserts: My Sweet Vegan and Vegan Desserts (Hannah Kaminsky) are sure to impress. The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur for all of the cookies (and a picture of every one), and out of the dessert trilogy (Isa and Terry), the pie book is my favorite because I think vegan pies of the non-fruit variety are still a mystery to a lot of people.

All purpose: My absolute favorite books that do not fit in other categories are Vegan With A Vengeance, Veganomicon (both Isa Moskowitz), and Yellow Rose Recipes (Joanna Vaught). I know I mentioned that YRR is out of print, but lucky you! You can get Joanna’s compilation of the book and her zines, Yellow Rose Greatest Hits) straight from the lady herself at joannavaught.com (I didn’t actually link it, it doesn’t count).

My top five, desert island, have used repeatedly and would die without books are: Yellow Rose Recipes, Veganomicon, Vegan Pie In The Sky, Hearty Vegan Meals, and my utterly destroyed copy of the first vegan cookbook I ever got, the one that made me so excited about being vegan:

And then when no one was looking i’d also jam Vegan Brunch and Vegan Diner in the raft to the desert island. Then a handful more. Who can only live with five cookbooks?

posted: July 31, 2012
under: books, food, pictures, products

RIP Cosmo’s, and why i’m watermarking my photos.

Last weekend was the last chance to order from Cosmo’s before they closed their doors. When Leigh and Ken announced they were closing, I immediately placed an order to help them clear out their stock (and I ordered enough to get free shipping so it wasn’t any more than I would spend at the health food store). But when they put up a code for 40% off of everything, I couldn’t resist even though I am not exactly rolling in the money.

One of the items I ordered got oversold, so Leigh emailed me and asked me what I wanted as a replacement. My reply was, “Chocolate, other jerky’s, chocolate, any non-perishable food item, chocolate, whatevs.” I got extra chocolate wrapped up like a present and a jar of Biscoff cookie spread, way more than the value of what they were replacing. This isn’t the only time that my Cosmo’s order has included a little something extra. Ken and Leigh are good people and I wish them luck in the next part of their life.

And now why i’m putting my url on my photos from now on: Pinterest and tumblr.

Actually, since this is long and not everyone will care to read that much about the subject, let me say that it is NOT because I think I take amazing pictures. I have nothing to sell, I don’t have ads on my site that I want more people to see. Since I only update about once a month i’m not even really concerned with how many people read/look at my blog. I used to think it was kind of ridiculous for non-professionals/non-artists to watermark their photos. If you still do, feel free to think i’m an asshole.

I have a Pinterest account and I think it’s great. I love having visual bookmarks of recipes, makeup ideas, gardening ideas, etc. There are some things about it that aren’t so great, like the fact that they save a hi-res copy of the pinned image. And that so many people DO NOT ATTRIBUTE/LINK BACK TO THE CORRECT SOURCE. I’m saying this as a user and not as someone who has found my images on there, I hate it when I see a pin I like and want to click through to the blog/site, and…it goes to a tumblr, or the person saved it and uploaded it themselves. Don’t do that, guys! I know when you’re re-pinning stuff you probably don’t always go and look at where the image came from, but if you are pinning something, make sure it’s from the site of the person who it belongs to, so at least people who want to follow the trail, can.

My friend Sunny has made a bunch of posts about this in the past month, if you want to read more about it.

What really gets me is tumblr. I kind of hate tumblr, but I know a lot of people who use it. My husband bought a tumblr t-shirt just to give me grief. Sometimes when I check my flickr stats, I get links from tumblr, and mostly I just make that Marge Simpson sound and move on. It bothers me that someone can post nothing of their own and get a couple dozen likes/reblogs for it, but the person who actually created the content gets jack. I’ve never turned off sharing of my photos on flickr though, until I found a referral on one of my food photos for a pro-anorexia tumblr. I absolutely do not want anyone using anything of mine to support hurting themselves, if I can help it. Can I?

But even if you have sharing disabled and your photo protection as high as it can be, someone can still use the bookmarklet function on either of these sites. The only other thing you can do is opt out of the flickr API search. But someone can still stumble across your photo and use the bookmarklet.

Now, a lot of people straight-up do not care about this stuff. That’s fine. If you don’t care, none of this matters. If you do care, you are basically screwed. There is nothing you can do except get off of the internet, because this is the way things are now. So that’s why I decided to just start putting my url in the bottom corner of my photos. Sure, someone can save my photo from one of these sites and crop it out, but considering how easy it is to repost things these days, less people are going to go through that effort. And if they do, there’s nothing I can do about that!

posted: March 27, 2012
under: elsewhere on the internet, life, pictures, products

Vegan Things I’ve Bought That I Love…

…because I will not be buying much in the near future! See previous post about Chester and his money-eating, multi-vet-trip hip. He is doing fantastic and his ability to get around on three legs is kind of scary, he just had some swollen foot issues and then his bandage needed to be re-wrapped. We’ve all gotten used to the routine of carrying/being carried up and down the stairs. We moved all of our stuff back upstairs because I was unhappy sleeping on the couch, neither of the dogs were eating right, and Chester seriously spends most of his day upstairs sleeping anyway. I’d rather carry him up and down the stairs than have all of us be miserable. Moving on!

P.S.  This wasn’t all supposed to be beauty products but I kind of went on for so long about zit cream that I decided to cap it at three things.

 

I’m sure i’ve mentioned it before, but my hormones started going apeshit a few years back and I had to start dealing with seriously itchy, oily, cystic acne (I also now cry off and on for three days before I get my period, it’s lovely).  I had acne in junior high, and the occasional zit thereafter from passing out in my makeup and such.  But cystic acne is AWFUL.  It starts with an itch.  Then the grease comes.  Then a painful bump slowly appears.  And you couldn’t even pop it if you wanted to, because it’s so deep under the skin.  There’s no turning back, no washing your face or using some zap-zit product to beat that little bastard back.  We’re talking a good week, and that’s if you manage to keep your dirty hands off of it (if so, you’re a better person than I am).  Then there’s acne scars which take weeks to fade!

At first, I would just get a single zit on my chin around period time.  I bought some face scrub from Lush, used it 1-2 times a week, and had no problems.  Then it slowly got worse, until I was using half a dozen things to try and help my skin.  Tea tree oil pads, vitamins, jojoba oil as a nighttime moisturizer, eating yogurt like it’s going out of style (and yes I drank plenty of water and all that).  That also worked for awhile, and then about two months ago I realized that despite my best efforts, it…wasn’t working.  I always had a zit.  And again, not a tiny whitehead, but a painful, deep zit that hung around forever.  I was really tired of spackling my face every morning to cover up the redness that takes forever to fade, so I gave in and bought the acne.org treatment (which is benzoyl peroxide, and vegan).  I have had exactly three zits in the last month, all regular small ones, all were from skipping cleaning or forgetting to put this gel on.

 

Even though I love this stuff and it’s only 2.5% BP, I should note that there are some possible side effects from using it, so if you want to give it a whirl and you’ve never used a BP product, order the travel size first!  The regular tube is eight ounces, which is a loooooot of product to be stuck with if it makes your skin dry or itchy.  I don’t have that problem, but your mileage may vary.  I’ve read that using BP can make your skin ‘age’ faster, but i’d rather have wrinkles than feel like clawing my face off nearly every day.

I do like to try and use as many natural, good-for-me-good-for-the-earth products as possible, and that’s why I love Pumpkin & Poppy Cosmetics.  I’ve mentioned Kristy’s youtube channel before, but this past year she started her own vegan mineral makeup company, and it’s amazing how much she’s grown in such a short amount of time.  She’s gone from just a few mineral foundations to doing themed collections with lipglosses and now eyeliners.  If you’re wary of buying homemade ‘vegan’ cosmetics (thanks, Glittersniffer), Kristy is vegan herself so she won’t be selling you pinks with carmine in them.  But I think my favorite part is that she themes her collections after movies and literature, so instead of trying to pick some random brown out of a product lineup, you can be like, “zomg, I love Labyrinth and I totally want a Bluto inspired eyeshadow!”  Her holiday collection was called Christmas In Gotham, people.  Kristy is also super friendly, interactive, and is very transparent about her ingredients and why she uses each one.

If you buy anything I suggest the Moth Wing eyeshadow, which is a really cool but work-friendly color, or her foundation sample pack so you can figure out which color works for you.  Thanks to the above zit gel, I can now get away with wearing just my mineral foundation without having to polka-dot my face with concealer.  And look at that crazy gorgeous vegan red blush up there!  Hot shit, dudes.

 

 

And finally, I give you…my nail polish collection, as it will stand for quite awhile.  After the holidays were over, Ulta and Sally’s both started clearing out the old nail polish collections to make room for the coming spring collections.  And…I went a little crazy.  And maybe doubled the size of my collection.  But i’m a bargain hunter and i’m pretty sure that all of maybe five bottles were bought full price.  Most of my Zoyas I got through some kind of promotion on their site, all of my Sinful Colors polishes were $1 at Walgreens…and most of the holiday colors I got (almost all of the China Glaze and a lot of the ORLY) were $4-2.

P.S.  I found out after my spree that while China Glaze polishes (not counting treatments and some top/base coats) are vegan and they don’t test on animals, they currently can’t confirm that their ingredient suppliers don’t test (but they’re in the process of getting that info to comply with the animal testing ban that’s coming up in the UK).  I think this is a personal comfort thing, on one hand it’s kind of like ‘no one is vegan because mice get killed by the threshers that harvest fields’, but on the other hand, it is just nail polish and not food or what have you. I don’t buy from Essie or OPI because they are owned by parent companies who definitely test, some people think that’s okay because Essie and OPI don’t test themselves.  I don’t think any of their polishes are so amazeballs that I need to buy them over 100% vegan or 95% vegan brands.  Once you get outside of food, veganism can be tricky, just do the best you can.

I tried to arrange them by color (the top is all glitters) for the people who are like, “How many colors do you need?”  ALL OF THEM, FOOLS.  But I am pretty happy with my color selection right now and it will take a long time before I get bored.

 

And here are some random close-ups of polishes that you really need to get all up in to appreciate, plus my fancy storage system:

 

 

 

 

posted: February 2, 2012
under: elsewhere on the internet, lists, pictures, products

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