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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

The new year is a great motivator for new beginnings, new directions, or just bringing some new and delicious recipes to your table. The idea of something new to our cooking repertoire inspires us to open a new door. Perhaps a fruit or vegetable you've never eaten before greets your eye with appeal. Following are two new cookbooks to consider adding to your bookshelf.

Vegan Vittles, Second Helpings:
Down-home Cooking for Everyone

by Jo Stepaniak

Book Publishing Company 2007

$19.95 Paperback

Prolific author, Jo Stepaniak, the SAGE of veganism, is never one to accept complacency. Nor does she ever rest and simply let the world go by. Like the Energizer Bunny, her revved up moter continues to hum the vegan message in a revised and ramped-up edition of her original Vegan Vittles.

First published in 1996, Vegan Vittles was packed with tantalizing comfort foods like Not Your Mama's Meatloaf, Barbecue-Style Braised Short "Ribs," and Stuffed Omelettes. Those delightful favorites are still there in the new edition, but polished up a bit to make them easier to prepare.

Vegan Vittles Revised cookbook editions offer many advantanges--the opportunity for the author to improve upon already great recipes, introduce new recipes, add a fresh approach to the introduction, expand the glossary, include new cooking tips, and add special touches like quotations, witticisms, and side bars.

In the process of updating and improving Vegan Vittles, Jo Stepaniak has created a stunning volume. It's fresh, appealing, and most important, informative. Anyone new to veganism can easily relate to compassionate living with the expressive Foreward by Gene Baur, co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, as well as Jo's Farm Animal Industry Myths.

Like a good cook who takes innovative recipe development seriously and presents dishes with pride, Jo likes to tinker with her recipes and continue to improve upon past accomplishments. Like the auto mechanic who took pride in tuning up an old car until it ran with a purr, Jo makes this new edition purr with a rich harvest of well-tuned recipes.

Also new and improved is the addition of fiber to the nutrition analysis, an invaluable aid to anyone looking to increase fiber intake for optimum health.

A few of the new recipes from Jo's kitchen include Lentil and Eggplant Goulash, a vegan take on a traditional Hungarian favorite, and Noodles and Greens, a well-seasoned dish that puts the healthy greens in the spotlight. And while you're preparing Sensational Stuffed Squash, don't miss the sidebar that tells the tender story about Cicero and his fellow chickens that were rescued by Farm Sanctuary. Now they can enjoy a second chance to live a full life content to spend time clucking, chasing flies, scratching for worms, and flapping their wings.

Dessert time offers treats that provide sweet nirvana along with healthful ingredients like rolled oats and whole-wheat pastry flour. Treats like Fruit Butter Bars, Lemon Date Squares, Lemon Cloud Pie, and Peach Kuchen all possess the magic to offer delight in every bite.

Open Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings to any page and you'll find a blast of innovative recipes that represent a wealth of knowledge from a cookbook author who has been preparing vegan dishes for more than 40 years. If you are the happy owner of the original edition of Vegan Vittles, you'll certainly want to have Jo's updated version in your cookbook collection. Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings is an expanded and enriched treasury of down-home delicious recipes with natural goodness--just the way you like them!

eat, drink & be vegan

by Dreena Burton

Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007

$22.95 Paperback

Author Dreena Burton is the busy mom with two young daughters, yet eat, drink & be vegan, her third cookbook, is testimony that healthful eating in grand vegan style is totally doable by busy families or individuals leading active lifestyles.

Dreena has the know-how and a knack for whipping up inviting festive dishes in minutes, dishes that anyone can enjoy as healthful week-day fare. She also demonstrates company cooking with the added touch of a jazzed-up variation or by serving it along with a sauce or side dish recipe or two included the book.

The author shows her readers that kitchen tools have come a long way from grandma's time. Her list of essentials includes handy devices like a food processor and a mini food processor, an immersion blender, kitchen rasps, and heat-resistant spatulas that represent today's culinary basics.

eat, drink,  & be vegan Handy food preparation notes and cooking tips make for success with any recipe. Dreena gives advice like reading the recipe through before starting, mise en place, a French cooking term that establishes the practice of having all the ingredients prepared and gathered together from the start, and planning the week's meals ahead to be sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

Each recipe section has an appealing introduction with suggestions for pairing dishes that appear in other chapters of the book. Aside from the book's attractive layout and high quality paper, the many mouth-watering photos add visual pizazz that literally compel one to dash into the kitchen, book in hand, and start cooking. While some of the photos are in delicious full color, many are photographed in soft, muted tones reminiscent of fabrics that have been stonewashed to create a velvety heathered look.

Savvy moms like Dreena make good use of prepared items like canned beans, tomatoes, and special sauces like enchilada sauce. Her Gimme Chimis is a mouth-watering creation that features nutritious ingredients like tempeh, zucchini, pinto beans, and tomatoes in a south of the border style sauce with a touch of fire. But don't forget to read the headnote that suggests serving it with her special Guacamole Con Alga Marina along with Cumin-Cinnamon Vinaigrette on chopped veggies and pair this entrée with Potato Squashers or Cinnamon Lime Quinoa with Apricots & Almonds. Readers quickly get the idea that one dish can easily evolve into another by enhancing it with a riot of recipes dotted throughout the volume.

Sidebars are a must-read. They contain invaluable hints and suggestions that make the dish easier to prepare or offer numerous variations, such as wheat-free options.

Next time you plan to picnic, feature the Veggie Tempeh Muffuletta, a magnificent Sicilian style sandwich turned vegan with marinated tempeh, roasted veggies, olives and a host of seasonings that will bring joy to the lucky picnic crowd.

Before baking up a cake or a batch of goodies, take some hints from the Baking Notes and Baking Tips, Dreena's handy hints that make vegan baking successful. Then plunge into a sinful Chocolate Pumpkin Pie or Double Carob Cashew Cookies for the sweet moments in life.

Just when you thought you'd reached the end of the book, you'll discover Grain and Bean Cooking Guides, a measurement conversion table, and an extensive glossary to help expand your ingredient knowledge. eat, drink & be vegan is a friendly family delight that won't sit on the bookshelf long before it develops the signs of affection like drips and splashes from loving use.

Reviewed January 2008

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