This month we review three outstanding cookbooks that offer delicious ideas for every palate, including the taste buds of man's best friend.
The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book:
Cruelty-Free Recipes for Canines
By Michelle A. Rivera
Book Publishing Company, 2009
Man's best friend deserves man's best food in the form of a compassionate vegan diet. In The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book author Michelle Rivera opens by pointing out that dogs are omnivores and that all dogs may not flourish on a vegan diet. Her intention in writing this volume is not to convince people that their dogs should be put on a vegan program because dogs, like people, have individual differences. Instead, she is trying to provide assistance to those who want "a nutritious alternative to commercial dog food." In writing the book, Rivera consulted veterinarians to be sure that certain foods were acceptable in a canine diet.
According to Rivera, not all veterinarians feel a dog will thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Yet she reveals that in a Vegetarian Dog Health Survey conducted by PeTA, "researchers concluded that 82 percent of the dogs that were fed a vegan diet were in 'good to excellent health.'" Dogs on the diet for at least five years had no illnesses and fewer infections.
"A change in diet, therefore, maybe just what the doggy doctor ordered!" says Rivera. She believes it is sensible to stop giving your dog a high-fat, 4D meat diet--"meat from animals that are dead, diseased, dying, or disabled."
She does caution that all foods acceptable for humans may not be suitable for canines. Foods like chocolate are toxic for dogs. Before launching their dogs on a vegan or vegetarian program, pet owners should consult a veterinarian, but be aware that many are opposed to the idea. Pet owners should also know there are a few vegan dog food companies that focus on food that provides the nutrients a dog needs. Rivera reminds readers that cats are "not good candidates for a vegan diet" because they are carnivores.
Readers may be surprised to learn that certain foods are hazardous to dogs. Along with chocolate, other foods on the list of foods to avoid are avocados, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, cold cuts, walnuts, macadamias, mushrooms, tomatoes, nutmeg, alcohol, sugar, salt, and xylitol. Bones and chew toys made from animal parts can also cause choking problems for the pet.
Foods highly recommended are pumpkin, brown rice, leafy greens, lentils, beans, oatmeal, and barley. For those who like to prepare meals for their dogs, the book provides 21 recipes in three categories:
Biscuit recipes include favorites like Yeasted Gourmet Dog Treats and Bulldog Bulgur Biscuits. Main Dishes boast German Shepherd's Pie Chihuahua Chili sans Carne, and Rover's Risotto. Just like humans, dogs need their Special Treats. The eight recipes feature Snickerpoodles, Puppy Party Hors D'oeuvres, Pekingese Pumpkin Pops, and Bowser's Birthday Cake.
The book concludes with a list of Resources that suggests websites for nutritional information as well as companies that sell vegan dog food, biscuits, and kibble.
The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book, attractively illustrated with numerous appealing photos of dogs and their owners, does not try to overwhelm readers with everything they need to know about dogs. In less than an hour anyone will be able to read and absorb the message that dogs can benefit from healthy food. Although the author promotes a vegan program for dogs, she does advise caution and consultation with veterinarians. This cat-owner reviewer was truly enlightened by reading this volume, especially the information about foods that are hazardous to dogs. This book is highly recommended to potential vegan dog owners and even to those who currently have pet dogs.
The Vegan Table:
200 Unforgettable Recipes
For Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion
By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Fair Winds Press, 2009
The Vegan Table is richly conceived and tastefully executed with attractive graphic displays, a palate of muted, warm colors for the side bars, and a stunning array of full color food photos. Interwoven throughout the book, the seductive pictures exhibit food styling that focuses on tasteful, homey simplicity, yet delivers by stoking the temptation fires.
With a seasonal theme, the book features well-rounded menus, mouth-watering recipes, and a panoply of suggestions to entertain for every occasion. Cozy Coupling: Romantic Dinners for Two advises the amorous couple to sip alcohol in moderation, add some music and poetry, go lightly on the beans, decorate the table with flowers and candles, and appeal to the heartstrings with heart-shaped foods.
One spring menu brings a delectable Tofu Scramble to the breakfast table with a platter of homemade Tempeh Bacon seasoned with condiments like soy sauce, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. The finishing touch to the meal is a batch of warm Peach and Pecan Muffins dotted with chopped fresh peaches.
The romance chapter even provides an impressive section on Love Potions, suggesting foods with the color red stir up the passions, while warm, spicy beverages keep the fires burning. Herbs like damiana, aniseed, and licorice have long been considered aphrodisiacs and are available in tasty liqueurs. When it comes to alcohol, and especially champagne, Colleen follows Shakespeare's advice: "It provokes and it unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance."
Recipes for celebrations like birthdays, graduations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and engagements feature fresh, wholesome ideas like the stunning Panini with Lemon-Basil Pesto brilliantly pictured on page 163. The menu for that luscious sandwich includes an appetizer of Tempeh Paté flavored with scallions, dill, ginger, and soy sauce and a hearty kettle of Cuban Black Bean Soup zapped with hot pepper sauce.
Feasts for the Holidays pays homage to holiday celebrations throughout the year. For St. Patrick's Day the author prepares traditional Irish Soda Bread, a Hearty Stew with a bountiful array of potatoes, carrots, and tempeh, and individual ramekins of Tempeh and Eggplant Pot Pies brimming with a topping of well-risen, golden biscuit dough. Concluding the meal is Irish Coffee, of course, an easy prep with the addition of brown sugar, whiskey, and non-dairy whipped cream.
Bringing the family Home for the Holidays will be easy when delicious foods like Mushroom Walnut Paté and Smokin' BBQ Tofu start the festivities. Chanukah celebrants will likely relish the sable brown Potato Latkes, while the Moroccan Phyllo with Curried Golden Tomato Sauce might take center stage on the Thanksgiving or Christmas platter. A multitude of recipes for incorporating squashes, Brussels sprouts, toasted nuts and a host of seasonal foods are all part of this rich platter of recipes and entertaining ideas.
This author knows that a great dessert elicits compliments and makes the whole dining experience memorable. Those who adore cake can feast on Beet Bundt Cake, Chocolate Cake with Coffee Ganache, or Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, while the cookie monsters might nibble on treats like Chai-Spiced Almond Cookies or Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies. The Flourless Chocolate Tart, pictured in brilliant full color, is an ode to all chocolate aficionados. While the tart looks like a complex preparation, Colleen has created a recipe even a kitchen newbie can make with success.
The Vegan Table is an exceptional cookbook, but it is much more than a collection of recipes. It's a guide to successful vegan entertaining and living with awareness that the compassionate vegan lifestyle allows our furry and feathered friends to live peacefully among us earth-dwellers. Keep this volume handy on the bookshelf--it's the ideal kitchen companion you'll reach for when company's coming.
American Vegan Kitchen:
Delicious Comfort Food from Blue Plate Specials
to Homestyle Favorites
By Tamasin Noyes
Vegan Heritage Press, 2010
They need linger no longer! Author, recipe developer, and recipe tester Tamasin Noyes has brought these favorites into the vegan home with her cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen. During her many years cooking for both vegans and omnivores, she experienced American specialties in their original form and found her niche recreating these nostalgic foods for the vegan table.
Her inspiration derived from a visit to a small diner in Vermont where she enjoyed a thick veggie burger and fries. The server remembered her when she returned a year later to find several vegan items listed on the chalkboard menu.
To recreate her casual comfort foods, the author explains the basics of tofu and tempeh, and includes instructions for preparing two kinds of seitan. She covers essential ingredients like beans, textured vegetable protein, and different flours and includes a recipe for Basic Vegetable Broth and her All-American Spice Blend. A fan of marinating to infuse flavor into foods, she provides a brief side bar packed with flavorful marinade suggestions.
This creative cook even has a recipe to celebrate major and obscure holidays throughout the year. For National French Fries Day she features Midway French Fries; for Oatmeal Cookie Day she suggests Oatmeal Raisin Cookies; and for National Chocolate Chip Day she's ready with Chocolate Chip Quick Cake. To aid the home cook, Tamasin displays three different icons: Make Ahead, Quick, and Kid-Friendly. Each recipe may have one or more of these icons.
A fragrant bouquet wafts throughout the house with Rise and Shine breakfast foods like Very Vanilla Raisin Bread, aromatic, yeast-raised bread packed with raisins and topped with an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar glaze. More breakfast irresistibles include Darngood Donut Bites and several tofu omelette variations. Two unique takes on stir-fries, the Country Skillet and City Skillet both feature potatoes but ideally reflect the two locales with vastly different veggies and creative seasonings.
The breakfast section is voluptuous and bursting with waffle and pancake recipes including homey favorites like Cinnamon Flapjacks, Yankee Cornbread with Blueberry Sauce, and several vegan sausage variations that evoke memories of old-time family breakfasts.
Thumbing through the Starter section, readers will have a tough time putting the book down. Beckoning almost with a shout are tempters like Roasted Garlic Pretzels made from scratch the old-fashioned way with a yeast-raised dough. There's Movie Night Potato Skins filled with the well-seasoned mashed potatoes laced with red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, roasted garlic, and baked asparagus. In love with seitan, the author makes imitation chicken wings from scratch, breads them, and finishes them with a bold sauce to create Spicy Balsamic Maple Wingz.
Her same innovative touches are found in Soups like Mushroom Barley Stew perked up with an infusion of smoked paprika and Salads like Not-So-Nicoise Salad that replaces the traditional tuna with smoked tofu.
Eight pages of glorious full-color photos tucked into the center of the cookbook feature vivid, inviting dishes that would tempt anyone into the kitchen, cookbook in hand to prepare old-time favorites like Sweet Garlicky Ribz and Any Day French Toast. The color photos, tastefully designed to stir the appetite, are a winning accompaniment to the recipes.
From sandwiches to mac n' cheese to familiar Mexican favorites and old-fashioned blue-plate specials, this author knows how to dish them up. Every deli and diner has a dessert case and so does this outstanding cookbook. Mom's Apple Pie and its variation, Apple Butterscotch Pie, are true slices of Americana zapped with plenty of cinnamon and sugar. Cobblers, Crisps, and Turnovers are all part of this American vignette along with pudding cake, cheesecake, and tapioca pudding.
American Vegan Kitchen, the result of Tamasin Noyes' aha moment in that Vermont diner, brings a panoply of delicious temptations to this country's vegan kitchens. Vegans no longer need focus on wistful thoughts about old-time comfort foods they no longer eat. Clearly, this home chef has created a new set of home-cooked American specialties that will some day become the nostalgic memories of future generations.