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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading

Each issue the VIP birds will endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment. In this issue we feature a book that shows how easily vegetarian meals can be prepared entirely on the grill.


By Patti A. Bess

Lowell House 1998

Patti Bess tells us from the beginning of Vegetarian Barbecue that you don't have to be vegetarian to enjoy grilling a meatless meal. She reminds us that barbecues are a great way for families to enjoy spending time together without the television to "interfere with the simple pleasures of great food and good conversation."

In the first section of the book the author discusses features of various types of grills from the open kettle to the gas grill. She also offers some tips on cleaning the barbecue, tools for cooking on the grill, and food staples to have on hand. Briefly mentioned are organic charcoal briquettes as well as a safe, environmentally beneficial grill fire starter called a metal chimney.

On first impression, anyone might call Bess's work a no-frills book. There are no illustrations, no color photos, no color printing, and no graphic designs. What it does have is a straightforward presentation of wholesome, vegetarian recipes presented in an easy and familiar cookbook format.

The recipes are easy to prepare and beckon the reader to explore the grill to the max. With her focus on dishes for easy entertaining or family get-togethers, Bess's creative applications truly put the grill to work instead of the kitchen stove.

About tofu, the author says, ". . .tofu's greatest strength is its greatest weakness," referring to the fact that it has no flavor of its own, but will readily absorb flavors applied to it. Her recipe for Teriyaki Tofu Steaks is a perfect example of how to infuse flavor with a tasty marinade as a prelude to grilling.

On our list of recipes to try are Patti Bess's Grilled Tomatoes with Red Onion and Basil and the Sauteed Couscous with Pine Nuts and Garlic served with Vegetable Kabobs. Even the recipe titles made us salivate like Pavlovian puppies.

For those who follow a vegan diet, just about half of the recipes are labeled vegan and a few of the recipes that rely on cheese could be adapted. The dessert section is completely devoid of vegan treats. Aw shucks! However, the uniqueness of preparing baked desserts on the grill makes the last chapter stand out--there are ten tempting treats to make a dinner finale memorable.

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