This month we feature a cookbook that brings compassion to the kitchen with an abudance of delectable vegan recipes
Dining with Friends:
The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine Cookbook
By Priscilla Feral and Lee Hall with Friends of Animals
Nectar Bat Press, 2005
Dining with Friends was conceived with love for all creatures on the planet. This feeling is expressed by Priscilla Feral, one of the authors, who writes, "I have always thought of feeding people as a way of loving them." Both Priscilla and co-author Lee Hall express that philosophy in the introduction when they say, "By sharing these delicious recipes, we hope to fill many lives with love."
The team efforts of creative vegan chef, gardener and animal activist Priscilla Feral and animal law and environmental activist Lee Hall blossomed into a stunning vegan cookbook that reflects the authors' commitment to live "in harmony with the planet and its inhabitants."
Active members of Friends of Animals, they continually seek out opportunities to present vegan alternatives in an effort to enlighten non-vegetarians. One example is Priscilla's recipe for Tempeh London Broil that the organization prepared to counter a Stamford, Connecticut soup kitchen's planned deer hunt. "I don't think we have to shoot the state's deer to feed the hungry," said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.
John Robbins' insightful forward affirms that by preparing the authors' innovative recipes "you have in your hand the key to bringing your meals into alignment with your sense of compassion."
Vegetarians and vegans frequently hear non-vegetarians lament that a vegetarian diet is such a sacrifice-that they couldn't dream of relinquishing their "delicious meat" for a boring mound of brown rice. By contrast, the authors demonstrate that "good vegan food is not about sacrifice, but about enjoyment and camaraderie" by including recipes that have been a part of Priscilla's many years of family holiday gatherings.
The authors are committed supporters of not only organic gardening, but also vegan organic growing practices that follow higher standards with less impact on the bio-universe. Additionally, Dining With Friends includes many recipes from other vegan chefs and cookbook authors along with some adaptations of classic recipes.
Good Morning greets the reader with a delicious breakfast of Wheat-Free Wild Rice Pancakes while introducing egg replacer, an important basic in the vegan kitchen. Because classic French toast relies on eggs to give it substantial body, its preparation presents a challenge for the vegan home chef. The egg-free French Toast, Free at Last is a celebration of freedom for the hens that also offers humans freedom from clogged arteries.
Replacing the chicken broth and dairy cream that are standard ingredients in traditional Vichysoise, Veggiessoise employs vegetable broth and soy creamer the authors consider peaceful ingredients. The Cream of Broccoli Soup from May All Be Fed: Diet for a New World by John Robbins is enriched with cashews and requires only 15 minutes of cooking time.
Raw Delights celebrates living foods that are easy on the environment, require no special packaging, and need no gas, oil, or electricity to prepare. One standout item is the Spicy Hijiki Salad, an easy, make-ahead salad that stars the seaweed in an array of bright-colored marinated vegetables.
Numerous recipes in the book are followed by "Tips" that either offer preparation suggestions, storage ideas, historical references, or nutritional data. While Bob's Peace Vigil Date Bars contain only three ingredients, the extensive "Tips" suggests they are a nutritionally complex and superior food source.
Fourteen unique recipes comprise the Classic Pasta Dishes section with an extensive introduction on The Art of Preparing a Perfect Pasta. Ever wonder why your pasta turned out mushy and sticky? Here are a few of the authors' suggestions:
For a truly special lasagne that's so richly flavored it might have diners guessing whether it's vegan, turn to Cashew Cream Lasagne with its lavish filling of ground cashews and well-seasoned silken tofu. Ravishingly dressed in a pine-nut-enriched pesto, the Pasta, Green Beans and Potatoes with Pesto offers a hearty entrée with earthy flavor and easy preparation.
Nestled within the pasta chapter is a sleek, eight-page section of color photos featuring stunning desserts like Chocolate Marble Cheesecake artfully garnished with a thick, creamy chocolate sauce, and Fresh Ginger Cake sprinkled with powdered sugar through a lace doily to form a design of small rosettes.
Main Dishes labeled Hearty and Timeless, Enchanting Innovations, and Side Dishes and Condiments are followed by the chapter Breads, Muffins, and Accompaniments that offers holiday standards like Pumpkin Bread with Dates and Pecans and Cranberry Nut Bread.
Doubting Thomases convinced that vegans have nothing good to eat would be nonplussed browsing through The Vegan Confectionery: Sweet Adventure, or Rocky Road? There the reader might choose to celebrate some special event with one of 12 different cakes. Perhaps pies, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies, or fruit crisps will call out. Coconut fanciers might choose the three-layer Coconut Cake; chocolate lovers will likely be tempted by the Chocolate Brownies; and cheesecake aficionados may find the Raspberry Cheesecake irresistible.
Concluding the book is a page with four different holiday menus, one for each season of the year. An extensive glossary explains unique ingredients, nutrients, and even vegetarian terms. Following the glossary is a shopping guide to stock the pantry and suggested cooking equipment for the new home cook.
Graphically appealing, Dining With Friends tempts a reader with an attractive full-color cover photo. The book's striking purple and teal green page borders contribute a lively visual against the background of white. The color theme continues with the recipes in teal green type, and titles in purple. Many of the pages are enhanced with photographs of fruits or vegetables printed in either purple or teal green.
With an abundance of wholesome dishes, this vegan volume is a valued collection of truly inspired recipes for every occasion. The banquet of innovative recipes features fresh fruits and vegetables in preparations that are easy, even to the new home chef. The book, however, has one major shortcoming. While it lacks a standard index, it does contain an extensive Table of Contents listing each recipe by name under its appropriate section heading. However, a reader would be unable to locate a recipe by specific ingredient. This aside, Dining With Friends is an ideal addition to the home cookbook shelf and would be a welcome gift item to the fortunate recipient.
Reviewed October 2005