Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings (Book Publishing Company, 2007) by vegan chef Jo Stepaniak (of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook fame) and “the people and critters of Farm Sanctuary” is officially my new favorite everyday cookbook.
I sometimes complain that I hate cooking, but that’s not entirely true–what I actually hate are rigid recipes that send me to the edge of the Earth looking for a rare, foreign ingredient and have instructions written in a tone that simulates finger wagging. Apparently Jo Stepaniak isn’t a fan of that cooking approach either. She achieves her goal of creating “down-home cooking for everyone” by providing recipes with easy-to-find ingredients and very clear, simple instructions. She also provides 44 pages of resources to get novice chefs and new vegans started. There’s info on so many things including pressing tofu, properly blending soups and sauces, and choosing the right kind of wheat flour for your task. There’s also a glossary of foods that might be unfamiliar to folks new to vegetarian cooking.
Despite my sloppy measuring, spotty attention span, and sophomoric–or, sometimes, frugal–deviations, I managed to prepare several recipes with delicious results. The Tofu Bacon, salty and nutritional yeasty, was a huge hit with both the humans and the cats in my family. The sugar-free Lemon Teasecake with Blueberry All-Fruit topping and Granola Nut Crust is beyond delicious and an especially welcome treat for me now that I’m trying to free myself from my unhealthy relationship with the White Master. The Southern Fried Tofu was so easy to make and the yummy coating reminded me of my mom’s fried chicken so much that I had to call her and brag. I also made Garlicky Greens, Tempeh Tuna Spread, and Lentil and Eggplant Goulash, which didn’t knock me out of my chair or anything, but were quite good nonetheless.
Every recipe in this book is unpretentious and promises good American grub, or at least reads that way. I guess I won’t know for sure until I give them all a whirl, which should be in a month or two given the enthusiasm for cooking this book has imbued me with! Brimming with the individual stories of the rescued animals that live at Farm Sanctuary and cute veganized popular sayings (try “Sweating like a politician” instead of “Sweating like a pig”), this cookbook won me over even when I wasn’t in the kitchen. If it’s true that food is love, then Vegan Vittles is most certainly the essence of a warm and fuzzy hug from a little lamb captured in book form.