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 Post subject: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not include
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:14 pm 
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Hi fellow vegan cookbook aficionados!

Like many of you, I am obsessed with vegan cookbooks. I've had the privilege of witnessing the explosion in vegan cookbooks over the past 10 years. We have so many droolworthy recipes by truly talented veg recipe developers. But now that vegan cooking is gaining steam, I find myself gravitating towards cookbooks with something new to offer (hello, Zsu's Aquafaba book!) since I already have so many awesome classic vegan cookbooks. Is anyone else growing frustrated with vegan cookbooks that rehash the same basic recipes, or am I just being old and crotchety?

The new Oh She Glows cookbook comes to mind - I was flipping through it for the monthly PPK challenge, and I found the new collection to be uninspired and uncreative. Green smoothies, avocado toast, salsa, guacamole, hummus...really? I know Angela's recipes are higher quality than most, which I appreciate, but I'd rather that energy go towards new and innovative combinations and cooking methods that make weeknight cooking doable.

I am not bashing recipes that have a new and tasty twist on a classic (like Isa's roasted red pepper mac instead of a standard nutritional yeast-based sauce) or employ a novel cooking method (I love you, baked falafel!). I don't mind if authors give a base recipe with a ton of fun variations (like the Hummus and Friends section in AFR) or as part of a bigger recipe (i.e. hummus for the cozy Hummus Bowl in IDI), as long as the base recipe is not the main show. Also, I'm a fan of authors who provide recipes for homemade staples, grains, and beans at the back of the book, but I think it's a cop-out to include these in the general recipe count or in the main pages of the book.

As a fun thought exercise, I made a list of basic recipes that I feel have been adequately published already and therefore have no place in a new vegan cookbook. Exceptions to be made in cases of "beginner" cookbooks, though don't we have a lot of these too? For the record, I'm not saying that I don't love the foods below - I just feel I don't need yet another basic recipe for them.

Here's my list! Feel free to add, argue, or commiserate! :)

Tofu scramble
Tempeh bacon
Roasted breakfast potatoes
Smoothies - especially green, tropical, berry
Maple almond granola
Granola bars
Banana bread
Fruit crumble/crisp
Oatmeal
Almond milk
Avocado toast
Tomato salsa
Guacamole
Nut butter
Hummus
Tabbouleh
Caesar salad
Variations on egg/tuna/chicken salad
Beet salad
Potato salad
Three bean salad
Massaged kale salad
Mashed potatoes
Black bean burger
Fries
Minestrone
Lentil soup
Black bean soup
Tomato gazpacho
Shepherd's pie
Grilled portobello mushroom burger
Tomato pasta sauce
Mac and cheese
Chana masala
Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate brownies
Raw cheesecake
Banana soft serve
Vanilla cupcakes


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:00 pm 
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Honestly, I feel like avocado toast and oatmeal shouldn't be in a book unless it's some hugely inspirational thing. Old books, too.

Put avocado on toast.
Follow the tube's procedure and add flavors.

Boom.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:59 pm 
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This was my feeling on the new OSG book. So many things we all have recipes for. The shepherd's pie is the kicker for me - I don't think it even has a significant protein source (someone feel free to prove me wrong but I think I read over the ingredients 4 times looking for lentils or something)

Don't get me wrong, these things are all well and good but at this point at least give them a spin. The overnight tofu scrambles in IDI are a good example, they're tofu scramble recipes but with particular flavour profiles.

It's tricky, though, because it seems like most books will need at least a couple of these in case they are the first for a new vegan. But I'd just as soon they put a page at the front with the URLs to their basic recipes on their blog.

The one main thing I will disagree with you on is Mac and cheese. I am down to try all the cheesey mac recipes, ever.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:48 pm 
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I enjoy trying different recipes almost every time I cook, so I don't mind so much having many versions of some recipes, but even for me it sometimes goes too far. Like people said, it's better when different versions truly are different.

For my part, I wish cookbooks, except those aimed at beginner vegans, would no longer include a presentation of common ingredients like agar or agave syrup. I like it when the author has something new to say about ingredients, but there is so much repetition going on. (Of course I could just skip that part of the book, but then I'd miss any info that is novel or interesting.)

I also could do without the nutrition info I find in most books. There are very good resources discussing nutrition, like Dr Greger's. But when it's a cookbook author talking about it, it's harder to trust, and generally I find myself cringing at how simplistic or outdated it is.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:52 pm 
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Moon wrote:
This was my feeling on the new OSG book. So many things we all have recipes for. The shepherd's pie is the kicker for me - I don't think it even has a significant protein source (someone feel free to prove me wrong but I think I read over the ingredients 4 times looking for lentils or something)


Canned lentils are an ingredient - but the written recipe crosses two pages, and you have to flip the page to see the lentils, so I can see how you might have missed that!

I LOVED the first OSG cookbook - it was the third vegan cookbook I got (AFR and IDI being the first two) and I have such a soft spot for those books, as they really changed how we ate. OSG2 is a beautiful book, but I was a little bit disappointed that a lot of the recipes are so similar to other recipes I already have now that I've amassed scads of vegan cookbooks. That said, they still look like solid recipes and the few I've made have been good! I'm looking forward to trying more.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:29 pm 
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More people than you think don't have easily available internet access so directing people to the internet is not always the best answer.

What does a new vegan do? If the author does not explain agar agar, do they skip that recipe? How do people learn how to make beans from scratch or what they can do with nooch?

There does not seem to be an easy way to determine which would be a new vegan's first cookbook and authors don't want to leave people missing important information. My first veg*n cookbook was Nava Atlas' The Whole Food Catalog (vegetarian, not vegan) which came out in 1988. I have read directions for making barley, brown rice, and quinoa many times since.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:37 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
More people than you think don't have easily available internet access so directing people to the internet is not always the best answer.



This is true. I did rely on the internet a lot when I was first transitioning as Veganomicon was really intimidating for me. I totally take that for granted.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:03 pm 
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Minatomachi wrote:
For my part, I wish cookbooks, except those aimed at beginner vegans, would no longer include a presentation of common ingredients like agar or agave syrup. I like it when the author has something new to say about ingredients, but there is so much repetition going on. (Of course I could just skip that part of the book, but then I'd miss any info that is novel or interesting.)


I completely agree with that, and I'd also prefer they stop including a rundown of basic kitchen equipment as well. It's especially annoying in Kindle books because at least 90% of the time, the book preview doesn't include a single recipe because the first chapter is just basically a glossary of basic ingredients and cooking equipment. I guess I understand why authors do it, I'm sure it takes any experienced cook barely any time to write a chapter like that and it keeps people from writing reviews complaining that the book was too advanced and included equipment they've never heard of, but I personally would prefer it be eliminated.

I also could do away with:
-Basic stir fries with a basic almond/peanut/teriyaki-ish sauce. I'm not going to follow a recipe for vegetables to use in my stir fry so unless you have a great technique or a killer sauce, it's useless to me.
-90% of chili recipes. Every so often a book has a unique take on chili but I don't need another recipe for black bean sweet potato chili or any basic red chili of any kind (pinto, kidney bean, tempeh, quinoa, enough!).
-Basic veg curries. Like the stir fries, I'm going to improvise the vegetables anyways, so unless you have some take that makes the sauce extra delicious (and mostly that depends on the brand of curry powder you purchase more than the recipe), I don't need it.
-I feel like a lot of soup recipes are repeated. Kale and white bean, minestrone, lentil and veggie, African peanut, etc. Unless yours is more flavorful than the ones in the most popular cookbooks I feel like it's kind of a waste.

Weirdly enough, I'm okay with basic mac and cheese recipes. I feel like even if the end result is different, the techniques used in different books I personally own are pretty varied (small amount of nooch versus massive amount, earth balance vs cashews vs sunflower seeds vs broth and arrowroot, potato and carrot, etc).


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:53 pm 
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Vegetable broth. I freeze veggie scraps and veggies that I probably wont use before they go bad, and balance this mix with whatever it needs. I understand that roasting veggies first will give deeper flavor, and if you've never made veggie broth you need a starting recipe, but I really don't need one in every cook book.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:17 pm 
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Agreed. There are plenty of older vegan cookbooks in bookstores and public libraries that cover the basics. Unless it is a super special twist or out competes all other variants everywhere (which it rarely does) I don't need another repeat of shepherds pie or tofu scramble. I find I don't buy those books anymore because even if there are a few unique recipes I feel scammed out of $20 for the same idea copied from someone else.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:39 am 
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I agree that vegan cookbooks have plateaued. But then I read something like Afro-Vegan and I think OMG THIS IS AMAZING. So there's still room, but yeah, FFS, please no more smoothie and energy ballz chapters.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:55 am 
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I think it really depends. Like I don't bake so cookbooks with dessert recipes don't entice me and I'm not interested in mixed drinks either. My first veg cookbook was "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" and it is a pretty awesome cookbook. Although I knew how to cook, I think I was fairly limited. There were a tons of grains and vegetables I had never cooked with before and as a new veg cook, it was an entirely different way of thinking that I needed to learn.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:07 am 
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linanil wrote:
I think it really depends. Like I don't bake so cookbooks with dessert recipes don't entice me and I'm not interested in mixed drinks either. My first veg cookbook was "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" and it is a pretty awesome cookbook. Although I knew how to cook, I think I was fairly limited. There were a tons of grains and vegetables I had never cooked with before and as a new veg cook, it was an entirely different way of thinking that I needed to learn.

Yeah, good point. There is no one size fits all. That OSG book is SMASH HIT OMG CRAZY in Canada right now, and the curmudgeonly part of me wonders why that book when there are so many amazing vegan cookbooks I think are so much better, but the reasons it's popular are all of the things I personally don't care about it. But I'm not an omni taking a chance on a pretty and vegan cookbook, and I should be happy that people are.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:22 am 
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I don't like cookbooks that rely solely on processed, convenience products. Like enchiladas: mix TVP crumbles with canned enchilada sauce, stuff in tortillas, top with Daiya and Tofutti sour cream, etc. That's.... not a recipe? I think that Skinny bisque was like that and it drove me crazy.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:03 am 
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Reina wrote:
I don't like cookbooks that rely solely on processed, convenience products. Like enchiladas: mix TVP crumbles with canned enchilada sauce, stuff in tortillas, top with Daiya and Tofutti sour cream, etc. That's.... not a recipe? I think that Skinny bisque was like that and it drove me crazy.


Well I think it is a recipe, I mean there are lots of people that have no idea how enchiladas are made. And although you can make enchilada sauce, I think I've only done so once in my life because canned enchilada sauce is generally fairly good. I agree that I personally wouldn't buy such a book but there are lots of people where convenience products are important and they want to know how to utilize things like Daiya and what not.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:15 am 
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Fair enough! I guess it just goes back kidsdoc's original point that it just isn't creative. Like you, it's just not something I would buy, nor recommend to a new vegan.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:27 am 
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I do not buy that all cookbooks need to include a "newbie" section incase someone doesn't have access to other vegan information. I mean, you don't see non-vegan cookbooks telling you how to boil an egg just incase you don't know how. Unless a cookbook is aimed at being a comprehensive vegan guide, or towards new vegans - like Isa Does It, or any of the "New Vegan" or similarly entitled books, I think its super okay to leave all that stuff out.

Falafel is one thing I am fed up with. Not just in books but on blogs too. I must have about fifteen different falafel recipes bookmarked just because "oh they look tasty" when really, they are all pretty much the same. If it's an interesting twist? Yeah, go for it. But bog standard falafel, with the obligatory "you must make them with dried chickpeas" or "I don't bother making them with dried chickpeas" - nah.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:56 am 
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Reina wrote:
Fair enough! I guess it just goes back kidsdoc's original point that it just isn't creative. Like you, it's just not something I would buy, nor recommend to a new vegan.


Actually, it really depends on the new vegan. I mean people who make enchiladas the meaty, cheesy way utilize store bought cheese which may even be shredded for them, store bought meat (maybe even cooked), canned enchilada sauce, etc, etc. If you were an omnivore and had no idea how to make enchiladas and only had them in a restaurant, I'm sure your recipe wouldn't be much different than the 'lazy' vegan way. I think that is the idea beyond "Betty Goes Vegan". It might be ideal for a new vegan who just wants to transition (although vegan cheese... even daiya as a new vegan is a bit... rough).

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:22 pm 
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vixki wrote:
I do not buy that all cookbooks need to include a "newbie" section incase someone doesn't have access to other vegan information. I mean, you don't see non-vegan cookbooks telling you how to boil an egg just incase you don't know how. Unless a cookbook is aimed at being a comprehensive vegan guide, or towards new vegans - like Isa Does It, or any of the "New Vegan" or similarly entitled books, I think its super okay to leave all that stuff out.


One thing I thought was great about Bake and Destroy is that it had all the newbie stuff in the back of the book. I don't mind it being included, but it's a drag when you download a Kindle preview and you get no recipes, just "immersion blenders are great for making soup" and definitions of cornmeal or whatever.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:17 pm 
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elizabee wrote:

One thing I thought was great about Bake and Destroy is that it had all the newbie stuff in the back of the book. I don't mind it being included, but it's a drag when you download a Kindle preview and you get no recipes, just "immersion blenders are great for making soup" and definitions of cornmeal or whatever.


YES! Let me get to the good stuff, and leave the basics at the back along with grains cooking guide and the "staples" chapter.

I do like books that have the grains cooking guide, mind you, since I never remember how much time each of them take or how much water to use.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:26 pm 
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hummus. Unless it's like you're Palestinian grandma's most amazing hummus in the world recipe.

sloppy joe analog.

ubiquitous hippy restaurant curry - not really good regional specific curry, but the Indian-ish(very ish) that has been sold at every healthy hippy veg*n place since the 1970s.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:12 pm 
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I’m so tired of so many of these recipes as well! I mean if it requires less than 3 ingredients just no. I’m not naming names but putting out two cookbooks which each have a recipe for avocado on toast- I mean I’d be embarrassed, personally. Also the nut milks really anger me, because no everyone has a nice blender. Also its two ingredients (and one of them is WATER).

I'm sorry I have a lot of feelings about this haha.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:01 am 
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I get pissed when a cookbook expects me to have a vita-mix ("or another high-powered blender!" aka "a blender that costs more than $500"). If I had a vitamix my cookbooks would be plated in gold, and thus too heavy to even access, but that would be okay, because the serfs operating my vitamix would handle everything anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:12 am 
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vijita wrote:
I get pissed when a cookbook expects me to have a vita-mix ("or another high-powered blender!" aka "a blender that costs more than $500"). If I had a vitamix my cookbooks would be plated in gold, and thus too heavy to even access, but that would be okay, because the serfs operating my vitamix would handle everything anyway.


Seriously, "This is really easy if you have a high-powered blender, but I'm sure it'd work if you didn't!"....yeah no.

Maybe I am in a different world, because I get wary sometimes even posting recipes on my blog that require a £20 immersion blender or electric whisk, I can't imagine publishing recipes that need equipment that costs more than many people pay in rent.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic recipes that new vegan cookbooks should not includ
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:55 am 
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elizabee wrote:
vixki wrote:
I do not buy that all cookbooks need to include a "newbie" section incase someone doesn't have access to other vegan information. I mean, you don't see non-vegan cookbooks telling you how to boil an egg just incase you don't know how. Unless a cookbook is aimed at being a comprehensive vegan guide, or towards new vegans - like Isa Does It, or any of the "New Vegan" or similarly entitled books, I think its super okay to leave all that stuff out.


One thing I thought was great about Bake and Destroy is that it had all the newbie stuff in the back of the book. I don't mind it being included, but it's a drag when you download a Kindle preview and you get no recipes, just "immersion blenders are great for making soup" and definitions of cornmeal or whatever.


That seems like a really good idea. Despite being an old vegan and old kitchen person I still like reading over some of the basic stuff and newbie tips, but I agree it would be nicer to have those included in the back on an index system (unless newbie specific). I love cooking time charts or beans and veggies (VCON is my favorite for that!), I like being able to grab a cookbook and have that information handy.

That being said no more toast recipes or if you want to include toast variations put them all on one page. OR have a vegan basics index at the back with variations included in the notes like Isa's books instead of stretched out to 5-8 pages. I know editors control a lot of that but I don't necessarily want my cookbook to have an extra 30 pages if they don't need it.

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