Category Archives: Cookbooks

Melisser Elliott’s Handy New Guide

These days it seems like a new vegan cookbook hits the market every week.  It’s awesome that the vegan population is large enough to support all the new titles but I’m noticing that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for authors to find a vegan niche that hasn’t already been covered in print.  There are already vegan books on everything from Caribbean cooking to  gluten-free baking and everything in between.  I was delighted to find that Melisser Elliott a.k.a. The Urban Housewife’s new book, The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, is so unique and is a welcome addition to my kitchen bookshelf.

Melisser’s book is a hipper version of “Living Vegan for Dummies.”  It covers every aspect of veganism ranging from what one eats and wears to crafting and even gardening (shout out to SoCal’s Adriana Martinez!).  Sprinkled throughout are profiles of cool vegan chicas, many of whom have cool vegan blogs.  I wish this book had been out when I first went vegan—it is chock full of  handy info like how to make your pet’s diet cruelty-free.

I love the chapter on nutrition where Melisser’ defers to Choosing Raw’s Gena Hamshaw.  Despite spending an ungodly amount of time reading vegan blogs and books about health, I still find that I have trouble remembering all the vitamins and minerals I need to be getting.  Gena writes a concise yet comprehensive run-down of the basic info every vegan needs to know about proper nutrition.

Of course there is no such thing as a vegan book without recipes.  The book has a collection of recipes both from Melisser herself and from other vegan notables.  I have an affinity for the Tangy Cabbage Beet Slaw, so much so that I’ve eaten it for lunch the past three days in a row.  It’s healthy, simple, and delicious—just like I like it.

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is the perfect gift for a new vegan but also for an old vegetarian—you know the kind…the ones who have been off meat for years but just need that extra push to go all the way.  It’s also very useful for more experienced vegans will want to whip up the inventive recipes.  I’m looking forward to checking out the sites of the some of the featured bloggers that I’m not already familiar with–they all sound amazing.

Now for the best part for all my fellow Angelenos…Melisser will be in town tonight Friday January 14th, signing copies of her book from 7pm to 9pm at Doomies!  Pick up a copy of the book, get it signed, and have some delish vegan goodies.  Sounds like the perfect start to a long weekend (MLK woo woo!) to me!

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Well, Isa and Terry have managed to perfect the art of the vegan chocolate chip cookie.  This first recipe in the new Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is awesome.  It is easy (dirtying just one bowl = heaven for a dishwasher-less gal like me) and basic.  It doesn’t call for molasses like the recipe in VWAV which will keep picky omnivores you serve these to from complaining about the flavor.  The texture is absolutely perfect–a thin layer of crisp on the bottom with the rest of the cookie being delightfully chewy.  The sole drawback of these bad boys is the 2/3 cup oil required.  The dough is extremely greasy.  The cookies don’t come out of the oven oily at all, but the raw dough is so friggin slippery it’s scary.  Oh well, you don’t go baking chocolate chip cookies when you’re trying to be healthy anyway!

Overall, I am a little underwhelmed by the new cookie book.  Most of the recipes either seem boring or unappealing.  I think I was hoping for some whoopie pies or some truffles perhaps.  There are definitely a lot of unique recipes, but they just don’t exactly sound enticing (tahini lime cookies for example.)  Maybe I’m just not as cookie crazy as I thought I was.  Regardless, I am definitely eager to try to grapefruit icebox cookie recipe as well as the oreo knock-offs.  The purchase of the book was worth it for the chocolate chip cookie recipe alone.

Note: don’t feed chocolate to your dog!  Hayley didn’t eat this cookie, she just wanted to admire it from afar.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: A Wunderbar Fall Treat

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Just a short one tonight, as I’ve got a busy day tomorrow, starting with an early morning volunteering with PAWS/LA!

It wouldn’t be October without pumpkin flavored things!  For a recent trip to Hollywood Forever for a cemetary screening, I whipped up these pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and topped them with cream cheese frosting.  I think our little group enjoyed them and I found them to be just delightful.  I don’t always love the icing recipes in VCTOTW’s because they can either be too runny or too sweet, but I have no complaints about the cream cheese frosting, which I will happily lick off the beaters.

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I am a terrible blogger!  I wanted to post every day for Mofo as soon as I got back from Mexico, but then, as soon as I got back from Mexico, my computer decided to be a total jerk and have a major meltdown.  Agh!!!!  But I have showered her with attention and got her back on track.  So let’s start Mofo-ing all over the place!

The one baking recipe I use far more than any other, is Isa’s Sparkled Ginger Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance.  These are the best ginger snaps I’ve ever had and by rolling them in turbinado sugar before baking, they are also the prettiest.  I usually associate ginger cookies with Fall and Winter, but I make these bad boys year round.  I usually quadruple (yes, quadruple) the recipe and keep the extra dough in the freezer to bake off whenever.

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Before I left for Mexico, it was so boiling hot in L.A. that if I hadn’t finished my daily run by 8 a.m. I had to quit because it just got too Saharan.  Then I go away for a week and Los Angeles has transformed into an Autumnal paradise with temps cold enough at night that I can pull out my crazy comfy snow socks!  I had to bake up a batch of these beloved snaps right away to really get into this October mood.

If you haven’t made these before, you best get on it!  The holidays will be here before we know it and Christmas without ginger snaps is a CRIME!  Looking forward to this October month of food.  October is my absolute favorite month and this October in particular is going to be action-packed for me so hopefully the festivities will bear some fun posts.  See you tomorrow!

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Saint Valentine’s Lemon Bars

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I have been craving a lemony dessert for a while so when I was trying to figure out what kind of tasty treat I could whip up for Valentine’s Day that would be good and easy, I set out on the search for the perfect lemon bar recipe. The Veganomicon recipe was a bit involved with its call for both agar agar and arrowroot powder, so I opted to use the version in The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This is a wonderfully simple recipe. The crust is a simple shortbread made with vegan margarine, powdered sugar, and flour. The filling is simply lemon, silken tofu, sugar, flour, and cornstarch. This was my first time using silken tofu and I’m not sure I used it the correct way. After I had blended all the filling ingredients, the mixture was surprisingly runny. Sure enough, I had to add 12 minutes on to the suggested 20 minute baking time to get the filling to set and not be a runny mess. I am assuming this means I was supposed to drain the tofu first? That had occurred to me before I started but I didn’t see any mention of draining the tofu in the recipe nor was it explained in any other part of the book, so I thought that you just must not have to drain silken tofu. Can anyone advise me on this? I’d like to try a silken tofu chocolate mousse next but if it will be runny like this filling was before I baked it, I won’t even bother. If you are indeed supposed to drain it, how do you do it? It’s very fragile so I can’t imagine it holding up well being pressed between paper towels.

The only baking dish I had that was an appropriate size was this round one, so I guess these are more like lemon bar pie slices than lemon bars. I added about 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric to give the filling the yellow hue of traditional lemon bars. I used Twizzler’s Pull ‘N’ Peels (yup, they’re vegan!) to form little hearts for a garnish. I didn’t really believe the recipe when it said that the powdered sugar on top would sink into the filling, but it’s true. After about twenty minutes the powdered sugar had disappeared, so make sure you do that step just right before your about to serve these babies up.

Even with the hardened crust that came with the extra baking time I tacked on, these lemon slices were deeeeelish and the recipe was easy enough for me to whip it up quickly after work. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!