Cookbook Challenge

I like to read cookbooks. I buy them or borrow them from the library, but I rarely cook anything from them. I wanted to change this and challenged myself to cook more from the cookbooks that sit neglected on the book self.

My personal Cookbook Challenge has simple rules: Every month I pick a cookbook and I have to cook something from it at least once a week.

For November I picked Vegaanikeittiön käsikirja by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, which is the Finnish translation of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. I have been browsing this book, but I don’t think I had actually tried any of the recipes until beginning of November.

This book is written for omnivores who want to become vegan, so I’m not quite part of the target group. If you’re used to cook with animal products and want to stop eating them or reduce the amount you eat them, this book is for you. This book has instructions and tips for substituting meat, dairy, eggs and honey with plant based products, so it’ll help you to create vegan versions of your old favourite recipes. The authors have even added non-vegan sample recipes with instructions how to veganize them. The book also has chapters about substituting gluten, soy, processed sugar and fat, so if you’re allergic or want to eat healthier this book has recipes and tips for you too. We have been vegans for years, so we’re familiar with cooking with tofu and seitan, or baking without eggs. The cheese substituting chapter was my favourite, and it had good tips and recipes for us too. I didn’t try any of the cheese recipes during this challenge month, mostly because I didn’t have ingredients at home and was too lazy to go buy them, but I definitely will try them one day.

I hate one thing in this book: the recipe index. It’s nearly impossible to find anything from it. My favourite recipe was called Grillipavut (probably Barbecue Beans in the English version) and normally I’d expect to find it from G in the index. Not in this book. You have to guess how the authors have categorized it. Maybe it’s a main course? No. Side dish? No. Meat substitutes? No. Finally, here it is in the soups and stews. It’s easier to just browse the book to find the recipe you’re looking for. If someone has made a usable index for this book, please let me know. I’d be happy to print one for me too.

I think the translators have made couple of mistakes, like I think seitan ribs recipe should call for gram flour, not graham flour. And the translators haven’t bothered to convert the cups to dl. They just suggest buying measuring cups and have added approximate amounts in dl in parenthesis in the recipes. I’d expect a Finnish translation would use dl, since we use metric system here.

There are some imperfections in the book, but in general it’s quite good. I’d recommend this to anyone who want to eat more vegetables and less animal products. During this month I found couple of recipes that I’ll definitely make again, and several interesting recipes I haven’t tried yet.