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But I Could Never Go Vegan, Kristy Turner (2014)

But I Could Never Go Vegan! Cookbook Review by

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I read cookbooks like some people read gossip magazines. It goes like this: a quick flip through, a visual intake of imagery, and a mental skim of recipe content. Most cookbooks hold my attention for the length of time it takes to read about the Kardashians at the grocery checkout line. One month after acquiring But I Could Never Go Vegan, I am still reading, re-reading and recipe experimenting from Kristy Turners’ breakout culinary masterpiece. This cookbook has seriously rocked my foodie world.

It is refreshing to be inspired by a collection of recipes, gorgeous photography, and well written guidelines for plant foods dietary bliss. This is the most incredible cookbook I have seen – possibly – ever.  From wonderfully executed nut based cheese creations to a chapter solely devoted to pizza, creativity explodes off the pages. Ingredients are whole foods focused with grains like amaranth featured numerous times.

Unprocessed real ingredients form the basis for each recipe. When a dish needs cheese, the author doesn’t say “vegan cheese from the grocery store”. She gives a recipe for making your own. This “do it yourself” ethic grabbed me from the moment I first opened up the cookbook. I respect cookbook authors who aren’t afraid of creating recipes where everything is from scratch. She empowers her readers to “do it themselves” in the kitchen.

How-to chapters on shopping, pantry and cooking beans and grains form the introduction to the book. Following are fun titled chapters such as “All Those Special Ingredients Are Way More Expensive” and “My Friends Won’t Want to Come Over For Dinner”. Recipes are inserted throughout the book in a structured yet off the standard cookbook formula fashion. For example, chapter 1 combines various sauces, a vegan honey, and homemade seitan all as one food topic. Kristy forces the reader to go beyond the routine cookbook protocol of specific categorical sections and directly into the emotional mood each chapter addresses. “I Could Never Give Up Cheese!” proved to be my favorite section of the book. It is already full of splotches and worn pages, the markings of a beloved cookbook.

A cookbook must convince its’ reader to try the recipes. It sounds like a simple goal, but we live in an age where recipes inundate the media space through magazines, internet, and cooking shows.  How often does one take the action to ingredient shop, schedule cooking time, and then take the necessary steps and actually make the recipe? A talented cookbook author knows how to draw readers in and seduce them into cooking their recipes. Kristy Turner’s photographer husband contributes all of the food photography to the book. His photography combines with Kristy’s writing to create recipes that beg to be made. Splendid food spreads beautifully capture the moment within the food. A level of action and spontaneity lies within each photograph. It contributes a fresh, just made, “I want to eat this right now” feeling within every recipe spread.

On a practical note, the photos serve as a guide and helpful resource to successfully execute the recipes. Some pages have multiple photos that serve to help the reader visualize the necessary food preparation steps. While other recipes feature just one artistically captivating image. The food photographer husband and cookbook author team works. It works well.

Recipes not be missed include the Balsamic Baked Pears with Cashew Blue Cheese and The Best Breakfast Sandwich of all Time, both delicious hits within the cookbook.

Amazingly, Kristy’s cookbook can serve as a vegan virgin guideline, or food porn for the seasoned chef.  She has clear cut instructions and how-to for the kitchen novice while keeping the learned foodie full of interest.

She doesn’t dumb down her recipes to appease the status quo. Each recipe is a work of art that contains recipes within the recipes. It is multidimensional. This complexity is what keeps the cookbook enchanting. Yet, Kristi beautifully weaves in simplicity within the complex.  This is a cookbook ready to be devoured by everyone. So go out and get it already!

Sarah Gordon (9/28/2015)

Artichoke Crab Cakes with Sriracha Tartar Sauce  from But I Could Never Go Vegan

Artichoke Crab Cakes

Artichoke Crab Cakes

  • 1 cup oyster crackers or crushed saltines
  • Two 15 oz. cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
  • 3 or 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup corn kernels (fresh or defrosted if frozen)
  • 2 tsp. old bay seasoning
  • ½ tsp. kelp granules (optional)
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. dried parsley
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the crackers in a food processor and process into the consistency of course flour.   Set aside

Place the artichoke hearts in the food processor and pulse 6 or 7 times until chunky.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients.   Stir in the cracker “flour”.

Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop out the artichoke mixture.  Using your hands, shape the parties and put on plate.

Add canola oil to a large (preferably cast iron) skillet using enough to coat the bottom.  Heat for 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat.

Place 3 to 4 patties in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until the patties are crisp and browned.  Transfer the patties to a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining patties adding more oil as necessary.

 Sriracha Tartar Sauce

  • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 T Sriracha
  • 1 T juice from a jar of capers
  • 1 T lemon juice

Whisk together in a small bowl.  Chill until ready to use.