Vegan Family Meals

Real Food for Everyone

There are several things I like about the cookbook.

The first is the layout. While not entirely keen on the color scheme, it works and blends everything together. The photographs do the same.

Second is the personable approach to the information provided. Ms. Gentry gives the reader the background of why and how she approaches the ingredients and cooking, but says - in words and by inference - for the cook to customize the recipes to what they do at home. One example of this is the page on whether or not to use stock. Ms. Gentry tells of how she went from preparing her own stocks to purchasing prepared stocks in stores (when they became comparable to those prepared at home) to, eventually, simply using water. She goes on to explain that, while this is what she does, the individual cook should do what he/she prefers. I also like the "extras" in the cookbook. One good example of this is the alternatives to what cooks may be used to (like using potatoes and oats as soup thickeners instead of flour and/or bread crumbs or using something like agave nectar instead of sugar as a sweetener in baking recipes).

Another aspect of the cookbook that I enjoy is the adaptability of the recipes. From what I can see, the recipes can be done as they are or, if the cook (like me) is part of a non-vegan household and might do one of these recipes here or another one there, some of the ingredients can be tweaked. As an example, for the Veggie Burgers, I used extra virgin olive oil instead of neutral cooking oil. Based on how the recipe turned out and that, as stated above, I am a non-vegan, I think that the Veggie Burger recipe can be done as is (burgers), a rice and vegetable medley (by leaving out the corn flour and egg replacer (see below)) or possibly even baked as a veggie loaf (have not tried this, but it is a possible alternative) - both of which can be used as side dishes although I believe the beans serve as the protein.

I also tried the Creamy Herbed Zucchini Soup. This a great recipe to use as is. While Ms. Gentry does not use prepared stock (the recipe calls for 4 cups of water), I had some leftover "stock" in the freezer from when I had done corned beef (I had about a cup, cup and a half and made up the difference with water) and the flavors in that stock complemented the flavors in the soup. The recipe initially calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt and to adjust the salt content at the end to taste. Between the salt content of the stock and what the recipe called for, we did not need to add any more salt for our tastes. The final step in the recipe calls for pureeing the soup in a blender. I think that the pureeing can be skipped due to the texture provided by the vegetables. If the cook either does not have a blender or would like to have some "texture" and some creaminess, I would recommend taking a potato masher and just mash the ingredients in the pot - this provides a great soup that is creamy yet still has some texture. A variation that could be an option for non-vegans is to cut pieces of sasuage or some leftover pot roast into the soup.

A note on the ingredients. Depending on where the person lives, what their budget is, and what their diet is like, some of the ingredients may not be available or may be cost prohibitive. As an example, I live in Central Florida. Where I live in Florida, the closest city that might have such ingredients as goji berries might be Orlando, which is about an hour away from where I live, depending on traffic. Publix (a Florida chain as far as I am aware) is good for such items as Mirin (a sweet cooking rice wine). That is also where I was able to locate egg replacer. However, due to price constraints (approximately $17.50 for an 8 ounce can) and not being entirely sure if I would be using this item outside of this one recipe at this time, based on doing half the recipe (6 burgers) and the replacer to egg ratio information on the canister, I used one whole egg. Shiitake mushrooms - or at least dried ones - can sometimes be found at a local Publix, so can tempeh. Depending on how well stocked the local Wal-Mart is, some of the items may be found there (as an example, the Wal-Mart closest to where I live carries such items as soy and almond milks and tofu). Other ingredients may be harder to find so alternatives for them might need to be found, depending on the ingredient.

Overall a great cookbook and one that I will certainly use every so often to provide a very tasty break from "normal" cooking.

Book Blurb for Vegan Family Meals

Hollywood's go-to vegan chef, mom, and founder of Los Angeles' most popular and chic vegan restaurant Real Food Daily, Ann Gentry shares her secret recipes in Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone. As a mom herself, Ann knows how to feed a hungry family on an affordable budget.

You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy Vegan Family Meals. Moms, chefs, foodies, and families can all enjoy expanding their cooking repertoire with this book filled with easy to prepare, scrumptious, healthy recipes and tips for the real food pantry.

Whether you're a time-strapped cook or a seasoned pro in the kitchen, Vegan Family Meals demystifies vegetarian and vegan cooking by offering more than 100 deliciously fresh and simple to prepare recipes, many of which are gluten free, and all of which are satisfying and healthy dishes for everyone to enjoy.

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2011 5.00