Friday, December 4, 2009

A Great Day with a Girlfriend is Good for the Soul

Yesterday was a fabulous day for me. I hope you all had an equally good day. Mine started meeting my girlfriend Sue. We had decided that we were going to take a somewhat challenging omni cookbook and rework the recipes to make them vegan and healthy, one at a time. My friend Sue and her husband John aren’t vegan, but they do eat a lot of low fat vegan meals. Yesterday was our day to go to the bookstore and pick out the book we were going to veganize.

There were so many to choose from but we decided to start with “ad hoc at home” by Thomas Keller. The book is beautiful and uses meat, cheese and fat routinely. We think we can tackle almost all of the recipes in this book and will be doing this in the coming months. At the moment, our plan is to select 6 recipes each week to make and then get together to shop and cook enough for us for lunch and then meals for both families for later in the week. This is going to be a huge amount of fun and we can’t wait to get started. I will be documenting things as we go. Right now I haven’t decided if I am going to post those recipes here or on a separate blog. Does anyone have a strong opinion on this? I am leaning toward a separate blog since all the recipes will be modifications of recipes from one specific book.

There were also a few more cookbooks purchased. Seriously, who can go to the bookstore and only buy one cookbook? Not me. Both Sue and I also bought the new book by Tal Ronnen, “the conscious cook”. This book is gorgeous. I perused it cover-to-cover last night when I got home. That is how I read cookbooks. I don’t want to miss anything. To say this book is inspiring is an understatement. What I like the most is that it focuses on beautiful food that you can feed to vegan and omnivores alike. This book will get a lot of use at my house. However, the book isn’t perfect, in my opinion. The author does use products I won’t buy, like store bought vegan dairy substitutes. I will substitute my own homemade version of these products. Overall the book is amazing and almost perfect. I will be using this book in the coming weeks and will write a proper review after I have tested some of the recipes.

I also bought “The Candle Café Cookbook” yesterday. This book I have only skimmed, but it appears to have a lot of great recipes in it as well. My only complaint on first review is that it doesn’t contain the beautiful glossy pictures the other vegan book includes. Beautiful pictures really make a recipe come alive for me and I miss them when they aren’t there.

Being part Italian I am also a sucker for authentic Italian cookbooks. On the sale rack in Borders I picked up a classic book “The Fine Art of Italian Cooking” by Giuliano Buglialli for $4.99. This was clearly the best bargain of the day. I will be using and veganizing this one every chance I get. Italian food is my favorite cuisine to cook and eat so this book will get a lot of use.

After cookbook shopping we decided that it was time for lunch and headed over to Great Sage. This is lovely restaurant that is vegetarian and vegan. The food is beautiful and well prepared. We shared a plate of vegan nachos with house made cheese sauce, beans, chili, and fresh jalapenos. The nachos were nothing short of amazing. I would not have believed they were vegan had we had these anywhere else. When Sue asked how the cheese sauce was made we were told they made the sauce with Daiya cheese. Amazing stuff that Daiya cheese.

For our entrée we ordered another daily special the Thai marinated veggie kebobs over fried rice. The rice had very little fat and the veggies had a nice flavor. My only complaint is the marinade was a little too salty, but that may be due to the fact that I don’t use much salt at home.

After lunch we stopped at Roots (the grocery/health food store) that is affiliated with Great Sage. I was so thrilled that they had Daiya cheese for $7.99 a pound. I can’t wait to use some of this over the weekend. When I do I will do a complete review so that you know how it reacts with heat. Also at Roots I picked up so cocoa nibs and powdered acai (which I will add to smoothies). It was a great shopping day.

Next we went to Home Goods since I had told my father I would pick him up another set of sheets. Since he hates shopping I frequently pick up these types of things for him when I am out running errands for myself. I love Home Goods and almost always find something that I don’t really need, but want, when I am there. This time it was a large footed Italian bowl and a two adorable little embossed bowls. You will be seeing both of these on the blog filled with food sometime soon, maybe this weekend.

When you go shopping for ceramics do you always check the country of origin, or I am the only one? I am so afraid to buy anything like this that is made in China that I won’t buy something if that is where it is made. The ceramics I picked up yesterday were made in Italy and Portugal.

After shopping we stopped back at Sue’s and had a cup of tea and looked through both “ad hoc at home” and “the conscious cook”. So many beautiful recipes it is hard to know where to start. What a great problem to have. I really want to run in the kitchen and start cooking now.

I will be back later today with a recipe or two, maybe inspired by one of the new cookbooks. For now I am off to get in some exercise. I hope you all have a happy and healthy day.


  1. Cindy,

    Thanks for letting me know you like the idea.

    Just curious, why would you prefer that I keep the recipes here? Also, would you have a different opinion if I were going to post a link from this blog to the other one when I was updating it with recipes?


  2. Thanks for sharing about the cookbooks. I love to browse cookbooks and have been eying The Conscious Cook. So many recipes, so little time!

  3. Heather,

    The cookbook by Tal Ronnen is a beautifully photographed. He does use store bought dairy substitutes (like vegan cream cheese) and Gardein. The only ingedient that he used that I had not heard of was "red palm oil". One of the things I am anxious to try are his raw nut cheese recipes.

    If you have any specific questions about the book please feel free to ask.


  4. Great Sage has vegan nachos???? Wow! I have been craving nachos so bad, but it's such a long haul over there. I love Roots too. So many neat things not found elsewhere.

  5. Shenandoah,

    The nachos were one of the specials menu yesterday for lunch. I don't think they are on the menu everyday. Sorry. :(

    It is a long haul to Great Sage for me too, 40 minutes without traffic. Last night it took me 75 minutes to get home from near there even thought I left at 4:15pm to hopefully avoid rush hour traffic. Not the most fun drive in the world so I don't get there as often as I would like either.

    Roots is fun isn't it? I was so psyched about the freeze dried acai powder to add to our smoothies. The selection of items is so much nicer than Whole Foods.


  6. I vote for another blog. A lot of your recipes (especially the reworked/special ones) contain ingredients that I can't find in Argentina. For this, I tend to skim them, and look for more health information/techniques I can incorporate with locally available goods. (Plus our seasons are upside down, so what's seasonal for you most likely isn't for me!)

    I'd still like to skim your recipes on lazy days, but it's different. At the very least, keeping them marked in the headline would be helpful! What an ambitious project!

  7. PaganAngel,

    Thanks for weighing in. One of the reasons I was thinking a separate blog is that the recipes are probably going to be more involved/time consuming. And .... I wasn't certainly everyone would be interested in reading them (as you said).

    I am sorry you can't find some things in Argentina that I use. If you let me know what they are I will look for suitable substitutes.

    I didn't think of the reversed seasons for you but I should have since I subscribe to Donna Hay and her stuff is always out of season for me.

    thanks again for your opinion on this,

  8. I don't like to buy stuff made in China either...but what happens if a ceramic is? Is it dangerous?

    I think it would be a cool idea to dedicate a separate blog for your cookbook veganinzing...and I think you should send Thomas Keller the link.

    Looks like a marvelous day out.

  9. Rose,

    My concern about ceramics made in China is the glaze could contain lead given the lack of quality control in that country. Since I don't want to buy lead testing kits for every new piece of ceramic I just don't buy ceramics made in China. Somehow I knew you would be with me on the avoid Chinese products bandwagon.

    Something tells me the idea of someone veganizing one of his books would be like a dagger through his heart. Sue and I are thinking of tackling veganizing "The French Laundry" after this book if it goes as well as we expect it to. Thanks for you opinion on where to record those recipes. I am leaning in that direction as well.

    We did have a huge amount of fun. Sue and I both love to cook and good food, so we hit all the places that had things we are interested in. One of our next trips (after the holiday crowds are gone) will be to Sur La Table, and the biggest Whole Foods in the chain (both in Annapolis). We both love a good food road trip.

    talk to you soon,

  10. Thanks for the info about the glaze.

    I still think you should lay the happy dagger on him...chefs are so clueless when it comes to vegan food...the education would do them good.

  11. Rose,

    I did get a nice giggle over reading your comment to send him the link. That definitely made me smile, and probably most other vegans as well.

    Most chefs are clueless about vegan food, I completely agree. Even our friend Ian seizes up a little at the notion of making us something vegan. I don't understand why they think it is so difficult.

    Speaking of veganizing things Sue and I have been discussing how to make a healthy vegan version of demi glace. I will send you an email on our thoughts on this in a few minutes. I was hoping you had some ideas on this as well. I think it would be a huge bump in flavor and particular in sauce making if we can figure this out.

    talk to you soon,

  12. when i came to check out what you have been doing on your blog i thought i came to the wrong place! a plate of nachos, a chalk outline of a little piggy???lol since its a whole new idea and direction that you are going with (veganizing a cookbook) i think you should o a new blog, also that way your friend can do it also, you know? but i think it sounds like a fun project.

  13. "Something tells me the idea of someone veganizing one of his books would be like a dagger through his heart" if that is his cover for the book,,, gonna go with yes, yes it will be like a dagger through the heart:)

  14. Michelle,

    I can see why you thought you were in the wrong place. This post certainly isn't like most of mine is it?

    Of course I am still going to write my own recipes and keep this blog going as much as usual. The only difference will be once a week I will be posting recipes that I have veganized from the book.

    I am hoping my friend Sue will want to blog too, but she may not be interested since she is older than I am. I will be encouraging her to give it a try. As a retired teacher I know her writing will be better than mine.

    thanks for weighing in,

  15. Sounds like a spectacular day! I'm happy to read the recipes here or on another blog. Your restaurant fare looks great (wish I could get Daiya here!), and I love the ceramics. I also won't buy anything from China--too afraid of lead poisoning (which, apparently, they often still put in their dishes).

  16. Ricki,

    Thanks so much for weighing in.

    I am sorry you can't get Daiya there. Don't they ship to Canada? For some reason it is also tough to find here. No matter how good it is I won't be buying it often either since I have to drive so far to get it.

    The toxic Chinese baby formula reinforced for me that you can't trust the safety of their products. I had read about the lead problem too, but before the toxic milk thought it might have been an urban myth. Now I avoid products made it China to the extent possible. They are difficult to eliminate completely since their products seem to be everywhere, but I try.



Related Posts with Thumbnails