The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

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The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

Category: Cookery
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: Rather more like a coffee table book than a recipe book, never the less this does have some great recipes that can definitely be made in 30 minutes. Would have been better with some more pictures, though.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 376 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Da Capo Press
ISBN: 978-0738213279

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I am a committed vegetarian, who strongly believes in the health benefits of a meat free diet. I have in the past been tempted to go completely vegan, but the lure of chocolate and cheese proved too strong. I have no will power.

However, I am interested in food, and the concept of a quick, easy '30-minute' vegan cookbook was enough to make me reconsider vegan life choices. The 30 Minute Vegan is not just a book of recipes – it has plenty of information, presented in an informal, friendly format that does begin to demystify vegan cooking.

So, rather than just look at it, I'm going to get stuck in and try one of the recipes. A lot of the recipes looked wonderful, but many of the ingredients weren't readily available in the selection of shops in the market town I live in, and certainly none were buy one get one free. Not necessarily a debilitating problem, but if you're eating on a budget, this probably isn't the book for you.

In the end, I opened the book at random. Page 239 – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Biscuits.

The introductory paragraph does work hard to make you feel like you could make this recipe very easily, with fantastic results. It reads almost like an advert. It worked on me. I'm not exactly the best cook, but I felt ready to dive straight in.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Ah.

First problem. This is an American cookbook. Most British cookers are gas mark or Celsius. But that's okay, a quick look at the internet can give you a conversion. 176.66 degrees Celsius. We'll call it 180.

Next: lightly oil a baking tray. Yep, can do that one. After that: whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder, sea salt, parsley, rosemary and thyme until evenly combined. Um… Whisk? I get the feeling this would evenly combine it around the entire kitchen. I'm sure this is just a 'lost in translation' moment between America and England, but it highlights one of the main problems with this book. The measurements, the temperatures, the methods, and even the ingredients are very American.

Some of the recipes ask for 'Cilantro'. Wikipedia tells me this coriander. While it's not difficult to find translations, you don't really want to pair your cooking with your computer as you constantly refer to Google to understand your recipe.

The recipes provide no alternatives for measurements either. Most recipe books I own have at least two, if not three measurements – ounces, grams and cups. This one only has cups. While this does make the recipe cleaner, easier to read, it doesn't make it easy to access. Especially given that it's measured in cups. Call me old fashioned, but I like ounces.

Anyway, dry ingredients combined, yoghurt and butter whisked together. Next, combine the two with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The mixture is supposed to be sticky and lumpy. Hmm. Not quite. Okay, I have a confession to make. The flour I'm using isn't Spelt. The only flour I had in my cupboard was, funnily enough, the regular variety. It's still vegan, isn't it?

The not strict adherence to the recipe might account for the fact that my biscuit dough looks rather like dried out playdough, though thankfully not as colourful. A little creativity with the yoghurt soon has it looking as I think it should.

Scoop out ten equal size biscuits. Well, I've got ten equal(ish) sized dollops. Hope that will do. I've just remembered that biscuits as I think of biscuits are called cookies in America, so I'm now not even sure what I'm really making. Anyway, they do smell lovely and herby. Bake for twenty minutes, and we'll see how they taste.

Twenty minutes later. I can't say what I pulled out of the oven looked like biscuits, more like little baked dumplings. And you know what, they're absolutely gorgeous.

A big disadvantage of this book is that there are very few illustrations. If I'd had a picture of what I was cooking, I might have felt a little less dubious about these 'biscuits'.

In summary – certainly easy, certainly quick and most definitely tasty, however, there are no pictures, some hard to find ingredients and the Americanisms do create some challenges. It feels somehow more like a coffee table book than a cookery book. But, if you are dedicated to Veganism, it has loads of useful information and authentic recipes for every occasion. As for the star rating - add half a star in the USA and deduct a half in the UK!

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

We can also offer you suggestions for a vegan lunch box. Although not strictly vegan, Plain and Fancy Vegetarian Meals by Anna Thomas has many recipes which are going to appeal to you.

Buy The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The 30-Minute Vegan: 150 Simple and Delectable Recipes for Optimal Health by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray at Amazon.com.


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Jill said:

It's just too annoying when recipes aren't in familiar measurements, isn't it?

You missed one final Across The Pond translation problem - a biscuit in the US is a scone or bun in the UK! I spent a childhood misunderstanding what Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother kept cooking in the books! They sound lovely though.