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Cookbook Challenge to Get Things Moving, You Dig?

April 4, 2013

Hi again.  Yeah, it’s been awhile.  It seems like every time I have a major life change, this blog is the first thing I let fall to the wayside.  When I’m focusing on healing and trying to be happy and making positive changes, I forget to photograph my food.  Or if I do, I forget to upload them to my computer.  But, so here’s a thing: I have a new computer of my very own!  So I have no excuses!  Still though, guys, and not to try to get any pity, but listen to all these things that have happened to me in the past 4 months:



Job change.

Car died.

Buying a new car (currently).

Looking for another job (currently).

I’m in a really great place, mentally.  I’ve made so many positive changes, but they were big changes.  So lets be happy and do some talking about food, ok?  I miss doing that with you!

The PPK is doing another cookbook challenge, so I figured what better way to motivate myself than to blog my way through it?  I’m really excited about this one because it’s using a lot of books that I either don’t own (will use internet resources for those recipes, since…money) or that I do own but haven’t used enough.  The first week we got our feet wet by using a book of our own choosing, so I used World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan.  I’ve owned it for at least a year and have only made a few things out of it.  It’s kind of an intimidating book.  The ingredients lists tend to be rather long and the methods sort of complicated.  If you know me and the way I like to cook, that’s not really my style.  Still, I gave it a whirl.

Everything is better with Sriracha.

Everything is better with Sriracha.

This is the Baked Potato Kibbeh with Lentil Stuffing.  It had a lot of onions.  Grated onion in the potato and bulgur mixture, minced sautéed onions in the lentil stuffing, and a ton of thinly sliced onions as the bottom layer of the casserole.  I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but it was…onion-y.  Paired with the recommended tahini dressing, which had 3 cloves of raw garlic in it, the allium flavor was a little overwhelming.  I could also really taste the cinnamon, but that’s just because I’m cinnamon sensitive.  I dunno.  I liked it.  I didn’t love it.  It was better with Sriracha.  Now for the bit where I criticize the instructions.  I got spanked a little bit on the PPK because I judged them rather harshly, so I will try to be gentle.  I hated the instructions.  (This is me being gentle.)  They were badly edited, and I’ve found that to be the case with a lot of the recipes in this book.  If I was new to cooking, I would have messed this up for sure, because they were just worded in a really confusing way.  Also, soaking the bulgur for 20 minutes didn’t soften it one bit, so I ended up cooking it on the stovetop.  So, if you’re not super comfortable in the kitchen with a decent amount of knowledge about how to cook things, I honestly have to say I don’t recommend this book.  If you are, and you don’t mind deciphering cryptic and complicated instructions, then go for it!  But add more salt.

Soup for you?

Soup for you?

Next up is the Peruvian Inspired Sweet Potato Chowder!  This was tasty!  It has silken tofu blended with dry white wine to make it creamy, and I chose a nice white wine with a flavor that I like (when cooking with wine, always buy something you would drink!), and it was pretty pronounced in the soup.  Which was fine with me, since I like the wine anyway.

Sweet Potato ChowderSo yeah, I liked this.  It got a tofu hater to eat tofu, too.  I mean, not chunks of it, but still.  So that says something.  Now for the annoying recipe notes.  I simply don’t like it when recipes call for things that are already cooked.  I know maybe some of you have cooked brown rice, cooked sweet potatoes, and cooked regular potatoes in your fridges at all times (do you really?  I’m not sure I’m buying that.), but I don’t.  I cook the ingredients for the meal that I’m making that night.  So since all of those things were called for in this recipe, a recipe that, according to the instructions, would have taken me maybe 40 minutes to cook, took me almost 3 hours.  Brown rice, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes take a minute, you know?  Although I did cook the sweet potatoes in the broth because I found no reason that wouldn’t work.  Anyway, whatever.  I’m not trying to run my point into the ground.  The soup was good, though.  It was even better with Sriracha.

Toot toot!

Toot toot!

Egyptian Style Beans!  I love cooking beans from scratch.  It makes me feel so accomplished.  Like, aside from baking your own bread, it’s the ultimate in, ‘What?  This can become that?  Cool!’  You know?  These beans actually took a half hour less to cook than she said, so that’s an error in my favor, haha.  They were underseasoned, though.  I doubled the spices and added a ton more salt, then just mixed in the garnishes of cilantro and green onions.  That helped.  They were good with Sriracha.  I added that to all of these dishes, huh?  Well, they all needed something.  I ate these with brown rice and also steamed broccoli topped with the cheezy sauce from Veganomicon, not pictured obviously.

Beans.  Not much more to say about them, I guess.

Gah, sorry I’m being such a Negative Nancy about this book.  I guess I just picked some duds.  I know there are great recipes in this book.  I love the Levantine Eggplant Dip and the Smoky Baked Tofu.  Those are both great!  It’s just discouraging when three recipes in a row fall short of expectations.

Anyway, they all made a ton of food, so I froze about half of all the recipes (I’m going to do this throughout the challenge) so that when I’m super broke in the summer and the challenge is over and I’m a little burned out on cooking, I’ll have tons of food to power me through!  Smart, yeah?  Yeah.  I am.

This week is an Isa/Terry free week (well, 2 weeks…the rest of the challenge is 2 week intervals, which I’m pumped about) and I cooked from Vegan with a Vengeance.  And next week I’m going to cook from the PPK blog!  Tres excite!

ETA: Edited because I couldn’t get the pictures of the beans to color correct the same way and it was driving me nuts because I am OCD.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2013 11:57 am

    Oh my gosh, those “precooked” items in recipes kill me, too! More often than not, I’ll never ending up making a recipe with precooked items because I want to eat it NOW!!! So annoying. I never have leftover rice or potatoes.

    • April 4, 2013 12:28 pm

      Every once in awhile, I have leftover rice, but it’s for eating with something specific. Like if I cooked rice to go with curry…I’m going to eat that rice with curry, not use it to put in soup!

  2. Trish permalink
    April 4, 2013 9:53 pm

    I am so glad you’re back! It seems like whenever I discover a blog I really like and start to follow it, that person stops blogging. I am the blog killer. As I am someone who is relatively new to the vegan world, you have been so inspirational and helpful to me in choosing the best cookbooks out there. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it. Love your photographs 🙂

    • April 5, 2013 4:14 pm

      Wow, thank you! I’m glad I can help, and thanks for your loyal following!

  3. April 6, 2013 5:34 pm

    Sorry to hear about all the crap you’ve been going through, but by the sounds of that baking job you had, anything would be an improvement!
    I keep going back and forth about taking part in this, I feel like I really need to plan meals more and the challenge would help in that regard but my laziness seems to win out 😉
    Everything I’ve made from World Vegan Feast, besides for one recipe, I’ve really loved, but I haven’t made any of the ones you mentioned….and now I’m thinking I’ll probably skip those. I feel ya on the pre-cooked ingredients, I always wonder who these people are who have a stash of precooked rice/potatoes/quinoa/etc. always in their fridge, because it ain’t me! That’s actually why I’ve never bothered to try that soup recipe.

    • April 6, 2013 6:57 pm

      Yeah, when I was looking at the ingredients, I didn’t realize it called for precooked stuff! Then I went to make it and was like…eff this. Also, meal planning is so awesome! But I’m a bit of a planner and a control freak, so it’s just what works for me 🙂

  4. April 16, 2013 8:44 pm

    I have this book but it hasn’t really inspired me. I made the ANZAC cookies once, for ANZAC day, but they were not really the traditional ANZAC biscuits that we get here. I should try and make a few more things from the book.
    I agree with you on the precooked front. I have lofty dreams of having a lovely freezer stocked full of all these precooked ingredients, but it never happens. Though I currently do have some leftover brown rice in my freezer so that’s like a small step in that direction.

    • April 17, 2013 10:19 am

      Yeah, I feel like a traitor to myself because I have a tiny container of leftover basmati in my fridge…but I’m gonna eat it later with pesto, not use it in a recipe!

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