I had a sudden realisation the other day that increasingly, Frog and I buy cookbooks that have had their roots in food blogs. Just before I went vegan, Frog bought the Smitten Kitchen cookbook – and I don’t think we’ve cooked from it because…vegan. Sorry about that, babe…
Frog’s most recent cookbook purchase was The Oh She Glows Cookbook, and it’s been an interesting addition to our cookbook shelf. It’s got lovely photography (ours, at least, is a soft-cover which is a bit of a downfall but, eh) and emphasises fresh, vibrant vegetables and using the natural flavours of those vegetables and fruits. I haven’t had much of a look at it so I can’t really say much more.
For my part, I’ve got three foodish blog-to-books of note – The Veganomicon and Isa Does It, co-authored and authored, respectively, by the indomitable Isa Chandra Moskovitz of the Post Punk Kitchen. What I love about these two books is that they meet two very different niches in one’s kitchen needs. The Veganomicon is the definitive vegan cookbook, and honestly you could have just this in your kitchen and it would be all you needed for the rest of your life. Well, nearly. The authors hadn’t heard of nutritional yeast when they wrote it, apparently. Never mind – we’ll forgive that. It cost me a whopping $38 or so for a huge (albeit mostly unillustrated) hardcover book sensibly divided into chapters that don’t tie you down to set meals – it has a mix and match chapter!
It’s intended to be a fairly comprehensive starter guide for newly-made vegans, and so begins with a long but entertaining section on the sorts of supplies a (vegan) kitchen needs. There’s a discussion on hardware – pots, pans, knives and the like – and a section on pantry staples – storing, buying and substituting. Other basics include how to most safely and effectively cook legumes, and how to make your own seitan (wheat meat). I remember being blown away. You mean, I didn’t have to go to a Chinese restaurant and play MSG-roulette just to get a taste of seitan? I CAN MAKE IT MYSELF?????
The generously detailed contents and meticulously organised index make navigating the book a frustration-free exercise, while the humour-infused writing style makes it accessible and undaunting. It’s a feat of superhuman planning, writing, testing and organising and you should get it, whether you’re vegan or not. The price tag is worth it for the chapter on cookies and (what Australians would call) biscuits alone.
Meanwhile, Isa Does It was written to target the mid-week meals that need to be high on the satisfaction level and low on the effort level. The mains have a strong focus on protein, which was my first observation upon leafing through the book. That aside, the recipes are workable, usually inexpensive, and mostly delicious. There’ve been a couple that were misses for me but I do suspect a difference in mid-West American palates and Australian ones as the main culprit there. I was convinced to get this book after Isa put a few of the recipes from it on her blog prior to the book’s release – Nirvana Enchilada Casserole and New England Glam Chowder being the two biggies. Both these recipes are incredible, make-again experiences and I had no hesitation in paying $45 for this beautiful, usable romp of a cookbook. Get it in ya.
The last blog-to-book we have so far on our shelves is my copy of The Green Kitchen, sprung from Green Kitchen Stories. The food photography here is simply breathtaking, and David and Luise’s life philosophy is one I really admire. They come across as deeply thoughtful, respectful people whose experience of food invests their whole outlook on life. Their flavour pairings intrigue me and they’re not afraid to mess with traditional prep and serving methods to make things easier, more accessible, or more portable. The recipe that grabbed me, standing in the Beaufort St bookshop and hemming and hawing about whether or not I should drop $50 on this lovely thing, was the Buckwheat and Ginger Porridge, complete with photo featuring cape gooseberries. It’s got something for every occasion, this book – feed-everyone feasts, picnic jewels, smoothies and cocktails, desserts, baked goods, breakfasts, staples like rye bread…plus, it just makes for a beautiful read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
What are your favourite blog-to-book recipe offerings? Bonus points for vegan submissions!