Birthday Wishlist

Countdown to Ali’s birthday: 22 days. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if not for the fact that in my world, “birthday” translates to “day of new cookbooks followed by mind-blowing dinner at highly-acclaimed restaurant.” This year, I’m eyeing the L’Etoile, Harvest, and Nostrano menus for dinner possibilities and have chosen thirteen vegan/raw cookbooks from which my mother can purchase her favorites. Thus, my 2011 birthday wishlist.

Superfood Cuisine by Julie Morris

After Gena featured this as part of her superfoods giveaway, I’ve kept my eye on the cookbook in the hopes of demystifying so-called superfoods such as maca, lucuma, yacon, mesquite, goji berries, etc. (Navitas Naturals is a popular provider and educator of the supposedly “magical” products.) Not certain whether to err on the wary side or wholeheartedly accept these foods, I look forward to learning more in this book.

The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop

While interning in an Italian vegetarian cooking class at Apicius, a culinary academy in Florence, Italy for five weeks this summer, I frequently paged through this genial read in their fresco-painted library and have dreamed of adding it to my home collection ever since. Among the recipes I yearn to test include Eggplant Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil; Shredded Zucchini with Garlic and Herbs; Roasted Fennel, Carrots, and Red Onion; and Spicy Lentils with Tomatoes and Aromatic Vegetables.

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

I also often consulted this book while in Florence and have already experimented with the Zucchini-Lemon Couscous and Ratatouille with White Beans yielding positively scrumptious results.

Ani’s Raw Food Essentials and Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo

Currently, I rely on good old blogs for all of my raw food recipes, but I love owning tangible sources of food instruction so the time has come for me to expand my raw foodie repetoire into the printed world. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Ani Phyo’s work—why not start with the best?

Super Natural Everyday  by Heidi Swanson

Though not completely vegan, Heidi Swanson’s books (her first, Super Natural Cooking, I picked up at Anthropologie as one of the founding members of my ever-growing cookbook collection), focus on incorporating uncommon whole grains such as amaranth, kamut, farro, and teff along with unrefined sweeteners including agave nectar, maple syrup, and pomegranate molasses into the average American diet. I sat cross-legged on the floor of Madison feminist bookstore A Room of One’s Own for a good 45 minutes completely immersed in Swanson’s newest work and cannot wait to bring it home.

The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar

Often followed by yogis and followers of the Hindu religion, ayurveda focuses on using food as medecine—a concept with which I strongly agree. I look forward to learning more about the practice.

Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet

Another recommendation from Gena, this introduction to raw foods forgoes the use of a dehydrator in all its recipes—perfect for my ill-equipped kitchen.

Becoming Raw by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

As I’ve assured my skeptical mother, I have no interest in adopting a strictly raw diet. However, the concept of manipulating simple, raw foods to create tasty and heavily nutrient-dense dishes fascinates me. From the authors of my favorite vegan guide book, Becoming Vegan, this book will hopefully offer a practical and informative blueprint for a nutritiously sound raw diet.

Any book by the Moosewood Collective

Since I already own two of the Moosewood Collective cookbooks (Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant and New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant), as well as two of former Moosewood Restaurant employee Mollie Katzen’s books, I contemplated, “Hey, why not work on completing my collection?”

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Another author whose previous works I already own (Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen), Deborah Madison writes passionately about vegetables and tofu alike while never hesitating to offer suggestions on how to convert any of her dishes to vegan-friendly fare.

The Artful Vegan by Eric Tucker

From the kitchen of Millenium Restaurant, an upscale and highly acclaimed vegan restaurant in my favorite U.S. city of San Francisco, comes a cookbook full of gourmet plant-based recipes that I hope will challenge my culinary prowress.

The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

#3 on the New York Times bestseller list and named one Epicurious’ top ten cookbooks of 2009, The Conscious Cook features high-end vegan recipes from Tal Ronnen, celebrated by none other than Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Lyfe Kitchen, a healthy vegetarian restaurant collaboration between former Top Chef Masters contestant Art Smith and Ronnen, opens in Palo Alto soon.

In addition to my greedy cookbook demands, I also hope for kefir and kombucha tea starter kits to produce my own probiotic beverages and save $27.93 per week on GT Kombuchas; Sea Clear miso with kelp and chlorella (because you can never have too many fermented green foods!); raw buckwheat groats perhaps to sprout and grind into my own raw buckwheat flour; green powder from Lydia’s Organics full of ridiculously nourishing foods such as alfalfa, wheatgrass, barley, chlorella, spirulina, and burdock (perfect for smoothies); and Cacao Crunch and Figtastic snack bars also from Lydia’s Organics.

Comment Provoking Questions: Do you request cookbooks for your birthday? If so, which cookbooks have been your favorite gifts? Do any other food items make it onto your wishlists? Is going out for a birthday dinner a tradition in your family or does someone cook a celebratory meal?

Until next time, Ali.

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