Can you feel it? The twinge in the air? The rumbling in the distance? It’s coming…it’s…another cookbook giveaway!!!
If ya’ll caught my late-December post about some changes I intend to make very soon on the blog, then you’ll remember the dilemma I’ve been grappling with concerning product reviews and giveaways. To sum up, I’m trying to navigate challenging the consumerism that has overshadowed the anti-speciesism at the heart of veganism, and worry that product reviews and giveaways re-center the materialistic focus of the capitalist system in which we as Westerners are so indoctrinated.
“I appreciate your dilemma – as Zizek is fond of saying, it’s easier for most people to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism, that’s the extent to which neoliberalism has captured our very capacity to think. So those of us engaged in imagining alternatives have our work cut out for us. The problem is, we anti-capitalists (or vegans, or Christians, or whatever epistemological designation we prefer) inhabit a capitalist world, in which we have to survive somehow. Etienne Balibar distinguishes between “communism” (which doesn’t exist, and has never existed) and “communists” (of which there are many) and the impossibility of extrapolating between the two, because every communist will make different compromises with capitalism. We can extricate ourselves only so much – the more conscious we are, the more we succeed, in avoiding the language of the marketplace in describing social relations, for example – but we won’t succeed completely, so it doesn’t diminish your message if you support your local farmers’ market or a [vegan] company.” ~ Elizabeth A.
“Although it is admirable to not participate in gross consumer habits and although it is super important to make clear that real ethical consumption doesn’t exist in global capitalism, the real struggle rests in the labor and production, not the consumption. Even outside of my politics, by both choice and necessity, I am not a very material person […] but I have come to realize that it doesn’t actually matter that much. […] [A]ssuming our individual consumption habits can do anything to challenge capitalism is a neoliberal idea. I don’t think it’s useless to buy fair trade products, nor do I think it’s meaningless that I don’t buy animal products, but as you know, what those buying habits do is invite more products, not less. What I’ve come to realize now, as a Marxist, [is that] it only really matters to not buy things if there is a call to not buy it/support it/shop at it/etc. *from the workers.* I support worker-led boycotts, and other than that, I buy things that are good on my conscience, while fully knowing it doesn’t make much difference outside of me feeling good. So […]*not* doing product reviews won’t challenge capitalism. And doing product reviews doesn’t make you a bad activist, at least not from a Marxist perspective.” ~ Raechel.
So there we are. We all get some fantastic food for thought, and ya’ll get your chance to win a cookbook. Win-win. Just don’t let it threaten your commitment to anti-capitalism, ya hear? 😉
I do also have an inkling that highlighting the work of those who envision a more just world for all beings has the potential to contribute to fostering the very community that capitalism’s individualistic rhetoric stifles. For example, I’m overjoyed to share with ya’ll the latest project of Kristy Turner, a committed animal activist and talented vegan blogger with whom I’ve had the privilege to connect during my time in the blogosphere. Her just-released book, But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes that Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over For Dinner, is an absolute masterpiece, and I’m thrilled that one of ya’ll will win a copy!
With a bright and inviting layout, mouthwatering photographs by Kristy’s husband Chris Miller, and charming text from Kristy herself, But I Could Never Go Vegan! serves as one of the most innovative cookbooks I’ve come across in a long while. Organized into sections by the excuses one often hears for not adopting a vegan diet, But I Could Never Go Vegan! playfully and deliciously refutes such justifications as “I could never give up cheese!” (how about after a bite of Tempeh Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Pecan Parmesan?), “It’s all rabbit food” (I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over my enormous pile of Jackfruit Nachos Supreme), “Just thinking about salad makes me yawn” (even this BBQ Cauliflower Salad with Zesty Ranch Dressing?), “You can’t bake without butter or eggs!” (then what on earth is this Rosemary-Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze doing here?), and beyond.
Of course, I would like to note that there are many legitimate reasons for not being able to adopt a vegan lifestyle that are not listed in this book, such as lack of access to plant foods because of geographic location (think “food deserts”) and/or socioeconomic status, desire to distance oneself from a movement made up primarily of people with whom you don’t identify (i.e., people of color looking at a movement where upper-middle-class white people dominate), and desire to preserve one’s heritage — threatened by Western forces of assimilation — through one’s diet. But that’s another post.
I had the pleasure of preparing four recipes from Kristy’s new book, but choosing among them proved a phenomenally difficult task – I don’t encounter recipes this well thought-out, creative, or clearly written very often (and I must have email subscriptions to over 30 different food blogs at this point…). Rest assured, I labored through this heroic effort to bring you a glimpse into But I Could Never Go Vegan! with the following four recipes.
My first foray into Kristy’s realm of culinary genius involved her Thai Seitan Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, housed in the book’s “Where’s the Beef?: ‘Meaty’ Food, Minus the Meat” section. Subbing tempeh for the seitan to test if the recipe would hold up to experimentation, I was verily impressed by the intense flavor lent to the tempeh by a bright marinade of lemongrass and curry powder. And who can argue with a creamy, spicy-sweet sauce chock full of the master of all nut butters?
Next up on my recipe testing list: the Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Tacos, which emphatically answer the skeptical question, “What about brunch?” Showcasing a method for plant-based breakfast scrambling that fascinated me upon first read, Kristy first stirs up a polenta-like batter of chickpea flour and savory spices (including the infamous black salt that imparts a sulfurous, “eggy” flavor to foods) that she then chills until firm, cuts into cubes, and browns in a skillet to create a creamy-chewy-umami-super flavorful scramble. Honestly, what could you do with it except stuff it into crispy corn tortillas along with roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and avocado? And then finish it off with cilantro and hot sauce, of course.
From the “Fake ‘Foods’ Freak Me Out: Solid Vegan Recipes That Aren’t Imitating Meat, Dairy, or Anything Else” section, the Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce immediately caught my eye. My unquenchable enthusiasm for potatoes and green peas made it very difficult not to rave about these tenderly textured and generously spiced patties, and my tamarind fangirl-ing drew me even closer to the recipe. While I do wish that the colorful cakes cooked up a bit crispier and were perhaps a bit more delicately spiced, dipping them into that sweet-and-sour sauce made it difficult to focus on the ever-so-slightly negative.
Finally, I tackled the “I’d Miss Pizza” excuse section with Kristy’s Seitan Reuben Pizza with Caraway Seed Crust. I’m sorry, allow me to repeat: SEITAN REUBEN PIZZA WITH CARAWAY SEED CRUST. A winning sandwich transformed into a defining food of my Italian heritage? Be still my beating heart. First, whip up a batch of Kristy’s simple yet juicy and oh-so flavorful homemade seitan, then “corn” it in a bright marinade of beet juice and characteristic spices. Next, get a ball of super easy pizza dough rising, rife with the fragrant savoriness of caraway seeds. An almond-based swiss cheese sauce and mayo-ketchup Russian dressing later, and you’ve got a flavor-drenched pie packed with that classic Reuben sandwich charm, ready for a generous forkful of sauerkraut. Yes.
I’d feel cruel for tantalizing you with all this deliciousness without offering you the chance to taste it for yourself, so I’m excited that the folks over at The Experiment Publishing have graciously offered to let me share with you the full recipe for Kristy’s Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast! Enjoy, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of But I Could Never Go Vegan! by following the links at the top and bottom of this post.
Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast
Serves 4 t0 6.
French toast on its own is a normal weekend breakfast, and chickpea flour and non-dairy milk make for a simple vegan version. When you stuff a delicious filling inside, you’ve got more of a special-occasion meal on your hands (or plate)—especially when that filling is warm, caramelized apples tossed in a rich, date-based caramel sauce, and even more especially when the French toast is dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with extra sauce. One of my recipe testers made it for her husband on Valentine’s Day, and they thought it was the perfect celebration meal. Breakfast in bed, anyone?
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
10 Medjool dates, pitted
2⁄3 cup (160 ml) non-dairy milk
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) water
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon vegan butter
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or vegan brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
French Toast Ingredients:
1 cup (250 ml) non-dairy milk
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) canned coconut milk or vegan creamer
1⁄2 cup (55 g) chickpea flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of salt
1 large loaf of French bread, about 4 to 5 inches wide (not a baguette)
Vegan cream cheese
Maple syrup, for drizzling
Vegan powdered sugar or powdered xylitol, for dusting, optional
In a food processor, combine the caramel sauce ingredients. Process until completely smooth, scraping the sides as necessary.
Melt the vegan butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and coconut sugar; stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is gone and the apples are softened and golden. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce.
In a large shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the non-dairy milk, coconut milk, chickpea flour, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Slice the bread into four to six 2-inch (5 cm) slices. Use a bread knife to make a slit in the top of each slice, keeping the sides and bottom intact, creating a pocket.
Carefully spread the cream cheese inside one side of each pocket, then stuff it with about 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) of apples.
Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray generously with cooking spray. Take one “sandwich” and soak in the milk mixture, 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Place the soaked sandwich on the heated pan and cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, spraying the pan again before each. Serve warm, topped with maple syrup, the remaining caramel sauce, or both. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Simplify the recipe by leaving out the caramel sauce and replacing the apples with uncooked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or even mango!
Make plain French toast by slicing regular-size slices of bread and leaving out the fruit and caramel altogether.
Recipe from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. www.theexperimentpublishing.com
This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, January 29, and I will announce the winner on the following day on #NewsandChews.
I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook. All opinions are completely my own.