Monday, 26 May 2014

Book Review - Vegan for Fun / Vegan for Fit

Two books in one review! Not something I usually do but I got both books at the same time, both books are by the same author, and many of my comments would be the same for each if I did individual reviews. Also I am well busy at the moment with Interviews and the like promoting Vegan al Fresco, so am taking the easier (read lazier) route for these two books.

Both books are substantial hardcover books, with large sections of introductory, and appendix chapters. I found some of the information repeated in these sections, and that they were just a little too long. The recipe chapters were, on the whole, logically laid out, the recipes mostly one to a page and well spaced / easy to read. The majority of recipes were accompanied by beautiful photos.  Overall everything I made from these books was delicious, but I do feel there was a lot of tofu / soy products used which may put some folks off, and that some of the ingredients called for (first clear flour / locust bean gum / white almond butter) may not be familiar to (or easily obtainable by) many North American readers. I didn't make a huge number of recipes but what I did make was -

From Vegan for Fit -
Page 142 - White Beans and Basil in Tomato Sauce
I added more water and cooked for longer than stated to have the beans cook in the tomato sauce for longer. Seeds are a nice textural contrast but I'm not sure why the smoked tofu is there. Tasty and easy.

Page 154 - Red Lentil Soup
Creamy and luscious with layers of flavour. Very good. I enjoyed the crunch of the garnish but H did not.

From Vegan for Fun -
Page 36 - Spaghetti with Tofu Bolognese
Tasty and simple. Quite rich but not heavy. Worth making.

Page 46 - Red Fried Potatoes
Very good! though the adding of the tomato paste to the fried potatoes negates all the crispiness you have just created by frying them! Would change slightly to maintain the crispy potatoes.

Page 94 - Chili with Avocado Cream
Made into layered nachos and enjoyed by all the family. This is not spicy so I would maybe add some heat for next time.

Page 118 - Asparagus Salad
Didn't peel the asparagus, which seems to be a European thing - as is white asparagus (I used green). Very simple but very tasty!

There are a few things I found as I was making the recipes which I didn't like. I am not sure whether these are a "lost in translation" thing, or if the recipes in the original German are missing these references too. The recipes I made did not (apart from I think once) give heat temperatures (low / medium / high) for stove top cooking, which in itself is not a biggie, but when coupled with the lack of description after times given is frustrating. The recipes would ask for something to be cooked for "approx. 3 minutes" but wouldn't give a follow up "until XXX" (such as; cook onions for 3 minutes until soft and translucent) so I had to guess at both temperature and expected outcome. Not really a bother for me but less experienced folks in the kitchen could feel lost. I also found an inconsistency with how things were measured, within the same recipe - for example asking for 1/3 cup of one liquid ingredient, but 5.5 ounces of another liquid ingredient - this I feel quite sure will be a translation thing. In Vegan for Fun there was one definite translation typo I noted - Page 96 references "Best Muesli Bars in Town" in the text (Muesli Bars being what English folks call Granola Bars) whereas the recipe on Page 98 is titled "Best Granola Bars in Town". Yes, this one is a nit-picky one.

Another thing I was not enamoured with (and this one is nothing to do with translation) is what I feel to be an excess of photos of the author. Absolutely have some to provide that "Author Presence" and to showcase the exercises in Vegan for Fit, but I would preferred to have had less of these photos. I don't feel they add to the books overall.

Of the two, I prefer Vegan for Fun; the recipes appeal to me more, the premise of the book appeals to me more, and of the recipes I made the ones from this book I enjoyed more. The food was certainly tasty!

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