Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Compassion Without Compromise

There's a backlog of books here at my house waiting for the attention of a review. I'm pleased every time one goes up, and I can shift the book from my mental "review" list to a less-attention-needing place on my overstuffed cookbook shelf.
I suppose it's a little unusual that I, a vegan cookbook author, give space to other vegan cookbook authors on my blog, but I'm fully aware that one or two cookbooks is not enough variety for most people, and it's neat (...yup, I just said "neat") to examine what else is out there. In my culinary life, different cookbooks are go-tos at different moments, and I expect it's the same for you all.
By the way, let's all welcome Ms. Mapcap Cupcake herself, Marika Collins, as a first-time Tuesday reviewer!



The Book: The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Fair Winds Press, 2007)

Review by Marika Collins

Preamble/Overall Feeling: The Joy of Vegan Baking is brought to us by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the thoughtful and sensitive founder of the Compassionate Cooks website. This expansive baking tome is written in a positive, enthusiastic and nurturing tone. An excellent resource for anyone who loves to bake whether vegan or not, it's approachability makes it particularly great for new vegans. Visually, the book is quite pleasant with nice glossy pages, a well-organized, sensible format, easy to read type and appetizing colour photos.

Best Bits: Colleen's friendly narrative makes the book very approachable and enjoyable to read. She makes no assumptions about the baker's level of knowledge or experience, and the recipes are well thought out and easy to follow. The book opens with conscientious and poignant essays on why the author chose to become vegan and why veganism is an important, powerful and positive choice. The book is filled with useful educational information, such as how to effectively replace eggs and dairy – advice that you can take outside the book to veganize other recipes. There are numerous informative appendices on how to read recipes and measure ingredients, a glossary of baking terms, lists of recommended kitchen tools and equipment, resources for sourcing ingredients and suggested reading. The book is also peppered with useful trouble-shooting guides and tip sheets, plus a useful chart of baking pan equivalents.
The expansive table of contents make this an all-inclusive dessert book with many traditional favourites represented. Everything from cookies and cakes to puddings and pies is on offer - as well as candy, frostings, toppings, syrups and spreads. Make a selection of these indulgent, sweet treats for your non-vegan friends and family and I challenge them to note the difference. I've sampled several recipes with excellent results, including the Hearty Spiced Cocoa Muffins, Pumpkin Bread, Baked Pumpkin Pudding, Apple Pie and Pastry Cream. All turned out beautifully and as expected.

Less-Wonderful Bits: The all-purpose flour and white sugar might give those with a more nutritional or whole-foods approach pause. Ener-G Egg Replacer also makes a frequent appearance throughout the book, which may cause a problem for those who either don't like the product or don't have access to it. I would encourage health-conscious bakers to experiment with alternative flours and sweeteners. I would have no fear subbing spelt flour and Sucanat in place of all-purpose flour and white sugar in these recipes – I tried it with the Hearty Spiced Cocoa Muffins with delicious results.

Whole foods focus?: Only somewhat (but that's not what the book's about).
Vegan-friendly?: 100%.
Eco-conscious?: Yes – the book promotes veganism and encourages buying fair-trade and organic ingredients.
Web presence?: Yes.

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.

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about the blog:
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about the cookbooks:
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While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

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come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

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