Cookbook Review: Vegan Vittles by Joanne Stepaniak
A farm sanctuary is a farm whose sole purpose is to save animals from farm factories and slaughter. The Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York was started in 1986. In this cookbook, one of the proprietors has gathered vegan recipes inspired by farm life. Think down-home cooking that is cruelty-free.
As a country girl, I was delighted to find a down-home cookbook free of animal products. Everything about the cookbook hearkens back to classic American cookbooks from the layout to the simple black and white pictures at the beginning of each section to the layout of each of the recipes themselves to the sayings peppered throughout the book. (The sayings are veganized versions of classic American ones).
The cookbook starts with an intro to the Farm Sanctuary, followed by a very personal explanation for her veganism by Stepaniak. This is followed by the more scientific explanations for eating vegan and how to do it properly. Substitutes and special ingredients are explained, and the intro is rounded out by a sample weekly menu.
The recipes themselves are divided into: tips and tails (hints and basics), beverages, breakfasts and breads, uncheeses butters and spreads, hearty soups and stews, salads and dressings, sandwiches, the main dish, sauces gravies and condiments, and happy endings (desserts). Each section starts with a photo of one of the rescue animals and their story. It’s a sweet, light-handed approach to veganism that I appreciate.
So what about the recipes? They are definitely geared toward beginner plant-based cooks with a desire to replace their animal-based recipes with similar tasting ones. There’s a plethora of traditional American recipes with the animal products simply switched out. As a long-time vegetarian, I found this focus not quite my style, but I can see it being enjoyed by newbies or when hosting omni friends and family or to find that one thing you still really miss like bacon or meatloaf. Personally, I found the dairy substitutes far more useful and interesting, since these can be expensive to buy, but are far healthier for you then the dairy norm.
I was able to find quite a few recipes of interest to me that I copied out. So far I’ve only been able to try one, but it was amazing! I tried Chuckwagon Stew on page 89. Seeking to replicate a hearty, country stew without the meat, the stew is built around tempeh. The ingredients were easy to find (I got everything at Trader Joe’s), cheap, and the recipe was a quick one to make. I fully admit I inhaled half of it that very evening. I am eager to try the rest of the recipes, particularly the Crock Cheeze on page 74 and the Seitan Salami/Pepperoni on page 40.
Overall, this is a country style, omni-friendly vegan cookbook that lets the animals and recipes shine for themselves. The recipes predominantly use grocery store ingredients, the exceptions being vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast, which are easily ordered via Amazon. They are also simple enough that any moderately skilled cook should be able to follow them with ease. I highly recommend it to omnis and veg*ns alike, as the recipes are happy, healthy, and friendly. Personally, this is definitely going on my to own wishlist.
5 out of 5 stars
Source: Public Library
Note that the second edition has a different subtitle and more recipes.