I asked for a vegan cookbook for xmas in my first year as a vegan. My mom didn’t trust herself to pick one, so when I was visiting them we went to the bookstore to take a look. I eventually narrowed it down to The Voluptuous Vegan.
My first few experiences with it were highly disappointing. I didn’t treat it as a menu-cookbook, I treated it the same as other cookbooks, as a collection of individual stand-alone recipes. It always seemed that everything was a lot of work for not very interesting results. Yet others would rave about it.
I finally started to understand that the recipes were not meant to be stand-alone dishes. One night I made an entire menu, and I was stunned. Individually none of the dishes thrilled me, but together on the plate it was an amazing blend of flavors, even for my lazy taste buds! Finally I could relate to what people were talking about. But I also knew that it was not a cookbook I would be using on a regular basis, because it was simply not meant to be an every day cookbook. It was meant for entertaining. This is actually made pretty clear in the cookbook, I just didn’t have a clue that recipes could exist such that they would only shine in conjunction with other dishes. (I’m typically a one-pot meal kind of cook!)
When I lived in Denver I had a friend who was interested in what vegans eat, and she was interested in it in a direct way. “Let’s make dinner together,” she told me one day, “so we can try your chili.” That began a semi-regular get together, where we’d try new vegan recipes. We used The Voluptuous Vegan several times, and it was a winner each time. She and her husband were more “foodie” than I am, which made it interesting, as they would put into words aspects of the meals that really just barely shimmered in my awareness.
I’d recommend this cookbook with enthusiasm and conditions. The majority of my experience with this cookbook was cooking with two omnis, one of whom was only cautiously open to new things. Thus, I feel confident in saying that these are recipes that appeal to all but the pickiest of eaters! There are ingredients in the book that are easy to find in most metro areas, but maybe not at the local supermarket in SmallTown, USA. This is a cookbook that pretty much requires you to make the whole menu, though there are a few recipes that work standalone, and she does a great job of pointing out which those are. She includes the order things should be prepared, including what can be done ahead of time. This was really handy when cooking with my friends, since we were chatting and drinking wine while cooking, and it was nice that someone else was organized for us! The recipes are not fast, in my experience, but they are worth it in the end. Especially if “the end” is a social evening with friends.