Hope for the Hapless Vegetarian | Bleader

Hope for the Hapless Vegetarian

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One of the best Christmas gifts I've ever received was a cookbook from my mother. It wasn't ancient family recipes or the grubby copy of the Moosewood that I was raised on—it was the book that taught me how to cook. I was in my early 20s and was too skinny to last long on my repertoire of salted quinoa and tomato sauce. Then came Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This book not only kept me from wasting away, it made me fall in love with cooking.

At nearly 750 pages, it's a lot more than interesting vegetable dishes—it's technique, how to hold your knife, what kinds of apples are good for pies, and why garlic tastes different when you mash it with a metal squasher thing. I learned everything from how to scramble an egg (it makes a difference) to how to do freestyle crusts for pear tarts. She goes vegetable by vegetable, fruit by fruit, through the beans and grains and spices. Her directions are as simple and easy to understand as any Mark Bittman recipe, and there are always notes about what it goes with, or alternate seasonings—which is useful in learning to become a more spontaneous home chef.

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