on October 4, 2012
I've had my slow cooker for about 5 years, and I never used it to make anything except vegan chili and some applesauce. It seemed to me to be a waste of cupboard space...until now. I have attempted to use other vegan slow cooker books, but with no success. Recipes always failed. I'm not sure it it was lack of recipe testing or what. Ms. Robertson's book has yielded nothing but excellent food. The times and quantities are spot-on, though I do tend to add a smidge more salt. I'm just a picky cook, though. Of the 7 recipes I've tried so far, I have had great success. She really knows how to balance flavors to make a dish taste great. I can't recommend this book enough! It has made me excited to use my slow cooker.
on November 7, 2012
I have owned a slow cooker for years. Occasionally I would make chili but other than that it sat in the cupboard. I have loved all of Robin Robertson's cook books. When I heard she had put out a new slow cooker collection I knew it would be a must have. My slow cooker now sits on the counter as I am working my way through the book. I have tried about 15 recipes; every single one of them has been amazing. The pizza I made 2 days in a row it was that good. The book is well organized and the recipes are easy to follow. Robin has introduced me to wide range of spices. I buy spices in bulk so I am not stuck with a big jar of any one spice and it is much more cost effective. You do not have to be vegan to love and enjoy this gem of a book. The recipes are very satisfying for any palate. I highly recommend this book.
on September 25, 2012
I'm a big fan of my slow cooker and an even bigger fan of Robin Robertson, so I was super excited when I heard she was working on a slow cooker book. I use my slow cooker a lot during the cooler months, as I love coming home to a hot, cooked meal waiting for me. If you're new to slow cookers, you're in luck, because Robin starts the book out with an extensive chapter on slow cooker basics. Everything you could possibly imagine cooking up in your slow cooker is covered here, from snacks and appetizers to dessert and drinks with a plethora of tasty dishes in between. Did you know that you can make pizza in a slow cooker? I didn't either! You can even make bread, marmalade and cheesecake! Robin's simple instructions make cooking just about anything in the slow cooker seem easy. She also gives gluten-free and soy-free options, so there's really something for everyone in this book
I've made about 6 dishes from Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker already, and every one of them has been delicious. So far my favorites have been the Rustic Potpie Topped with Chive Biscuits and the Wine Braised Seitan and Cremini Mushrooms. My copy of the book is already full of bookmarks for dishes I want to make, so I know my slow cooker will be working overtime this fall, and I'm sure I'll have new favorite recipes soon!
on September 25, 2012
I had the pleasure to test recipes for this amazing cookbook, and I was blown away by each and every recipe. The recipes range from basics, such as a pot of beans and homemade seitan, to amazing entrees and desserts, such as Chickpea and Mushroom Tagine, Seitan Pot au Feu, and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. And don't forget to make the Warm and Creamy Artichoke-Spinach Dip--you won't be able to stop digging in!
I personally bought a slow cooker for this particular book, and it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. This book has spawned a love affair between me and my slow cooker. How amazing is it to have dinner waiting for you when you get home from work?! It's also a wonderful tool to make staples for your weekly meals, and also serves as a space-saver when making big meals. Why not use your slow cooker to make Green Bean Casserole or Stuffing on Thanksgiving day--you'll find both recipes in the book, and they are delicious. This book has it all and then some!
All of Robin Robinson's books are truly fantastic, and we wouldn't have the plethora of vegan cookbooks without her. You won't regret picking up this book--it's a winner, hands down!
on May 21, 2013
Having attempted cooking vegan onmy own for a few months, I decided to invest in a book that would make going to school and planning meals easier. This book has inspired, and delivered wonderful meals. I appreciate the variety of recipes available. Several of these dishes are now staples in my school life lineup.
That being said.... I have found many of the recipes to be severely under seasoned. In particular many of the bean recipes fall flat without extra spices added. A few of the cook times have been off, again with beans and with some potato dishes, and I a willing to blame those partially on my crockpot. However, when a meal is supposed to be done in 4-6 hours and it actually takes eight.... That's an unhappy, hungry student who pays for that mistake.
Overall I could not be more happy with the book, and will continue working through the recipes as written and making adjustments if necessary.
Veggies with barley
Green bean casserole
My "needs work"
Cuban black bean soup
Caramelized onion soup
While I am not committed to vegetarianism, much less veganism, I do prefer to eat less animal product than I used to, and to that end, I'm always interested in cookbooks that take a lot of the effort out of cooking tasty, animal-free meals. Robin Robertson has done a good job compiling 200 different recipes that run the gamut of vegan food options from appetizers through desserts, drinks and condiments. Even if you only go to animal-free sides and non-entree courses, this is a good resource.
She draws on a number of different ethic influences so you'll get recipes inspired by Italian, Mexican, Indian, and North African cuisine, among others. That means there's a lot of flavor here, and that's a good thing because one of the worst mistakes a vegetarian/vegan cook can make, particularly while attempting to transition away from meat-based meals, is cooking vegetables as if they were still just side dishes. Microwaving a box of frozen peas just doesn't cut it anymore.
Robertson provides a nice spectrum of possibilities with chapters on soups, stews and chilis, entrees, and side dishes which could serve as entrees in their own right. If you're an experienced vegan cook, then this book might help you cut your kitchen time. If you're new to the idea of vegan/vegetarian cooking, it provides a way to transition to a meatless way of life with recipes for things like onion soup, borscht, African peanut stew, bruschetta, vegan pates and more. With everything slow-cooker-based, this pretty much comes down to prep it and forget about it for a few hours.
If I have a quibble with this book, it's a personal one and nothing that affects the quality of the book or the recipes within. I don't like pretending that things like tofu, tempeh and seitan -- all perfectly good protein sources - are the same as meat dishes. The use of the word "rib" in the "Spicy-sweet Seitan Ribs" annoys me, probably out of all proportion to its meaning. But they're not ribs; there's no herd of wild seitans hunted for their succulent rib meat. I suppose it makes it easier for some people to transition from meat-eating to think about the protein substitutes as being meaty, but since I'm a crank, I find it a little too precious. (I feel the same way about "Tofurkey" too. IMO, there's not enough *facepalm* in the world for how cutesy that is.)
Robertson gives us a nice introduction to slow-cooking with tips and equivalencies that will make the process even simpler. She pays particular attention to the cooking of beans which, though they're remarkably nutritious and cheap vegan food, can be tricky to cook well. This should go a long way towards convincing readers that it really isn't hard to buy dry beans and lentils and cook them up for use in some fairly tasty dishes. In short, Robertson has provided a way to get involved in vegan cooking that is fairly painless for most of us.
Even if we have tight schedules, or are flailing around looking for ways to kick the meat habit, there are solutions here. Very little of what Robertson uses in her recipes is uncommon and almost nothing is hard to get unless you live in a small town where things like nutritional yeast and miso aren't common. She even includes recipes for things like vegan cream cheese! One caveat: Robertson uses seitan in a lot of these dishes. If you're gluten-free, be aware that seitan is basically wheat gluten turned into a chewy, protein substitute. There are gluten-free seitans out there, but I can't say I've ever seen them. You'll have to do a bit of stepping to find them, I think.
on December 11, 2013
I bought this book on a whim, for no real reason other then I loved the cover. I have never been the sort of person to use a slow-cooker, it just never seemed to make sense for me. Before I was vegan I would occasionally use the slow-cooker for chili or pot roast, something like that, but after going vegan I maybe used the slow-cooker once or twice a year. This book literally made me fall in love with my slow-cooker and now I can't figure out why I didn't use it more.
I have not had the time to make as many recipes from this book as I would like, but almost all of the ones I have made have been a total win. I love this book because of it's ease and simplicity, the clear and concise instructions. While some of the ingredient lists are long, they are typically very pantry friendly and I never have to go out of my way to buy ingredients specifically for the recipes. I also love that these recipes are whole-food recipes. Occasionally something like vegan sour cream or vegan cheese is called for but these are often `optional' and in the case of the sour cream a recipe is provided. Otherwise all the ingridients are plant based, whole foods like grains, beans, and vegetables. Some recipes also include seitan and tofu, but most are gluten-free or soy-free or can be made that way which is nice, even though I am neither gf or sf.
A couple of other things you may like to know is that there isn't any nutritional information, nor are there any photographs which is pretty typically for Robin Robertson. As far as I know, none of her books contain photos which is always a disappointment to me, but honestly I love this book so much that I don't really mind. Also there isn't a lot of additional information, notes or tips on recipes. It's typically a basic introduction, plus the recipe - this is fine for me, but some people like to have a novel instead of a recipe. The beginning of the book does have a very helpful chapter on getting you acquainted with your slow cooker and how to use it, and I like the variety of recipes. There are snacks, appetizers, breakfast, desserts, soups, stews, sides and main courses. I'm really eying the dessert and breakfast chapters though haven't got around to them yet. I do not, however like that many of the recipes are split up over two pages. This is just a personal pet-peeve of mine.
This is what I have made so far, and what I thought.
Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup - Pretty good
Lentil Vegetable Soup - Loved it!
North African Chickpea Soup - Loved it
Ribollita - Loved it
Slow-Cooker Pho - Loved it
Indonesian Noodle Soup - Loved it, one of the best soups ever!
Miso Potato Soup - This was just alright
Two Lentil Chili - Loved it!
Split Pea and Barley Stew - Loved it
Chickpea and Mushroom Tagine - Loved it
Portobello and White Bean Goulash - Loved it
Seitan Stroganoff - Loved it
Seitan Pot Roast - AMAZING!!!
Seitan Pot-Au-Feu - Loved it
Rustic Pot Pie Topped with Chive Biscuits - Loved it
Ethiopian Style Tempeh and Lentils - Loved it
Slow-Cooked Seitan Fajitas - Loved it! Best Fajitas ever!
Tunisian Inspired Stuffed Bell Peppers - Loved it!
Something else to keep in mind, which I see is a complain of a lot of people is that unlike traditional slow-cooker recipes these recipes have a rather short cooking time. Between 4-6 hours is typical, though some go on for 7-8 hours. Personally this doesn't bother me. I don't actually use my slow cooker on the days that I work unless my husband is home those days. Normally I use my slow-cooker on my days off to help me free up time on those days to do other things rather then spend time in the kitchen. When I do use it on workdays it's great to be able to tell my husband "hey, dinner's ready when the timer goes off, you don't have to do anything except eat." So it's a perfect book for me for these reasons and would be great for any student, or anyone who works short shifts.
Also unlike some other slow-cooker books this book often requires you to saute ingredients in a pan before adding them to the slow cooker. A lot of people don't mind this, but again I don't mind. It usually takes less then ten minutes for me to chop and saute, and so I feel that ten minutes is worth my time when I can just sit back the rest of the day and not worry about `what's for dinner' Though it should be noted that Robinson also has a microwave option instead, or you can simply disregard and throw the stuff into the slow-cooker as is. The reason she has you saute before hand is to bring out the depth of flavor of the onions, garlic and spices that she uses and I think this is actually a really good idea. I've never tasted slow-cooker food with as much rich flavor as the recipes in this book, so maybe this is why.
Overall, even though I don't use the book as much as I'd like to, it is a favorite of mine. Though I own two other slow-cooker books this is really the only one I use currently.
on March 4, 2014
I became a vegan for health and ethical reasons in January. There are a plethora of vegan cookbooks out there, most, disappointingly only superficially healthy - they simply replace the standard white sugar, white flour, butter, etc. with brown sugar, agave nectar & honey, butter with vegan margarine, and meat with processed soy foods.
This cookbook, on the other hand, utilizes the nutrient-rich greens, vegetables, and fruits promoted by such nutrition and health authorities as Dr. Joel Fuhrman ("Eat for Health" - highly recommended for the how's, why's and what's of American eating habits and how to change them for the better). I made a pot of her "Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup" yesterday, and it just makes me feel so nourished and good about eating. My husband, who has really cut back on animal products (eggs, butter, dairy, red meat, fish) thinks the food I've been making is super tasty and makes him feel healthier. The preparation is easy, the recipes easy to follow. There are no pictures here, but I don't miss them at all. Very good cookbook, highly recommended. If you're interested in learning more about veganism and eating healthy foods, I also suggest to you Victoria Moran's "Main Street Vegan" and Kathy Hester's "The Great Vegan Bean Book."
on October 25, 2012
Here's another great book by a wonderful vegan cookbook author! I have nothing but positive things to say about this book. I may be a bit partial since I did testing, but every recipe I tried during and after have turned out with good results. Robin Robertson breaks the book down into 12 chapters including snacks and appetizers to desserts, breakfast, hot drinks, and condiments. Who knew one could cook condiments in the slow cooker. How about applesauce, a peach and dried blueberry chutney, and one of my favorites, mango chutney with dates and lime! Absolutely delicious! Dinner ideas for busy nights? try the African-Inspired Peanut Stew, Slow and Spicy Sloppy Joes,"Mom" style vegan meatloaf or even the puttanesca pizza. Yes, pizza! It turned out amazing and I didn't even have to heat up the oven to do it! With so many great recipes, it would be hard not to find one that you and your family wouldn't like! I am the only vegan in my home and even my meat-eating family enjoyed these dishes! I have found a new reason to bring out my slow cooker and get some real use out of it! So glad to have been a part of the testing and now I can attest to how good everything is!
on September 29, 2012
I tested recipes for this cookbook, and I can tell you first hand that there are some real gems here. I had no idea such a large range of dishes could be made in a slow cooker. Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker starts with hints and tips for choosing and using a slow cooker, and information on ingredients. Then it moves right ahead with snacks and appetizers. Did you know you can make things like warm and creamy artichoke-spinach dip or chickpea, artichoke and mushroom paté in a slow cooker? That's just the beginning.
As you work your way through chapters on soups, stews and chili, beans and grains, main dishes, stuffed vegetables, vegetables, condiments, desserts, breakfasts and bread, and hot drinks, you can't help but be impressed and surprised at what can be prepared in a slow cooker -- cake or stuffed kabocha squash, for example.
When my copy of the newly published cookbook arrived, I immediately started looking for something to try, and the recipe I chose was chipotle-polenta bake. I had all the ingredients, which always makes a recipe appealing, and it seemed so simple to prepare.It was fabulous, but so spicy that without the salsa topping I made, I might not have been able to eat it! When my nothing-is-spicy-enough-for-me family recently came to dinner, I made the polenta again, toning down the spices a bit so it tasted just right to me, though it was still pretty spicy; no one at the table added extra hot sauce. My son, who doesn't even like polenta, had two servings, and said it was really good.
Using a slow cooker can take some of the pressure off when you want something delicious for dinner but won't be around during the day to cook. If you have time to set up the cooker before you leave, you'll find your meal deliciously cooked when you arrive home -- not to mention a wonderful-smelling house. Or, as Robin suggests, you can prep the meal the night before and store the crock in the refrigerator until morning. You can also get a cooker that is programmable if you need more control over cooking times. I like to plan part of a company meal for the slow cooker, so there's one less thing I have to prepare at the last minute.
Although using a slow cooker can be a time saver, and the cookbook is filled with delicious possibilities, many of the recipes tend to have a lot of ingredients. Though they are not difficult to assemble, it's a little more involved than just tossing a few things into the cooker. But not much!
I plan to use Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker a lot, and I recommend it to you as a source for delicious recipes for both every day and special occasions. (I can't wait to make autumn fruit crock for Thanksgiving.) The two things that would make the book better are photographs of the food (the only photos are on the front and back covers), and not having to turn pages to see a complete recipe.