Most helpful positive review
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Great cookbook, with one caveat
on May 23, 2010
The recipes in this book really are inexpensive to make. The book starts with about 28 pages of advice on ways to save money on food, and the rest of the book is devoted to recipes. I have tried the following so far, and thought they were great:
Cheezee sauce (excellent!)
Comfort loaf (Best vegan 'meatloaf' I've ever had)
Baked ziti (Delicious; I was amazed at how well the tofu worked in this dish)
Mexican rice and bean bake (Today's dinner - also outstanding)
The one caveat I have about the book is that some of the directions appear to be incomplete. This is okay for experienced cooks that can just figure out how to make it work. But someone with less experience and know-how could possibly end up wasting money by trying recipes that won't work.
For example, the Cheezee sauce recipe tells you to combine some ingredients in a saucepan. Then it says, "Turn the heat on medium and whisk in the soy milk. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute." This makes it sound like you are supposed to just turn on the heat and have the pot on the stove for 1 minute. What you have to do is bring the mixture to boiling and then cook it for about 1 minute longer. So, the author forgot to mention the part about bringing the mixture to boiling. If you've never made a sauce this way before, you might throw it out if you follow the directions, because it's not useful in that watery state.
In the Mexican rice and bean bake, the recipe involves partially cooking some rice on the stovetop, and then putting it in the oven to cook the rest of the way. I think that there is something missing from the directions there as well, because I cooked and baked as directed, and had to double my baking time to cook the rice completely. (And, no, there is nothing wrong with my oven.) I presume that it was supposed to be cooked a little longer on the stovetop first, but again, the directions just indicated that you were to return the stovetop mixture to boiling, and then dump it in the pan to go into the oven. I suspect you were supposed to boil it for a little while on the stovetop first.
The food tastes great. She really does a lot with inexpensive ingredients. (One of the things I liked about this cookbook was that she only asks you to have a few non-standard ingredients on hand, unlike most vegan cookbooks, which expect that you are secretly running an international grocery store in your kitchen.) But considering I tried 4 recipes so far, and 2 of them had inaccurate directions, I'm a little concerned about the rest of the book. I'll just have to remember to be more vigilant when making these recipes.
I think this is particularly important for this book, because I am sure that this book was geared, in part, to the 'starving students' and other new vegans who want to eat vegan on a budget. In general, younger people have less cooking experience and therefore will be less likely to know how to 'fix' these recipes. Also, I have a few of Robertson's other cookbooks, and haven't ever come across this problem so far. So, I'm disappointed for that reason, too.
But, man, that Mexican rice and bean bake is REALLY good.