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Passionate Vegetarian Paperback – October 14, 2002
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Crescent Dragonwagon shares a wealth of recipes and memories with humor and intelligence in her extraordinary Passionate Vegetarian. She promises that "here you will be well fed, well loved, well tended to, satisfied," and 1,000-plus recipes later, that's exactly what's delivered.
For 18 years Dragonwagon owned and ran a country inn, where she fed glorious food to everyone including vegetarians, diabetics, the lactose intolerant, and people with food allergies. But the real draw here is that this is vegetarian cooking for everyday living. Ingredient lists are always reasonable and understandable; you won't have to search high and low for something esoteric that'll make or break a recipe. This is comfort food that's easy to prepare, and that deprives you of nothing. If you're not a full-time vegetarian, this is the biggest book of potential starters and side dishes you'll ever see.
Dragonwagon's "swoon-worthy, knock-your-socks-off, delicious food" includes hors d'oeuvres; salads; soups; stews; layered dishes; dishes that star grains, beans, or soy; recipes for every vegetable imaginable; burgers and patties; quick dishes; and desserts. From the simple Melissa's Spinach Casserole and Susie Pryor's beautifully impressive "Perfectly Delicious" Stuffed Acorn Squash to the vibrant Stir-Fry of Asparagus with Black Bean-Ginger Sauce and Mr. Panseer's North-Indian-Style Spinach, Dragonwagon offers flavors and cooking techniques from all over the world--everything from old favorites to new twists. With notes on "cooking, eating, loving and living fearlessly," there's a lot to learn here, and it's not just about vegetables. --Leora Y. Bloom
From Library Journal
For many years, Dragonwagon and her husband ran an inn in the Ozarks of Arkansas, and two previous cookbooks, The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook and Dairy Hollow House Soups and Breads: A Country Inn Cookbook, grew out of that experience. Despite having been a vegetarian for decades, Dragonwagon did not feature vegetarian fare at the inn or in her earlier books. This big, exuberant book marks her foray into the cooking closest to her heart, with more than 1000 recipes, from "Welcoming Hors d'Oeuvres" to "Just Desserts." Dragonwagon is indeed a passionate vegetarian, and adjectives like sensual and voluptuous appear in many of her recipe notes. Her food is boldly seasoned and draws from a variety of cuisines. In addition to the recipes, she includes hundreds of boxes and sidebars on ingredients and myriad other subjects; the vegetable chapter, for example, features an A-Z guide to her favorites. There is also a chapter called "Quick Fix," with recipes and suggestions for no-fuss meals. Many of the other recipes offer suggestions for easy variations. Deborah Madison's huge Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone came first, and it and Dragonwagon's book cover similar ground by virtue of having the same topic, but there is little overlap in terms of recipes. With vegetarian cooking more popular than ever, most libraries will want Passionate Vegetarian, too. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Note of caution though: it's better suited to an experienced vegetarian cook, as some of the ingredients and techniques may be a bit overwhelming for a newbie.
I also like her writing style, which is colloquial without being too cute.
I have a few other giant vegetarian cookbooks, like Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but when I look at my cookbook shelf, my copy of this book is stained, crumples, marked up, and its spine is feeling its age. My Deborah Madison is still crisply new. Guess which book I use on a weekly basis?
As other reviewers have mentioned she does use long lists of ingredients that are hard to find and/or expensive. This book is not easy to browse and definitely not to pull off the shelf at 5:00 on a weekday when your family is getting cranky. I do appreciate her chapter on quick fixes, even though I agree with another reviewer that the some of the recipes in this section sound "truly horrible", and I also love how she makes notes throughout the book on ways various dishes can be used as leftovers. Deja Food, I think she calls it.
This book has survived several purges of my cookbook shelf and I can't imagine ever getting rid of it. Several times a year I pull it out and flip through it to discover something new. But while I love looking at it I'm not sure how much actually cooking I'll be using it for any time soon.
The author does a good job of explaining the recipes and drawing attention to ways to save time, suggest alternatives, and ways to use the recipe in other ways.
The author is personable and writes quite a bit--some have said she is "wordy". However, cooking well is more than following a set of ingredients and instructions. I personally find her narratives before each section and recipe entertaining and informative. It's like having the author as a friend, and sets the mood for the cooking to come.
Highly recommended addition to your cookbook library!