Customer Reviews: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
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Showing 1-10 of 18 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on January 14, 2008
This book was a joy to read. Deborah Madison has a way of getting you very excited about the endless possibilities in vegetarian cooking. She incites the imagination and soothes your worries, reassuring you that the funny looking brown bumpy root thing is quite delicious and, indeed easy to cook. So you stock up your grocery cart, emboldened and inspired. Then you follow the recipe, trusting that 3 whole quarts of water won't wash out the potential taste explosion in rosemary, garlic, onions, and merely 2 cups of white beans - despite your instinct. But of course, your instinct was right, and the soup is a waterly, bland, concoction of ingredients with no zest. Disappointed, but determined, you try something else. Perhaps this was just a fluke, a tiny typo, in an otherwise praiseworthy masterpiece. But then, it happens again...and again. Countless time and energy devoted to enticing recipes, only to be disappointed with the lack of flavor, or vigor. Something was always missing. I had to add more salt here, more herb there, more garlic, perhaps I'll add some lemon...just to liven it up a bit. I don't regret buying this book, because I truly enjoyed the read. Nevertheless, I'll never seek it again for inspiration in cooking.
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on March 28, 2008
I think this book offers a wide variety of interesting vegetarian options. The recipes that I have prepared have turned out well. (I have made a corn and lima bean cobbler and pasta with beans and pesto.)

However, this is not the book for anyone who works and feels the pressure of time mid-week. The recipes are really time consuming to make. (I am an experienced cook and I am familiar with the techniques referenced and I have the equipment.) For example, Ms. Madison does not allow for the use of canned beans but assumes that you will begin by soaking dried beans.

I also think that the instructions are sometimes less than clear. For example, she will tell you that canned tomatoes can be preferable to fresh. But, her instructions tell you to use 2 fresh tomatoes and she does not tell you how that equates to a canned tomato quantity.
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on November 8, 2010
I was so excited to get this cookbook. After reading about it and searching for a good vegetarian cookbook, I thought I had found it. I read the introduction and skimmed recipes. I tried several, but ended up less than enthused when eating the creations. When looking through the book for something to make, I find that I hardly ever have all of the ingredients on hand that are required for just one recipe. It also seems that many of the recipes are quite complex with many steps or just too involved. I also wished that there were some actual pictures of what the food is meant to look like, even an inch by inch photo would have been appreciated.
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on February 16, 2012
I like this cookbook, but I don't love it. Deborah Madison keeps her recipes very simple to let the vegetables' own flavors shine through. This is great if you're using garden-fresh, in-season ingredients, but if you're shopping at a grocery store in the middle of January and you don't live in California, things will probably come out fairly bland. I use this cookbook a lot in the summer, when I'm shopping at the farmers' market, but not so much the rest of the year.

It is nice when I have a lot of a particular vegetable and need to use it up, since it has SO many recipes. But this can become a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially when many of the recipes are very similar to one another.

I also wish that the recipes included an estimated time to prepare and cook. Some of them take a LONG time, but that's not always obvious from the way the recipe is written. I don't mind if a recipe takes a long time, it's just good to know that as I'm flipping through and picking out things to make.
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on October 18, 2000
The strength of this book is that it gives you a great overview of different vegetables, grains etc. and the variety of things that can be done with them. On the negative side, the instructions often lack detail. For example, she might tell you to heat oil and saute a particular ingredient, but neglect to tell you how high the heat should be. Also, if you tend to like highly spiced food, many of her recipes are totally bland and really need to be spiced up. For every real "winner" in the book, there have been 2 or 3 things I wouldn't bother making again.
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on April 20, 2003
Though Madison's knowledge and abilities are obviously unparalleled, sometimes the best chefs aren't the best cookbook authors. Don't get me wrong: this encyclopedic volume is an impressive piece of work. But too often the recipes are just workhorse recipes. And Madison's recipe-writing style can be a bit vague, esp. for beginners.
All in all, I wish she focused on doing a few things very well instead of doing too many things adequately.
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on September 23, 2013
First thing's first: This review is ONLY in regards to the fully plant-based recipes in the book. Believe me, I know how delicious the egg- and dairy-laden stuff in this cookbook can be (I remember the parsley-pea risotto especially fondly from my ovo-lacto days) but since I've given up those things, I wanted to use my review to warn my fellow vegans that Deborah has seriously dropped the ball on us, because it is bland city up in here.

You'll be mostly okay if you stick to the WASP-American supper type dishes, like the perfectly adequate roast-garlic and potato soup or anything from the roasted/grilled veggie + sauce/glaze genre, but the treatment of foods from so-called "ethnic" cuisines (aka the source of most good vegan cooking) is just sad. What kind of comprehensive vegan/vegetarian cookbook doesn't have one recipe for green (or red, or yellow, or masaman, or panang, or or or) curry, Mexican bean salad, falafel, baklava, fried rice, bahn mi chay, sushi, or even fricking hummus?

The stir-fry section is especially tragic, given that the author is from San Fransisco. Hello, hot sauce? Rice vinegar? ANY vinegar? Where are you guys??? And I'm not even going to get into the author's ridiculous rule that only meat can stand up to full-bodied soy sauces. You will pry my Koon Chun Sauce Factory molasses-infused double black from my cold dead hands, lady.

Finally, I would be surprised if there were even ten non-gross vegan recipes from the baking and breakfast sections combined. I'm pretty sure the only things I can eat for breakfast from this thing are various flavored juices, poached prunes, and tofu scrambles. Eeuuugh.

I keep this cookbook around because I truly like some of the waspy dishes (like the aforementioned potato soup, mmm), and it has good information on techniques, equipment, and how to choose and store unfamiliar produce, not to mention a beautifully extensive guide to making your own stocks. But for a vegan who's deciding on a basics cookbook, I would recommend Veganomicon by Isa Moscowitz and Terry Romero instead, which is much smaller but has a lot more utility for vegans whose taste buds are still intact.
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on May 28, 2001
A book like this might be useful for those with little experience in cooking or in vegetarian cooking. Personally, I find little of interest in it - the recipes are not challenging or innovative and often the flavors are poorly balanced. She often relies too much on exotic ingredients to achieve new tastes. I would recommend a less pretentious but more imaginative book like "Moosewood Low-Fat Cooking" or "Laurel's Kitchen" over this one.
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on December 8, 2014
For everyone who is a chef, has a commercial kitchen, and a large staff. Wanted to like it more, as I love her restaurant--but I'll not get to most of these recipes.
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on December 30, 1999
I agree that this is a good reference book for vegetarian cuisine. However many of the recipes are rather basic and boring. Not a great book if you're looking for something new and exciting to spice up your vegetarian cooking or do some real vegetarian entertaining.
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