The first thing that struck me when I received my copy was the beautiful cover. Pictures speak more than a thousand words when it comes to food. The tacos on the front cover made me want to tear into the book. The only other pictures were on the back cover. I do wish there were more pictures because I totally love to drool over my cook books.
Robin Robertson is no stranger the cook book scene. She has written many wonderful vegetarian and vegan cook books. Her experience shows in her writing and organizational style. I've been cooking for decades. But I have to admit, my use of the slow cooker was pretty limited. Using the slow cooker was usually reserved for cooking beans. Robin teaches us that this was the first modern day slow cooker was developed specifically for cooking beans.
The first part of the book is full of tidbits and information on just about everything you need to know about using and enjoying your slow cooker. She offers advice on learning the timing for your specific cooker (which can vary greatly from brand to brand), when to add spices and other ingredients for the best results, the best way to thicken liquids and even a nice reference for vegan proteins used in slow cooking. If you don't want to spend a lot of time reading, she has included highlight boxes for quick reference. Even this old cooking dog learned some new tricks reading the first few sections of her book. Robin has a knack for taking simple pantry friendly ingredients and creating pleasing and hearty dishes.
Now I mentioned earlier that my repertoire for the slow cooker was pretty limited. After reviewing Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, I have a completely different outlook on the uses of the slow cooker. I can now "bake" cakes when it is 110 degrees outside without heating up my kitchen (no minor deal in Arizona). If you have had bad luck making your own seitan, I highly recommend trying it in the slow cooker. It is virtually fool-proof. Robin provides a basic and easy recipe on page 136 of the book. If you are busy or just like the idea of walking in after a long day and having dinner ready to go, this book is for you.
I tried four recipes, including the seitan I mentioned above. I have my eye on many more. I really want to take a crack at making my own home made catsup or maybe the Slow-Cooker Pho. Oh so many possibilities! Below are a few of the recipes I tried out this week.
Holy Mole Red Bean Chili (pg. 82)
Chili is the quintessential crock pot dish in my opinion. They just go together like peas and carrots to me. This is probably why I made it first. I made it with the TVP option. It had a nice spice, but seemed to be missing something. I think I would use veggie broth instead of water with this option to add more depth to the flavor. The seitan (that Robin recommended using) probably would have added an added dimension of flavor this could have used. But on a whole it was homey and good. I loved the hint of heat and smokiness the chipotle provided. It was very filling as well. Not midday snacks were needed after a lunch of Holy Mole!
Grandmom Gennaro's Minestre (pg. 54)
Fred picked this one out. He is still on his very low carb regime (for 2 more weeks). I am proud of his accomplishments, but am looking forward to being able to cook beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan for him freely again. This recipe is chock full of veggies! The ingredient list is short and simple. I was able to get everything into the crock pot in about 20 minutes before going to work (this included sautéing the onions and garlic). My crock pot took quite a bit longer to cook this than the 6-7 hour time stated in the recipe, but as Robin points out in her tips, all Crock Pots are not created equal. Mine is an oldie, so it probably needs more time to get up to speed (or temperature in this case).
Apple Walnut Cake (pg 244)
This cake was very pantry friendly and easy to make. The batter was very thick with nice warm spices. I cooked it in my 4 quart round crock pot. Sadly the crock pot cooked very unevenly. One side got a bit burnt and the other side was not cooked enough. This is a good way to test your crock pot for even cooking. That said, even with the uneven cooking the cake was not a total loss. It was still pretty tasty and fairly moist. I am guessing it would be really good in a properly working crock pot. Fred has requested I make this again when he can eat carbs. He loved the flavors. I thought it was so cool to be able to bake a cake without turning on the oven!
So now dear readers it is time to talk about how to score your very own copy! It's simple really. First, if you are not already a follower of the Veg-in-Training blog, please become one, because to win the book you must be a follower of the blog. Easy peasy right? Then make a comment on this post by midnight MST today, September 8th, 2012. Make the post slow cooker related if you can (optional). That's all you have to do to enter. The winner will be selected at random and announced here tomorrow. Please make sure to check back tomorrow to see if you have won! Good luck!
***Sorry to all of the international readers, this one is for US residents only.***
Congratulations to #27 Ilene Klang!!
Ilene, you are the winner of Robin Robertson's Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker. Please contact me at vegintraining at g mail dot com with your mailing address so the publisher can mail you your copy. Congratulations. You are going to love all of the wonderful recipes. Happy slow cooking!!