As a busy husband, father of two young children, and full-time writer, Jack Bishop demands a lot from the meals that make it into his family’s repertoire. In A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, he guides you through the seasons with 248 of his favorite everyday recipes, which deliciously embody his
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since august or so, i’ve decided to retake control of my eating habits. i read an article in the ny times in july (i think) about a woman who planned a week’s worth of menus to be sure that her family would have a good home cooked meal every night. the criterion were: quick, tasty (she had two kids under age 10), and nutritious. in reading the article, although many of the dishes she chose didn’t apply to me (i don’t eat meat, and many of the dinners focused on a main dish of meat), it reminded
so i went to the library in september and borrowed “a year in a vegetarian kitchen”, by jack bishop. one of my exes had a cookbook by jack (if i may be so casual), and i really liked it because the food was simple — although often composed of less than 10 ingredients, the dishes would be hearty and have complex flavors. a year in a vegetarian cookbook was just what i was looking for – seasonal dishes to take advantage of the farm share that i have this summer, and easy to assemble. everything in the cookbook looked like it could be made in under a half hour, and i have to say that this is true of 80% of the dishes that i have made so far.
the main thing that i have really taken from this book are that the booking is really seasonal. jack makes good use of weird vegetables that i get in my CSA box, that i would have merely used for decoration instead of eaten (pattypan squash is a case in point.) he also has novel ideas for flavorings that i think are great – juice to add dimension to a sauce, cheese rinds to make a soup more rich. however, some of the “seasonal” choices are a bit odd to me – for example, is tofu really just a winter food? to get to some of the more protein based dishes that include legumes and soy proteins, you need to read out of season recipes.
i have renewed this book twice already, and may extend it another time. the only thing that keeps me from buying a copy of my own is that i don’t feel that this is really a cookbook for my every day lifestyle. i am a hungry girl. the thing that i don’t like about this cookbook is that it leans too much towards the “vegetarians eat salad. lots of salad.” school of vegetarian cooking, and i am disappointed that a lot of the spring and summer dishes are a little scant on what i feel to be the makings of a substantial dinner. everything is tasty, though, and i have enjoyed everything i’ve put together under jack’s direction.
Whenever someone asks for recommendations of vegetarian cookbooks, this is usually the first one I mention. Some of my favorites that I cook often come from this book. The recipes aren’t overly complex so it’s approachable for less experienced cooks, but the combinations of flavors are interesting and not the same recipes I see repeatedly in vegetarian cookbooks. While not all ingredients are going to be readily available to people without easy access to natural food stores and the like, many of
The pan fried/glazed tofu recipes are a quick and easy way to make something delicious with tofu, an intimidating ingredient for those newer to cooking vegetarian food. A few of my favorites are the black bean chilaquiles, enchiladas, and pan-glazed tofu with thai red curry sauce. This is also one of the few cookbooks I have which makes use of purslane, which I found growing in my yard last summer and decided not to treat as a weed. I also appreciate the seasonal approach it takes (although, related to another reviewer’s comments, those seasons are a bit different than mine in Minnesota).