I love the recipes in 'Let Them Eat Vegan' but I love vegan cookbook author Dreena Burton just as much. She's warm, funny, charming, practical, and makes cooking vegan a great family adventure.
Part of what I love is that Dreena Burton is Canadian, a Newfoundlander with quirky speech patterns and unique humor in her writing, which made me laugh out loud - and made me homesick.
Dreena's a stay-at-home Mom raising 3 daughters "near Vancouver, B.C" - just like I did way back when. But she's a much better cook than I was.
I bookmarked so many recipes to try in 'Let Them Eat Vegan', especially in Chapter 3, 'Proud to be Saucy and Dippy', that I gave up after a while and just made random picks.
Here's how Dreena describes her recipes: No white flour, no white sugar, and also no vegan substitutes like vegan cream cheese, sour cream, or vegan meat. And, these recipes are wheat-free and largely gluten-free, and a sprinkling of raw delights for good measure.
I'm always pushing simple home cooking with basic ingredients, that kids (aka the food police) will eat, and I'm recommending 'Let Them Eat Vegan' as exactly that kind of cookbook.
As Dreena says in her introduction, "My recipes won't have you veganizing a ground meat-based recipe with veggie ground round, or using vegan sour cream to make an artichoke dip. The tricky thing with processed foods is, because they are so convenient, they can comprise the bulk of the vegan diet, while the real (whole) foods are abandoned. The reverse should be true."
One of the most useful of the many useful features in 'Let Them Eat Vegan' is on pages xviii and xix, where Dreena matches your probable needs with recipes in the book. E.G. "So you need ... a tasty alternative to Parmesan that is soy free? I've got you covered with ... Brazil Nut Parmesan".
Then there's the the invaluable list of ingredients and tools used in the cookbook, with explanations - what they are, how they're made, how to use them, where to find them.
The friendly chatty intros to each recipe are a big plus, along with the thorough directions and cooking tips, and last but not least, the recipes themselves.
There's a nice selection of raw dessert recipes, and some very tempting veggie burger recipes which I look forward to tryng. But 'Proud to be Saucy and Dippy' was my favorite chapter in 'Let Them Eat Vegan'.
I wanted to make all 30 of the sauce & dip recipes - from DJ's Hummus Salad Dressing through Moroccan Carrot Dip to Artichoke and White Bean Dip. Even the last one, Creamy Grilled Eggplant Dip, sounded fantastic, and I'm not an eggplant fan.
After drooling all over the book, and agonizing over the possibilities like a kid in a candy store, I finally settled on 2 test recipes: Kale Slaw paired with Creamy Curried Almond Dressing. It was the first time I've had kale in a salad (I've led a sheltered life).
Kale-slaw was spectacularly colorful and tasty, with curly green kale, fennel, shredded carrot, sliced apple and dried cranberries, and the Curried Almond Dressing - I've never tasted anything like it!
The handy appendices at the back of 'Let Them Eat Vegan' give much needed support to new vegans. They are about taking your family vegan, feeding vegan babies, providing tasty healthy vegan school lunches, how to get into eating greens, basic guides to cooking grains and beans, and metric conversions (Canada is metric but this cookbook is not).
The only minor quibbles I have with this cookbook: The apparent assumption that everybody has (or should have) high powered kitchen appliances, and that there are no estimated prep & cook times, or nutritional info. But no matter - these are definitely easy and nutritious recipes - plus delicious!
It seems likely that Dreena Burton's 'Let Them Eat Vegan' will soon be as food spattered and rumpled as my other favorite vegan cookbooks. Highly recommended!
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian