Because of this approach to cooking and because I rely more and more on internet searches to come up with inspirations for whatever happens to be in my cupboards at the moment, I have been gradually whittling down my cookbook collection. I even went through the mass of clippings and handwritten recipes I had gathered over the years and have one--admittedly pretty fat--file folder of ideas to try, recipes too good to quite give up.
Last week at the library, however, I checked out Color Me Vegan, an attractive book from the new acquisitions display and discovered quickly that this one was definitely a wise addition to my library. It should be arriving from Amazon any day now, but I still have the library copy to use until then.
Why am I so excited about this new book by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau? After all, I will never be a vegan, and even my most vegetarian dishes sometimes end up with a little chicken broth or a bit of leftover ham. And I am very unlikely to go out and buy "vegan butter" to try a recipe--mine will very definitely include the real thing, or oil (something that the author rather strangely, to me at least, seems averse to using).
But here are some things I do like about the book: the emphasis on color and making food look appealing, the ideas on ways to serve less familiar things like quinoa and unusually colored vegetables, and even the unexpected entries like Kale Chips. Further, even though the ingredients lists include lots of almond and soy milk, the aforementioned vegan butter, etc., the author does not go off on the kind of "health nut" rant many of these cookbooks turn into, and her discussions of various nutrients are well-reasoned and supported by conventional medical and nutritional sources. Finally, for a book so well-illustrated and nicely done graphically, the price is very reasonable.
I have already tried several of the recipes (with my usual variations of course!) and may be using some of them as inspiration in the weeks ahead for other entries here. For now, here is a Cajun seasoning mix I found that took a few minutes to put together but that has already proven a wonderful addition to some chicken poached in a slow cooker and added to the Black Beans and Vegetable recipe posted a little earlier today.
Color Me Vegan Cajun/Creole Seasoning Mix
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T paprika
1 1/2 T onion powder
2 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T garlic powder
2 t dried basil
1 t chili powder
1/4 t thyme (I used about twice this amount)
1/4 t ground mustard
1/8 t ground cloves (again, I used about twice this amount)
I put all of these into a large shaker jar, turned the cover on tight, and shook vigorously until it was well-mixed.
"Salt to taste" was included in the original recipe here, but I left it out completely, preferring to be able to use this mix with recipes that might or might not have salt from other sources and then adjusting the salt level accordingly.