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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Organizing My Ever-Expanding Cookbook Library

As soon as you go vegan, every family member and friend will shower you with vegan cookbooks and cooking equipment on holidays. Hey I'm not complaining! It was these books that have helped me understand vegan nutrition and cooking techniques. My mom works at a library, so she brings home even more vegan and vegetarian books that are donated or no longer in circulation. I have browsed through most of my cookbooks at least once, but when I'm looking for a particular recipe or ingredient, I have to search through the index of each book until I find the perfect recipe. This is the same dilemma that originally influenced me to launch this blog (in that case it was streamlining the online vegan recipe search). Thanks to Google Books, I have discovered a way to organize my personal cookbook library and search through all of them at once. Here is my small yet solid library of vegan cookbooks. If you type an ingredient or recipe name into the text box at left and click "search," you will get results from my cookbook library only. Of course there are limitations to this method. Google Books allows you to preview a large percentage of the pages in most books. So for some of your search results, you can view the complete recipe, but for others you might only be given the page number.

While I'm on the topic of kitchen essentials, I recently purchased a few items on Amazon. A few weeks ago I realized that my old blender couldn't even process a banana, so it was time to get a new one. If I had a lot of money to spend and more counter space in my kitchen, I would totally get a powerful and versatile Vitamix blender. However, I was looking for something smaller that was easy to clean and could also grind things like seeds and nuts. I settled on the Tribest Personal Blender, and I'm glad I made the choice. I haven't used it too much, but it's certainly easy to clean, BPA free, and comes with mix and match travel cups and lids. It has a blending blade, which is great for smoothies, and a grinding blade, which literally pulverized my cashews into a flour. Today I also ordered a Lodge Logic 5Qt. Dutch Oven, which has a lid that doubles as a skillet! I bought the Lodge Logic 10" Cast Iron Skillet a few months ago and absolutely love it. It comes pre-seasoned, so after each use you just scrub with hot water (no soap!) and a scouring pad and lightly oil it before storing it. Cast iron is naturally nonstick, adds a significant amount of iron to your food, and lasts a lifetime or more! I can't wait to get the dutch oven, because I want to try a recipe for "no-knead bread." The other item I purchased today was a Silpat, a naturally nonstick, nontoxic, baking mat that is always featured on Spork Foods.

I won't be posting any recipes too soon, because I had to get all four wisdom teeth removed yesterday. The nurse instructed my mom to feed me soft foods like "scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soup, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, and Jello." Since I can't eat half of those things, my mom made a trip to the natural section of our local chain grocery store to pick up organic vegan items like applesauce, Imagine Foods potato and leek soup, So Delicious soy ice cream, and sweet potatoes (which she roasted and mashed in my favorite way with mellow white miso, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon). I also made a quick orange-pineapple juice and banana smoothie in my blender this morning. As soon as I can eat whole foods again, I want to try this recipe for Irish Soda Bread, which calls for soft silken tofu (I've had a box in pantry that is nearing expiration, and I never knew what to do with the soft variety). I'm not Irish, but I do enjoy a good soda bread with a pat of Earth Balance spread around the St. Patrick's Day holiday.

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