Thursday, November 17, 2011
In My Kitchen :: A Vegetarian Cookbook Extravaganza
2011 has been such a year of food exploration for me and beautifully so. I've found myself in the kitchen on many a night trying out new recipes and enjoying intoxicating new vegetables. I'm so lucky to nanny as well. I have the space to cook delicious meals during the day and feel so fortunate to nurture J. in this way. Cooking has been a labor of love, but a journey of learning as well. I really began experimenting (quite literally) and learning to cook after I graduated college and moved into my first Chicago apartment in Uptown in 2007. I'd load a bag of farmers market veggies into my scooter basket and drive home thinking "What the eff am I to do with these."
In October 2008, I became vegetarian and my experimenting transitioned to all vegetables. I feel like most of us don't know how to use vegetables, how to cook them, or eat them. The first step for me was throwing in every vegetable we had in the house! We ate a lot of wraps and rice dishes that year! I also began making soups and hummus during our first year of marriage, living in Rogers Park. Is it strange that I remember each of our apartments by what I cooked most frequently there?
As we enter our third year of homeowning, I'd like to think that I've far progressed in my cooking skills and have begun to nurture myself, my spouse, a couple transient roommates (I joke!), and friends and other family members on occasion. I've become much more confident following recipes, trying new vegetables, and owning substitutions. But it has been a process and has taken a lot of practice. Having a CSA share aided in said practice because I received a box full of vegetables each week that I had to use or see perish.
As I get asked these questions all the time, I thought I'd share my favorite cookbooks with you. These have been instrumental in teaching me to cook, growing my confidence with vegetables, and aiding in the growth of my vegetarianism (yes, I too began by eating grilled cheese and cheese pizza every week).
The Real Dirt on Vegetables has been my go-to source for learning about vegetables, how to cook them, and how to store them. It was written by Farmer John who runs Angelic Organics where we get our CSA.
Simply in Season seriously has the best recipes I have ever tried. Everything I've made from this book has been simply divine. I've gotten rave reviews for all the dishes I've made. It's awesome because it's arranged by season so all autumn recipes call for everything you already have in the kitchen. It also has beautiful reflections at the end of each page.
I don't use Veganomicon all the time, but I love that it has the meatless versions for many favorite dish. It was extraordinarily useful as it has info in the front for which ingredients every vegetarian (vegan) household should keep in stock. There's nary a recipe I come across these days that I don't already have the ingredients at home. That can make cooking a breeze (and much more enjoyable).
These are pretty much the three cookbooks I use for everything and the internet for all the rest. Of course, I'm not getting paid to share these reviews; I just honestly love them!
If you're looking for meal ideas or recipes, I share my week's worth of cooking on Fridays, a series of posts called In My Kitchen :: A Weekly Menu. I also share vegetarian recipes from time to time.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for cooking, helps you "get in the kitchen", and starts you on your way to feeling confident cooking with vegetables. Let me know what you think and which vegetarian cookbooks you swear by!