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Right off the bat, I liked the design of Real Food for Everyone: the photographs are beautiful; the teal and red color scheme is attractive; and the boxes, tips, and recipes are nicely laid out. All this makes the cookbook a pleasure to use.
According to the publisher, this book is an "updated and paperback edition of [Gentry's] Vegan Family Meals." I'm not familiar with the original book, but Real Food for Everyone is full of terrific information about vegan ingredients, cooking techniques and tips, and equipment. In addition, Gentry talks about the reasons for eating a plant-based diet, taking into account environmental, ethical, and health issues.
On the surface, the recipes in Real Food for Everyone are very familiar, such as salads and soups, smoothies and granolas, lasagna, wraps, and chilies. When you look closer at the recipes, you'll see the vegan adaptations, which sometimes call for ingredients that are not readily available in basic grocery stores or small towns. You may need to plan a trip to the health-food store or larger supermarket. All the dairy products are, of course, vegan equivalents; and non-dairy cheese, milk, and butter are used throughout the cookbook.
One alert: Gentry relies heavily on soy products, especially tofu, tamari, and tempeh. If you have a soy allergy or are avoiding soy for other reasons, you'll definitely want to look through this book before you buy it.
I always think that vegan baking is particularly challenging, but the desserts chapter (see the scan) is full of delicious-looking and -sounding treats. There are even recipes for homemade vegan whipped topping and frosting for vegan cupcakes.
Unfortunately, there are a number of small problems with the recipe directions. For example, one recipe called for 2 tablespoons of oil but used only 4 teaspoons in the dish. Gentry doesn't tell us what to do with the remaining 2 teaspoons. In another recipe, she has us mince garlic, but then it's put into a food processor with other ingredients and processed until smooth. The mincing first, seems like a lot of unnecessary work (a quick chop is all that's needed). Finally, I noticed a few odd flavor combinations, particularly adding tamari and umeboshi to Mexican enchiladas.
If you're an experienced cook, you'll find some great ideas in Real Food for Everyone, despite needing to double-check the recipe instructions. If you're still learning your way around the kitchen, you might run into some difficulties. On the other hand Ann Gentry's book is full of useful information about becoming vegan, adding more plant-based meals to your diet, and buying and using vegan ingredients. My recommendation is to purchase or borrow Real Food for Everyone with the intention of reading it rather than cooking from it.
Above is a scan of one of the recipes to give you an idea of what you'll find within the pages of Real Food for Everyone (click to enlarge it). I'm a little surprised that Gentry doesn't have us soak the beans before cooking them, and I think 30 minutes is a really long time to cook frozen corn. However, the soup looks and sounds tasty and should have universal appeal.
Published by Andrews McMeel, February 10, 2015
Source: Review (see review policy)
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