14 February 2015

Weekend Cooking: Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Real Food for Everyone by Ann GentryHere at casa Beth Fish Reads, about 50 percent of our dinners are vegetarian, but I rarely make a meal that's officially vegan. In fact, I don't have much of vegan repertoire at all. So when I spotted the subtitle to Ann Gentry's Real Food for Everyone--"Vegan-Friendly Meals for Meat-Lovers, Vegetarians, and Vegans"--I thought I'd give this cookbook a chance.

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
ISBN-13: 9781449466534
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Create With Joy 2/14/15, 6:48 AM  

Thanks for hosting Beth! I also wanted to invite you and your readers to join us at The Book Nook at Create With Joy - our new community just for book lovers! :-)

Have a wonderful Valentine's weekend!

Create With Joy

The Relentless Reader 2/14/15, 7:52 AM  

I can see how an experienced cook could get something out of this one. I rarely, if ever, buy cook books. Mostly because I'm scared that I'll start another habit, ha! I do love cooking though, that's no lie. :D

jama 2/14/15, 8:00 AM  

Thanks for featuring this one. I'm always looking for good vegan recipes, but have to watch my soy intake, so I was glad you included your caveat. Will look for this one at the library and check it out first.

bermudaonion 2/14/15, 8:55 AM  

I do like the idea of an every day foods cookbook - too bad the directions aren't better.

Joy 2/14/15, 9:39 AM  

That sure is a pretty soup! I'd also want to soak the beans first. We have a couple of vegetarian recipes in our repertoire, but we're pretty hooked on cheese for those nights and I don't think hubby is going to go for substitutes.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/14/15, 9:44 AM  

I saw that Whole Foods now featuring non-dairy cheeses (which is interesting because I thought the use of the word cheese was restricted) but anyway, I am interested in trying them!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 2/14/15, 10:25 AM  

Even though we are not vegetarians or vegan, I love books like this because they are so wonderful to make sure you get enough vegetables on your table and into your family. Thanks for hosting, again!

Katherine P 2/14/15, 11:04 AM  

The pictures definitely don't look like what I expect from vegan cooking! While I don't love the reliance on soy products it sounds like it'd be a good recipe for cooking for when the vegetarians in my family come to dinner. Thanks for sharing!

Debbie 2/14/15, 1:35 PM  

I need to eat better!

Hillary 2/14/15, 8:03 PM  

I do not like a lot of meat so I am always looking for recipes such as these. I will have to check it out.

Cecelia 2/14/15, 8:18 PM  

Hmmm... this cookbook sounds like it is for someone a bit more experienced with vegetarian/vegan cooking than me. Around 30% of my meals are vegetarian, but I rely heavily on salads and raw veggie snacks. Plus, those recipe gaffes are a little worrying...

Belle Wong 2/14/15, 8:25 PM  

This would have been a great cookbook for us a few years ago when Ward was vegan. But he's now doing low-carb! Very heavy on the proteins, which is kind of funny.

Emma Litttlefield 2/15/15, 3:37 AM  

I love the sound of this as I am a veggie but my husband and daughter aren't and sometimes I struggle with coming up with meals we can all eat that don't involve pasta, especially in winter. Will definitely be checking this out. Emma

Les 2/15/15, 8:36 AM  

I like the layout of the cookbook, but the closest we get to vegan or vegetarian is a large salad (and the dressing probably disqualifies the vegan element!). Thanks for sharing this one, though. That cake does look good! :)

Laurie C 2/15/15, 12:15 PM  

Oops, could you please delete my first link-up, where I used the wrong URL?
One daughter is experimenting with vegan meals for breakfast and lunch, but having vegetarian dinner options. I don't see myself ever going vegan completely, but I like my Plant-Powered for Life cookbook and hope to use it more in the spring, summer, and fall when the fresh garden veggies are back in season!

Col (Col Reads) 2/15/15, 2:55 PM  

I'm not a huge soy fan, so I would probably pass. But thanks for the review, it sounds like it would be perfect for experienced vegan cooks.

Sue Jackson 2/16/15, 5:49 PM  

My weekends are so busy with family I haven't had time to participate in Weekend Cooking in a while, but I;ve missed it!

This cookbook sounds intriguing, though my family are meat lovers. That cake looks fabulous and so does the soup recipe you included (BTW, black-eyed peas never need soaking - they are more like green peas or lentils rather than typical legumes). I would definitely try that one!

Thanks for sharing this - I need to branch out more!


Book By Book

Carole 2/17/15, 3:22 PM  

sorry I'm late - am in the throes of house hunting - a very frustrating process. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

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