Why I Shouldn’t Test Cookbooks [But I'll Happily Give One Away To You]

by Sarah on July 26, 2012 · 48 comments

It is a rare food blogger who doesn’t love a good cookbook.

I am certainly no exception to the rule. Maybe it’s my elementary school-sized attention span, but I love the instant gratification of perusing a cookbook and being instantly bombarded with 100 different flavor profiles, culinary techniques, and ingredient inspirations.

So when the lovely people at Nasoya asked if I would review Spork Fed–a cookbook written by the chef sisters behind California-based ‘vegan gourmet’ Spork Foods–I immediately replied, “Of course!”What I probably should have told them, however, is that it is genetically impossible for me to follow a recipe.*

*No really. I inherited this trait from my Papa Smart. You should see HIM in the kitchen.Somehow, my insane desire to make the Ginger Maple and Mustard Glazed Tempeh resulted in a Ginger Maple and Mustard Marinated (Nasoya :) )Tofu, with orange juice subbed in for lemon, Bragg’s liquid aminos (essentially soy sauce) added for some zip, and no oil used in the coating at all.I didn’t even read the actual instructions past the part where it told me to steam the tempeh. Instead, I just cooked up some frozen Asian vegetables I had in the freezer and tossed the tofu and marinade in the pan, too.I didn’t even make rice. Instead I used up the last of my rice flakes and poured everything on top of the Bragg’s aminos and garlic-infused brown rice porridge.

Recipe following fail, yes.

But let’s not discount the flavor win, or the bonus points for inspiration.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was REALLY excited about Spork Fed. I’d heard amazing things about it from reading various vegan blogs, and had the best of intentions of utilizing it fully. [And following the recipes!]

I absolutely love how each recipe is paired with “The Sporkie Scoop,” which has a For Your Parts snippet about health benefits of the dish, as well as a For Your Smarts fun factoid to please the nerd intellectual in me.The pictures are beautiful, and the recipes do seem easy enough to follow…were I better about doing that. There is a lot to be inspired by and take away. For example, I can’t wait to try the trick of making whipped ‘cream’ out of coconut milk!In efforts of being completely honest–not that I haven’t  been already–I will say that there are a lot of recipes I would be hesitant to try. Perhaps it is because I felt like a majority of the ingredient lists start with non-dairy butter or vegan alternatives (vegan bacon, vegan sour cream, etc.) and those are not items I typically have around, nor do I typically eat.*

*I  more than likely rwould just give my veganism up for the real thing if I wanted it.

Because I was being ‘sponsored’ by Nasoya to review this cookbook, I also felt like I needed to stick to recipes that included tofu. Thus, I didn’t try many of the vividly appealing vegetable dishes or decadent desserts.The success in all this, however, was that I managed to somewhat follow a recipe for Cornmeal and Herb-Encrusted Tofu Feta Croquettes…that left me with something smaller, and definitely not as pretty……and fell apart rather easily. [This I blame entirely on my recipe alterations: I left out a lot of cornmeal and all of the vegan cream cheese. I also used firm rather than extra-firm tofu.]But, just as before, this was not a complete fail. I discovered a new method of preparing tofu, and finally made something akin to tofu feta/ricotta, which I’d been meaning to do for ages.I loved the tofu ‘cheese’ so much I ate it raw, and then took a bunch and attempted to make some sort of vegetable dip with it.It ended up with a texture and taste similar to cottage cheese. And that is a complete win in my (cook) book. [My PopChips think so, too.]Never fear, friends. I know that not everyone is like me* and many of you LOVE to have recipes to follow. Which is why, as part of Christmas in July

*In fact, NO ONE is like me. ;) you have the chance to win your own copy of Spork Fed, along with some coupons for FREE Nasoya products.To win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite way to use or cook with tofu! [If you have a link to a favorite recipe, I'd love to see those, too.]

Additional entries are accepted for following Nasoya, Spork Foods, and/or me on Twitter and/or tweeting about the giveaway. [Up to four additional entries.]

I almost forgot to mention the best part…You win a pair of these gym shorts, too.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Clizia July 26, 2012 at 6:15 am

Hi Sarah! Lovely blog :)

My favourite way of eating tofu is slicing it about 3/4 inch thick and coating it in a mixture of cornflour, sesame seeds, salt and pepper, before frying it in a little bit of vegetable oil about 3 mins per side until it gets all crispy and lovely…!

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Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count July 26, 2012 at 6:15 am

I love to marinate tofu in a combo of balsamic vinegar, various spices and usually some sriracha sauce. Then I just cook them up…saute I guess, in my non stick skillet. I then either use it in a salad or with a veggie stir fry. So good and really very simple…just have to remember to marinate the tofu!! I would love to win, but I hope the shorts come in Extra Large!! Thanks, Sarah and have a great day!

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Katherine July 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

I just bought tofu for the first time this week! I haven’t yet decided how I will cook it! This cookbook would be awesome!

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Lindsey July 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

I like to stir-fry it with veggies and toasted sesame oil for a simple, subtle, delicious protein-packed meal!

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Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife July 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

i’ve put tofu in my smoothies before but thats the only way i have used it.

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Kaila @healthyhelperblog! July 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

I like to make tofu nuggets by coating tofu slabs with crushed wasa crackers, nooch, and spices! Delicious!

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sarah @ sarah learns July 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

hahaha – love the extra firm shorts! :)

my favorite way to use tofu is for the dinner i made just about every single night my first year of grad school. i just cubed extra firm tofu and added it to sauteed veggies and general tso’s sauce from trader joe’s. every. single. night.

but it’s so good!

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Cari July 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

hahaha those shorts are hilarious! and I would love to win this cookbook!!! One of my favorite ways to cook tofu is in a sort of stir fry with plenty of veggies and hot (perhaps peanut) sauce! yum!

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Jonna Green July 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

My favorite way to eat tofu is with a peanut sauce and bake it in oven. I have also done it with maple syrup and sesame seeds. Thanks!

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Laura July 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

I LOVE tofu!! My favourite way to prepare it is marinated in whatever homemade sauce I can come up with and then pan-fried ! It’s good on sandwiches/vegetables/quinoa/pasta… you get my drift :)

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

My absolute favorite way to use tofu is to make a chocolate mousse with it!

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

I’m following Nasoya on Twitter!

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

I’m following Spork Foods on Twitter!

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Carla July 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

Haha, oh those shorts. I’m not typically a big tofu eater (probably because I’ve had some badly prepared tofu experiences), but recently I saw this tasty recipe! http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2012/07/barbeque-tofu-with-pineapple-and-mango.html

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

I am following you on Twitter

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 10:10 am

I tweeted about the giveaway!

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Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie July 26, 2012 at 10:11 am

I absolutely love tofu! I order it everywhere I go, but I’ve never made it because I don’t have recipes — this would help :)

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Tonia July 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

I love to marinate tofu, bake it, and add it to my salads!

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Glen July 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

I love blending tofu in the food processor with white beans, garlic, and lemon to make a wonderufl spread for vegetables or sandwhiches!

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Alexandra July 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

OMG you are just out of control this week with the giveaways!! Too kind of you :) I love using Tofu in smoothies!! It makes the texture soo creamy and delicious!

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Heather Blackmon @ Better With Veggies July 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I just shared one of my favorite tofu uses on the blog today – Tofu Scramble! So easy and so many options to do whatever you want with it. Great giveaway! :)

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Emily July 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Those shorts are hysterical. I honestly have never cooked with tofu in my kitchen (GASP!). But I enjoy sampling it off the Whole Foods hot bar. :)

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Gabby July 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Favorite recipe with regular tofu: Soba, Tofu, and Vegetable Stir Fry with Almond Butter Sauce: http://www.wholeliving.com/130344/soba-tofu-and-vegetable-stir-fry?backto=true&backtourl=/photogallery/vegetarian-recipes

Fav with silken tofu: Cream Cheese Frosting http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/03/25/bettern-pillsbury-cream-cheese-frosting/

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Gabby July 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Started following Nasoya on twitter

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Gabby July 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Following Spork Foods

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Gabby July 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Following you on twitter

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Anne Weber-Falk July 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

So far my favorite way is just to press out the liquid from extra firm tofu, cut or slice and then pan fry in a little olive oil with salt and pepper until crispy. I serve it with broccoli and sweet potato and top it with bbq sauce. I also crumble it and scramble it with taco seasoning.

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Lacey @ Life Hands You Limes July 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I like tofu any way shape or form, but my favorites have got to be either a local garlic pepper tofu cooked on the grill with some veggies, or the way my mom’s friend makes it (freezing and then thawing, gives a different texture, then shredding up and cooking in bbq sauce and shredded apple. Its soooo good!). Actually I lied. I also love it in chocolate fudge pie:)

ps I kinda am entering the giveaway solely for the shorts;)

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Lacey @ Life Hands You Limes July 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

followed you on twitter:)

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Ozlem July 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I love to use tofu in my stir fry’s also I love to bake it and serve it on top of my salads or with veggies. Oh and I also love to make quiche or pudding. So mnay ways not enough meals :)

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Jeanine July 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

My current favorite way to enjoy tofu is an a tofu “egg” salad. My favorite recipe these days (and believe me, I’ve tried many) is from the Happy Herbivore blog (it is also in the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook). The key ingredient is black salt which gives in that pungent egg-like sulfur flavor. Here is the link for the recipe: http://happyherbivore.com/2010/12/egg-salad/

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Liz @ IHeartVegetables July 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Hahaha I have those shorts too!!!! :) Aren’t they awesome!?

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables July 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

hahaha… LOVE those shorts! I love taking tofu ricotta! So good!

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables July 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I follow you on fb!

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables July 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I also follow nasoya

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Nana Phyllis July 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I love tofu browned crispy and mixed with veggies and a coconut sauce.

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Ellyn July 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I love to pan-fry my tofu with a bunch of spices and serve on top of a bed of greens

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Danica @ It's Progression July 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Those shorts. Oh my gosh….I would love to win this cookbook! I’ve heard so many great things about it! And I need to learn how to cook with tofu.

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Emma July 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Brownie. Every time hehe

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Lindsay @ Lindsay's List July 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm

i gotta have those shorts. just gotta.

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Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt July 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I use my Tofu press, press out the water, marinate with lime juice, soy and sesame oil overnight then slice and bake on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I them pair with a salad and some vegetables. Yummy.

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Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt July 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I follow you on Twitter

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Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt July 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I follow Nasoya on Twitter (xoxo Nasoya)

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Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt July 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I now follow Spork Foods on Twitter

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Krista July 27, 2012 at 2:23 am

Like you, I can’t follow a recipe. :o ) I like to use them as sources of inspiration or a launching point. :o ) I have tofu at least once a week, and do a Tofu Tuesday post weekly (well, usually!). My favorite way to have tofu (so far) is Thai Tofu Pizza (my link: http://misscellaneously.blogspot.com/2012/04/tofu-tuesday-tour.html) which was inspired from Iowa Girl Eats. You have some tasty concoctions that are on my “to try” list! :o )

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Krista July 27, 2012 at 2:25 am

Following you on Facebook! :o )

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Stephanie @ On the Road to RD July 27, 2012 at 10:49 am

I love to marinate tofu in italian dressing and toss it it on the grill. So quick and easy!

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Lele July 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm

My favorite is the following: rehydrate some dried shiitakes in hot water (or chop up some fresh). In some vegetable oil (do not omit or it won’t taste as good, unfortunately) saute the shiitakes and cabbage. Then crumble in some tofu, and add just a bit of soy sauce and mirin. It’s like Japanese comfort food, mm.

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