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.