Sunday, April 14, 2013

review and cookbook giveaway :: betty goes vegan

Betty Goes Vegan – with a tomato as big as a bean bag.
I grew up in a Polish home. When we wanted kitchen wisdom, we were more likely to turn to Betty Krakow for her babushka chic and babka recipes than to WASP-y Betty Crocker. Excuse my frankness, but even as a kid, I thought Betty looked like a tad uptight  – definitely not someone I considered a role model or cared to emulate. [It was her hair and conformism. Oh, that, and the fact that she wasn't even REAL.]

A lot has happened since growing up in the 70s. If you haven't heard the news, Betty has gone vegan, thanks to first-time authors, husband-and-wife team, Annie and Dan Shannon of Meet The Shannons. They veganized most of Betty Crocker's classic recipes in their freshman cookbook, Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family

Banana, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies: Delicious., subtle banana and PB essences
There's a lot to love about this book. First, there's the comic relief. Yes, technically it's a cookbook– pretty heavy concept – veganizing the un-veganizable. The satire is hysterically welcoming, from the demonic looking, slightly blurry cover with its frighteningly XXL tomato [GMO, no doubt] to its LOL-inducing headnotes. The Shannons describe the Maple-Crusted Vegan Chicken as sweet and nutty, "like wrapping your dinner in a romantic comedy." And for the Marie Antoinette doughnuts: "Marie Antoinette was known for her blond hair and powdered wig. These yellow cake doughnuts made with powdered sugar are so delicious that they'll be doomed to meet a similarly early demise." The fact that Betty was a product of the General Mills conglomerate only makes the sarcasm factor even sweeter.

Betty Goes Vegan is also amazing in its ambition. Do you miss Ceviche? Veganized! Miss Shrimp Scampi? Plant-a-licious. How about New England Clam Chowder? Bingo. You got it – animal-free. No more 'scuses.

I'm taking these to work tomorrow lest I should eat them all solo.
Finally, there's the motivation of utter sincerity. Ann and Dan are devoted animal lovers and advocates. The simple book dedication – "For the Lobsters" – brought a little tear to my eye. This dynamic duo is super involved in the animal welfare community and clearly, their impetus for writing the book is to help animals. I love how unpreachy they are, too. In the acknowledgements, they thank anyone who "has ever decided going vegan – even for one day a week – is a good idea." Holy moly. Thank you, sane vegan represent!
An all-American plate starring the Shannon's easy, tasty Maple-Pecan Crusted Vegan Chicken.

The only thing I didn't like about this book – and I'm sorry for saying it, guys! – is the structure of most of the recipes. They lean super hard on store-bought mock meats, vegan cheeses, and other processed foods. Yes, the recipes are plant-based. And yes, for a new or busy vegan, they are a good solution. But if we are going to take the emancipation of Betty Crocker to its ultimate pinnacle, doing it with mainly whole foods would have been an awesome coup. Eating processed foods, even vegan ones, is not something I think we should glorify.

Greek Lemon Soup: Made it because I had all the ingredients. Easy chick-peasy.
I also found a few of the recipe constructions and the common ingredients a bit odd. They called for Pink Himalayan Sea Salt in every other recipe, for example.  I wish the Shannons had explained in the Pantry Notes what made it so special and why they specified it in all the recipes. I didn't have any on hand so I just used kosher, culinary Philistine that I am. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning also played prominently in many recipes. I never heard of it, didn't feel compelled to buy it, and just skipped over any recipe requiring this ingredient. And I'm not a trained chef but calling for 1/4 tsp brown sugar in the Maple Pecan-Crusted Vegan Chicken seemed so timid I thought it was a typo. Sweeten in pre-diabetes Paula-Deen style or don't bother. Many recipes call for 1/4 tsp of olive oil, sugar, etc which IMHO is really too little to really influence the flavor.

Minor complaints, I know. Bottom line is, this book is perfect for new, busy, and/or lazy vegans.
The nice folks at Grand Central Publishing have offered to give away two, count 'em! – two copies of Betty Goes Vegan to two lucky readers. Just leave a comment with the classic American recipe you'd like to see veganized. Brownie points for liking any [or all!] of us on Facebook or following us on Twitter. I'll announce winners soon. Please make sure there's a way I can contact you [eg, blog, email]. Us residents only, please. Good luck. And good job, Shannons!

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94 comments:

Tina. said...

I would love to win a copy of this book! As for the classic American recipe I'd most like to see veganized--how 'bout meatloaf and gravy?

Tina. said...

I like you on FB.

Tina. said...

I like Betty Goes Vegan on FB.

Cacodaemonia said...

I'd have to say poached eggs. My mom used to make those for me when I was a kid and I still miss them!

Natalie said...

There is a chicken-cheddar-macaroni casserole that my mother used to make that I LOVED in my pre-vegan days. I tried once to veganize it myself, but I think the mozzarella-style daiya (instead of cheddar) did me in, but I'd love to see it veganized someday!

Natalie said...

also, I already like you on FB - that's how I knew about this :) it would be cool as heck to win this because I already bought a copy for my mother and Georgia family to get a little more vegan food in their Paula Deen lives, so I would love to be able to compare notes and make recommendations!

Michelle said...

Would love a great veganized meatloaf recipe that doesn't fall apart!

Vegyogini said...

I'd love for someone to veganize Angel Food cake. It's the only thing I occasionally miss! Thank you for the giveaway.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Funny, I grew up with three seasonings in the cupboard.
Salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.
And we lived in Washington State and cooked nothing resembling "creole" so I still have no idea why we always had it.... I always assumed it was a household staple (but have since discovered it isn't).
I absolutely love the idea behind this cookbook. We have tons of vegan whole-foods cookbooks out there, and truth is, some people will never switch over, completely, to that style of veganism. I think this book fills a much-needed niche in the vegan world.
That said, I don't own it, and have only drooled over it in the bookstore jealously several times until they told me I couldn't sit there memorizing the recipes... (OK, not quite).
I honestly can't think of anything that I would like to see "veganized" that hasn't been done. Does that put me out of the contest?
I can make most anything - or find a recipe easily, for the vegan version and usually better than the original meaty version, but I know there are still things that haven't been perfected that some people miss, like angel-food cake, eggs-over-easy, and chicharrĂ³nes...

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Oh, I follow you AND the Shannons on Facebook :)
ANNNND I follow all of you on Twitter too.

Nausicaa Tapia said...

I miss my spanish tortilla de patata with onion and chorizo :) is a biiiig omelet with potato and sweet onion....try to veganize it please... :) I liked betty goes vegan on facebook thanks!!!!

Cindy said...

I really enjoyed this review - it came across as thoughtful and balanced. Now I'm keen to take a look at this book, hopefully it'll make its way to a few Aussie bookshops.

Jennifer Arent said...

I would love a TASTY vegan version of beef stroganoff :)

Jan Scholl said...

I don't like cheese, even the fake stuff. I don't like the idea of fish because all I see are the eyeballs staring at me. No bacon as I hate the smell. So not really sure what I would want veganized that I don't already know how to do. I had this book in my wish list at Amazon hoping someone might review it. Hmmmm. Can;t think of a thing right now. I just finished taxes about 20 minutes ago. Oh I know...let's veganize hubby. Because I get him to eat vegetarian at home but that is as far as he goes. He won't step over the line outside the house. He just doesn't know sometimes what isn't in his food at home. Unless he buys cheese. I hate cheese.

Flashtivator said...

Spaghetti and meat(less) balls

tpcat said...

I would love a copy of the cookbook. I would say the thing I would love to see veganized is fried or poached eggs. It is really strange, but after 20 years being vegan, I still miss them. tpcat29 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I follow you on twitter @crazyveganmom

fondducoeur said...

This book looks awesome! I would like to see Gooey Butter Butter Cake (I think maybe that is a St. Louis classic, but I consider it to be all-American!).

muybookish said...

I'd love to veganize a breaded tenderloin sandwich. I don't miss eating meat but there's something about a ridiculously large breaded & fried patty resting between a tiny bun with all the fixins' that reminds me of summer and Midwestern state fairs.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to veganize crab dip. Thanks for the chance.
-- jenlp

Chelsea said...

This book looks very exciting. I would love to see a veganized (and gluten free) recipe for traditional French crepes. I miss having them with my family on special occasions. Thanks so much! :)

Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler said...

My boyfriend just asked me this weekend if vegan ceviche exists! Now I can say yes!

Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler said...

I also follow on FB. :)

Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler said...

I like Meet the Shannons on FB, too.

Stacie said...

I have yet to find a truly good vegan gumbo. It's the one thing I really can't replicate. GUMBO!

Vada said...

Glazed doughnuts. I've tried one from a vegan bakery, but it just isn't the same! (My daughter and I do Sunday brunch and are currently working our way through the 'at the diner' section of your first cook book. Who am I kidding? My daughter does the making and I generally just eat!)

Erica said...

My mom always had (and I believe still does) the Betty Crocker Cookbook when I was growing up, so I'd love to have the Veganized version to be able to make some of the recipes she used to make! I also follow both of you on Facebook. :)

*Autumn Tao* said...

I'd say vegan salmon would be my pick. Seafood is one realm that hasn't been mastered yet. I've had "flounder fillets" & "shrimp," but never salmon. I fondly remember the texture and flavor. Just wish it was a plant, and not fish ;)

Jeanie Hay said...

I'd love a vegan version of country fried steak or chicken and dumplings!

Andrea said...

Home made Chicken and Rice is something I miss tremendously. It is the only thing I have been unable to replicate the way I remember it . I looked through this book at the store and would have loved to pick it up but as a broke college student trying to make yummy food cookbooks are not always in my price range :(

Terri Cole said...

I would love to be able to veganize my family's German Potato Salad. (which is actually an American creation)

gaia (at) cinci (dot) rr (dot) com

Painted Moonkin said...

There's a few recipes I'd like to see veganized: chicken and dumplings, chicken & rice and this pineapple-cheese casserole thing I had a potluck once (it's all cheese and ritz crackers with pineapple.)
As a new vegan, would love to have this book to help transition my family.

Molly G said...

I think the beauty of it at this point is that pretty much every classic American dish has a vegan version. I say kudos to the Shannons for simply giving the people what they want. Not everyone wants to be healthy all the time. But I could always use a great recipe for vegan Spaghetti Carbonara.

Lizzie Bordello said...

Great review. I've been excited about this one since the moment I heard about it. I saw someone above mention veganized angel food cake, and now I can't get it out of my head...so I guess I'll have to second that one!! :)

Lizzie Bordello said...

I like you on Facebook.

Lizzie Bordello said...

I also like Grand Central on Facebook. :)

Lizzie Bordello said...

I follow Grand Central on Twitter as well.

Lizzie Bordello said...

And of course I follow you on Twitter!

Lizzie Bordello said...

I like the Shannons on Facebook, too.

Lizzie Bordello said...

And, finally, I follow them on Twitter. :)

MarkTwain said...

Chicago pizza. :)

MarkTwain said...

I follow on Twitter!

MarkTwain said...

And Facebook!!

Sara said...

I would love to see a good fried chicken

Sarah said...

I used to love my mom's ham and cheddar casserole—not sure if it could be veganized :) And I follow on FB and Twitter!

Georgianna said...

I'd love a vegan lobster bisque. Yum....

Steph! said...

French Silk Pie like Baker's Square. That would be fantastic!

Simona said...

meatloaf!

Steph! said...

And I follow you on Twitter :)

Audrey said...

I would like to see a veganized version of cheesy potato casserole.

justaudrey(at)live(dot)com

Audrey said...

I like you on FB

justaudrey(at)live(dot)com

Audrey said...

I follow you on Twitter

justaudrey(at)live(dot)com

Audrey said...

I follow the Shannons on Twitter

justaudrey(at)live(dot)com

Audrey said...

I like Betty Goes Vegan on FB

justaudrey(at)live(dot)com

Andrea said...

I don't want to be in the drawing, I just want to say thanks for the balanced review. You hit the high points and the low points as you saw them, and gave your readers a clear idea what they would find in the book. I think I would agree with everything you said, except maybe the pink salt, which I happen to have. :)

charj said...

I would like to see vegan versions of cajun jambalaya and cajun gumbo (little or no tomatoes). The vegan recipes I see are heavy on the tomato products.

sydney sin said...

I love the cover of this book! I would like to see the classic open faced (turkey) sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy veganized. Yum! Followed you on Twitter and FaceBook:D

Richa said...

Hmm. nothing in particular since i did not grow up here.:) and if i get the book i am sure i will use whole ingredients :) it would be fun to have a collection of some stuff i havent tried any which way with or without animsls!
i follow you on fb!

Beth said...

I'd love really great vegan versions of chicken and dumplings and my mom's Old Fashioned Cream Pie! :)

Beth said...

I also follow you on Twitter. :)

Beth said...

And the Shannons too! :)

Billie Jean said...

I'd love to see sunny side up eggs! It use to be a favorite before I changed to vegan! But because my tastes have changed so much I wouldn't think about having the real thing.

earthyadornment said...

tuna casserole... veganize it!

jayedee said...

i'm still looking for the ultimate vegan burger recipe and i'd love love love to see a classic mormon recipe for funeral potatoes veganized too!

Jennifer Manriquez said...

I would love to find good veganized versions of fried pickles, and mozzarella cheese sticks!

Hannah said...

Cream of mushroom soup... or beef stroganoff.

a findley said...

I'd like to find a good vegan quiche.

a findley said...

I'd like to find a good vegan quiche.

Lydia Claire said...

I would like a veganized recipe of swedish meatballs.

Lydia Claire said...

I follow you on Facebook.

Lydia Claire said...

I follow you on Twitter. =)

Corrine Greenfield said...

Matzo Ball Soup.

Cadry's Kitchen said...

I agree with the above commenter who would like to see the tenderloin sandwich veganized. It seems like it would be easy to do since the major flavor/texture is the breading. Otherwise, it's just something chewy and flat inside of a bun with mustard and pickles.

Cadry's Kitchen said...

I follow you on Twitter! @cadryskitchen

Cadry's Kitchen said...

I like you on Facebook.

Jen T. said...

Some kind of "chicken" and rice casserole.

The Peace Patch said...

Mom used to make custard pies now and then...Pistachio Custard Pie was my fave so I'd love a vegan version!

Brandy said...

Fingers crossed!

(brandy at nightstand dot org)

nomstoppable.com said...

I'd love to see a veganized... hmm, maybe a really good sausage. I really miss the spicy italian sausages, my mum used to stir-fry them with onions. Yum!

nomstoppable.com said...

And I liked you on FB!

nomstoppable.com said...

And liked Grand Central Publishing on FB

nomstoppable.com said...

And I liked Meet The Shannons on FB :)

Catalina said...

I'd love a vegan version of a breakfast casserole. The kind that was basically savory bread pudding with sausage, bacon, and cheddar cheese. I used to love that stuff and could probably come close if I really tried.

Melissa T. said...

I'm three months pregnant and been craving chicken pot pie. Go figure! I would love to try a vegan version!

acookinthemaking said...

I am always on the lookout for a vegan take on desserts like pumpkin pie, meringue, or creme brulee.

Kathleen Kibblehouse said...

I really like the book and would love a second copy to give to my "muggle" non vegan peeps as a gateway drug to seeing the light. Although I lean toward the whole foods, plant based style of cooking, I am a 50-something convert to the vegan life and miss my oldie comfort foods. I think this book can come off the shelf when muggles come for dinner, and for cold nights when comfort food is called for - special occasions. I've tried several recipes and all very good. Try Green Monstah Casserole! Delish (I used my own Creole seasoning and it was fine). I won't likely be making the tofu egg with the runny yoke... no, no I won't.

Crissy Durst said...

I would like to see Chicken Parmesan veganized served with a big helping of vegan potatoes o'gratin

urban vegan said...

Hear, hear. I have a spaghetti carbonara recipe in my first cookbook that i definitely not healthy, but everyone loves it. Perfect when you need some decadence ;)

Lizzie Bordello said...

Hi - just got your tweet at me... that is me. :) wickedliz at hotmail dot com

Carrie™ said...

I'm not in the US, so I'm not in the running for a copy. I love the idea of this cookbook because I do have a copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook that I have used a lot. More in my pre-veg days, but I still use it for oatmeal cookies, biscuits, that sort of thing, and get ideas from some of the other recipes. I've never noticed Greek Lemon Soup. I'm intrigued and going to see if it's in my old '80's Betty book.

toocheapforpinenuts said...

I want vegan popcorn shrimp.

toocheapforpinenuts (at) gmail (dot) com

Suburban Snow White said...

Hmm...I'd love to see my Gramma's Party Potatoes! Truth be told, I've veganized these myself and they tasted great. But it would still be cool to see them in print someday.

I saw Annie and Dan Shannon at the Worcester Vegfest and they were too cute for words.

I'm with you on the processed meats. I rarely eat them, though I am a bit of a sucker for the Field Roast Apple Sage sausages. But I do love the concept of this book. I'm dying to read the funny parts. :)

(And I follow you on FB.)

Great reveiw!

Suburban Snow White said...

Make that "review." Whoops.

Suburban Snow White said...

I swear I left a comment here before but I don't see it. So I will repost, just in case, to say I would like to veganize my family's Party Potatoes. And I'll add that I follow you on Facebook.

Neat giveaway! :) Thank you!