As veganism gradually spreads its roots, naturally the number of recipe books published on the subject is going to increase. I’ve been vegan for nearly two years now and have made myself quite a collection. The first thing you’ll notice about most vegan cook books is their distinct lack of photography. Initially I began by adapting my meals from vegetarian collections as there is nothing less inspiring than a recipe without a snap shot to accompany it. Gradually I shifted to vegan recipe books as the occasional image popped out at me as I sat on the floor in Dymocks, scanning the bottom shelf in ‘Cooking’. When I stumbled across Vegan YumYum by Lauren Ulm, I didn’t need to think twice about buying it.
As with any type of cuisine, there are good recipes and oh so very bad ones. I’ve made the majority of recipes in this book, and while some require tweaking to suit my tastes, I haven’t come across one that I wouldn’t make again.
Lauren Ulm is the blogger behind the Vegan YumYum website, where the book got its start. She transfers her friendly, informal blog writing style to the page which means you don’t feel like you’re sitting an exam, trying to pull together some culinary masterpiece. She sets up each recipe with ingredient lists, broken into the various components of the meal, and provides step by step photographs for any tricky manoeuvres. What’s more, the woman can take a photo. She has an understanding of light, composition and presentation, so not only is the book jam packed with colour photos, they’re really nice photos. Grab a sneak peak inside the book here at Amazon to see for yourself, or take a gander at the photos featured below.
The book is ‘American’, so some of the ingredients aren’t always that easy to find here in Melbourne. It took me ages to track down Nutritional Yeast, but now, thanks to The Radical Grocery, it’ll last me and very, very, very long time. I’ve also not had much success in locating seitan or kale, although, I believe I might have seen a bunch of kale at the Queen Vic Market. Regardless, it’s easy to subsitute spinach. I haven’t made any of the seitan recipes yet, but I imagine it would be relatively easy to switch it with firm tofu. Having the book based on the experiences of living in another country is not all cons. Before Vegan YumYum I had never heard of Snickerdoodles, which are a type of sugar cookie. If you pull them out of the oven just before the timer hits 10 minutes, you’ll find yourself with most heavenly, gooey, cinnamon coated treat. They’re also a very allergy/diet friendly dessert that’s not only vegan (egg-free, lactose-free), but soy-free and easily made gluten-free. And what’s more, her Snickerdoodles started off as a blog post so you can grab the recipe online and starting making them right now, as a sort of trailer for the book.
Another sweet tooth related find is the Clotted Cream recipe that accomapanies her Lemon Maple Scones. It’s a great cream imitation and has been given the thumbs up from non-vegan friends. It’s made from margarine, icing suger and Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, which you should be able to find mixed in with the real cream cheese at most Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. It has an amazing shelf life so don’t let your local get away with not stocking it! I’ve tried making cheese cakes with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese but it loses its form once you begin mixing. It does however work well for Ulm’s clotted cream recipe as the margarine helps it keep a spread like thickness.
Vegan YumYum isn’t all sweets as you might be beginning to assume (although it does them well). It is an invaluable resource for hearty vegan meals. One of the brilliant things about Ulm’s book is she seems very conscious about sources of proteins. Almost all her recipes contain either tofu, legumes, seitan or nuts and because they’ve been created by an everyday vegan, they’re often very easy to throw together (even more so for me as I tend to mix by hand and only roughly chop/grind). One of my favourite recipes is her Aloo Matar, a very mild flavoursome curry dish that copes well with a handful of chickpeas for extra nutrition. My week to week dinner plans have come to consist mainly of Ulm’s creative and varied dishes, and the best thing is that I know there’s still more to test out.