A Book Review - FamilyEducation

A Book Review

April 29,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Do you have people in your community or neighborhood that you run into from time to time and in every instance think, “I wish we saw each other more frequently…” I have such a friend. Her name is Elizabeth and we met at the playground a couple years ago. I frequently run into her at the swimming pool, Farmer’s Market or, the other day, in Trader Joe’s. When I ran into Elizabeth a couple months ago I told her that we were eating vegetarian. She is not a strict vegetarian, but eats very little meat, and loves to cook with vegetables. She replied enthusiastically to my vegetarian challenge, “You have to get the Deborah Madison book!” Confused, I asked about which book she was referring. “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” Elizabeth replied. I read a lot of cookbooks and books about the kitchen, and people frequently recommend cookbooks to me, but it is rare that a cookbook generates so much enthusiasm in someone I admire, so I got the book Elizabeth recommended and I LOVE it. Written by Chef Madison, who herself is not a strict vegetarian, but someone who uses vegetables as the main focus of her meals, this cookbook is a Bible sort of cookbook for vegetarian recipes. Think “Joy of Cooking,” sans meat and seafood and you have an idea of how comprehensive “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” is for the home cook. Madison takes ingredients such as beets, jicama or spinach and in one section expounds upon how each can be cooked in different preparations, cuisines and courses. There are helpful notes throughout the book on substitutions and while most of the recipes use traditional ingredients, it also touches upon things about which the everyday cook may not be familiar, such as tempeh and crème fraiche. Perhaps the best thing about this cookbook is that while some of the recipes are exotic and unique, most of the techniques to cook them are not. These recipes, by large, are quite simple and straightforward, and great attribute for those of us who don’t have copious free time in the kitchen. So if you are a vegetarian (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to my vegan friends, as there are a fair amount of recipes that call for eggs and cheese) or just love fresh produce, check out this book the next time you have a chance! SPC