by Jennifer Lee, Kathy Moore, Melanie McDonald, Roxanne Wyss

Way back in the before times or the beginning times or whatever we are calling that time in early April when everything started to shut down, I read an article about cookbooks.  I don’t remember where it was now or even really what it was about, but I started browsing my library’s cookbook collection.  I put *a few* things on hold.  Then I forgot about them because they were actual physical books instead of ebooks so I wasn’t able to pick them up from the library until the end of July.

Turns out that I must of been hungry that day because I had stacks and stacks of books.  I flipped through most of them without nearly as much enthusiasm as I had back in April.  But there are three cookbooks that I have renewed over and over.  I just need to go ahead and order copies for myself.


I consider myself pretty well versed in the all the tips and tricks of vegan cooking.  What really impresses me at this point is a vegan cookbook with recipes that are made using actual vegetables, fruits, and grains.  No fancy ingredients required.

I started looking through this book and immediately wanted to make everything in it.  That’s super rare for me.  So far, I’ve made the BBQ meatloaf several times.  It is made mainly of mushrooms, oats, and breadcrumbs.  Sometimes you just need a good loaf to be a vehicle for BBQ sauce.  I made up a bunch and froze them to pull out and make as needed.

I made the roasted garlic alfredo which was pretty good.  That’s high praise because I don’t even like alfredo.  See how tempting this book is?  It made the dish so tempting that I flat out forgot that I didn’t like it.

I haven’t even gotten into the desserts or breads yet.  I feel like before I cook more out of it and make a mess I need to be working with my own copy and not the library’s.

This one is definitely a keeper.  These are standards that I’ll be coming back to time and time again.  Nothing fancy but everything is solid.

Is it weird that dump cakes are a new thing for me?  I feel like this is one of those things that everyone else probably knew about and I didn’t.

I went on a shopping spree for cake mixes and instant pudding to make a bunch of the cakes in this book.  I don’t usually make cakes at home but using these ingredients made it super easy to have a dessert on a week night.

I was thrilled to find that despite everything I’ve ever been told instant pudding mixed with non-dairy milk worked just fine in these cakes.  I started with a black forest cake made with chocolate cake and canned pie filling.  Definitely not super gourmet but also definitely the kind of food I grew up on.  It was yummy.

I did make one other substitution that didn’t turn out so well.  I was making the mango cake and it needed 1 cup of orange juice.  I didn’t have any of that.  I figured a tropical cake could have a bit of rum in it.  I was right.  The rum lightly flavored the cake.  It was delightful.  However, I probably should have done maybe a 1/4 cup of rum with 3/4 cup of water instead of just dumping a whole cup of rum over the cake.  The cake part was fine.  The mangos on the bottom of the cake pan probably could have walked under their own power.  Just a touch strong.

I’ve ignored the whole mug cake phenomenon for two reasons:

  1.  Cakes aren’t my go-to snacks
  2.  I didn’t have a microwave for years

I have a microwave again so I tried out this book.  Now I feel like one of those people who wander around a few years too late accosting people to ask if they knew that you could make a single serving cake in your microwave?  I’ve tried a few of these and am still not over thinking that it is magic.  If I wasn’t trying to eat a bit healthier (i.e. not trying out EVERY mug cake recipe) I’d be making one of these a day – for purely educational reasons of course.