I check out a lot of cookbooks from the library. When I get them home, I do a quick read-through of each one to make sure that it’s something that fits my family’s tastes and needs. In the area of gluten-free cooking especially, some books may rely on a flour or ingredient that we don’t use. Do I want to spend my time making substitutions in an unfamiliar cookbook, or move on to something that’s a better fit?
3. The Gluten Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Susan O’Brien
So far, I’ve reviewed only baking books, so although we’re not vegetarians, I was excited to look through some what’s-for-dinner recipes.
The style of the cookbook was very simple: black and white, one page per recipe, with a few color pages for pictures in the middle. Flipping through the cookbook, I noticed a great feature: the top outside corner of some pages marked with a gray disk reading “Quick and Easy”. This made it really easy to zero in on the recipes I was most likely to try.
Even though the breakfast section was mostly baked goods involving vegan ingredients like almond meal, coconut oil and palm sugar that we don’t normally eat, I found a few recipes that I want to try. The teff and chia seed waffles sounded good, mostly because I have a bag of each laying around that I don’t know what to do with. I hope the teff waffles don’t taste like horse feed like the last thing I made with teff. There are also two protein bar recipes – one a fairly standard oat-seed-peanut butter-brown rice syrup concoction that I’ve probably made before, and another made from all seeds and brown rice syrup that is recommended for a pre exercise snack.
The rest of the cookbook was some serious veggie lovin’ – even the stuffed mushrooms were veggie stuffed. This is no starch, tofu, and fake meat cookbook – it reminded me more of the Moosewood cookbooks, especially the low fat one. While I would have eaten most of the recipes, my veggie-averse family wouldn’t, so I moved on…
4. Let Them Eat Cake – by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Ahh. Back to baking. This cookbook doesn’t even bother with boring bread and muffins – it’s all dessert. It’s also not strictly a gluten-free cookbook. Rather, it offers gluten free variations as well as vegan and “healthy” ones.
l admit it. I went straight to the Pop-tarts. And I wondered: would the author offer me an actual alternate gluten-free recipe, or just tell me to substitute a GF blend? Because I could do that with any cookbook. As it turns out, the recipe does provide a reasonable looking sorghum/brown rice flour blend with potato starch and tapioca, although the resulting dough is noted as “delicate to work with”. Some of the other recipes, like the brownie variations, had a much sketchier flour substitution – cornstarch.
I found the cookbook hard to browse; although it was in color, most of the color was dedicated to cute formatting, borders, and boxes for all the variations. There were few pictures, and I found myself skipping through recipes. In the end, the recipes I found were similar to ones I have in other cookbooks already, like Samoas – try The Ultimate Gluten Free Cookie Cookbook if your ears perked up for that one – coffee cake, cherry pie. ice creams. There were some really fancy cakes if you’re into that, but I’m not. In the end, this cookbook just wasn’t the right fit for me.
Final Haul: Two more cookbooks back in the bin, but I finally get to use up that bag of teff.