Review: Rabbit Food Cookbook
A welcome addition to the cookbook shelf
Every time I scan the cookbook section of my local (kick-ass) bookshop these days, I’m delighted to discover yet another collection of vegan or vegetarian recipes. It seems there’s a new book added to the pile on a weekly basis, which is great for my kitchen (and terrible for my wallet). And though I’d never complain about having too many vegan-related books to choose from, it’s kinda tough to decide where to plunk your hard-earned Queen Liz (that’s $20 for you non-Canadians); I definitely have a few impulse buys whose pages have yet to be glued together with spilled flour and sauces. So, I was delighted when presented with Beth A. Barnett’s Rabbit Food Cookbook, a compact, spiral bound gem featuring vegan tips, food history and a solid portion of yummy recipes. The format is sensible and easy to digest, with hand-written text and whimsical sketches throughout, which (almost) makes up for the lack of colour pictures.
Between the pages
The first half of the book is full of advice and food for thought. The author offers tips on nutrition without being preachy, and suggests several respectable resources for further nutrition information. Her tidy section on the Industrialisation of Food in America (pp. 32-56) is necessarily oversimplified, but a good overview for readers who have little exposure to food history – and again, there are great resources listed for further self-education. Beth offers helpful ingredient tips, and crafts for making your own grocery & produce bags. She also touches upon the practical work of growing your own food, something more of us should be doing! One of the best things about this book is how helpful yet un-assuming it is. Beth doesn’t present her work as being the sole authority on vegan lifestyles, but merely one in a plethora of awesome books to have on hand.
The latter half of the book features 111 pages of recipes divided into breakfast, soups, mains, sweets and drinks. Many of the recipes are standards found in most vegan cookbooks – but they work! I’ve made the Fancy Brownies (p. 202) so often that the page is more cocoa-coloured than white anymore. Beth’s recipes vary from quick meals that amateurs can whip together with ease, to slightly more complex dishes that require a bit of planning. With regard to the compact page size, some recipes are written too concisely, leaving the reader to fill in a few gaps that might be obvious to a seasoned cook but will result in mistakes from people new to the kitchen. For instance, the Tofu Pot Pie (p. 139) is written over three pages and broken down into four main steps, but is missing important directions – like whether pots, pans, or bowls are best for any given step. Aside from such issues, the resulting food is generally amazing (my roommates devoured the pot pie in a flash!). There’s a nice variety of meals, too – sushi, tempeh, pastas, hearty salads, and a few seitan dishes to boot. And the peanut butter cookies are to die for…
The little things
For all the cookbooks I’ve perused and purchased lately, this one takes the cake for most helpful and easily accessible. I’m particularly fond of the coil spine (why is this not a regulation for all cookbooks?!) and the cute illustrations, though its useful information puts this book at the top of my gifting list for others. If a few recipes were written with more clarity, I’d dare say this is a perfect little book – especially for newer vegan cooks.
Reviewed by Ashley Riley