Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably already know that I had major surgery in the spring of 2014. For those of you who are new to this blog, I had major surgery in the spring of 2014. I was instructed not to bring “anything expensive like an iPad” with me, but I had a private room, and I was missing the outside world, so I had Dennis bring my iPad to me anyway. (It survived.) While I was in the hospital I received an email form Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman, asking if I would like to test recipes for their upcoming book. I was a little incapacitated at the time, but I said that I’d love to once I got back on my feet.
Getting back on my feet didn’t happen until about a month later, and I had been stuck in the house for what felt like forever. I was grateful for the recipe testing, because it gave me something to do and pushed me back into the kitchen. I picked simple recipes at first, because standing for long periods of time was a little difficult. It didn’t take long for me to be able to stand for longer lengths of time, and I moved on to some the recipes that took a little longer. Nothing took very long though – I’m talking about the difference between five minutes and fifteen minutes. By the end of the recipe testing period, I think I had made about fifty of the books recipes, and I credit it for helping me recover mentally from the surgery.
I’m so happy that Nicole and Lisa’s book DIY Vegan: More Than 100 Easy Recipes to Create an Awesome Plant-based Pantry is finally here and I’m now able to share it with you! Before I started whipping up items from this book, the idea of making my own pantry basics seemed really daunting and time consuming, but I am happy to report to you that neither is true! Most of these recipes are simple and easy to make – and are much more economical that purchasing their store-bought counterparts. Making pantry staples at home can fit into just about any busy schedule. And isn’t it great to know exactly what went into the food you’re eating?
Nicole and Lisa begin the book with a list of the essential (store-bought) ingredients for a vegan pantry, such as flours, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils, as well as a list of equipment that’s handy to have in your kitchen. They’ve also included troubleshooting advice, in case your DIYing goes awry.
The Dairy Free Staples chapter includes recipes for milks, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. I had so much fun making all of the cheeses in this chapter. They’re easy to make and super delicious. I’ve made the Classic Cheese Ball several times since recipe testing ended, and served it at parties. It’s always disappeared quickly!
The Cereals and Snacks chapter includes granola, muesli, overnight oats, breads, crackers, chips, and more. There’s even a recipe for pickles! I used to think that pickling would be too much of a hassle, and buying them was too easy, but have you seen pickle prices lately? The DIY Vegan Quick Pickle are really easy to make and much, much cheaper than store-bought pickles. I’ve made many of the recipes in this chapter, including Coconut Bacon Bits, Crunchy Italian-Seasoned Croutons, Spice It Up Tortilla Chips, and Super Seedy Crackers, and each one was better than the last!
Next up we have Sensational Spreads and Sauces, which includes nut butters, jams, salad dressings, hummus, salsas, mayonnaise, pesto, pizza sauce, and much, much more. Because of this chapter, I now regularly make my own salad dressings and mayo. Whipping up a quick ranch dressing is faster than taking a trip to the grocery store!
The next chapter is dedicated to mixes, with recipes for things such as pancake mix, pizza dough mix, cheese sauce mix, dip mixes and spice mixes. Most of the mixes include recipes for using them, such as a pancake recipe for the pancake mix, and a pizza dough recipe for the pizza dough mix. I’m already thinking ahead to Christmas and wondering what type of mixes I can put together to give as presents.
The final chapter is all about sweets, and it includes recipes for making your own vanilla extract, flavored sugars, and syrups, as well as recipes for sweet treats such as Lemon-Blueberry Icebox Cake, Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Peanut Butter Cups. I love that there’s a recipe for Almond Pulp Cookie Crumbs, using the almond pulp leftover from DIY almond milk, that can be used to make piecrusts, parfait toppings, and ice cream cakes.
I had fun putting together the staples I made from DIY Vegan into delicious meals. I used the Spelt Dough Pizza, Pizza Sauce and Buffalo Mozzarella to make a delicious pizza. I combined Simple Sour Cream and the French Onion Dip Mix to make one of the best party dips I’ve ever had. And I made amazing salads with Caesar Salad Dressing, Crunchy Italian-Seasoned Croutons, and Coconut Bacon Bits.
DIY Vegan is an absolute must for any vegan’s cookbook library. This book makes it easy to make your own pantry staples quickly, easily, and economically, which means less time spent at the grocery store reading ingredient labels!
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water for 6 hours
- ½ teaspoon probiotic powder
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup agar flakes or 2¼ teaspoons agar powder
Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
In a blender, combine the cashews, probiotic powder, and 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and set aside to ferment for 24 hours.
In a blender, combine the fermented cashew mixture, nutritional yeast, xanthan gum, and salt and blend until smooth and creamy.
In a small saucepan, whisk together the agar and ⅔ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, for 10 minutes until all the agar has dissolved and the liquid begins to thicken.
In a shallow medium bowl, combine the blended cashew mixture and the agar mixture. Whisk until the agar mixture is completely incorporated.
Transfer the bowl to the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
Divide the cheese into quarters. Put each portion on a square piece of plastic wrap. Pull the corners of the plastic wrap together over the cheese and twist to form the cheese into a tight ball, just like the classic buffalo mozzarella shape. Return to the fridge to chill for an additional hour or two before slicing. Store any leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Reprinted from DIY Vegan. Copyright © 2015 Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin. All photos by Nicole Axworthy.
I have a copy of DIY Vegan for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on October 29th. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
But wait, there’s more!
Authors Nicole and Lisa want to share two of their most-loved kitchen appliances with you! Use the box below to enter to win a Blendtec blender or Breville food processor. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents* only and will run until 12:00 a.m. EST on December 9, 2015. One US and one Canadian winner will be chosen. Good luck!
Prize One: Blendtec Designer 725 Series Blender ($650 value) is a sleek, top-of-the-line kitchen appliance that will meet all your blending needs! Features SmartBlend technology, multi-speed pulse, and a 100-speed touch slider for precision control. *Shipping qualification apply. One US resident will be chosen randomly through Rafflecopter.
Prize Two: Breville Sous Chef 12 Plus Food Processor ($500 value) boasts power and versatility in a more compact size! This 12-cup food processor comes fully equipped with an additional accessory kit to simplify a wide range of kitchen tasks. *Shipping qualifications apply. One Canadian resident will be chosen randomly through Rafflecopter.