(New Recipe) Hunting and Gathering

What sort of cook are you? Perhaps you don’t cook at all? … I like to experiment in the kitchen – trying out new recipes, ingredients and techniques whenever I can. The only trouble is that experimentation often takes a little longer than the ‘tried and tested’. With life feeling busier than ever, it can be really hard to find the motivation for either myself or the Mr to cook up something new and exciting for dinner. Do you ever get a bit that way too?

The other complication is that by the time we get home from work we’re often super hungry, so falling back on one of our usual meal ideas is often the quickest and safest option. I say ‘safest’ because when I’m hungry I can tend to get cranky, so the sooner I’m fed, the better!

New recipe books!

Anyway, in an effort to break ourselves of old and lazy meal habits, I recently invested in a couple of new cook books – ‘Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights’ and ‘Breakfast Lunch Tea (Rose Bakery)’.

As a vegetarian I have a love-hate relationship with purely vegetarian cookbooks. Sometimes they can be, well … how shall I put this? … a little too vegetarian. I know that probably doesn’t make much sense, perhaps it’s something fellow vegetarians can understand? Sometimes pureΒ vegetarianΒ / vegan cookbooks use too-hard-to-get ingredients, are overly complicated, and (I know it may be a little shallow to say) they aren’t always pleasing to the eye – I like (and need) lots of photos. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an equal and opposite love-hate relationship with ordinary cookbooks too … when reading those you’ll often find me bemoaning the lack of vegetarian or easy-to-convert-to-vegetarian recipes … Gosh, I’m hard to please aren’t I?

While we’re yet to try out any recipes from the Rose Bakery book (I’ve mostly been drooling over the delicious pastry recipes), we’ve had lots of success with some of Sophie Dahl’s delicious recipes … here’s hoping these new recipe experiments will become part of our regular routine. Do you have any cookbooks or recipes you swear by for those challenging, time-pressured weekday meals?

42 Comments

  1. Erika Lee Sears

    I was a vegetarian all in my early 20’s and then vegan for part. I think my favorite recipes always revolved around tofu or taking a recipe from a regular cook book and just taking out the meat. πŸ™‚ Bethany Frankel has a bunch of yummy began recipes on her cookbook which are pretty yummy too!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Erika – Gosh, I love tofu soooo much … sometimes I even surprise myself! Haha! It’s such an easy thing to use in so many different meals … Thanks for the tip towards the Bethany Frankel recipes, they look and sound pretty good to me! πŸ™‚

  2. Gracey

    I don’t cook, if I can help it…the Hubs loves to cook, so when he is home, it’s his job. When he is not home, I have a few standards that I’ll prepare…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gracey – Haha, that sounds like me … my husband looks after the main meals, and so I only very occasionally do main meal duties … desserts are more my thing! πŸ™‚

  3. ejorpin

    The husband and I love to cook and I love to experiment and ‘find my way’ to new food too, and I was nodding away through this post! Yes, we often fall back on the reliable tried and tested favourites, especially when we our tummies are rumbling or we just don’t have enough time. But lately we’ve started making time on the weekend, to shop and cook at least one ‘special’ meal which has been lots of fun (and I’m finally actually starting to put my collection of recipes/cook books to use!).

    ps. as an ex-vego, I completely understand about the ‘too vegetarian’ thing…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Emily – Nice! How wonderful that both you and your husband like experimenting with different things in the kitchen … that makes for exciting times! Weekends are often the days that we’ll take a little longer with preparing our meals too … and that’s often when we’ll be more likely to try something new (glad I’m not alone there).
      πŸ™‚

  4. Selma

    I don’t know if you get Foxtel or not, Tracey, but I watched ‘The Delicious Miss Dahl’ when it was on a few months ago. I was prepared to spend the whole series bagging her but she actually came across very well – incredibly articulate and quite a good cook. She had a warmth and intelligence about her that was disarming. I’ll have to get her cookbook.

    Everyone in our house cooks, including my 15-year old son. I tend to do more traditional things like roasts, pasta dishes etc. while my husband does a lot of Asian-inspired food. My son does a mean lasagne and a FAB burger. Collectively, we tend to have a very varied diet and are not against experimenting. We are currently trying to develop a veggie burger that tastes ‘meaty.’ I know it sounds bizarre but our complaint about veggie burgers is that they’re not ‘meaty’ enough and usually contain too much mashed pumpkin. The most successful burger prototype we have come up with so far is an amalgam of french lentils and finely diced caramelised mushrooms. It is actually very tasty but still not ‘meaty’ enough. We’re still working on it. This is how we amuse ourselves on weekends πŸ˜€

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Selma – No unfortunately I don’t have Foxtel, but everyone keeps telling me how much they enjoy watching ‘The Delicious Miss Dahl’ … I’m sure I’d enjoy it based on how much I enjoy the way she writes her cookbooks.

      I think it’s wonderful that your family each has an area of cooking expertise … that would be very handy indeed!! I know what you mean about veggie burgers often lacking the ‘meaty’ texture and feel. That can be a tricky thing to do. The only veggie burgers I tend to enjoy most are those based on lentils (and they use peanut butter as the binding agent … yum!). I think the quest for a ‘meaty’ veggie burger is a very fine way to spend a weekend!! πŸ˜€

  5. Andrew

    Hello,

    Being vegetarian I completely hear you with the cookbooks. We gave most of ours away recently. Though I do think my favourite vegetarian food is the food we cook at home.

    Hope all is well.

    Best Regards

    Andrew

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Andrew – How fantastic that you were able to give away your cookbooks … the two of you must do wonderfully well in making your own tasty creations! πŸ™‚

      PS. All is well in my world Andrew, I just always seem to be playing catch-up lately.
      Take care.

  6. hannah_ruby@hotmail.com

    Oh I love Sophie Dahl! She is so gorgeous, I loved her foods and her kitchen when I saw her television series! I can’t really help in the cookbook department though! My go-to meal is always pasta with random foods that I think might go together.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Hannah – She is rather wonderful, isn’t she? I really enjoy her recipes and I’m very keen to watch her series.
      As for your go-to meal, pasta is an excellent choice! πŸ™‚

  7. SignePling

    Hihi ‘when I’m hungry I can tend to get cranky, so the sooner I’m fed, the better!’
    I can relate to this! And as a result we tend to cook our old favorites over and over again. I should pick up some new cookbooks as well to get some new inspiration!

    How did you like the one by Sophie Dahl?

    Hugs and a happy Tursday to you!
    Signe

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Signepling – Haha … oh yeah, you do not want to be around me when I’m in need of food! πŸ˜‰
      The Sophie Dahl book is great … lots of tasty, but easy recipes so far … though I’m yet to try any of her sweet meals (I can’t wait).

      I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. As you can tell, I’m playing blog catch-up. xx

  8. Camila Faria

    I’m crazy about cookbooks! I have lots of them and try to “use” them as much as I can. The gorgeous Rose Bakery book is on my wishlist for so many months now… I adore all Phaidon’s books! I’ve seen Sophie Dahl’s TV show via Internet and found the recipes to be very yummy and interesting. I’d love to get my hands on her book (I haven’t seen this one here in Rio de Janeiro yet)!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Camila – Cookbooks are so easy to collect, and they’re such a useful thing to collect! πŸ™‚
      As for ‘The Rose Bakery’ book, well I’m pretty sure you’d love it … such a thing of beauty, and full of delicious recipes.

      So many books … so little time … it’s always the same old problem! πŸ˜‰

  9. Meagan

    I am a vegetarian and I definitely understand what you’re saying. I like to read meat recipes from time to time to get ideas on dishes to recreate as vegetarian. It doesn’t simply mean eating nothing but vegetables, as a lot of those cookbooks portray. The hubs learned how to make seitan a few years back and we’ve been eating delicious meals with it ever since!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Meagan – I think sometimes vegetarians miss out on the ‘sexier’ cookbooks … I mean there are a few great vego cookbooks, but I sometimes find the more interesting meals come from those I’ve adapted from meat recipes.

      How fantastic that your husband figured out how to make seitan …. yum! πŸ™‚

  10. Debby

    I do swear by MDVD Tracey. I find her recipes really work well for me…I’m not vegetarian but don’t eat red meat and mostly find I just use vegetables and nuts and dairy…I love Miss D’s recipes and find I usually use the same kind of ingredients that she does. They’re not at all cheffy but just every day recipes for busy people.

    Have you tried the baked eggs with chard yet…mmm…delicious…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Debby – No wonder you swear by Sophie’s book, it’s a joy. In fact, I do believe you’re a large reason why her book came to my attention … so thanks for that! πŸ™‚

      Her recipes are so straightforward, and I’m surprised at how easy they are to pull together … definitely big positives for me!! xx

  11. urban muser

    those cookbooks look great. good luck finding what you are looking for in them. hope it’s yummy!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Urban Muser – Oh yes, they are great books … I can’t wait to try my hand at a few more of the time-consuming recipes (sometimes the end result is so worth it!).

  12. Sandrine

    Thanks for sharing those books, I always love to take a sneak peek into cooking books.I believe beautiful pictures are a must! :)I hope you get loads of inspirations with those.Lately I flicked by accident onto some of Jamie Oliver cooking series and must admit LOVE that passion he has got about food cooking and ingredients, very inspiring !Food is such a LOVE affair for me πŸ™‚
    Hope your week is looking bright Tracey xx
    PS:Thanks for all your sweet comments, blogger will only allow direct reply to a link email address a little tricky! x

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Sandrine – You’re very welcome for the introduction to these books … they’re too lovely not to share! πŸ™‚
      Jamie Oliver is definitely passionate about food, and I think his excitement is infectious. I really must try some of his newer books out.

      The weeks are speeding by so quickly Sandrine, so I’m hoping they slow down one of these days! Haha! πŸ˜‰
      I hope you had a lovely weekend. xx

  13. hila

    when all else fails and I’m too exhausted to think about cooking dinner, I revert back to my israeli self and make myself salad and scrambled eggs for dinner. It’s what we used to do when I was growing up n Israel – evening dinner was always light, and usually, meat-free. I think this works better for the body as eating something too heavy at night makes you feel blah (for lack of a better word).

    I’m not a particularly good cook, I wish I could offer you some adventurous cooking tips, but I can’t πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Hila – Yum! Salad and scrambled eggs for dinner sounds just perfect! I love a light evening meal, especially when the weather is getting warmer outside. I definitely agree with you on the benefits of a lighter evening meal, I think a light meal helps the body ease into a more restful sleep.

      Haha, have no fear … I’m not a particularly good cook either (that’s what my other half is for!). Though I do make some lovely baked treats! πŸ˜‰

  14. Noodles and Waffles

    Both these cookbooks look great. I’m going to see if my library has them to test out some recipes.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Nicole – Oh they’re good books to try out for sure … I hope you were able to track them down so you could try them for yourself! πŸ™‚

  15. Krystal/Village

    thanks for your sweet message while i was away!!! you’ll have to let me know if you like these cookbooks…i totally get in that rut where cooking is lame when i get home and i’m so hungry. i bought a norwegian cook book while i was away and am excited to try some of the things πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Krystal – You’re very welcome for the message while you were away … you were missed. πŸ™‚
      They are great cookbooks, though I probably should try out a few more recipes … I’ve made the same old mistake of sticking to a few favourites … haha! πŸ™‚

      A norwegian cook book sounds interesting … you’ll have to share your recipe successes!! πŸ˜€

  16. Gabrielle Bryden

    I get very cranky when I’m hungry! I think most people have a small number of dinners that they cook all the time – it is a lot of effort to try new things (unless you are out and about at restaurants). I tend to cook a lot of the meals my Mum made (spaghetti, curry, casseroles, etc.,) – which I have converted to gluten and dairy free (as Michael can’t have those things), which wasn’t hard as most of the recipes she cooked didn’t have much gluten and dairy anyway – pasta as the exception, but I just replace that with gluten free pasta and Michael doesn’t have the cheese on top).

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gabrielle – Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets cranky without regular food! πŸ˜‰
      It’s great that you can fall back on tried and tested recipes that your mum made … especially given that they were relatively easy to convert to gluten and dairy free … I really should pick my mum’s brain about favourite childhood recipes. πŸ™‚

  17. Caz

    I received ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ as a birthday present almost a year ago and I must say I have never EVER used any other cookbook so much. I’ve made over fifty separate dishes from it – everything from Spinach and Feta Filo Pie to 1 Minute Berry Icecream! One of the things I really like about it is that each ‘recipe’ includes a main meal, vegetable side dish or salad and either a drink or a dessert. I haven’t yet managed any of the menus in the magical 30 minutes but I have managed to do some in 40 minutes which I think is pretty good for two courses for four people! Of course its not a vegetarian book but vegetables do feature very prominently in most menus so it might be worth a look.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Caz – Thanks for the tip on Jamie’s cookbook … I’ve looked at that one a few times and wondered what it would be like. I thought it might be one of those situations where they’re called 30 minute recipes, but in actual fact they take a few hours! πŸ˜‰

      I shall have to give it a go … A spinach & feta pie sounds divine … and as for berry ice-cream, yum!!!
      I’m sure I’d be able to modify a few of the recipes that include meat … you’ve got me all inspired now!! πŸ˜€

  18. Gracia

    With a cover such as that (Breakfast Lunch Tea) l am almost tempted to leaf through a cookbook. I am more of an instinctual cook. I follow my nose and use plenty of spice. And I’m a vegetarian too. Hi! Nice to meet.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gracia – It’s a delightful cover, isn’t it? I must admit it was partly a reason that I fell in love with it! πŸ˜‰
      Following your nose is a lovely way to cook and work in the kitchen … I need to train mine a bit better I think.
      Hello there, fellow vegetarian! xx

  19. shinelittlelight

    Oh man, I totally hear you with the too vegetarian thing. it can all be a bit… BROWN sometimes! These books look great! *s*

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi shinelittlelight – Yes, that’s a perfect way of putting it. Sometimes vegetarian cookbooks are just way too *brown*! πŸ˜‰
      These cook books of mine are decidedly ‘unbrown’! πŸ™‚

  20. Narnie

    Over here in Blighty, we have a new programme called ‘the great British Bake Off’ which has ‘ordinary’ people competing to be the best baker. Ohhh Tracey, you should see the cupcakes and the fruit loaves and the pies and the sponges and the tarts. It’s torture by television!
    Having had many vegetarians grace my table, I cannot recommend highly enough an Enchilada pie made with Quorn – fresh quacamole and salsa to garnish (peach and jalapeno makes a nice combination for the salsa). I reckon it takes about ten minutes to prepare, 30 minutes in the oven and hours of full tummy once its eaten. My kids love it and no-one’s ever noticed it’s meat free.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Kiersty – Oh ‘The Great British Bake Off’ sounds like lots of fun to watch!! I can only imagine the delicious cakes and other sweet treats that are created by the contestants … that would be torture indeed (you know how much I like my sweet things). πŸ™‚

      Your enchilada pie dish sounds delicious Kiersty!! I’m definitely going to give that a go, especially given that it’s so easy to make … yum, yum, yum!! I bet you get lots of compliments on that one! πŸ™‚

  21. Kellie

    these cook books look lovely… i think i fell in love just with the gorgeous green cover!
    i totally get what you mean with the ‘vegetarian’ thing… all lentils and beans! haha!
    Thanks for your lovely comment over at my blog. i am starting to think that slowing is a skill and like any skill you have to practise it in order to get better… well that is my excuse and i’m sticking to it!
    Have a great weekend – Kel x

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Kellie – The green cover tempted me too!
      Haha, yes sometimes I think cook book creators forget that vegetarians are not just all about the lentils and beans! πŸ˜‰

      You are very welcome re: my comment … slowing down is something I am constantly trying to do. I think your thought that it’s like a skill is very true … here’s hoping I get better at it soon! xx

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