“[Betty Crocker]…has always been an advocate for the modern kitchen….[W]ith the rise of veganism and vegetarianism, and a wave of new vegan-friendly products on the market, there’s another new wave of modernity sweeping over the cooking landscape – and many of us need a hand adjusting, in the way our mothers and grandmothers did in their day.” – Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family by Annie and Dan Shannon.
Annie Shannon captures the spirit of Betty Crocker in Betty Goes Vegan with her personal notes on recipes and tips on gadgets and vegan products. More than the recipes, Annie’s story of being in a professional rut and being re-inspired through her Betty Crocker blog project resonates so loudly throughout the cookbook it inspires the reader to dive in with abandon too. From blog project to VegNews’ Best New Cookbook 2013, Betty Goes Vegan is an inspiration for modern day “Bettys”.
The recipes in Betty Goes Vegan harken back to my childhood growing up on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Familiar dishes like stroganoff and meatloaf are remade compassionately with vegan ingredients. If you miss your family’s mayo-based salads, have no fear, Chapter 3 on lunch has you covered. Many of the recipes showcase faux meats and cheeses, and the Shannons offer several overviews of the products for the novice throughout the book.
In addition to the usual chapters on breakfast/brunch, lunch, dinner, baked treats (aka desserts) and appetizers/snacks, there is a section on holiday favorites that offers quick ideas if you find yourself hosting a holiday meal. With 14 pages dedicated to Thanksgiving, you’re bound to find something new to add to your current rotation. Maybe a beer can tofurky (p. 444) or mini pumpkin cheesecakes (p. 454)? The baked treats chapter will also make you wish you had a whoopie pan with 9 recipes ranging from tiramisu (p. 346) to dreamsicle (p. 344).
I tried seven recipes from the cookbook and found them more of a starting ground for inspiration than a follow it to the letter guide. The vegan ranch dressing (p. 110) was flavorful (non-vegans couldn’t tell it was vegan), but its consistency was more like a dip than a dressing. The artichoke dip (p. 408) was a lemony, slightly funky and richly gooey dip that satisfied a need for overindulgence. I doubled the chocolate chips for the chocolate chips cookie recipe (p. 296) and was surprised at the whipped consistency of the dough. The cookies had crisp edges and fluffy centers and were devoured at a party by vegans and non-vegans alike. You can read more about my experiences with the recipes on my blog, Accidentally Meatless.
What I liked most about Betty Goes Vegan is Annie Shannon’s personal touch and vulnerabilities. She shares women’s history lessons, arguments for veganism, and a study of Betty Crocker in an introspective tone that challenges the reader to see beyond stereotypes and be a role model through compassionate, inspired living.
by Annie & Dan Shannon
First Edition: February 2013
Grand Central Publishing