January 17, 2014

Isa Does It — review


It's ridiculous how long it's taken me to write a review of Isa Does it. I thought I'd get it done before the holidays to encourage people to give it as a gift, but although I, myself, bought multiple copies to give as gifts, I never wrote a word about the book. There are lots of reasons I could mention, but rather than casting blame on my own sloth or other issues, I choose to blame the weather. Yes, there has been so little natural light here that all the photos I take suck, and I don't want to post them. Sometimes it feels like I'm living underground.

Muffin pan mini omelets.

But, excuses and issues aside, you know, there's always another gift-giving occasion around the corner — a birthday, Valentine's Day, first day of spring — so if you haven't yet found the perfect present for your best vegan friend, I might be able to help you. Or you might just want to purchase a copy for yourself. Read on.


Before I say anything about the recipes, I have to say a few words about the physical book. It's one of the prettiest cookbooks I've seen in ages — and not just because it has beautiful photos of so many of the recipes. It's true that the photos are wonderful, but the design of the whole book is just so appealing — I love the substantial, matte, pastel colored paper, the quirky but logical page layouts and the sumptuous full-page photos. It's the sort of book that you'll want to page through sitting in front of the fire as much as you'll want to cook from it. Even as I sit here writing the review, I keep looking through the book admiring the pages, and picking things I might want to make for dinner. The book's appeal expands even further when you add Isa's humorous, chatty, down-to-earth writing — there's lots of helpful 'how-to' and ingredient stuff at the beginning, an engaging introduction to each recipe, plus many helpful hints along the way.

Sweet potato and red curry soup with rice and purple kale — a favorite.

For those of you trying to avoid various foods in your diet, there's a list of substitutions for things like gluten, soy and nuts. The book isn't specifically geared to allergies, but really, there are so many recipe choices you shouldn't have much of a problem finding plenty of options. One exception might be for those relatively new to avoiding gluten in baked goods. You may need to do a little research to find some of the dessert recipes useful.

Okra gumbo with chickpeas and kidney beans.

We've tried quite a few recipes so far, sometimes following the directions and sometimes sort of following them.

Shroomy hot and sour soup.
For example, my husband made hot and sour soup subbing carrots and cauliflower for the cabbage, and adding mung threads instead of chow mein noodles. Recipes, after all, are guides, and Isa's recipes hold up well to a few ingredient changes.

Smokey Incan stew.

Mostly, we've really enjoyed the recipes we've tried, though we don't always agree — for example, I loved the mini omelets, my husband not so much.

Goddess noodles.
Two things worth noting — the servings tend to be very generous, and although we are hearty eaters, we often end up with tons of leftovers. And sometimes the ingredients are more (for lack of a better word) extravagant than I like. For example, the Goddess Noodles, which serves four, calls for 1/2 cup of tahini. My husband, who can be a rather strict recipe follower when making something for the first time, used the full amount, and I could barely eat it. I make tahini sauce often, and love it, but never quite that much per serving. This is not meant as a negative, just as an observation.

Lentil-miso gravy (over mashed potatoes, of course!).

Overall, I highly recommend Isa Does It as a worthy addition to your cookbook collection, or as a beautiful gift for anyone with an interest in cooking delicious vegan food. The recipes are clear, easy to follow, and depend on readily available ingredients. Honestly, I can't keep my hands off the book — it's gorgeous and inspiring, and I want to make everything!

Full disclosure: I was sent a free, review copy by the publisher. I did not receive payment for the review. All opinions are my own.

34 comments:

  1. I've had this book for a while yet and still haven't cracked it. I'm impressed that you've gotten through so much even with recipe testing, but I'll chalk it up to having a cooking partner in crime!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've made even more things than I posted but the photos were BAD and I couldn't use them. I can't wait to see your review. (I'm still in shock over how many Ethiopian recipes you tested in such a short time. I'm sure you'll be able to make three times as many recipes as I did the minute you open the book.)

      Delete
  2. Yay! I was so excited to read about everything that you've been making. I totally agree that the book is not only aesthetically pleasing because of the photography, but also because of the fonts & design. Then add in Isa's down to earth and humorous writing style plus amazing recipes, and you have one top notch cookbook. I know I'll be giving it as gifts again and again.

    I agree that the portions tend to be very generous, especially when cooking for two. So I usually make a half recipe and still have a manageable amount of leftovers. The only exception would be the curried peanut tofu dish. That one was so good, and I was kicking myself for halving the recipe. There weren't any leftovers, and I would have been very happy for some! Next time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've inspired me with your multiple posts to finally get the review written. I think I spend too much time just gazing at the design instead of cooking. :D I love to have leftovers for lunches and whatever, but I was still surprised at how many leftovers there were!

      Delete
  3. Gorgeous! I've been eying this book but haven't had the chance to pick up a copy yet. It's on my list for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's almost a 'coffee table cookbook' if there is such a thing. :) Except that you'd want it near the kitchen so you could use it often!

      Delete
  4. I totally agree with all of your observations about this book--it really is stunning!

    And I also feel your pain with the lack of light and feeling of living underground! My photos lately have been less appealing than I'd like (sigh).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love giving the book as a gift — it makes vegan cooking look so appealing! The sun is sort of out right now. Maybe I should quick cook a bunch of stuff and take photos. :D

      Delete
  5. Oh, my gosh, honestly every single one of those photos looked scrumptious. I have one of her cookbooks and have loved every single recipe. Sounds like another hit here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a very nice cookbook and you probably need it to go with your other one. :)

      Delete
  6. Just picked this up a few weeks ago, and only made the butternut squash risotto so far. Turned out well, but you are right about the portions. I had a lot of leftovers for one person! Going to try out the tempeh meatballs with spaghetti this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andrea! Tempeh meatball sounds really good. I'll have to look for that one. There are so many tempting recipes it's hard to choose.

      Delete
  7. Great review! I've been wanting to check out this cookbook, it looks like another winner. Winter is always a tough time to take photos with natural light. And when there is light, it's only for a short time so I end up running around like crazy trying to catch it before it's gone. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! About the light — sometimes even during the day there isn't enough light for a decent photo. Maybe if I were a better photographer I'd have an easier time. :)

      Delete
  8. Love your review! Definitely one of my favourite books of last year.. a mini cheer for all the easy but tasty recipes ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Janet. It's an inspiring book, for sure.

      Delete
  9. The internet is blowing up with people raving about this book. All the recipes I've seen from it sound (and look) amazing! I still haven't gotten a copy, I really really need to get it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if you don't cook from it, you could put it on your coffee table as a piece of art. Just kidding — it would be a terrible waste to leave it on the table and not use it. But you could. :)

      Delete
  10. Glad you got around to posting a review! I loved that sweet potato and kale curry too... and have been meaning to make the hot & sour soup. Did you sub shiitakes or could you find wood ear mushrooms?
    must have missed the mini omelets and the gumbo, but both look great. Been in a bit of a boring rut of my own food lately: thanks for the reminder that there is still so much to cook through from here....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's embarrassing how long it takes me, which is why I don't accept many offers of things to review, but at least I did it. I think we used shiitakes for the soup.

      Delete
  11. Thank you for this great review, Andrea! I agree with you, the book itself is beautiful. And it sound like there are so many interesting recipes to try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Every time I look at the book I find new things to try. Last night I made (my version of) lentil-a-roni and it was great.

      Delete
  12. Swoon!!! Thanks for the review. I haven't even got to look at a copy yet. Looking forward to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The more I cook from it, the more I like the book. I mean, I liked it before I even used it, but now I'm slightly obsessed. I especially like how I can change the recipes and they still come out great.

      Delete
  13. Awesome review! It's such a beautiful book! I haven't even put it away since I got it for Christmas. It still sits on the little side table on my side of the couch and I flip through the pages during the commercial breaks of whatever I'm watching. It's gorgeous!

    Are you watching Doctor Who on Netflix? I'm only asking before I realized a couple of days ago that there is an episode missing from Netflix! Fortunately it's available on Hulu. It's called "Planet of the Dead" and it's a David Tennant episode! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have trouble putting it away, too. It's so darn pretty.

      Ooooooo thank you for the episode — I never noticed it was missing, and it was so nice to see my favorite doctor again. Did you notice the scene where Christina says, "You look human." And then he stares at her deeply and intently as he does so well, and says, "You look Time Lord." Now I'll have to adjust to the new doctor all over again. Sigh. Watched it on Amazon prime.

      Delete
    2. Yay! I'm so glad you were able to watch it too! I did notice that scene with Christina! Another one of my favorite moments was when the doctor said he was going to step into the police box and arrest himself. I miss my favorite doctor too. I do like Matt Smith now, but if the producers decided to bring back David Tennant and keep him forever I would do a happy dance.

      Delete
    3. Ha! I remember that. He's my favorite doctor out of the three I've seen. Imagine meeting him on a bus!

      Delete
    4. That would be the most amusing bus ride ever! I found another episode that is missing from Netflix, although unfortunately it isn't a David Tennant episode. It's called "A Christmas Carol". I haven't watched it yet because I literally found it two minutes ago and came right over here to tell you.

      Who is your favorite companion? I'm a Donna fan all the way!

      Delete
    5. Another missing episode? I'll have to keep a list. I liked Rose a lot and was really sad when she left, but Donna was a hoot. She was as much fun to watch as the doctor.

      Delete
  14. I've seen a few people praising the mini omelettes, they do look good for brunch or something. Mind you, I really like the look of that Incan stew in particular - must be craving something hearty for winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Incan stew is good, but everything I make from the book is good. I'm impressed.

      Delete
  15. I just got the book and immediately fell in love! I've only made a few things from it so far but Isa's recipes are superb! They definitely do stand up to a little tweaking here and there when I don't feel like getting out the measuring spoons, etc. Everything we've made so far has been so tasty!

    PS I totally get the light thing now since moving out to the PNW. What a pain. I guess it's time to figure out how to use artificial lights....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all agree that Isa's book is a keeper!

      The light thing can be disconcerting. Sometimes I think I'm going to photograph leftovers the next day in the light, and then there is no light. I can deal with a lot of stuff with editing, but sometimes, even with my fastest lens and the tripod, the food comes out blurry. The sun is out right now. I should cook something!

      Delete

Thanks for visiting Andrea's easy vegan cooking. I love, and read, all of your comments! Please share your thoughts.

There are a few Amazon links in the posts. Thanks in advance if you click on one.

Note: ALL THE IMAGES FROM THIS BLOG WERE ACCIDENTALLY DELETED ON 1-21-12. I'M RESTORING THEM, POST BY POST, BUT IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME. Recipe pages you visit may be missing photos, but all the text in intact. If you find a post without images, let me know so I can fix it. Thanks!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails