Today, I am going to share with all of you the cookbook that has kept me the most sane while the world around me spins out of control: The Homemade Vegan Pantry by the vegan cheese goddess, Miyoko Schinner. When I cannot get to the grocery store (and let’s be honest, most days right now, none of us can), this book is an absolute life saver!
I know. I promised all of you a tutorial on how I take care of my sourdough starter, Alton. Well, you how even the best of relationships haves peaks and valleys? Ebbs and flows?
Alton and I are definitely in a valley. Nay, a cavern. NAY. We need therapy and a Xanax.
Alton the sourdough starter and I are not on speaking terms right now. I do not want to profess proficiency when all I want to do is take the jar and toss it into the wall. My breads, of late, have not wanted to cooperate. Therefore, I ask all of your patience, my friends. A few more weeks, and I should have the issues figured out and a sourdough starter tutorial to share with all of you!
Now, onto the cookbook. I have had this in my collection for about two years two, and it remains a book that I go back to regularly. I thought it fitting to introduce it to all of you now because it is all about making your own staples, something we all can benefit from with our limited trips to the grocery store. Author Miyoko Schinner has a name even those of you new to the plant-based world might recognize: Miyoko’s Kitchen, a vegan cheese brand, is on most grocery store shelves today! And yes, this book does talk about how to make a lot of her cheese.
I’ll talk a little about the structure of the book, and share some of my particular go-to recipes and highlights with you. Let’s start with the pros and cons:
The Homemade Vegan Pantry Pros
- Easy to follow instructions
- Well organized, making it easy to find what I am looking for
- Comprehensive: there is a recipe for just about every pantry staple you can imagine!
- The recipes are designed to reduce waste (the byproducts of some recipes are featured in others)
- A few of the ingredients for these recipes are difficult to find
- Some of the recipes, while their instructions are clear, are labor intensive, which may be difficult for busy, or working individuals
This book is broken down into simple sections: condiments, dairy and egg- free substitutes, meat substitutes, pasta, grains, and sweets. Over the two years I have worked from this cookbook, I’ve made at least several things from each section, and feel that I can speak to it’s ease of use, quality of recipes, and practicality.
These recipes really are easy to follow, but there are some, such as the tofu, that I just do not find practical. At all. I slaved for hours over a hot stove, boiling soybeans and processing the into milk which then got curdled and pressed into tofu. If this floats your boat, excellent! But the sheer amount of active time involved turned me off from recreating this recipe entirely. That said….if people keep clearing out the grocery shelves of tofu and I continue to not be able to purchase…perhaps I will revisit. But for now, my preference lies in recipes that either come together quickly or take slightly longer but have minimal hands-on time.
The first thing I made from The Homemade Vegan Pantry that I make on a regular basis is the Glorious Butterless Butter.
This recipe, containing only coconut and canola oils, nondairy milk, sea salt, and lecithin, has been utterly perfect in every application for which I’ve used it. Baking? Flawless cookies (like my best chocolate chip cookies ever.) Spreading on toast? Flavorful and just the right consistency. Whipping into frostings. Um, YES. This recipe comes together in under three minutes in the blender and sets in the refrigerator in any container you have. Before I bought a butter mold like the nerd that I am, I used an ice cube tray and it was totally fine. You could also use a Tupperware container, or even a small bowl.
A Note On Lecithin: You might be looking at this and thinking to yourself, “Mel, I thought you said that weird ingredients was a con.” It is! But wouldn’t you know, I’ve found lecithin at like…five different grocery stores in my area. Often, it is in the supplement section (looking at you, Whole Foods), but it is there. I do buy mine on Amazon for relatively inexpensive, and a small pouch of it will last you through several pounds of butter, at least. When I say odd ingredients, I mean that the Worcestershire sauce recipe asks for tamarind extract. There isn’t even a note about where to find it! That’s what I call an odd ask.
From the dairy section, I also have made frequent use of the yogurt recipe, though I will say that Miyoko’s involves the use of a thickening agent called agar powder. Though not difficult to find at most natural grocery stores, it does add several hours onto the prep time for this yogurt due to heating, cooling, and temperature taking. I have been working up my own yogurt recipe that omits these steps and requires less than 10 minutes of prep time before an overnight culture. That said, her recipe is pretty foolproof, and if you have never made yogurt before and want to get your feet wet, it is definitely worth trying!
To pair with the yogurt, I always make Miyoko’s granola recipe. It is quick, taking less than an hour, is flexible enough to use pretty much whatever nuts and seeds I have in my pantry, and is always delicious. I am one of those people that prefers my granola with a small side of yogurt, as opposed to a cupful of yogurt with a drizzle of granola. Give. Me. The. Granola.
Other recipes that I adore but are not picture include:
- The dry, Bisquick-like pancake mix that can also be used for waffles and drop biscuits. I keep a jar of this in my pantry at all times for when I am in a big Breakfast Mood.
- Nondairy coffee creamer that doesn’t ever curdle in hot liquid.
- A bouillon paste that rivals Better Than Bouillon in ease of use
- DIY Boxed Chocolate Cake Mix. This is code for: BROWNIES ARE ALWAYS MINUTES AWAY. Need I say more?
Overall, this book has been worth its weight in gold in my kitchen. (I almost said it’s worth it’s weight in toilet paper, but is it a bit took soon?) Just the recipes featured above has made the book worth it to me, but I often venture into the lesser used pages to explore the flavor combinations that Miyoko offers. Through her techniques, I have not only saved time, but also money and kitchen waste. I would recommend this book to anybody looking to make expand their knowledge of what goes into some of our favorite pantry staples, and how to reproduce them in a delicious, plant-based way.