Veganmofo 2009: Get it Ripe

I’m really not too sure what to say about this book. I know lots of people rave over it and it seems to crop up a lot on blogs and people talk about it as a favourite. I don’t like criticising anyone who’s taken the trouble and has the discipline to write a vegan book. But there’s no point doing book reviews if I’m not going to be honest and I have to say that I’m not too keen.

For a start, you don’t get your first recipe until page 105. 105?? I’m sure other people are interested in all the preamble about buying organic and not eating trans fats, but I’ve read all that before and know where to find it if I need it. I certainly don’t want it taking up over a third of my recipe book.

The nex thing that annoys me is that even after all that introduction, the recipes still feel the need to specify “non gm”, “non hydrogenated” “organic” “filtered water” and “wheat pasta if you can tolerate it”. So some people are allergic to wheat, but equally so are many people allergic to soya or nuts. Why single out wheat as being such a baddy? So I can’t make these recipes using tap water? It just starts to come across as preachy.

So maybe its because of this that I haven’t yet made anything from this book. Which is a great shame because there are some nice looking things in it. The first thing I look for in any cookbook is the main courses, and there aren’t too many in this book. I’m interested in the millet and mushroom tourtiere, the sesame kale soba, pesto white bean bowl and probably a few other things.

I know many people love this book, so please, give me some recommendations that’ll blow my tastebuds and help me change my mind.


11 thoughts on “Veganmofo 2009: Get it Ripe

  1. hey there!
    i’m wondering if it’s lonely out there in don’t-like-Get-It-Ripe land, as yours is the first negative review the book has received since it came out 1.5 years ago.
    i’m sorry you don’t appreciate the book for what it is – a way to help vegans and others improve their health and food choices. as a nutritionist i don’t think food exists in its own little bubble, there are a lot of considerations to be made, both as a consumer (for health, politics, compassion – i’m sure you know about that being vegan yourself) and as a cook (to optimize nutrition, prepare foods efficiently and make things taste as great as they can), hence the first 100 page guide.

    i also thought i’d explain to you that the reason any wheat mention has the disclaimer “if tolerated” is because the book promises to be wheat-free, but certain recipes can be improved (culinarily, if you will) with the addition of wheat germ or whatever else, so i give the options for those that want ’em. i’m all about informed choice.

    and, i’m all about behaving compassionately, and i think it’s fair to call vegans out on their compassion and kindness directed not only to animals but to other humans. i am happy to accept that i didn’t write the be-all-end-all cookbook for everyone, but before getting all harsh and panning a book before you’ve even really read it/have tried ONE SINGLE RECIPE, please remember that the internet is a very public forum and anything/anyone you’re trashing can, and sometimes will, hear you.

    • I wanted, for MoFo, to say what I thought about a variety of books, and say it as I saw it. I can only give my impression of a book, as it appeals or doesn’t appeal to the things I like to cook and eat. I certainly have read it. In fact, after all the good reviews I’ve seen I’ve ploughed through it quite a few times specifically to find a recipe I wanted to try. And as I said, there are 2 or 3. I have many books were I can’t find a single thing I like the look of! One of the reasons I wrote the post (as with several other of the reviews I’ve done), is to get people who read my blog to tell me what they’ve loved and why, to see if it inspires me me to make that dish. I don’t think I was harsh, I just said why the book didn’t appeal TO ME and why. I like books with not much preamble and lots of hearty main courses or elaborate dishes, and I’m sure you would agree that yours doesn’t fit that bill. No point reviewing things if you don’t tell tell the truth. I certainly didn’t intend to trash you personally and I’m sorry it came across that way. I didn’t realise from the blurb I’d read that the book promised to be wheat free, so that was a mistake on my part and I apologise for that. It does, to me, get repetitive reading those same things in the ingredient list again and again.
      Given that you know I’m more interested in savoury than sweet and don’t much enjoy baking, recommend me a recipe and I promise faithfully to try it and report back how I find it, and perhaps we’ll both end up agreeing that the post was useful after all.

  2. I actually have this book on my birthday list (I gave the boyfriend a big list of books to choose from…). I didn’t realize the first half of the book was focused on organic eating and nutrition, but as long as there’s plenty of recipes, I’m down with that. I loved Grub, and it was the same way. Sometimes I need to read that stuff again and again….

    But the fact that Jae got a little defensive in the comments does bother me a little. I’m a reporter at a newspaper, and I often have to review books (sometimes they even let me review vegan cookbooks!), and I don’t really think it’s proper for an author to respond to a review, whether it’s positive or negative. A reviewer’s job is to offer their honest opinion. I think most people who read reviews take those opinions into account, but it certainly wouldn’t stop many (myself, at least) from buying the book to see for themselves.

    Keep up the reviews, Liz! And keep speaking your honest opinion.

  3. I feel the same about the lack of mains, but there are quite a few recipes I really like in this book. You should definitely try the Cannelini and Kale Soup with the Molasses Cornbread (I make muffins out of it). It’s an excellent combination. I made the Stevia & Spice cookies for a friend on the candida diet, and she loved them.

    I can’t remember if you’ve been involved in the cookbook challenge (I haven’t had the last few books so I’ve stopped for a while), but we’re doing this one in 3 weeks’ time, so you should be able to get some inspiration from that!

  4. You can see what I’ve made out of the book here and whether we liked it or not.

    I don’t think you were harsh in your review at all, I get mightely pissed off with 40 page introductions containing the same information in almost every vegan book I buy. I did, however, find the introduction to this one interesting as I’d not read about holistic health before. I don’t follow it but it was interesting to read about! :o) I find the organic this, purified water etc quite annoying as well, it’s the same when authors use ‘cheeze’ in quotes like that or put non-dairy over and over in a vegan book!

    I agree with Bianca though, I don’t think it was cool of Jae to comment. If she wanted to respond she should have done so in private. Afterall you weren’t reviewing the book for her, you were reviewing it for the people who read your blog who are obviously interested in what you make and what you like or they wouldn’t be reading.

    It’s not my number one favourite book anymore, although it was for a time right after I got it, I did love it tons to begin with but I have so many books that I get new favourites and have moved on, thus not having cooked anything new for it in quite some time. I think there are some good recipes in there though, especially the BBQ Baked Tofu and the Sesame Kale Soba.

  5. I love the book and the information. All of the cookies are really good, and the Southern Bowl is excellent.

    I also loved your review. You should give an honest opinion and you did. Good work.

  6. Liz, I also think your review wasn’t harsh at all. I didn’t buy the book because I felt uncomfortable about some sentences I read in the book. The author was adressing non-vegans and suggested that if these people consumed “animal bodies or products that come from animals (i.e. dairy, eggs), you should make the effort to get them from more ethical sources” (p. 23). That just rubbed me the wrong way.

  7. I’ve tried some of the recipes (indeed they are some of my favorites) and I came away thinking the same things as you. I found some of the health information incredibly troubling, especially the detox section.

    I somewhat negatively reviewed the book on my own blog so don’t feel lonely out there.

  8. In keeping with offering suggestions, I agree that the southern bowl is good. I also like the house dressing. The adzuki and butternut soup is great with the aforementioned cornbread. I also make the alfredo pretty often. I don’t have the book in front of me, but I am certain there are more that I am a personal fan of and cook relatively often.

    I think the key is to be open here. Different books will appeal to different people. If you don’t agree with the commentary about water types and such, just ignore them. In the end, if the food is good and we are saving animals then we are all on the same page – regardless of the type of flour we use.

  9. I liked your review and I didn’t think it at all harsh. I wish I had read it before I got the book because I am also disappointed by the lack of main courses and it is nice to know that kind of thing before you buy. I agree with others about the southern bowl and I also like the chipotle brownies.

  10. We used this book last week for the last week of the PPK Cookbook Challenge. I made 2 dips (hummus and caramelised hummus, 2 dressings (standard salad dressing and green tahini dressing), the Pesto White Bean bowl and the Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf and everything was great.

    I guess it’s hard to know if you will like a book until you buy it and try a few recipes, so I suggest trying a recipe (like the caramelised onion hummus or the pesto white bean bowl) and if you’re still not convinced you could re-gift it! 🙂

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