As I was getting into SOS-free vegan cooking and looking for more recipes, I decided to order Bravo! by Ramses Bravo, the chef at TrueNorth Health Center. I was concerned that the recipes might be more sophisticated than my usual cooking, but I figured it was worth picking up since I only had one other SOS-free vegan cookbook on my shelf (The Health Promoting Cookbook by Alan Goldhamer, also from TrueNorth).
When the book arrived, the recipes confirmed my fears; most were more complicated than the way I usually cook, and many required ingredients that weren't normally in my kitchen. Nothing terribly exotic, but I prefer to find recipes that fit what's already in my kitchen rather than shopping for specific recipes. So I chose recipes for which I'd only have to buy a few ingredients I didn't normally have on hand: shallots, leeks, and yellow split peas.
The first recipe I attempted was Yellow Split Pea Stew. In addition to the split peas it contained corn, potatoes (the recipe didn't specify what kind so I used Yukon Gold), and yams, which I love. I had not cooked with split peas before, and figured they would cook quickly, like lentils. But even after soaking all day in vegetable broth - and then using the broth in the recipe, which is not how I'd normally cook legumes - they were taking forever to cook. Much of it was my fault for not having good-quality cookware, and not paying enough attention to the stove to verify the peas were at a good simmer. My three-quart saucepans are good cookware but my larger pots are not. I've already put a high-quality seven-quart pot on my shopping list.
I ended up removing the stew from the stove before the split peas were fully cooked, as I was getting very hungry and impatient. It wasn't inedible, but I wasn't happy with it. If I cook with split peas again (which I should as I have a good pound remaining), I'll make sure to cook them thoroughly. I was also very gassy for the days following eating this stew; I normally rinse beans after soaking, which I think helps with that problem.
The next recipe I tried was Boulangere Potatoes. This one took forever, and once again, the main ingredient failed to cook properly. I probably should have used a mandoline to slice the potatoes more thinly, because after 25 minutes most of them still weren't translucent. The broth didn't all cook off before I put the potatoes in the oven, and even after baking the dish for much longer than suggested I ended up with a soupy mess that I didn't even bother to photograph. It was still edible, though I added black pepper and vegan parmesan to it; the parsley and thyme seasoning (same as for the split pea stew recipe) wasn't really to my liking.
So I think I'll give this cookbook a rest for now, and go back to the Happy Herbivore and Straight Up Food recipes that I love. Someone who is a more patient and better cook than I am would probably get more out of this cookbook.