Cakes of Biblical Proportions

Some cookbooks are more aspirational than inspirational. You know the sort; heavy, hard covers with glossy photos splashed across the pages. If not for the text, they could qualify as art projects, printed and bound for posterity. Laid out deliberately in plain view for guests to notice, appreciating your good taste, such things are pure beauty have plenty of value all the same.There’s a place on every well-appointed bookshelf for recipes dedicated to 10 minute meals and entirely unobtainable food porn.

On rare occasion, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a cookbook that fits both descriptions. Filled with lofty pastry goals that look like the stuff of sweet dreams, yet written in such a way that you could genuinely recreate these edible sculptures in real life, Sara Kidd bridges that gap with her groundbreaking release of The Vegan Cake Bible.

Deserving of culinary worship, these are not your mom’s bake sale tray bakes. We’re talking Caramel Swirl Bundt with Nougatine, Almond Sponge with Caramelized Apple & Ginger Meringue Buttercream, Vanilla Malt Marshmallow Birthday Cake, and beyond. By including a full breakdown of each individual component, you can easily mix and match to create the unique combination you’re truly craving.

Roast Carrot Cardamom Cake

It’s not just a set of instructions, but a full education that could rival the popular virtual pastry courses offered by highly esteemed culinary schools. We’re talking about the nitty gritty behind food science, shedding light on why ingredients interact the way they do, creating unique textures and flavors to better harness that power. Sara won’t leave you hanging when it’s time to stack things up, with tips and tricks to build sound foundations for towering cakes, no matter how tall. Naturally, plenty of time is given to decorating skills that go beyond a basic piping bag, creating treats as beautiful as they are delicious. There’s even a chapter about transporting your cakes when it’s party time!

As a certified Old Vegan™, I wish I had such a complete guide when I was blindly mashing bananas into everything, hoping and praying the results would be reasonably edible. Never could I have even imagined these feats of cake mastery, made accessible to anyone bold enough to call themselves a Baker. Though initially daunting, I promise, these luscious, layered creations are within your reach.

What’s even more incredible is the unbelievable number of gluten-free options all throughout these colorful pages. Her Gluten-free Vegan Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd and American Buttercream is a case in point, which she generously granted me permission to reprint here. However, I don’t think my little recipe card could do it proper justice; there’s so much more description within her original post, that I must implore you to make that one extra click to get all the info.

While you’re over there, don’t miss Sara’s full archive of sweet recipes, videos, and even baking classes for hands-on experiences with the master herself. Anyone even remotely interested in sweets will relish such an indispensable resource. Treat yourself, or someone you love, to the gift of truly incredible vegan cakes today.

DO Try This At Home

Home cooking has taken on greater importance over the past few years. Rising interest in food overall had already tipped the scales in favor of more homemade meals, and then the pandemic hit, making it a beacon of hope amid dwindling choices. For those with demanding schedules, tight budgets, tricky dietary restrictions, or limited experience, the shift has been anything but palatable.

Go ahead, take it easy. Laura Theodore is revitalizing comfort food as we know it, giving everyone the tools to create healthy, hearty, home cooked meals on their own terms. That means accessible ingredients, user-friendly instructions, and even low-impact clean up when it’s all said and done. If you’re craving a bite of nostalgia with better nutrition, Easy Vegan Home Cooking has exactly what you need.

BBQ Tempeh Triangles (p. 136)

Everything prepared in your own kitchen qualifies as “home cooking,” but there’s deeper meaning to the concept than such a basic definition can allow. Traditionally, the term implies comfort food, something made with intention, love, and care. It’s not fancy, and sometimes even downright ugly, but each bite feeds more than just the basic need for fuel. Takeout can never rise to such heights.


Laura’s Blueberry-Banana Smoothie (p. 41)

Easy Vegan Home Cooking includes over 125 cozy, comforting recipes that transform minimal ingredients into deeply satisfying meals. Bucking the conventional notion that soulful, crave-worthy cooking needs to make nutritional compromises, these dishes are notably low in added oil, salt, and sugar. Removing such cheap crutches lets fresh flavors do the talking instead.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Butternut Squash Soup (p. 76)

You’ve gotta taste it to believe it. That’s why I’m excited to share this giveaway for a copy of Easy Vegan Home Cooking by Laura Theodore! To enter, let me know in the comment section below what “home cooking” means to you, and what your most essential home cooked meal is. Don’t forget to come back and register your entry in the giveaway widget, along with additional opportunities to win.

Easy Vegan Home Cooking by Laura Theodore

Upstanding Citizen

Sundays are made for…

  • Sleeping in
  • Day drinking
  • Eggy things like scrambles and omelettes

AKA, brunch!

May I recommend Citizen Eatery for all your weekend revelry needs? It’s a solid choice any day of the week, but the breakfast-centric menu is especially well-suited for that sweet spot right on the cusp of the new week. It’s the best thing to wake up to, whether you’re getting out of bed in the AM or PM.

While it’s hard to beat a classic tofu scramble, the Chorizo Omelet has raised the bar for the entire eggless category. Lightly spiced meatless chorizo and cheddar shreds are tucked into a soft blanket of JUST egg for a truly artistic presentation, and perfect bite every time. Don’t forget the avocado, garlic aioli, and salsa verde on top, lending bright, fresh flavor and richness all the way through.

Beyond the staples, you can’t leave without getting the Southern Style Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, drizzled with smoky espresso BBQ sauce that honestly should be sold by the gallon. The crisp battered crust gives way to meaty, umami mushrooms in an unreal experience that overloads the senses. Just make sure everyone orders their own plate because they’re impossible to share.

For that elusive balance between healthy and hearty, the Paleo Bowl has never done me wrong. It’s got a little bit of everything that I crave, from roasted beets to grilled Brussels sprouts, and don’t forget the toasted pecan pieces on top. If you want my advice, ask for pesto instead of tahini sauce for vibrant, summery flavor in every bite.

Start or finish the week strong with the Power Bowl. This is no mere salad, piled high with enough goodies to crunch and munch all afternoon. You’ve got quinoa, avocado, kale, toasted chickpeas, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted red peppers, and grape tomatoes, all in one bountiful bowl. This is whole foods, plant-based, healthy eating done right.

Truly a spot with something for everyone, gluten-free alternatives are as abundant as they are creative. Pecan Pesto Noodles come with either wheatless pasta or soft strands of zucchini noodles. In a world where zoodles are becoming increasingly rare, I deeply appreciate this vegetable-forward approach for a lighter option.

Come on down for happy hour, Monday through Friday, 4 to 6pm, when you can score great deals on snacks, cocktails, and mocktails. Surrounded by warm, friendly smiles, enjoying the bright sunshine radiating through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it feels like it could be Sunday everyday.

Citizen Eatery
5011 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78756

Viva Vegetariana

Fledgling vegans are spoiled for choice, without ever realizing it. Beyond the obvious conveniences of readily available meatless meals in both restaurants and grocery stores, newbies might not know that the entire cookbook section has been turned upside down in the past decade. In fact, that distinct lack of vegan baking books is what motivated me to write My Sweet Vegan to begin with.

Compared to Nava Atlas, however, I was still late to the party. Truly a pioneer in the culinary world, activism, literature, and art, Vegetariana first hit bookshelves in 1984, before I was even born. It’s unbelievable how far we’ve come since then, thanks in no small part to such bold moves. Now, 37 years later, Nava’s premier work encompassing recipes, food lore, and imaginative illustrations has been reborn for a whole new generation of compassionate cooks.


Reprinted with permission from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas

While I’ve often flippantly declared that I could never use a cookbook without photos, Vegetariana has made me eat those words, along with a wide assortment of sweet and savory delights. Nava brings these recipes to life with her incredibly artful drawings and stories, giving them even greater presence on the page than a mere snapshot could allow.

These recipes have truly stood the test of time. Tested and tasted again and again, over the course of nearly four decades, they’ve been polished like diamonds, each one a culinary jewel. I’ve had the great fortune of working with Nava for a mere quarter of this book’s lifetime and can easily attest to this fact. Not once have I hit a single dud through the course of our collaborations.

Given such extensive experience with Nava’s work, it’s hard to pick even a dozen favorites from the bunch. Tofu Rancheros make eggs obsolete in this upgraded Tex-Mex standard. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, there’s no time I would ever turn down a heaping helping.

Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup could soothe the soul better than any scrawny chicken. Tangy and tart, sweet and soft, every spoonful is bright, full of vibrant flavors the belie such a simple preparation. Humble, affordable, and accessible ingredients are transformed into exquisite creations with minimal effort.

Speaking of fast favorites, Quinoa Sloppy Joe or Taco Filling is the all-purpose meatless stuffing for any lonely bun, bread, or tortilla you’ve got on hand. Made for one or an unexpected hoard of visitors, it scales easily, keeps beautifully, and reheats like a champ.


Reprinted with permission from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas

Prepare to add a whole new collection of instant hits to your standard recipe arsenal. Nava Atlas has been so generous to kick-start that inspiration by giving away three copies of Vegetariana to those hungry for comfort food, and food for thought.

To enter, leave me a comment below about your favorite go-to recipe. What’s the dish that you’ve made a hundred times, and could easily make a hundred times more? Don’t forget to come back and fill out the entry form to log your submission, and unlock a number of additional methods to rack up extra entries.

Vegetariana: A Rich Harvest of Wit, Lore, and Recipes by Nava Atlas

The Early Bird Catches the Brunch

The early bird catches the plant-based worm, if you can find it hidden within this upscale corner store. Brunch Bird has taken nest inside RiverCity Market, thoroughly hidden without proper signage. You just have to trust that it exists, and if you truly believe, your faith will be rewarded with some amazing meatless fare.

We’re taking monster burgers with legit (dairy-free!) blue cheese and sauteed mushrooms, paired with spuds slathered with an impossibly rich, savory gravy, or for the sweet tooth, stuffed French toast loaded with cream cheese and raspberry jam. They go HARD on bold flavor, pulling no punches when it comes to sourcing quality, local ingredients. You’ve got your Easy Tiger ciabatta for the sandwiches, Rebel Cheese bringing the funk, and so many more local stars shining brightly within these chefs’ confident hands.

Don’t sleep on the masterfully brined carrot lox, perched atop crisp toast and adorned with a genuinely runny, spherified eggless yolk. Golden rivulets bath each bite; it’s the runny crown jewel on this dazzling dish.

A menu like this is the stuff of dreams, but also worth waking up for. Luckily, you don’t even need to set an alarm, since they’re open until 5PM everyday.

Brunch Bird
2209 S Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

Hit the Snooze Button

Don’t sleep on Snooze AM Eatery. As the name would imply, the door of this establishment opens bright and early, but you’ve still gotta be quick to snag a table. Devoted to all things breakfast, brunch, and lunch, you’re out of luck if you show up in the afternoon. That considerable barrier to entry is just one of many reasons it took me so long to venture out, even though it’s a few minutes away. Tallying up the strikes against Snooze, my hesitancy was not without merit.

For one, it’s a franchise, boasting 46 restaurants spread out across 8 southern states, bringing quality and consistency into question. Second, and this is a big one, the “plant-powered” section of its egg-heavy menu isn’t actually a cheat sheet for vegans. Those helpful suggestions are still littered with eggs and cheese, turning a simple order into a daunting demand. Study up online before arriving and don’t expect assistance from your server, who’s more surly than smiley after dealing with grouchy hipsters in need of a coffee fix. On top of all that, no matter which location you visit, parking is almost guaranteed to be a nightmare, and lines are inevitable. Do check in on the virtual waiting list but don’t forget to clear your agenda for the next few hours, regardless.

Sounds like a terrible experience, right? Speaking to the strength of the food itself, despite those myriad affronts to common sense, I’d still sign up for another round of impersonal insults for another bite. Much as I want to hate it, especially in this sea of brilliant plant-based eateries, Snooze still pulls its weight with some truly winning dishes.

Thank goodness, the cocktail program is equally strong, because you’re going to need a drink to take off the edge. The wait is much easier to stomach with a stiff Cosmopolitan in hand. Tart, bright, slightly sweet, it’s the eye-opener you didn’t know you needed.

For optimal results, pretend it’s the late 90’s again and no one really understands what the word “vegan” means. Stress that all toast comes dry, no butter, cheese, or milk in any entrees, and substitute tofu for eggs. True, some dishes are emblazoned with an unmistakable “V”, like the impossibly light and fluffy Vegan Bliss Pancakes, but don’t let your guard down. It never hurts to make your needs known, especially in an establishment not necessarily built with dietary restraint in mind.

Throwing down a Tofu Scramble that could hold its own against the heavy hitters in town, you get your choice of three inclusions from a generous list of options. All the usual vegetables make an appearance, in addition to subtly spicy soyrizo, and even a whole lobe of buttery avocado at no extra cost. Savory, well-seasoned, hot, and deeply satisfying, you can’t go wrong with this classic dish. Plus, it comes with a side of hash browns, which are delicious served in a tight cylinder or smashed flat if requested “extra crispy.”

Branch out just a little bit to try the Sweet Potato Veggie Smash Up, veganized with that eggy tofu scramble crowning two grilled sweet potatoes, infused with a touch of maple syrup. Piled high with asparagus and umami-rich mushrooms, it’s finished with pickled onions for a perfect briny contrast.

You snooze, you lose. Set your alarm clock at least an hour or two earlier to beat the crowds and claim your table. It might sound daunting, but it’s worth the extra effort to start your day on a delicious note.