Greens and Grains on the Deep Blue Sea: Fabulous Vegetarian Cuisine from the Taste of Health Cruises
This cookbook has a very clean and nautically-inspired feel. My first impression made me feel at ease as I flipped through the pages, primarily looking at the recipe titles and admiring the tight yet whimsical format. Unfortunately, on my second pass through, to mark recipes that I wanted to trial, I started feeling a bit frustrated.
This cookbook was created by natural foods expert Sandy Pukel and chef Mark Hannah, as a collection of the most popular vegetarian recipes served on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruises. Having heard about the reputation of these cruises, I have no doubt that these recipes will produce delicious results, keep that in mind. However, I am not sure how many of them I will actually trial myself. Possibly a few, with time, but I will definitely have to go to the store first, with a sizable food budget prepared.
Each recipe seemed to have at least one, if not more, ingredient that I don’t readily have on hand, and because the recipes were not ones I was intimately familiar with, I didn’t feel comfort leaving the ingredients out in most of the cases. I usually trial recipes before ever writing a review, but I am not really sure when I will pick up the book, find a recipe I actually have all of the ingredients for, that sounds good at the time of course, and make it.
Also, this cookbook desperately (can not emphasize this enough) needs an ingredient guide. I am fortunate enough to be familiar with many Asian, natural food, and macrobiotic-type ingredients, but even I would be stumped as to where to find the arame, Hokkaido squash, or lotus root; I honestly don’t quite know the difference between kombu, wakame, and hijiki (they’re all types of seaweed right?); and two years ago I wouldn’t have had the faintest idea what umeboshi vinegar, shoyu, kuzu, aduki beans (okay, I’ve still never actually seen them), or agar were. Also, my local grocery stores don’t carry Belgian endives or heads of radicchio with any regularity.
It would be easy to produce an entire chapter just to explain the new-to-many and hard to find ingredients in this cookbook. Yet I couldn’t even find a simple mention in any of the recipe notes on these less than common ingredients. I later read on the back cover that it is a "user-friendly cookbook" that even the novice cook will enjoy successfully. While I completely agree that the recipes have easy-to-follow instructions, I think the novice cook might be less than familiar with many of the foods used, and need some introductions.
I feel as though this cookbook was created for a few specific groups: those who have been on the Holistic Holiday cruises and would love to recreate the food at home; those who are already purchase a very wide range of natural foods, seasonings, and produce (and have a good sized food budget); and those who love to experiment with (and have time to look up and locate) new ingredients. If you fit into one of these groups, then I definitely think this cookbook may be worth a look as many of the recipes do sound interesting, it has a delightful layout, and for health enthusiasts, it has a definite macrobiotic flare.