Cookbook Review: The Homemade Vegan Pantry

Back before I had food allergies and before I went vegan, way back during the Great Recession when I had a baby and a toddler in diapers, I tried making all kinds of pantry staples on my own. I was trying to save money, but also I (and my kids) were learning how to be a tiny bit self-sufficient. My oldest LOVED making butter. Now I know that it’s cheaper to buy butter than it is to make it, but he loved the idea that a liquid, when shaken until your arms are sore, will turn into an edible solid.

Our diets have changed a lot, but my kids and I like the idea of DIY. And not too long ago, some groceries were hard to get. Like tofu – couldn’t find any ANYWHERE. Some weeks there’s a limit of 4 tofu, even now. We couldn’t find almond milk for a few weeks and now we have a few shelf-stable almond milks, but also I like knowing I can make my own.

I came across this book a while ago on Amazon and finally ordered it last week. So, on to the review!

Inside This Book:

There’s the standard introduction and then Miyoko Schinner gets right into the recipes, starting with condiments. There’s a couple variations on vegan mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and a handful of other sauces. Then there’s vegan Ranch, Caesar, and Italian dressings. There’s a “not-tella” recipe I’ll be trying soon and a “cheat” jam that looks interesting.

Next up are more general recipes, like this one for soy milk (I need to try this) and a few other nut milks. I wish the author had mentioned some ideas on what to make with the leftover pulp though. There’s a vegan butter recipe that’s probably really good, but it requires liquid lecithin, which I don’t have. I’m glad to know that it’s possible though! I would like to try her vegan yogurt and the idea of flax seed egg whites blew my mind!

There are recipes for various cheeses, which are interesting, though we don’t eat a lot of cheese. And I really want to try the “not nog”. Store-bought vegan egg nog is hard to find and really expensive.

Next up are soups – how to make stock and broth. I keep a bag of veggie scraps in the freezer to make broth, but I never thought to add nutritional yeast to it. There’s a recipe for tomato soup I’ll definitely make because most all canned tomato soups for some inexplicable reason add wheat. ( I know, I know, it’s a cheap way to thicken it. But I can’t eat any of them.)

Okay, the next section is where I got excited. It’s “meat” recipes. The first is tofu from scratch. I’ve tried some recipes from the internet and got enough tofu to feed maybe one person and enough okara to make a bunch of cookies. Interestingly enough, the author does mention how to use the okara leftover from making soy milk. Anyway, I’m guessing this is a better tofu recipe than random stuff I found on Pinterest. There’s a recipe for yuba, which is tofu skin. I saw it mentioned on one of the YouTube videos I watched on tofu-making, but I never got any “skin” on mine. You can make “bacon” with it and there’s a recipe for that in this book.

Next is tempeh. Now, I bought tempeh starter culture from Thrive Market back when ready-made tempeh was scarce, but honestly I’ve been afraid to try making my own tempeh. This gives me slightly more confidence.

There’s also “unfish” and “unfish sticks” and “fab” cakes. The latter two use okara from making soy milk. There’s “chicken”, “unpork”, “unribs”, veggie dogs, “unpepperoni”, “unsteak”, “neatballs”, and veggie burgers, and “unsausage” recipes if you are looking to make your own proteins. I wonder if the “unpepperoni” could be customized to be gluten-free?

In the next section, I literally did a double-take because there is a recipe for gluten-free AND vegan pasta. I didn’t even know that was possible. I don’t know that I have the patience to make pasta, but that there’s a recipe… I mean, I guess it’s 2020 and all things are possible. If there’s another shortage of pasta, I’m glad to know I can make my own. There’s a recipe for vegan mac and cheese, which my kids will like, I’m sure. In the store, you can find either gluten-free mac and cheese or vegan, rarely both. And a single tiny box is usually $4. But I could make the cheese “dust” and they could make their own noodles in whatever shape they like!

Schinner adds a pancake and biscuit mix, a gluten-free pancake and waffle mix (hey, there’s crepes! My youngest has been wanting to make crepes for years!), granola recipes, bars, and crackers (one uses the strained flax seeds from making egg whites, so there’s no waste). Included are several bread recipes, but none are gluten-free. Gluten-free and vegan bread recipes are the unicorns of the baking world, so it’s fine.

Last up are desserts! She writes a white cake baking mix (not gf) which can be used for cake, muffins, and cookies. A chocolate cake mix is used for cake, muffins, cookies, and also brownies. Included is a recipe for cashew buttercream (oh em gee *drools*), lemon curd, and custard. Once upon a time I tried to make lemon curd. It was edible and quite tasty, if a little on the THICC side. Like gummy? I can’t think of the word but my youngest described it as THICC, so we’re going with it. If I need lemon curd again, I’ll use this recipe instead. Lastly, of particular interest to me are the caramel sauce, and condensed non-dairy milk. The ice cream and gelato recipes need an ice cream maker, so we’ll pass on those for now. (Much sadness.)

I obviously didn’t mention every recipe in this book, because really, you need to see them for yourself. I didn’t even know some of these were possible! For around $18 on Amazon, or $22.99 cover price, this cookbook is definitely worth your cash. It’s a hardcover and a lot of the recipes have photos, but some don’t. I’m not too put off by it because I know what mayo and tofu are supposed to look like.

I just realized that Miyoko’s the brand is one and the same as Miyoko Schinner! How did I not know this?! Their butter is seriously the best!

Anyway, this book is definitely worth adding to your collection, particularly if you are interested in making your own kitchen staple items.