Mini-Review: The Geeky Chef Cookbook, Cassandra Reeder (2015)

June 1st, 2015 12:28 pm by Kelly Garbato

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Edelweiss.)

Let me start out by saying that, as a vegan, what drew me to The Geeky Chef Cookbook wasn’t so much the recipes as the intersection of food and pop culture. Two of my favorite things, made exponentially better when mashed up together!

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a chef, but I do love to play with my food, and I’m no stranger to veganizing and recipie-zing (is that a word? can we make it one?) foods from my favorite books and television shows. To wit: last year’s VeganMoFo theme, Carbs & Rec, in which I blogged foods found in and inspired by the always-awesome Parks & Recreation (may she rest in peace). There were Mac & Cheese Pizzas, Meat Tornadoes, Champion’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Birthday Biscuits, You Just Got JAMMED! Kolaches, and of course waffles galore.

One of these years, I’d love to do a His Dark Materials theme, but the pressure! It’s so intense! I want everyone to love Lyra and Will and Mary and Iorek as much as I do! I’d even settle for half as much. I feel like it’s my chance to introduce some vegans and veg-curious peeps to this amazing alternate universe, and I don’t want to screw it up.

Anyway. My point is: Pop culture and food? Totally my jam. Even though I thought it unlikely that I’d actually make anything from The Geeky Chef Cookbook – or at least precisely as directed – I suspected I might enjoy it anyway, maybe even come away with some new ideas and a list of recipes to veganize.

And it’s a really cute cookbook! A little on the short side, maybe, with a little more than 60 recipes, but lots of fun nonetheless. The recipes are loosely organized into seven categories: non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages; snacks and appetizers; soups and stews; entrees; cakes and cupcakes; and desserts.

Many recipes include a photos; however, since I was reading this on a Kindle, it’s difficult to really get a feel for the aesthetics of the physical book. I know that many cookbook aficionados prefer glossy pages and lush, mouthwatering photos; from where I sit, the book looks pretty text-heavy. That said, the Kindle version is quite usable: easy to browse, with no weird formatting issues, etc.

Reeder pulls her inspiration from a multitude of sources: books, movies, television shows, and video games. If you haven’t heard of a certain title, don’t despair: Reeder includes a brief synopsis of each piece of media – and the food’s place in it – in the recipe intro. While most of the source material only has one associated recipe, there is a little repetition (Star Trek, Legend of Zelda, and Harry Potter receive the most attention).

I made a little list, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity:

Adventure Time – 1
Avatar: The Last Airbender – 1
The Avengers – 1
Babylon 5 – 1
Battlestar Galactica – 1
Bioshock – 1
The Chronicles of Narnia – 1
A Clockwork Orange – 1
The Dark Tower – 1
Deadly Premonition – 1
Defiance – 1
Discworld – 1
Dr. Who – 1
Dragonriders of Pern – 1
Dune – 1
Earthbound – 1
The Elder Scrolls – 2
Firefly/Serenity – 2
Futurama – 2
Harry Potter – 4
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – 1
The Hunger Games – 2
Kingdom Hearts – 1
Legend of Zelda – 5
Lord of the Rings – 3
Mass Effect – 1
Minecraft – 1
Monkey Island – 1
Pokemon – 1
Portal – 1
Pulp Fiction – 1
Redwall – 1
Silent Hill – 1
A Song of Ice and Fire – 3
Soylent Green – 1
South Park – 1
Start Trek – 5
Star Wars – 1
Super Mario Brothers – 1
World of Warcraft – 1

I guess your feelings on the breakdown will depend largely on your fandom allegiances. I would have liked to see a little more variety, maybe limiting each book/show/video game to one recipe per and including a wider variety of media. I can’t lie, it severed ye ole daemon (just a touch!) to see His Dark Materials overlooked (marzipan! make something with marzipan!) while The Chronicles of Narnia made the cut. I was pleasantly surprised by some of literary references (The Dragonriders of Pern; The Dark Tower). Ditto: the television shows and movies that don’t immediately scream “geeky!” (South Park, Pulp Fiction).

There are also three “generic” recipes for blood (vampires), red potions (video games), and mead (misc. geek) that I thought were pretty fun and creative.

Happily, many of the recipes are easily veganized by swapping out the animal-derived ingredients for a vegan version. Exhibit A: I’ve already made my own version of the “Bacon Pancakes” without realizing their connection to Adventure Time – it’s as simple as taking your own favorite pancake recipe and throwing some pan-fried Lightlife bacon in there. Vegans even get a shout-out in “Blue Milk” – which basically sounds like a beautiful blue ice cream shake, btw.

Some of the entrees and soups and stews require a little more creativity, though; I’m not aware of a prepackaged, plant-based version of lamb (“Lamb Stew with Plums”), for example. And the “Big Kahuna Burger” involves making patties from scratch; I could probably adapt an existing quinoa cake recipe so that they include the appropriate seasonings and toppings, but that feels like too much work. Easier to start with a pre-made patty and use everything important as toppings.

Reeder cautions that some of the recipes include hard-to-find ingredients, but everything looked fairly normal to me. (Maybe our standards just differ, since I’m used to frequenting three different specialty stores and then combing the ‘net for everything I still can’t find.) The instructions are straightforward and nothing seems too terribly complicated, although some of the more involved recipes are best left to intermediate+ cooks – or beginners who are super-motivated and don’t mind getting their hands (and kitchens!) dirty.

(This review is also available on Library Thing and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , ,

Leave a Reply