Cookbook Review: Cookin’ Up a Storm, Laura Dakin (2015)

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Vegan Eats with a Side of Direct Action

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

Laura Dakin runs the galley on the Steve Irwin, one of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling vessels. In Cookin’ Up a Storm, Dakin shares her culinary secrets, as well as humorous and informative accounts of a life spent at sea, protecting whales, seals, turtles, sharks, and dolphins.

If you’re saying to yourself that I own more than enough cookbooks by now, you’re probably right. Totally right actually. But I just can’t help myself! Also, Cookin’ Up a Storm is unlike any other vegan cookbook I’ve seen, in that it’s as much a chronicle of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns as it is a cookbook. There are tons of photos of marine life; interviews with the crew; sailing terminology; and a glimpse of everyday life on board the Steve Irwin.

These recipes are eighty of Dakin’s favorites, which she regularly dishes up for a crew of fifty, using items that can easily be stored in the ship’s pantry. This makes for some interesting sea-faring substitutions; for example, the obligatory tofu scramble swaps out refrigerated tofu for shelf-stable silken tofu. (Excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, but here it makes for an unusual scramble that’s similar in consistency to egg salad.)

The cookbook is divided into seven parts, with sections dedicated to morning starters; soups; mains; salads and sides; sauces, spreads, and condiments; breads; and sweets and treats. From a warm and cozy Sea Shepherd’s Pie to meaty Sailors’ Delight Sausages and savory Boatload of Butternut Caponata, Dakin’s got her crew covered.

In case you hadn’t caught on, many of the recipes have nautical and/or activist-inspired names, which is kind of fun and furthers the “eating at sea” theme.

In preparation for this review, I tried the following recipes:

(More below the fold…)

Big Boat Banana Bread

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

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Banana bread is pretty much my favorite use for overripe bananas – except MAYBE for banana bread banana ice cream! – so when I saw the Big Boat Banana Bread in Cookin’ Up a Storm, I knew it was just a matter of time before I tried it. Time to remember to pick up a bunch of bananas, wait for them to properly brown – while also not eating them in the interim – and then bake ’em instead of slicing ’em up for future ice cream. It took me at least three tries before I got it right, you guys. The instinct to turn ALL THE BANANAS into ice cream is strong.

The end result turned out quite tasty, though procuring bananas wasn’t the only misstep I encountered along the way. Exhibit B: The recommended bake time for this bread, which is 25 to 30 minutes. Considering that banana bread normally takes ~an hour to bake, I had my doubts. Actually I thought it was a typo but whatever. I checked as directed at 25 and 30 minutes, and to no one’s surprise, the batter was still wiggly and jiggly – not even close to done. After that I let it go for a half hour and then started checking on it every ten minutes or so. Ultimately I let it bake for 90 MINUTES before the toothpick came out clean. Even then, the bottom quarter of the loaf remained a little undercooked, as I discovered when I cut it open. (You can kinda sorta see what I’m talking about in the last picture.)

Also. This recipe makes enough batter to almost completely fill a 9″x5″ loaf pan. I wasn’t even sure it’d all fit! Anyway, it’s by far the thickest loaf I’ve ever made; I bet if I were to divide the batter between two loaf pans, it’d bake more quickly and evenly.

On the plus side, I am hella glad I lined the pan with parchment paper as directed. I hate hate hate trying to cram and jam parchment paper into deep pans, but it totally paid off here. While the lower portion of the crust ended up thicker than normal, the paper kept it from burning outright.

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Also awesome: The topping, which is an even mix of brown sugar, rolled oats, and crushed almonds (I used almond meal/flour). Even if I never make this exact recipe again, I WILL carry the topping over to other banana breads.

The bread itself is tasty enough, though a little plain; I think some walnuts or chocolate chips could work wonders with it.

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The center seemed to firm up a bit overnight, and it only got better when toasted. I reheated a slice in the toaster oven – about ten minutes at 350F – and it seemed a little closer to done after that. A little pat of margarine added with an extra minute to melt it = pure bliss. And a thick slice is actually hearty enough that it filled me up for an entire meal.

There’s a second recipe (Chocolate-Banana Fudge Cake) utilizing brown bananas that I’m curious to try, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it before writing a review. It took me a month just to get the bananas together for this recipe!

Apple and Potato Oven Fries

Monday, June 29th, 2015

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From Cookin’ Up a Storm, natch.

I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical of the pairing of apples and potatoes in a french fry medium. But it totally works! Sure, so maybe the apples get a little mushy when baked; but thanks to the sugar, the outsides caramelize a tiny bit. Not crunchy, exactly, but kind of french fry-ish.

The recipe calls for five potatoes and two apples, giving it an almost 2:1 potato:apple ratio. Since that serves way more than two people – plus generates more potato and apple wedges than will even fit in my dinky little oven – I halved it, kind of. Two large potatoes, one apple. So a true 2:1 here.

I wasn’t sure what to use for a dipping sauce – Dakin recommends lemon wedges to garnish, but I used concentrated lemon juice – so I put some ketchup on the side and only dunked the potato fries. The apples I ate semi-separately, kind of like a sweet kick in between the tomato-covered potatoes. It sounds weird but worked out really well!

Served with leftover pizza for minimum effort. (Hey, we’d just gotten back from walking the dogs, okay.)

Cookin’ Up a Storm with Laura Dakin – and Red Lentil, Lemon, and Rosemary Soup!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

2015-04-25 - Cookin' Up a Storm - 0001 [flickr]

I don’t think it arrived in time to make it into my last Stacking the Shelves post, but I recently received a copy of Laura Dakin’s Cookin’ Up a Storm: Sea Stories and Vegan Recipes from Sea Shepherd’s Anti-Whaling Campaigns for review. (Thank you, Goodreads & Book Publishing Company!)

Initial thoughts: If you’re saying to yourself that I own more than enough cookbooks by now, you’re probably right. Totally right actually. But I just can’t help myself! Also, Cookin’ Up a Storm is unlike any other vegan cookbook I’ve seen, in that it’s as much a chronicle of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns as it is a cookbook. There are tons of photos of marine life; interviews with the crew; sailing terminology; and a glimpse of everyday life on board the Steve Irwin.

These recipes are eighty of Dakin’s favorites, which she regularly dishes up for a crew of fifty, using items that can easily be stored in the ship’s pantry. This makes for some interesting sea-faring substitutions; for example, the obligatory tofu scramble swaps out refrigerated tofu for shelf-stable silken tofu. Given that excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, I’m really curious to see how this one turns out.

Also on my radar: the Vegetable Crumble (I’ve tried a million fruit crumbles, but not a single veggie-based one!); Sailor’s Delight Sausages (that’ll be Shane’s job, he’s the seitan man in our house); Rockin’ the Boat Risotto; Lemon-Garlic Green Beans; Boatload of Butternut Caponata; Big Boat Banana Bread; and the Apple and Potato Oven Fries. Oh, and all the breakfast foods, of course.

In case you hadn’t caught on, many of the recipes have nautical and/or activist-inspired names, which is kind of fun and furthers the “eating at sea” theme.

The cookbook isn’t terribly thick, but it is gorgeous and a bit different from the usual. And given the difficulties of cooking at sea, the recipes are well-suited for beginning cooks; you won’t find any complicated, multi-step recipes or uncommon ingredients here. Give it to a non-vegan fan of Whale Wars for some guerrilla activism. (As Dakin notes, while Sea Shepherd isn’t an animal rights organization, it is one of the few environmental groups that recognizes the importance of a vegan diet in combating a whole host of environmental issues.)

2015-05-01 - CUS Red Lentil & Lemon Soup - 0002 [flickr]

So. The first recipe on deck: Red Lentil, Lemon, and Rosemary Soup. Mostly because it’s super-easy to make and I already had all the ingredients on hand. Also, I love soup.

And I loved this soup! It’s hearty, comes together in a snap, doesn’t require very many ingredients (and nothing that demands much prep), and the pairing of lemon and rosemary is THE BEST. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

2015-05-01 - CUS Red Lentil & Lemon Soup - 0003 [flickr]

Whale Wars, Season 2

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

…started last Friday on Animal Planet. (And yes, I’m way behind on my email, thanks for asking.)

I must admit to never watching Whale Wars; while, one the one hand, I recognize the need to support animal-friendly programming such as WW, I really can’t bring myself to watch the more graphic, gruesome stuff. I already know what a bloody, needless mess whaling is – no need to voluntarily witness footage of such, thus giving myself a week’s worth of nightmares.

That said, many thanks everyone who does tune in to these kind of shows, thus helping to keep them on the air!

Anyhow, Matt from Animal Planet provided links to several news season 2 Whale Wars videos on You Tube.

The Season 2 trailer is relatively blood-free, save for a brief shot of a whale being harpooned and pulled towards a whaling ship:
 


 

(More below the fold…)

Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

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Very minor spoilers ahead.

I’m a few months late on this – for some inexplicable reason, my DVR “forgot” to record this Very Special episode of CSI, and for an even more inexplicable reason, it took the Mr. and I months to notice – but in the interest of closure, I just have to mention it anyway.

Early on in Season 9 of CSI, vegetarian and animal advocate Jorja Fox left the show; a few weeks after her departure, the writers dropped a subtle hint that her character, Sarah Sidle, had joined up with Paul Watson and his band of sometimes-merry eco-terrorist pirates at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (if you’re not a regular visitor to Sea Shepherd’s website, you probably would have missed the URL).

Fast-forward a few months, to the Season 9 episode “One to Go” (9×10). Sarah’s on-again, off-again, is-he-her-fiance-or-isn’t-he? love interest, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is quitting CSI as well. Most of the episode focuses on Grissom’s last case with Las Vegas CSI, and also serves to introduce Gil’s replacement, Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne!?).

However, in the last few minutes, we see Grissom

walk the halls smiling to himself as he looks in each room at the lab and sees Brass, Hodges and Wendy, other CSIs, Robbins and Riley, Stokes and Greg. He catches Catherine’s eye in one room and she winks at him. He smiles broadly and turns and walks away. The screen blurs, fades to white and cuts to Grissom wandering a jungle, dressed in a hat and sweaty gear examining a GPS marked Costa Rica. His eyes light on a bug for a moment. He walks into a clearing where a woman, whose back is to the camera, is taking a picture of a monkey in a tree. The woman turns and it’s Sara (Jorja Fox). They take each other in for a moment and then embrace and kiss, passionately.

As Cindy pointed out in the comments to a previous post, Sarah mentioned in an earlier episode that she planned to travel to the Galapagos; and indeed, Sea Shepherd’s activities include an effort to save the Galapagos, so that’s probably where she was (or was heading) when we saw her email Grissom. So why on earth are the two now in Costa Rica, hmmmm?

(More below the fold…)

Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Update, 11/22/08: Looks like Daryl Hannah is joining the crew, too!

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On yesterday’s episode of CSI (“Leave Out All the Rest“), recently departed CSI Sara Sidle sends Gil Grissom a .mov file -slash- Dear John “letter” over the internets. Look closely, and you can briefly see her email address flash across the screen: info@seashepherd.org. ZOMG! Sara is sailing with the crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society!

Of her adventure with Captain Paul Watson and his band of anti-whaling pirates, Sara says,

Hello from below the equator, in Puerto Ayora. We’ve been at sea for over a month now. Man, you wouldn’t believe the crew – students, activists, scientists – the dinner conversations alone are mindblowing. And there’s even this marine biologist that reminds me a little bit of you. I wish that we could talk in person but this is the best that I can do. I want to apologize for being out of touch. I’ve been thinking about us a lot, though, all the moments. I thought we could survive anything. This trip has given me a lot of clarity. That last year in Vegas, I could barely breathe, let alone think but now, for the first time in a really long time, I’m happy.

When actress Jorja Fox – the vegetarian and PETA supporter who plays Sara Sidle – left CSI last season, I was afraid it would be the end of CSI’s animal-friendly plotlines. In the past, they’ve dealt with canned hunting involving discarded zoo animals, dog fighting, factory farming and chicken slaughter, and Sara’s vegetarianism, of course. The show has been honored by the HSUS’s Genesis Awards for its compassionate storylines; in a multi-episode plotline, Danny Bonaduce played an aging rock star/animal welfare crusader, who targeted said slaughterhouse in a PETA-like PSA.

Given that Jorja Fox is the high-profile veg*n on CSI’s set, I assumed that she was the driving force behind these stories. I wonder whether she managed to convert any of her co-workers, or if one/some of the writers also just happen to be interested in animal advocacy on their own?

Either way, I think it’s totally awesome that Sara Sidle has defected – from Crime Scene Investigator to international, sea-faring, anti-whaling, activist-pirate-terrorist. Welcome to the dark green side, Sara. Just be careful who you extend your vegan potluck invites to.

Keep up with Sara and the crew through Whale Wars, now airing on Animal Planet (Fridays at 9PM).

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Tagged:

Kinship Circle: Whale Wars: 11/7 – Watch It. Do Something.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 6:59 PM
Subject: Whale Wars: 11/7 – Watch It. Do Something.

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST

11/7/08: Whale Wars – On Animal Planet – Don’t Miss It!

Only one group stands between a 750-ton whale-killing machine and its prey…and you know who that is:

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PREMIERS FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 9:00 PM, ET/PT
Check local listings for time in your area.
Info, photos + sneak peak: http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/

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Animal Planet Follows the Crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to the Bottom of the World in the New TV Series, Whale Wars

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

During Sea Shepherd’s Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Migaloo in 2007/08, Animal Planet had a camera crew on board a campaign that saved nearly 500 whales, leaving the Japanese fleet with less then half their quota and costing them tens of millions of dollars. This new seven-part, hour-long weekly series follows the crew of the Sea Shepherd vessel, Steve Irwin as they use non-violent direct action techniques…in an effort to shut down the illegal Japanese whaling fleet and enforce international conservation law… READ MORE: http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-081002-1.html

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(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: ACT NOW To Free Captured Sea Shepherd Crew Members

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

UPDATE, 1/19/08:

Just read on Green Is The New Red that the two captured Sea Shepherd crew members have been released, relatively unharmed.

Here’s Will with the details:

Two anti-whaling activists that have been held hostage by Japanese whalers were released today, after the Australian government intervened. […]

Benjamin Potts, 28, and Giles Lane, 35, were transferred to an Australian vessel, the Oceanic Viking. According to a statement (and the video above), they were roughed up a bit when they boarded but otherwise weren’t harmed.

Gabriel Gonzalez, a spokesman for The Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo (the whalers, gotta love the misleading name) told The Telegraph that the two were initially tied up because they might have been carrying bombs or weapons.

“This is a terrorist organisation, let us be clear of that, and if they respond with aggressive tactics, who knows what might happen,” he said.

So let’s get this all straight. Two activists board a ship, with a letter of intent, because the whalers refused to respond to radio communications. Whalers rough them up, tie them up, and then Yasuaki Sasaki, the captain, makes a series of demands, including activists must stop filming the whalers’ activities and not come within 10 nautical miles of the whaling ship.

But the anti-whaling advocates are the terrorists?

Indeed.

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(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Sea Shepherd heads for Antarctica — Brisbane’s Courier Mail, 24 November, 2006

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Nov 25, 2006 9:47 PM
Subject: Dawnwatch: Sea Shepherd heads for Antarctica — Brisbane’s Courier Mail, 24 November, 2006

The Sea Shepherd team doing their best to defend whales in Antarctica, and Brisbane’s Courier Mail (Australia) has run a terrific article, by Phil Bartsch, about the effort. It appeared in the Friday, November 24 edition of the paper headed, “To war over whales.”

It opens:

“Blood is about to be spilled into the icy blue waters off Antarctica again – much of it within the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

“But not if Captain Paul Watson can help prevent it.

“‘What’s the point of having a whale sanctuary if you can kill whales in it?’ argues the controversial founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

“‘I’m not going to stand around and do nothing and watch these magnificent creatures being slaughtered. The time for conferences and meetings and mail-outs and petitions is over.'”

(More below the fold…)