May 18, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’ve shared many times over the years that I am a vegetarian, and recently I shared that I am also largely trying to avoid dairy and a lot of gluten too these days. I get a lot of questions that go something like, “Ok, so what do you eat then?” And the answer is lots of stuff! I’m working on shooting some more recipes and meal ideas for you in the coming months (stay tuned for one next week) so you can see what I mean, but in the meantime I asked my photography partner in-crime Alice to join forces with me to share our favorite cookbooks with you.
I am a mostly dairy-free vegetarian, who does eat eggs and a couple of times a year cheats with lobster or scallops. (I can’t resist the lobster, guys!) Alice is a former longtime pescetarian (meaning she ate dairy and fish, but no red meat or poultry) who as of a few years ago went pretty strictly vegan. Today we’re sharing our collective favorite [mostly] vegetarian cookbooks and vegan cookbooks with you! Whether you’re interested in moving toward a more plant-based diet, feel like you might like to eat less meat or just want to explore new cuisine, you’ll find some really good stuff here. This round-up includes a few very recently released books that are so amazing they make the list right away, and some old tried and true favorites that I refer to time and again.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
This is a big ol’ classic cookbook loaded with recipes that you’ll reference again and again. I call it a “classic” cookbook in the sense that is super thick (more than 2000 recipes) and features zero photographs, but it’s the type of cooking guide that is super handy to have in your kitchen. These days I don’t pull it out a lot, but I love that it goes far beyond your typical vegetarian fare covering everything from crepes to breads to condiments. (Read: Even if you’re not a vegetarian, this is a great cookbook to own!)
Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This vegan cookbook is Alice’s favorite and her endless love for this book inspired me to order a copy just this week. She swears by the raspberry scones recipe (which she often makes with blueberries and which I can attest to being so very good) and her meat-loving better half is a huge fan of the rosemary dumplings recipe. This is an ode to everyday comfort food (even chocolate chip cookies) done the vegan way. Think you couldn’t eat vegan? Think again, friends! This one will prove you wrong.
Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective
One of several cookbooks published by the folks behind the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, this cookbook is like an old friend of mine. Filled with seriously delicious, mostly vegetarian (there’s the occasional fish here or there) recipes, this particular cookbook pulls on various ethnic cooking traditions to serve up some insanely tasty and hearty fare, spanning everything from soups to risottos.
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
If you follow Heidi’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, you won’t be surprised by the simple yet delicious recipes featured in this cookbook, which I believe was her first. (She’s up to three or four now!) I purchased this book not too long after I officially made the leap into vegetarianism (previously I ate some poultry but had long since given up red meat), and it was really useful for learning how to prepare, cook and enjoy various whole food ingredients that are really healthful and delicious. Clean, easy and yummy is how it goes with this one.
Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Shultz
This book was just released a few weeks ago and it’s already a favorite! Again, if you’re familiar with Dana’s amazing food blog, Minimalist Baker, you’ll know what to expect here. We’re talking sincerely scrumptious plant-based and largely gluten-free recipes that will knock your socks off. This book brings you a bunch of everyday favorites with a vegan approach, and has quickly become a favorite of mine. (Those burgers on the cover? So crazy good even meat and potatoes loving boyfriend will love them!)
I Love My Slow Cooker by Beverly LeBlanc
While not necessarily vegetarian, Alice is a huge fan of this cookbook, a culinary homage to the slow cooker. (Plus, how cute is that cover?) Her top pick is the lentil dal, but there are also loads of other recipes that look amazing. You could easily adapt them to suit your particular eating habits if you tend toward meat-free living like we do or, hey meat lovers, heads up! This one is for you.
Mouthwatering Vegan by Miriam Sorrell
From appetizers and soups to dinner and dessert, this is another vegan cookbook gem that ranks high on Alice’s list. Featuring really beautiful food photography and a super helpful vegan pantry shopping list (so you can cook practically any dish on the fly), this is one of those cookbooks that will quickly become a go-to mainstay in your kitchen. By all accounts, the recipes here (developed by a food blogger who is also a gourmet vegan chef), will have everyone at your table drooling, even the non-vegans.
The Love & Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio
For a long time now Love & Lemons has been my absolute favorite food blog. Jeanine’s recipes are always fresh, bright and palate pleasing, so I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of her cookbook (released just a couple of months ago) immediately. The book is arranged by vegetable making it really easy to figure out how to make the most of the beautiful bunch of asparagus you picked up at the market on a whim or the huge thing of kale that came in your CSA share this week. Plus, the book itself is one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen, with photography and page layouts that are seriously unrivaled. Buy this book, guys. It is so so damn good.
Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz + Terry Hope Romero
Another tome penned by the same crazy talented lady behind Isa Does It, this book is like a crash course in veganism. I ordered it on Amazon a handful of years ago as I was learning more and more about vegetarian and vegan cuisine and wanted something that would inspire me to cook new dishes and play with new flavors. This book delivered! It’s another classic in the sense that it’s 250+ recipes strong with very few photographs (think Joy of Cooking only vegan and much more modern), but it’s also a classic in that it’s a book you’ll never tire of flipping through when you just feel like making something for dinner on a lazy Sunday.
And there you have it! Our short list of much loved cookbooks, which doesn’t even scratch the surface of those I am longing after and have yet to purchase. Am I the only one who has something akin to “collect all the cookbooks” near the top of their bucket list? I can’t get enough. (Bob says it’s a problem. I say he’s wrong.) So hit me up! What are your favorite cookbooks? I’d love to check them out!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
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May 16, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
Happy Monday, friends! The countdown is on until Thursday when I catch a flight and head off to meet up with my lil’ sister for her bachelorette weekend getaway in Key West. Hip hip hooray! Yes, I have a full blown house renovation in progress. Yes, I have a six month old. Yes, I have to move our entire house in less than two weeks time. Am I crazy? Absolutely 100% yes. But we’ve been planning this trip for months so a bag I must pack (haven’t even started that yet) and a bachelorette weekend we shall have. There are eleven of us ladies in all meeting up from all up and down the east coast. We have a killer Airbnb situation all lined up and we basically have a relaxing weekend of pool lounging and champagne drinking all planned out. This is the type of bachelorette party that shall be sans all the genitalia, crowns and sashes, but we do still plan to make sure that our girls-only getaway is done right so today I’m sharing my picks for the ultimate beachy bachelorette weekend essentials!
My suitcase is going to be 90% filled with maxi dresses. If ever a town were made for a good maxi dress, it’s Key West. Plus, Birkenstocks. Comfy, walking-friendly sandals are a must. (Sorry, heels, you’re probably staying home.) There may or may not be a giant pool float making the voyage with us and lest I should give away any surprises to my sneaky sister who is undoubtedly reading this, I’ll leave it at that. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of our trip with my travel hashtag #tsotravels on Instagram and in the meantime you can check out my mini Key West travel guide if you’re in need of a tropical getaway, too.
Champagne campaign tank | Hangover kit | Love potion koozie | Sofia champagne in a can | Flamingo pool float | Heart shaped sunglasses | Bachelorette temporary tattoos| Victoria’s Secret lipgloss | Shot glasses | Fujifilm Instax camera | Patterned maxi dress |
May 12, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
To say that this post today has been a long time in coming would be a complete understatement. On so many levels. To sit down to share these photos and this experience with you is nearly impossible to capture in words. It feels pretty monumental, if I’m perfectly honest. So I’m just going to say it as simply as possible. WE OWN A HOUSE! All caps and probably far more exclamation points are absolutely required. On Monday morning, we woke up early, danced a little jig over our morning coffee, visited the bank for a big cashier’s check and went off to our closing with more than a few butterflies in both of our stomachs. By noon we were the very emotional, very proud owners of one very old, very beautiful home. Today I want to share the first of many photos to come with you, complete with the soon-to-be evicted forty year old blue carpet. Later this afternoon (probably around 2 or 3pm east coast time) I am going to do a live tour on Snapchat if you want to join in for that! You can follow me there with username cydconverse if you want to get a feel of the space and the current condition with an actual walk-through. In the meantime, click through for loads of photos so you can see what we’re working with! We will be making updates for years to come, I’m sure, and honestly, I could not be more thrilled to own a whole lot of ugly carpet and one awesomely dated kitchen, last renovated in 1960. This is actually my dream house on every level and I am overcome with a lot of sappy emotions knowing our family will be living here soon.
May 11, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
A few weeks ago, Bob and I were able to sneak off for a little getaway in Lake Placid while the baby had a weekend play date at Grandma and Papa’s house. (Yes, it was my first time leaving her. Yes, it was both difficult and amazing. So there’s that.) If you aren’t familiar with Lake Placid, it’s a little village in the Adirondack mountains and home to both the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic games. Perhaps this is why the entire town seems to be obsessed with Moscow mules? I’m guessing they made their appearance during the Sochi games when they seemed to be popping up everywhere and considering Lake Placid is the ultimate weekend destination for any Olympic enthusiast, I’m not in the least surprised that the mule is living strong in that little mountain town.
All of that said, we encountered all varieties of mules that weekend, Bob’s first foray into mule sipping, and when we got home I wanted to try my hand at recreating one of our favorites – the grapefruit Moscow mule! The basis here is simple. You need grapefruit vodka, ginger beer and fresh grapefruit, with the addition of a little simple syrup if you prefer a sweeter drink. That’s it, friends. If you can, take things up a notch with a really high quality ginger beer (I prefer the bite of Fever Tree) and a super flavorful vodka (the Deep Eddy Ruby Red is insanely good.) From there, it’s all about loads of ice and those copper mugs if you have them (which makes things extra icy cold), or a pretty glass if you don’t. (TJMaxx and Marshall’s always carry mugs these days if you want to snag a couple!)
Grapefruit Moscow Mule
Makes 1 serving
- 2 oz grapefruit vodka
- 4 oz ginger beer
- fresh grapefruit
- simple syrup to taste (optional)
Muddle a slice of grapefruit in the bottom of a mug or glass. If you prefer a sweeter drink, add simple syrup to taste before muddling. Fill the mug with crushed ice, then add the grapefruit vodka and ginger beer, stirring gently before sipping. Garnish with an extra wedge of grapefruit and enjoy!
I love a good Moscow mule because they are simple, very unfussy to mix, but taste so amazingly refreshing. They’re made for summer sipping if you ask me! The copper mug, while not strictly necessary, really does lend something extra special to the drink because (a) they look cool, and (b) they keep everything frosty cold, which is perfect for a hot, sunny day. We have every intention of packing our mule mugs with us when we go on our big annual camping trip this year. Don’t judge.
If you want to serve up a bunch at a party, I think this grapefruit mule is a perfect pitcher drink! You can mix up a huge batch right before guests show up and let them self serve with mugs and an ice bucket at the ready. They’re perfect for drinking at a backyard barbecue or kicking off happy hour on a sunny day. Basically, all the mules, all the time. Please and thank you.
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
May 10, 2016 | by Cyd Converse
I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately. Way more than average. (You know, trying to be fit and healthy and all that jazz.) And even though I have a serious love affair with salads, I think I’ve officially burned myself right out on the standard varietal. So today I’m on the hunt for the ultimate salad inspiration and I wanted to share a handful of recipes with you, in case you need to shake up your veggie consumption game, too. Here we’re talking about 10 perfect summer salads that are worthy of entree status. Salad for dinner is one of my favorite weeknight meals, but these salads are anything but ordinary. Get to pinning, friends!
p.s. We bought a house yesterday! Stay tuned later in the week for all of the before photos (which I’m shooting later today), and all of the details now that we are officially homeowners. Hooray!
1. Candied walnut and pear salad with poppyseed dressing [above]
2. Roasted carrot and lentil salad with radishes and tahini sauce
3. Vegetarian taco salad
4. Arugula kale reggiano salad
5. Kale caesar pasta salad
6. Green goddess quinoa summer salad
7. Kale salad bowl with sweet potatoes
8. Cajun shrimp po boy salad with avocado tarter sauce
9. Zucchini and squash ribbons salad with tomatoes, peas, corn and goat cheese
10. Crunchy taco kale salad