Cook Book Review: Crock Pot Essentials 101 Recipes to Make with Your Slow Cooker, written by Anne Schaeffer

I had just bought a CrockPot Express second hand, and I was browsing through Netgalley’s offers on “read it now” cookbooks for slow cookers. It didn’t take long before I found the book Crock Pot Essentials 101 Recipes to Make with Your Slow Cooker, by Anne Schaeffer, and decided to give it a go. This is clearly not a vegan cookbook, but I thought that there might be recipes I could “veganise”. As I’ve mentioned before, I mainly use cookbooks for inspiration, and I thought that I could at least learn something about how to use my new device.

A tablet laying flat on top of a shawl, showing a tablet with the cover of the cookbook.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

The beginning of the book started with how to calculate measurements. Fair enough, but not something I care too much about on a day to day basis. There were also a couple of pages on food safety, but after skimming through, I quickly saw it mainly concerned meat (yet another reason for eating plants?).

The book is really quite organised. It has sections for different recipes. It even has one for “meals for two”, which I thought was quite neat. The first section of the book is the section for soups and stews, which I think is a good choice. The slow cooker is perfect for these kinds of recipes! Also, in-between the main recipes there are recipes called “Delicious Due”, that contains recipes with side dishes or similar that goes well with the main dish.

There are a few recipes that are marked “vegetarian”, but I found at least one recipe that was marked incorrectly: It was a chicken soup recipe. I think this must have been a glitch, though, and I hope that this is corrected in the final version of the book. There was also supposed to be an index at the end of the book, but that seems not to have been included in this ARC.

A picture illustrating a chicken soup recipe being labelled as "vegetarian".
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup being marked as “vegetarian”.

I found quite a few recipes I think can be easily veganised, or that inspire me to make something vegan that similar. This book worked well, even for me who have never used a slow cooker before in my life.

Cook Book Review: Vegan Vietnamese – Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Enjoy Every Day, written by Helen Le

The cover of a cookbook. I can’t deny it: I’m a sucker for vegan Vietnamese food. Actually, one of my favourite take-away restaurants is Eat Happy Vegan here in Oslo, Norway. When Netgalley offered the cookbook Vegan Vietnamese – Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Enjoy Every Day, written by Helen Le, to review, I was not hard to ask. I had no knowledge of Helen Le before seeing the book on Netgalley, and had no knowledge of who she was or what she did.

I quickly learned that Helen Le is the creator of a popular Vietnamese cooking channel on YouTube called Helen’s Recipes. So before even looking at the recipes I wanted to check out her channel. It turned out that her channel is not at all vegan, and she’s not a vegan herself. This normally turns me a bit sceptical towards someone’s cookbook, but I decided to check it out with an open mind.

I use cookbooks mainly for inspiration, and hardly ever follow recipes. Though the book was nice enough looking, I never felt like any of the recipes pushed me to cook anything. I kept thinking “I should probably find a recipe and make something like it”, but I never did. Also, in my opinion, it was quite clear that it was made by a meat eater. It had lots of potential, but for me it didn’t make the right fit. I’m sure others, especially meat eaters looking into cutting down on their meat, will find it helpful. It for sure has it’s audience, I’m unfortunately not among them.

Book Review: The Weaver and the Witch King, written by Genevieve Gornichec

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Earlier this year I read The Witch’s Heart, written by Genevieve Gornichec,and fell head over heels in love with it. When I was asked if I wanted an ARC, of course I was all «Yes, please!» I was quite excited when it arrived, to say the least. The book is published today, 25 July 2023.

The book The Weaver and the Witch King leaning against the trunk of a tree
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

The Weaver and the Witch King is historical fantasy, and it’s based on the Viking age in Norway with a (heavy) sprinkle of magic. The two main characters are Oddny, a quiet woman who lives a peaceful life devoted to healing others, and Gunnhild, the witch who ran away as child because she wanted to learn magic and who want power. They have know each other since childhood, and they were very young when they took a blood oath.

One day Viking raiders attack Oddny’s family’s farm. They kill her mother, Yrsa, and kidnaps her sister, Signy. Oddny barely escapes, just saved by a bird who attacks her kidnapper. The bird is no other than Gunnhild in bird’s form. True to her childhood oath to Oddny and Signy, she and Oddny sets out on a journey in the hopes to save the kidnapped sister.

As a Norwegian, it’s always interesting to see if an author is able to do our proud history justice, and I must say I think Gornichec absolutely does so. There’s clear that she’s done her research. An example of this is the story about King Harald, who was madly in love with Gyda and wanted to marry her. She said that she would only do so if Harald could collect all of Norway into one kingdom. He set out to do this, and never cut his hair nor beard before he was done, and Gyda accepted the offer of marriage. This is mentioned in the book, as well as the fact he was known to bed women wherever he went. (Which resulted in most Norwegians being a descendant of King Harald, yours truly included).

You can’t help but fall in love with the characters of the book, even though they’re far from perfect. They seem very realistic and human.

I think the book is very well written, and I absolutely loved reading the story, and am hoping Genevieve Gornichec will not stop writing books based on the Vikings and their myths.

Graphic Novel Review: Paper Planes, by Jennie Wood (writer), Dozerdraws (artist), and Micah Myers (lettering)

I was given this digital copy of «Paper Planes», by Jennie Wood (writer), Dozerdraws (artist), and Micah Myers (lettering), from NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.

A tablet with the cover picture of Paper Plans is laying flat on a table with a white table cloth. Over it is a grey shawl, and over at the right corner is a paper plane. To the left is a white candle on a silver candle stand.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2023

Leighton and Dylan are best friends, and spend all their time together. After an incident, they have to spend the summer at a camp for troubled youth, and they both need to get a positive evaluation at the end not to be sent to an «alternative high school». They both try to figure out who they really are, and they need to explore their friendship.

This was such a lovely story to read. I loved the illustrations, and how Dozerdraws has used different colouring to display different aspects of time. I also enjoyed the diversity of characters, and I can mention that Dylan is non-binary, and Leighton is ace.

This was my second read for the Trans Rights Readathon. The graphic novel is due to be published 16 May 2023.

Cook Book Review: Nourishing Vegan Every Day, by Amy Lanza

Becoming a vegan was a long journey for me, quitting all meat but seafood and becoming a pescetarian in April 1996, and then going vegetarian in 2012. I think it was in October or November in 2015 I decided to go “semi vegan”, as in eating vegan at home and vegetarian if I went out or visiting people. I failed going “semi vegan” pretty quickly, though, as I guess this opened up my eyes to how the dairy and egg industry actually worked. I wasn’t able to close my eyes any more, nor turn my back to the cruelty that I saw. I chose vegan for Christmas/Yule/midwinter (or whatever you want to call it), and lot long after I went fully vegan, both inside and outside my home. I have never regretted that choice.

A tablet laying on a red blanket. On the screen you can see the cover of the book "Nourishing Vegan Every Day" by Amy Lanza.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Even though I’ve been vegan for about seven years now, I had never heard about Nourishing Amy, or Amy Lanza, before. Not until I picked up their new cookbook, Nourishing Vegan Every Day, on NetGalley. I knew instantly that I wanted to have a closer look at this book that NetGalley offered as a “read now”, as I love cookbooks. I mainly use them for inspiration, but I’m definitively open to try out a recipe or two (though I feel free to tweak them). The book will be published 3 January 2023.

This cookbook is even good for beginners, with its explanations of some terms in the beginning. Personally, having cooked vegan for many years (even before going vegan myself), I skipped this part. I appreciated the few American-English conversions, though (I didn’t know arugula was the same as rocket!)

The book has seven main parts or “chapters”: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Sweets, and Celebrations. For me (a Norwegian), most of the lunch recipes could just as well have been dinners, but that’s just me being Norwegian and nitpicking. In general, the recipes are pretty basic, vegan dishes. Nothing wrong with that, and I think it’s really good if you’re brand new to cooking plant-based food.

One think I’m always worried about when it comes to vegan cookbooks, is if the dinners have no protein. A dinner that lacks a good source of protein mostly leave me very unsatisfied afterwards, and I get hungry again shortly after. Fortunately, this cookbook has plenty of recipes with tofu, chickpeas, and other legumes, and the recipes that don’t can easily be adjusted by adding some.

The book has a really nice layout, and the photos are appetizing. This cookbook can absolutely be recommended for any vegan, or anyone who wants to eat more plantbased.

Ingvild Koksvik at Naustet

Last Friday the Norwegian singer/songwriter Ingvild Koksvik released her new album Mørketidssanger. The album has new songs with her familiar melancholic sound, which I love so much.

A little while ago she announced that her release tour would start Tuesday 11 October 2022, and the first gig would be held at Naustet at SALT here in Oslo.

A woman holding a microphone, singing into it. Behind her is a pianist playing the piano, and a guitarist playing the guitar.
Ingvild Koksvik at Nausted, 11 October 2022.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

This was Ingvild Koksvik’s first concert in a good while, and the first time I’d heard her live since I saw her at Time stasjon in Bryne in 2013.

Nausted was a small venu, and really cozy. The only negative thing about it was that it should have been better insulated. We could hear the music being played over the loudspeakers outside. That being said, I really enjoyed the beautiful music. It was a magical time, and I just wish it had lasted longer!