Tassajara Cookbook

Mrs. Homegrown here:

A quick cookbook review for ya’ll. I’m having lots of fun with the Tassajara Cookbook which I have out from the library. So much fun that I’m considering buying it. Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a Buddhist monestery here in California. This book is based on their famous bagged lunch offerings for their guests. This means it’s all picnic/finger food sort of stuff. This suits me fine because summer is here, and I like making meals that require chopping rather than cooking, and that keep well in the fridge.

I love the simplicity, the pure pleasure and endless variety, of chips n’ dips, bruschetta, tapas, mezza… I could live entirely on appetizers and finger foods. This is why I like this book so much. Mr. Homegrown is not as happy–he’s a more of a three-square meal a day sort of guy. But he’s surviving, because for now, in the heat, he’d rather scoop up pesto with crudités than break down and cook.

This book is vegetarian, with plenty o’ vegan recipes. It focuses very much on spreads, dips, pestos, tapenades, sandwich fillings–that sort of thing, as well as various composed salads. It also has a large cookie section, which I’ve not allowed myself to explore yet. The tone of the food is cheerfully high end California hippie: healthy, vibrant, and heavy on the nuts. (No, that’s not a California joke!).

I was surprised by all the haters at Amazon when I checked the reviews of this book. The primary objections are that it’s 1) all snacky stuff–to which I answer they should read the cover and 2) that it’s poorly edited–to which I answer it hasn’t bothered me yet. For instance, if the recipe says preheat the oven at the start, and then goes on to say something has to marinate for two hours before it bakes, I’m not going to blow a gasket. I’ll just hunker down and ponder my way out of that deeply confusing situation.

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7 Comments

  1. Most of the other Tassajara cookbooks are by Edward Espe Brown (the classic Tassajara books, anyway); I wonder if that has anything to do with it. But they’re also by different publishers, and I’m finding that publishers make all the difference in a book’s character and usability…

  2. thanks for the cookbook review. i wanted to add – an Argentine baker tipped me off to the Tassajara Bread book while I was WWOOFing at his place. I love the book, and the classic bread recipe (minus the dried milk and eggs) has become a warm staple in my home. peace y abrazos. And thanks for the great blog

  3. Tapas, bruschettas, finger foods, snacks–all just small versions of fuller meals. I must eat often because of hypoglycemia that plagues my days. So, this all works for me. As for preheating then marinating for hours, I always read a recipe through before doing anything. Yes, I waste a few minutes familiarizing myself with the recipe. If a person reads the recipe prior to starting the dish, it should not take many brain cells NOT to turn on the oven first thing. Yes, lol…that is deeply confusing. The reviewers probably have never cooked before and are just confused by all recipes!

  4. Last night we went to a friends house for dinner and I brought the dip. My husband made blueberry cheese cake. I think we will be happy to have the leftover for our dinner tonight. No cooking tonight!

  5. Thank you for the recommendation. My mother and stepfather are buddhist/vegetarian and both enjoy being creative with food. I think they’ll be getting this book as a present at some point (and then I’ll be copying recipes out of it).

  6. “For instance, if the recipe says preheat the oven at the start, and then goes on to say something has to marinate for two hours before it bakes, I’m not going to blow a gasket. I’ll just hunker down and ponder my way out of that deeply confusing situation.”

    This quote caused me to chortle out loud. Thanks. I will refer to the inspiration of “I’ll just hunker down and ponder my way out of that deeply confusing situation” perhaps daily. It might just merit a kitchen plaque or sharpie written dishtowel because I’ll never embroider it. But I hope to live it.

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