Thug Kitchen Cookbook Review

The best &$(%&# cookbook in the *%&#)$ #&%)#*&$ world!

Please excuse the profanity, but in this case I feel it is appropriate to describe my new favorite cookbooks. If the profanity didn’t give it away, I am talking about the Thug Kitchen series of cookbooks. At best I am a reluctant cook, forced into duty by my family, making basic meals commonly found in 1950 kitchens. For a number of reasons (there are some very compelling reasons that I won’t get into here, just google it), we have been trying to cut out meat for about half our dinners. Reducing meat consumption sounds easy, but it’s definitely not just not omitting the meat portion of the meal and serving as usual, but substituting alternate protein sources in place of the meat.

When it comes to these vegetarian meals I started out with a standard repertoire meals: stir fry related (mixed sautéed veggies over rice/quinoa/potatoes), burrito related (this can be anything wrapped in a tortilla), and omelets. Searching the internet for inspiration generally left me feeling inadequate; most of the recipes I found were complicated and had hard to find ingredients. But, the internet came through in the end and I saw the Thug Kitchen series mentioned on a fitness trainers fb page I frequent. The premise sounded intriguing, but to avoid jumping in and buying them outright, I cheated and checked them out of the library to make sure they would work for my family and cooking style.

The books are called Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F$@k; TK-Party Grub and TK 101-Fast as F&-K. As you can tell by the F bomb blurred out in the title, these books have a lot of swearing (I mean a lot, like every third word) so if you are cooking with children who can read, probably not the best source for vegan recipes.

Another nice part of each of the books is the “how to” aspect, they discuss how to cook basic beans, rice, quinoa, millet, barley separately from the recipes that use each grain. There are recipes for drinks, breakfast, appetizers, soups, main meals and of course dessert! The recipes are easy to follow, and even somebody with marginal kitchen skills can make a presentable and tasty vegan meal (I can say that because that is me). What I love is even though some recipes have a lot of ingredients and take some time, almost all the ingredients can be found at our normal grocery store. So far, I have only had to go to Whole Foods for two ingredients, and that’s over the course of making at least a dozen meals.

Besides trying to avoid meat, we are also trying to avoid fake food (like margarine, fake cheese etc.), and these books are great for that too. Since vegans don’t eat real cheese, I was wondering how they would deal with the missing dairy products. I am happy to report that they don’t use that weird fake cheese, but nutritional yeast (which I had never heard of), but have since learned has a ton of nutritional value (Google for more info). Most of the egg recipes substitute olive or grape seed oil for eggs, and there’s even a recipe for whipped cream which uses coconut milk. One substitution I haven’t made yet is using non-dairy milk (like almond) since we always have cow’s milk on hand. The recipes substituting cow’s milk for almond have turned out fine.

Did I mention the swearing? Well, the swearing combined with a spunky, yet helpful writing style makes this the first cookbook I have ever read from beginning to end. When choosing a recipe, or putting the book away, I catch myself reading the next page, either because the picture of a yummy new dish catches my eye, or the swearing looks extra intense….
After multiple renewals from the library, my husband the hunter/fisherman and all around carnivore bought all three books for me as a Christmas present, which I consider a pretty good endorsement.

In summary, just because I can’t choose a favorite, all three books are highly recommended as an addition to any cookbook library!

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Partial Vegetarian

Saturday I made a trip to the happiest place on earth, a place everyone, and I mean EVERYONE loves going on a Saturday…Costco! My husband hates even going into the parking lot and leaves bloody fingernail drag marks if I try to drag him in, so I go by myself to keep everybody (including other shoppers) happy, plus I love getting samples (shopping and lunch, ultimate multi tasking!)
In the past, every few weeks I would buy big packages of chicken breasts and ground turkey in order to fill the “protein” portion of our nightly meals. That’s the way a meal has to be, right? Meat, starch and vegetables. Nothing wrong with that, especially when we use organic brown rice or quinoa for starch and garden fresh veggies. We recently decided to take healthy eating to the next level and become “partial vegetarians”. What I mean by partial vegetarian is we only eat meat three days per week because, for now I don’t think I could become a full vegetarian (meat is just too tasty!).
Back to my Recent costco trip, I realized our food expenses have gone down by about half! Nice chunk of change for a family trying to save up for a college education in 18 years! Among the other positives besides saving money, I feel much healthier and have a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing vegetarian meals are definitely more environmentally sustainable than meals using mass produced grocery store meat products.
Just to be clear, having a vegetarian meal doesn’t mean just skipping the meat portion of a classic meat and potatoes recipe; it takes work and planning to combine grains and dairy to create a complete protein. I recommend doing some serious research before embarking on any vegetarian diet. So far I have been making stir fry like meals with quinoa or rice, beans, some spices, corn, peas, onions and bell peppers (plus lots of cheese to keep my husband happy), lentil loaf (with extra catsup and some imagination, tastes kind of like meatloaf….), and loaded burritos with lots of good whole grains.

What’s your favorite vegetarian recipe?

Until next time… Ryann