Cookbook Review: Thug Kitchen

Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved getting cookbooks from the library. I used to check out one specific one all the time; I don’t recall the title but it was basically all about bread. At seventeen, I was fascinated by yeast and how a ball of dough could double in size with a damp towel and some warmth.

I finally got a library card for my local library a few weeks back, and after I’d taken care of that, I set out in search of the cookbook section. It took some looking, but I found them, and then I found Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a Fuck.

Thug Kitchen is a blog, if you are unfamiliar (I was, but I remember people talking about the cookbook a while back). They’re “the only site dedicated to verbally abusing you into a healthier diet.”

So, the cookbook. The recipes are all plant-based, which is nice, because I’m making a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m not going exclusively plant-based; I like venison and hamburgers and chicken too much. Also, I hate most fruits. I was interested in the concept though, because if I can creatively incorporate more plants into my diet, that’s awesome.

The first thing I made were the Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. I hate bananas, but I did, in fact, add the mashed banana the recipe called for. I think you should follow a recipe exactly the first time you make something (not that I’m the best example of this… ever). I followed the recipe exactly, but there was something that didn’t work. It was too thick when I made it, so when I made the first pancake, it didn’t form bubbles to show the pancake was cooked through. I had to add water to thin it out and get those air bubbles. Then I had about 25 pancakes instead of the 12 the recipe said I’d have. I had the leftovers every morning for breakfast for a week. Good with butter and fake grocery-store-brand syrup, good with almond butter and real maple syrup.

My friend Toni came over for dinner one night and we didn’t just have the Almond Caesar Salad; we also had the Black Bean Tortas. Both turned out quite good, although we agreed the sandwich was better than the salad (because on principle the sandwich is always better than the salad). I’d make both again. It’s funny that Toni and I are both sensitive to specific tastes, so on the dressing for the salad, she really tasted the lemon juice whereas I really tasted the raw garlic.

I also made the Spiced Chickpea Wraps with Tahini Dressing. Very tasty, and I’d never toasted chickpeas before, let alone seasoned them. The chickpeas tasted almost like peanut butter, and the tahini dressing was a nice balance. I might think about adding garlic to the chickpeas next time, though.

Since I had the book for three weeks, and we have a standing engagement every Monday, Toni and I also made the Roasted Carrot and Cumin Dressing (as well as this dressing from the Thug Kitchen blog… we laughed over “Eat a goddamn salad. Your asshole will thank you”) for salads. The carrot dressing was okay, but nothing to write home about. I think an addition of ginger would have benefited it greatly.

I experimented with savory breakfasts (which I prefer over sweet) by making Quinoa Oatmeal. It turned out well, and my oatmeal toppings of nutritional yeast and sauteed mushrooms was not as bad as it probably sounds–I promise. Not as savory, but I hijacked my parents’ waffle iron to make Cornmeal Waffles, which turned out absolutely beautiful and quite dense, too. They were very filling.

In addition, the book has a lot of good information, especially for those who are new to cooking or to plant-based recipes. They outline what their perfect pantry looks like, explain what some of their more “WTF?” ingredients are (like nooch or liquid aminos), and share just how to perfectly cook all sorts of grains and a pot of beans. Their guide to making green smoothies was helpful to me because I was finally making smoothies that didn’t taste… well, horrible.

To sum up my feelings for this cookbook, if you’re vegan or–like me–just trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, I would recommend it. I’m not sure I would buy it, but believe me, I transcribed some of the recipes that really worked and some I haven’t tried yet but want to. Get this book from the library and try some of the recipes before you commit to buying it. With the exception of the pancakes, I really enjoyed it.

My Beloved Vegetarian Reuben

Hey, everyone!

Have I put this out there before on my blog? I love sandwiches. Sandwiches could be a food group for me. They’re just so wonderful. And considering cabbage was in season just a month ago, I thought I’d share a recipe that combines two things I really love: sandwiches and sauerkraut. It’s a vegetarian reuben.

I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not going to start talking about why such-and-such food is good for you, but ┬ájust give sauerkraut a chance. It’s awesome. My sister used to hate it but now that she’s a grown-up, she really likes it. Just a little advice: you can eat it raw or cook it (I do both, but typically eat it raw), but if you cook it, the stuff in the kraut that’s good for you dies.

I had–had–a two-pound container of the stuff. I ate all two pounds of it. Then I bought a one-pound container.

When I worked at a restaurant in Royal Oak, this awesome sandwich was on the menu and seriously, my favorite thing to eat there.

To make it, you need:

  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. ketchup
  • two slices of bread (I use wheat, because grilled rye bread tears up my mouth and I’m not about that life, okay)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut (you can cook it beforehand; I don’t)
  • 1 avocado, sliced

In a small container, combine the mayonnaise and ketchup to make your Russian dressing.

Spread the Russian dressing on your bread, and put one slice in a pan. Add your sauerkraut.

Add your sliced avocado. Top with more sauerkraut if you like (I did).

When the bread on the bottom is grilled to your satisfaction, add the top slice of bread and flip that sandwich over.

When you are happy with how brown it looks on the bottom, plate it, cut it in half diagonally, eat it, and be happy.

Would you make something like this? What’s your favorite sandwich? Tell me in the comments below!