Books in Brief: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations by Kim O’Donnel
Welcome to Books in Brief. Every week for a while I'll be working through the growing stack of excellent books on my desk and sharing a few brief thoughts on why you might like them. Each little post will follow the same basic format, which I hope will help you decide quickly and comfortably whether each book is right for you or someone in your life.
Maybe it's just me, but no matter how comfortable I get with meatlessness in everyday life, a special kind of low-grade, persistent panic creeps in every time I volunteer to feed a festive crowd without a roast at the center of the table. This book is ideally organized to talk you off the ledge in that situation.
Whether you're a confirmed vegetarian feeding carnivorous guests or an omnivore catering to a crowd that includes some veg-heads, The Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations will help you feed them with abundance, variety, and balance. You can mix and match recipes or follow the suggested menus to the letter, whichever suits your comfort level.
Usually a hashtag hater, I've been dropping little #VegetarianThanksgiving bombs all over the internet these past few weeks in an effort to help more people feel comfortable with a meatless Thanksgiving feast. If I had a bigger budget, I'd be sponsoring airdrops of this book instead.
The dirty details
The book is organized by season, with recipes grouped into holiday menus ranging from just-for-fun ("Warming Up to Winter Wingding") to traditional (Thanksgiving) to functional-yet-fun (Preserving Party). There's also advice on stocking a meatless pantry, and a key showing which recipes are kid-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-optional, and vegan. Some of the menus feature a centerpiece dish, which might work best for guests used to a meat-and-two-veg approach to dinner. Others come together more like a buffet or a full-on vegetarian feast. And, of course, there's always something sweet at the end.
The lovely author
Kim O'Donnel probably needs no introduction to many of you. She's a widely read and much-loved food writer and chef who's been offering us ways to eat deliciously with less meat for years. This book follows The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook, which, incidentally, would make a lovely and colorful holiday gift pack alongside this book.
You had me at...
“My quest for a 'feast without the beast' put me back in the kitchen, where I've cooked up more than two dozen ways to eat and be merry for all kinds of occasions. You won't find faux turkey or simulated hot dogs here but seasonal produce, legumes, whole grains -- and plenty of 'delicious first.'”
How to get it
Both books are available in soft-cover and Kindle edition from the usual retailers and are, in my humble opinion, easily worth the small investment.