A few months ago I featured vegan cookbook author extraordinaire Robin Robertson in our Fridays with Friends interview series and everyone loved what she had to say. In anticipation of the release of her latest cookbook, Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free One-Dish Dinners, Robin is doing a blogging tour (genius!) and I decided to use this opportunity to catch up with her again.
Allison Rivers Samson: People ask me this question all the time. Do you ever feel restricted by your vegan diet?
Robin Robertson: Never. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel empowered by the huge variety of ingredients and cuisines that one can enjoy when they eat vegan food. I consider the Standard American Diet (SAD) to be restricting, because people tend to get locked into their “meat and potatoes” routine. Vegans are more inclined to explore various cuisines, many of which include naturally vegan dishes.
ARS: What is your favorite dish in Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker?
RR: Whatever I make on a particular day is my favorite – I love them all. The chili recipes and the soups and stews are in regular rotation in my house. If I had to choose just one favorite, though, I think it would be the Wine-Braised Seitan and Crimini Mushrooms.
ARS: What is your favorite thing about cooking with a slow cooker?
RR: I absolutely love the idea of putting dinner together early in the day so that when dinnertime rolls around, a home-cooked meal is ready. It makes “what’s for dinner?” just one less thing I have to think about during my busy workday. As an added bonus, I love the way the house smells while dinner is cooking – one of the benefits of working at home.
ARS: What recipes in the book do you find are best for entertaining? And for children?
RR: Depending on the kind of get-together, “keep warm” dips such as Warm and Creamy Artichoke-Spinach Dip and Smokin’ Chipotle Bean Dip are great for entertaining. For “feed a crowd” gatherings, I like to serve something hearty like Holy Mole Red Bean Chili or Slow and Spicy Sloppy Joes. Children, I think, will especially enjoy some of the healthy but delicious desserts such as the Fat-Free Apple Crock Cake (below) or the round brownies I call Black and Blue Broundies.
ARS: What are some essentials you recommend every vegan kitchen be stocked with?
RR: A vegan kitchen should be stocked with a good selection of dried and canned beans, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats, nuts and nut butters, non-dairy milk such as almond or soy milk. Miso paste, nutritional yeast, vital wheat gluten, coconut milk, and a variety of flavor-makers including tamari soy sauce, sriracha sauce, chipotles in adobo, curry powder, vegetable stock paste or powder, and so on. A variety of pasta and noodles and canned tomato products all come in handy, and of course, fresh produce, herbs, garlic, and citrus.
ARS: Do you have a favorite vegan restaurant?
RR: Lots of favorites when I travel: Candle 79 in New York; Millennium in San Francisco. Closer to home, I enjoy going to the Loving Hut in Falls Church VA, and several Thai and Indian restaurants in the area. Where I live, there are no vegan restaurants, so I cook at home a lot. My husband jokes that our house is the best vegan restaurant for miles!
ARS: I’m sure he’s right! What do you enjoy more—writing, cooking, or eating??
RR: In some ways, all three are part of the same experience. I love the creativity involved in the actual cooking, followed by the joy of eating something delicious that started out as an idea and a handful of ingredients. Then, I love the process of writing the recipes so that I can share them with others.
ARS: (Although I hate to think of a vegan world without your cookbooks) if you were not a chef/cookbook author/food writer, what would you be doing?
RR: That’s a tough question, since I feel I was born to do what I do. When I was young I wanted to be an artist, but I came to realize that cooking can be an art form, too – one that nourishes all the senses.
That is exactly how I feel, Robin! This cookbook is a must for anyone who likes easy, nutritious, one-pot meals, whether or not you’re an experienced crock pot user.
Tell us about your slow cooker: What brand it is? Do you like it? How often do you use it? Or, if you’re new to crock-pot cooking, What brands or styles of slow cookers are you interested in? What features are you looking for?