Follow-Up Interview: Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

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?

  1. i love cooking in my crockpot! (i have 2 from rival. one from the 70’s or so, and a more modern oval one with a timer.) i had been using it once or twice a year, but i recently got vegan on the cheap, and i’ve been crocking it up almost every day for the past few weeks. LOVE IT!!

  2. I have two slow cookers, on e is a large one and is newer store brand one, the other is smaller and was a hand me down from my mother-in-law. I use each for tdifferent things since they seem to run at different temps.

  3. I have a rival hand-me-down slow cooker that I’ve used to make dips and beans. I really want to get more creative! And, I love Robin’s cookbooks!

  4. I inherited the old Rival family crock pot…I love it and the memories I have from yummy family dinners. Mostly we use it for oatmeal and soups, but I’d love to be more creative with it. Wine-Braised Seitan and Crimini Mushrooms sounds like a good place to start!
    I do have my eye on a programmable updated version, maybe a Hamilton Beach…any recommendations? Thank you!

  5. It’s been so long since I’ve used my slow cooker, I actually had to look and see what brand it was! I have a Corningware 6 quart slow cooker. I bought it off of HSN probably 7 years ago and it’s definitely not a mainstay in my kitchen. When I do use it, I really like it though. Seeing all these recipes from Robin’s blog tour are making me want to pull it out again!

  6. I have two slow cookers, one a 7 quart Kitchen Aid and a small 1/1/2 qt Elite. I bought the large cooker before I became a vegan….and it is really just too large for a household of 2. I am trying to sell it on Craigslist and plan to get a 3-4 quart. I love having the meal started early in the day and waiting for you!

  7. I have a Hamilton Beach programmable crock pot. I love it because when the cook time is up, it switches to warm! I try to use it once or twice a week for vegan dinners that both myself and my omnivore husband can enjoy. It is so convenient, I recommend it to everyone!

  8. I have a Rival 2.5 quart Crock Pot — it’s the perfect size for cooking a pound of dry beans (which is mainly how I use it), but I’m thinking about also getting a bigger one. I can’t wait to try out the recipes in Robin’s cookbook! :)

  9. I actually have a discontinued one, part of a waterless cooking set I bought. It’s not very good, so I’ve been looking for one that will serve two people a dinner and leftovers. I haven’t picked one out yet because I don’t have any good vegan recipes!!! This book looks amazing :)

  10. I’m waiting for the weather to cool just a bit more so I can start making my soups and stews in my crockpot. Thanks for sharing the great interview!

  11. I have two crock pots! I still have the large round one I received as a wedding gift in 1985 and it is by far my favorite one and I also have a newer (3 – 4 yo) large oval shaped crock pot. I use them both often and sometimes at the same time. My older one has really been put through the paces over the years and I hope many more!

  12. My wife has a big ol red Rival slow cooker. This is not important.

    What is important is that my wife makes super tasty, super healthy, and super convenient foods with it! She has made wonderful curries, soups, stews, puddings, and even veg brats and sauerkraut with drop biscuits in it!

    I look forward to coming home from a hard day at work to see the slower cooker doing its thing on our kitchen counter. I know that a meal that will happily nourish me is in store!

  13. I have a no-name Swiss model that cooks everything a lot faster than I expect. It’s black and silver and makes life with my toddler much, much better!

  14. I have a really old slow cooker. I wish I had one with a timer setting, so that it could go on in the middle of the day, and be ready when I walk in the door at 8pm (instead of being a bit over cooked…)

  15. Pingback: Blog Tour: Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker — Robin Robertson

  16. Pingback: Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker in the News » Harvard Common Press

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