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The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen

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Tassajara, the California spa/retreat center, has long been renowned for its gourmet vegetarian cuisine. In this comprehensive book, one of Tassajara’s most well-known and beloved cooks, Edward Espe Brown, presents hundreds of recipes using fresh, whole foods; detailed notes on preparing seasonal ingredients; and, perhaps most important, inspiration for cooking with joyful Tassajara, the California spa/retreat center, has long been renowned for its gourmet vegetarian cuisine. In this comprehensive book, one of Tassajara’s most well-known and beloved cooks, Edward Espe Brown, presents hundreds of recipes using fresh, whole foods; detailed notes on preparing seasonal ingredients; and, perhaps most important, inspiration for cooking with joyful intention and attention. Presented with humor and warmth, this book is full of wonderful insights into living a life that celebrates simple food.


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Tassajara, the California spa/retreat center, has long been renowned for its gourmet vegetarian cuisine. In this comprehensive book, one of Tassajara’s most well-known and beloved cooks, Edward Espe Brown, presents hundreds of recipes using fresh, whole foods; detailed notes on preparing seasonal ingredients; and, perhaps most important, inspiration for cooking with joyful Tassajara, the California spa/retreat center, has long been renowned for its gourmet vegetarian cuisine. In this comprehensive book, one of Tassajara’s most well-known and beloved cooks, Edward Espe Brown, presents hundreds of recipes using fresh, whole foods; detailed notes on preparing seasonal ingredients; and, perhaps most important, inspiration for cooking with joyful intention and attention. Presented with humor and warmth, this book is full of wonderful insights into living a life that celebrates simple food.

30 review for The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen

  1. 5 out of 5

    SarahJaneSmith

    Normally I do not read cookbooks from cover to cover, but this one was different. The recipe part I only skimmed through, but I definitely will come back to some of them. Edward Espe Brown`s Complete Tassajara Cookbook is more than a cookbook - it`s an encouragement to (as he writes himself) come to your senses, to see, smell, taste and touch. In reviews below I have read some comments (or complaints?) about the fact that, for a vegetarian cookbook, the recipes include many eggs and cheese, that Normally I do not read cookbooks from cover to cover, but this one was different. The recipe part I only skimmed through, but I definitely will come back to some of them. Edward Espe Brown`s Complete Tassajara Cookbook is more than a cookbook - it`s an encouragement to (as he writes himself) come to your senses, to see, smell, taste and touch. In reviews below I have read some comments (or complaints?) about the fact that, for a vegetarian cookbook, the recipes include many eggs and cheese, that it`s definitely not vegan - I think that these annotations are beside the point. I`m a vegan myself, but if this cookbook teaches you one thing, then it`s how to improvise and to trust your own judgement. So just leave the eggs out and try for yourself what you like.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    This isn't a book I bought for the recipes. I bought it for the mindset. It's about how you adopt an attitude towards food that is intrinsically healthy and mindful. The initial recipes are incredibly simple: they're about developing an understanding with the ingredients that allows you to work with them, appreciate them, and get the best from them. In many ways, it's a "back to basics" book, but it's not for beginners. It's more of a reminder of the foundations of cooking, and a welcome change This isn't a book I bought for the recipes. I bought it for the mindset. It's about how you adopt an attitude towards food that is intrinsically healthy and mindful. The initial recipes are incredibly simple: they're about developing an understanding with the ingredients that allows you to work with them, appreciate them, and get the best from them. In many ways, it's a "back to basics" book, but it's not for beginners. It's more of a reminder of the foundations of cooking, and a welcome change from creating complex dishes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    I uncovered a recipe in here which brought me to the book, and I have to say I adore the way Brown's distinct personality shines through his stories which are scattered throughout the book. He shares the highs and lows of cooking for a group, and celebrates the simple and unadorned. Three stories I marked and would like to share:...people will pay three to five times as much money for prepared foods as for the plain ingredients, even for something quite simple like scalloped potates. This basic I uncovered a recipe in here which brought me to the book, and I have to say I adore the way Brown's distinct personality shines through his stories which are scattered throughout the book. He shares the highs and lows of cooking for a group, and celebrates the simple and unadorned. Three stories I marked and would like to share:...people will pay three to five times as much money for prepared foods as for the plain ingredients, even for something quite simple like scalloped potates. This basic fact explains why turning raw materials into "product" (being a manufacturer) is a much more lucrative business than producing the raw materials (being a farmer). The real work that farmers are doing is not as highly valued as manufacturing.(p. 6) Nowadays we are often advised to eat the best, to enjoy the freshest. And we shop for only the finest...My Zen teacher...would buy the worst looking vegetables. "Who will use them if I don't?" he would ask...It's an ancient Zen tradition, not wasting anything, including leftovers: we understand that the way you treat one thing is the way you treat everything, so study carefully how to use the moment, before discarding it: Do not see with ordinary eyes. Do not think with ordinary mind. (p. 35) The last story is one he tells of undercooking baked potatoes one day, and mashing too few on another. "When it comes to food, people want a full bowl, by golly, regardless of how little that leaves for others a few steps away." He tells of the eating hall swarming with emotion: bitterness, greed, resentment, joy, and passions of all sorts. It is a story of humanity, and resounds deeply. Great recipes, great passion and joy, great inspiration. Get this book and start living well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    The best vegetarian cookbook ever. I have his old ones from the 70s and 80s. Many of the same recipes are here but updated for the 21st century, plus lots more - lots of balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and dried tomatoes. But the best parts are the stories and the philosophy. "When you wash the rice, wash the rice. When you stir the soup, stir the soup." Zen cooking. Love it! The best vegetarian cookbook ever. I have his old ones from the 70s and 80s. Many of the same recipes are here but updated for the 21st century, plus lots more - lots of balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and dried tomatoes. But the best parts are the stories and the philosophy. "When you wash the rice, wash the rice. When you stir the soup, stir the soup." Zen cooking. Love it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Picked this up off my shelf this weekend and discovered I never reviewed it. My favorite cookbook. Excellent recipes and delightful little stories from the zen kitchen at Tassajara. Also love the simplicity of the recipes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aja Marsh

    Nothing amazing in here, but still nice to flip through. All vegetarian but definitely not vegan.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    The right cookbook at the right time for me. I have cooked more than ever during the quarantine time, and I started to get unmotivated in the last few months. This book rekindled my interest in cooking and gave me some good inspiration for cooking vegetables. I tried a few recipes and they all taste quite amazing. The book invited me to explore more herbal ingredients like herbes de Provence, parsley, oregano, and cheese (which is currently not a part of my diet) like fresh mozzarella and Asiago The right cookbook at the right time for me. I have cooked more than ever during the quarantine time, and I started to get unmotivated in the last few months. This book rekindled my interest in cooking and gave me some good inspiration for cooking vegetables. I tried a few recipes and they all taste quite amazing. The book invited me to explore more herbal ingredients like herbes de Provence, parsley, oregano, and cheese (which is currently not a part of my diet) like fresh mozzarella and Asiago. It was quite a joy to shop for new ingredients that I had never used. The recipes are in general very flexible, and improvisation seems to be an important message the book is trying to convey. Maybe one day I will sit down and read the entire part 1 basics, which seems very careful, thorough, and encouraging. The little poems dispersed across the book are good in case you experience an existential crisis while cooking. I think this is the "right" type of recipe book for me, talking about cooking and yet going beyond cooking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Levas

    Not sure on how to say when you have read a whole of recipe book for I did not. But this is great one - starting from what to use and when, finishing with zen mindset in the kitchen. This book lies in the kitchen from the moment it arrived for you never know when you might need this. Great zen kitchen guide!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    It’s sort of amazing how Northern California zen retreat food in the 60s is just regular food now. Another cookbook I think that would have been great when I was learning how to cook

  10. 4 out of 5

    Glazedcrispel

    Perfect for novice cooks, if you want to learn to cook simple healthy meals this is perfect. If you want more complex, creative recipes with long ingredient lists this will probably be too basic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janne

    Most excellent vegetarian cookbook ever.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephy

    This is a fabulous cookbook! I wish it had been out there in the late sixties, when I had my first leanings toward a vegetarian diet. Much of what is here, I have learned by trial and error, and by experimentation. But I have learned so many new ideas just reading it that I am excited about cooking all over again. It is filled with sauces, breads, desserts, and main dishes as well as vegetable and fruit recipes. Read this book. Cook from this book! Use this book to learn to adapt anything to alm This is a fabulous cookbook! I wish it had been out there in the late sixties, when I had my first leanings toward a vegetarian diet. Much of what is here, I have learned by trial and error, and by experimentation. But I have learned so many new ideas just reading it that I am excited about cooking all over again. It is filled with sauces, breads, desserts, and main dishes as well as vegetable and fruit recipes. Read this book. Cook from this book! Use this book to learn to adapt anything to almost any culture! I have found new ways to cook old favorites, and new favorites to try ASAP. Even if you are a meat-eating family, you can learn incredible things to do with vegetables here. I got this book for Christmas, 2009, and it has been my stout companion ever since. If you don't have the Tassajara Bread Book, look for that, as well!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Byfield Nyberg

    What I most like about this book is the teaching of mindfulness and the need to be aware in our actions, no matter what they are. I like the thought that mindfulness doesn't necessarily mean you go at half the pace, but that you are aware of your actions, training your mind think more clearly and therefore be sharper. What I most like about this book is the teaching of mindfulness and the need to be aware in our actions, no matter what they are. I like the thought that mindfulness doesn't necessarily mean you go at half the pace, but that you are aware of your actions, training your mind think more clearly and therefore be sharper.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Todd Mayville

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/1... http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/1...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Review to follow soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    An excellent cookbook I want to own. In the very Zen, methodical, be-in-the-present moment way of healthy vegetarian cooking. A wonderful book – highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

    One of my favorite cookbooks of all time; love the split pea soup recipe

  18. 5 out of 5

    H.A. Byrd

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  21. 5 out of 5

    HelenFey

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nick Sigmund

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

  24. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Deutsch

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

  26. 5 out of 5

    MichaelRpdx

  27. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christine Racine

  29. 5 out of 5

    Luis Élye

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bob Simon

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