For those who are committed to increasing self-reliance and supporting locally available food sources, pulses are an often-overlooked source of ethical protein. Dan Jason, owner of Salt Spring Seeds, is a long-time advocate of pulses as a healthy and environmentally responsible alternative to meat and tofu. In The Power of Pulses, Jason provides tips on how North American home gardeners can grow and save their own delicious, vividly hued heirloom beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and favas.
As well as being incredibly versatile in the kitchen, pulses are also rich in fiber, high in vitamin B, gluten-free and remarkably low on the glycemic index—contributing to good health and helping to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
In The Power of Pulses, talented foodie-sister team Hilary Malone and Alison Malone Eathorne collaborate with Jason to create 40+ vegetarian recipes featuring fresh and inventive uses for the garden’s bounty, including Broad Bean Succotash with Fresh Ricotta and Poached Eggs on Toast, Crispy Chickpea Power Bowl with Kale, Quinoa and Dukkah Crunch and even Black Bean Brownies with Espresso Ganache. Vibrantly illustrated, this exciting garden-to-kitchen volume is sure to inspire readers to harness the power of pulses.
Well, I ordered my book. Got to chat a bit with Dan via email. He's so cool! I think I'm a little star struck. The more I learn about Dan Jason, the more he reminds me of Leonard Cohen (in a good way).
My friend on Saltspring is picking up the book this weekend and it should be in my hands on Monday.
It really is a 9 out of 10 book, except for a few fatal flaws in this first edition. Given how awesome the content is, I fell really bad giving it such a low acorn score, but you'll see why.
Half gardening book, half cookbook, The Power of Pulses celebrates dry beans and peas - also known as pulses. Published at the beginning of 2016 to correspond with the international year of the pulse, Seed Man extraordinaire, Dan Jason, combines his talents with Hilary Malone and Alison Malone Eathorne bring us exquisite photos, practical garden instruction, and delicious recipes.
The book begins by explaining what pulses are and why they are such a valuable tool in the fight against climate change. Pulses help heal soil, naturally fixing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, their 'straw' makes great fodder for livestock, or can be used to rebuild soil as compost or mulch. Nutritionally dense, naturally long storing, no additives needed; pulses are the ultimate in food sovereignty. They are remarkably easy to grow and process by hand. Unlike store bought, drab awful, five-year-old pitiful tough dry beans from the supermarket, home grown pulses can be bursting with delicious flavours and because they are fresh, are quick to cook and often easier to digest. Different pulses grow in different conditions and at different times of the year. Most anywhere in the world, there is a traditional pulse crop that will grow for you.
In this book, Jason focuses on dry peas, fava beans, lentils, chickpeas and beans(Phaseolus vulgaris). Each section tells us a bit about what they are, their history, yumminess and how to grow and process them.
Although the word pulse refers to legumes harvested primarily for the dry seed and excludes green beans and legumes eaten fresh, this book includes many recipes for fresh peas and beans, sometimes not including pulses at all. It feels like the different authors weren't on the same page when putting together the book - Dan tells us pulses are dry seeds, yet the recipes focus on the more general catigory of legumes.
The recipes are still very delicious, so no serious complaints there, just a little inconsistency. A much larger problem comes from the vegan/vegetarian labels on the recipes. I follow neither of these two diets, but I have friends who do. When I see a recipe labeled vegan that include anchovies (in the Worcestershire sauce), and another that includes white sugar (which is not strictly vegan or vegetarian as it's often processed with bone), this makes me really upset. Most vegan cooks are accustomed to double-checking ingredients, but what if someone were cooking for their vegan friend and trusted the cookbook to give an appropriate recipe? They would unknowingly include anchovies in the 'vegan' bean dish - no. Not acceptable. Minus two acorns! Later on, I see the little bit about the recipe being 'Vegan with vegan Worcestershire sauce'. It's easy to miss, and I think it needs to be mentioned in the ingredient list as well. Minus half an acorn for not being clear about it.
Most of the recipes are fine, and all of the ones I've tried, delicious!
Have I mentioned the photos yet? Stunning! Sensual, and yes, even a whole lot of sexy. I never imagined pulses could be so arousing. That brings us to the next problem. Being a person with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCSS) and dyslexia, I've had a devil of a time reading this book. To start with the ink stink was so unbearable, I couldn't even read it outside. I've had to lend it out to several friends so that they can read it and try to get the ink stink out. Even several months on, it still stinks. Soy and petroleum are my main problems, and I suspect this ink (or paper) has both. Once I did get a chance to read it, the font choice and spacing were some of the worst possible for reading. I had to separate out each line to be able to stop the letters marching off like ants. Given how excited I was to read a book by my all time super hero Dan Jason, I was extra disappointed by this. Minus an acorn and a half.
If it wasn't for the ink stink and the difficulty with the font, I would probably use this book at least once a week. As it is, it lounges on my bookshelf, teasing me!
The content, especially the first half, is some of the best on pulses I've ever seen. The recipes are okay but yummy. I would recommend this to gardeners and cooks of all levels that are interested in growing staple crops, saving money, being healthy, and helping the planet. Heck, I would recommend this book to everyone as loud as I can. If you have a kitchen, you need this book!