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Book Reviews

Cookin' Up a Storm by Laura Dakin

Book Review:
Cookin' Up a Storm: sea stories and vegan recipes from Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling campaigns
by Laura Dakin
review by Marla Rose

Whenever I think it’s challenging to cook for a vegan household where one of us is gluten-free, I should remind myself of this book, Cookin’ Up a Storm: Sea Stories and Vegan Recipes from Sea Shepherd’s Anti-Whaling Campaigns by Laura Dakin. Newly published by The Book Publishing Company, Cookin’ Up a Storm is written by the galley chef of the Steve Irwin, a ship in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s fleet. Laura and her crew need to make sure they’ve planned enough provisions to feed fifty crew members three times a day for one hundred days at sea, disrupting whaling ships as documented on their popular series on Animal Planet, Whale Wars. Not only do they need to be fed, crew members need to stay healthy - no time for scurvy here - as they pursue the whaling ships in all kinds of harsh conditions with no hospital in sight, so with tens of thousands of donated food supplies, everything has to be carefully planned for optimal nutrition. Oh, there is also the small matter of chopping lots of vegetables and cooking for a large group on a ship that is being tossed about by a churning sea. Given all that, I have nothing to whine about.

Cookin’ Up a Storm is not written for those who want fussy, complicated recipes but for those who want good, wholesome food when time and resources are not at a premium. In this way, it is the perfect cookbook for novice cooks or busy people with a child or two who want to get nutritious comfort food on the table without a lot of effort. With recipes divided up into chapters on Morning Starters (for example, the Southern Ocean Scramble and five varieties of granola named after characters on Gilligan’s Island), Soups (like Chickpea Noodle for the Vegan Soul and Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup), Mains (such as Even-Keel Kabobs with Dipping Sauce and Rockin’ the Boat Risotto), Salads and Sides (like the Greek Sailor Salad and Spicy Fired-Up Potatoes), Sauces, Spreads and Condiments (Cashew and Macadamia Cheese Sauce and Creamy Dill Mayonnaise are two examples), Breads (like Aloo Paratha and Onion and Herb Dinner Rolls) and Sweets and Treats (for example Lime Explosion Cake and Peanut Butter Campaign Cookies), the crew is well-fed all day long.

The recipes are simple and written clearly. While some recipes ask for quite a few ingredients, the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find, and I would say that most are very quick to prepare. With lots of colorful photos and an easy to navigate layout, Cookin’ Up a Storm is also very user-friendly. Best of all, I appreciate that woven throughout the book are a fair number of first person stories and interviews with key crew members of the Steve Irwin, from the ship’s physician and medical officer, Merryn Redenback, to Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson. You really walk away with a history of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an understanding of what drives them and what they are up against and, most important, a sobering appeal for environmental stewardship. With 90% of the world’s fish species identified as fully exploited, over-exploited or extinct by the FAO of the United Nations, we must reverse course in our consumption habits if our oceans have any chance of surviving remaining aware, as Captain Watson likes to point out, if the oceans die, we die.

With great recipes, education, advocacy, fun glimpses into life at sea and more than a few tips for how to cook for a hungry and sometimes seasick crew of modern-day heroes, Cookin’ Up a Storm is an inspiring cookbook that benefits a very worthwhile cause. I highly recommend it.

Check out this great recipe from the cookbook in our recipe section:

Fish-Free Cakes

2013-2015, Vegan Street

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