Book Club Tuesday: Chickpea Magazine

“How much?! How much did you pay for a magazine??”

So I feel like this weeks review is really for the people who need to be coaxed a little to give Chickpea Magazine a try. At around $24 CDN an issue (published quarterly) I feel it really is an investment in your kitchen. (This is where I’d like to point out that if you hate advertising then you’re going to pay more for any advertising-free periodicals. Maybe you’ll agree with me that there is something very visually cohesive about a magazine without ads — Chickpea is one of them.) For non-vegans (or even vegetarians) Chickpea may sound like it could be preachy, finger-pointing, and/or guilt-inducing but it really is just a humble collection of essays, recipes, reviews, and stories that are focused on whole foods and plant-based diets . From the matte pages to the particular way the images are filtered, each issue relies on a minimalist-style layout with many beautiful handwritten elements — the titles for example. If you’re worried you will buy something that’s too commercial or over-produced, no worries. This is one of the most authentic things you can read today and keep forever (I know how that just sounded — a bit hoarder-y but truly I find myself going back to re-read and to try recipes again and again. A family favourite here is their recipe for Vanilla Tapioca Pudding from the Spring 2015 issue. Alex Bachert not only provided an excellent recipe but I also appreciated the interesting tidbits and nutritional info on tapioca itself).

The last few weeks have been a bit rough and I wasn’t sure how I would get anything written for today’s Book Club. Today would have been my grandfather’s 93 birthday (he passed away a couple of weeks ago — it wasn’t a sad thing. He’d lived all of his life on his farm and still, as one family member put it, “had all of his marbles.”). That being said, with all of the travel and condolence hugs from sick people (everyone has a cold!) we’re all fighting something in our house (and not just gloomy feelings).

Maybe it was a little late for it but last night I made the Immunity Soup from the current issue — I figured that it couldn’t hurt and might even make us feel a bit better. I will tell you that the smell of the soup alone lifted my spirits! Drawing upon some of the best ingredients of the winter season — sweet potato, mushrooms, and kale — it was the perfect soup to serve last night for dinner. It was my first time roasting Portobello to put into a soup — well worth the effort because they added so much to the richness to the broth. At first glance the recipe didn’t look to be anything special but once the dish was made…wow. Many of the recipes in Chickpea are like that — simple (not simplistic), unassuming, and ridiculously tasty.

Although there aren’t many recipes that I’ve made from Chickpea, each one that I have tried has been totally memorable. Check out my custom hashtag #chickpeamagse to see some of the dishes I’ve made. Their recipe for the Perfect Vegan Omelette was just that — perfect. Just looking at the photo makes me so hungry! For those of you who are not vegan: yes, yes, yes you can make an omelette without breaking any eggs and it’s totally delicious! (Even to the eyes, at first glance you’d never guess that it’s egg-free). I really appreciate the fact that almost all of the recipes in the magazine contain ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, cupboard, or fridge. Something else that is worth the mention is that out of all of the recipes I have tried they’ve all turned out. There is nothing I hate more than wasting time and ingredients on dud-recipes. Luckily, they carefully test what is put into their mag so all that is left for the reader is to cook and enjoy!

Chickpea isn’t all recipes —  I love checking out their section Books We’re Loving. How would I have ever known about the Plum cookbook by Makini Howell?? I’ve never been to Seattle and would have missed a great cookbook if I hadn’t seen the review in the Summer 2013 issue. Their city guides are also very helpful too — I was happy to see Toronto in the current issue (especially since my favourite restaurant — Fresh & Juice for Life — gets a mention!) It’s really helpful to get the low-down (vegan-wise) on how to enjoy a particular place with great restaurants and wonderful suggestions for activities.

Not to be a broken record but each week I keep mentioning that there are more cost-effective alternatives to cookbooks — magazines are a perfect example. Always current and usually seasonal most magazines provide a perfect way to indulge without over-indulging. Like many of the magazines I’ve previously mentioned (in other reviews), Chickpea makes a great addition to any home library. When I look at the upcoming cookbooks waiting to be released (at between $30-50 a book) that’s a lot of “do re mi” as my grandfather might have said, so having a viable alternative is encouraging.

I’m not even sure how to explain it but there are no other magazines I feel like I could compare to Chickpea because it really is something special. It’s not your typical culinary mag — there is a visual economy about it. Even the photos chosen are beautiful — in lighting and composition. They look amazing without feeling like they’ve been food-styled within an inch of their life! Even if you’re unable to find a print copy they offer a digital edition (p.s. any Hali-folk reading this, you can get your copy at the Atlantic News…)

In closing, I want to dedicate this week’s review to my grandfather — the best farmer I knew. Part of what draws me into the kitchen to cook plant-based dishes is the appreciation of the plants themselves instilled in me by him. Food should be fresh and delicious. I’m a little sad that his lifetime of knowledge is gone because he was one of a kind. I mean, check it out some of what he grew –those cabbages are huge!

So, Happy Birthday Gido! This one is for you. OX

** Due to unforeseen circumstances, blogs images prior to 2018 were deleted. Some images were recovered or replaced, some were not. Please accept my apologies if the text refers to an image that is no longer present.**

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