The first time I heard about The Greenhouse Juice Co. was from some Toronto friends. The GJco. had just opened near them and they couldn’t stop talking about their “neighbourhood juice bar.” Could anything sound more wonderful than having an organic juice bar within a stone’s throw of your house? But in my mind Toronto is like that — neighbourhoods full of farm to table shops and restaurants, juice bars, coffee shops, collectives— and, although Halifax has equally wonderful neighbourhoods and establishments, the
grass juice is always greener, eh? I am definitely one of those people who mark my travel by what I eat and the restaurants I visit and I know the next time I’m in TO I’ll be planning a visit to The GJco. but until then I’m going to be enjoying their new cookbook, The Greenhouse Cookbook.
Personally I find that cookbooks that come from restaurants fall into one of two categories: beautiful souvenirs full of dishes too complex or difficult for the average home cook to replicate (sorry Momofuku!) or generous volumes meant for daily home-use, full of the
best of what a place has to offer (the latter category is where The Greenhouse Cookbook falls. Although I own both of those books I have never been either place). When I started to try recipes from The Greenhouse Cookbook I felt as if I finally understood what my friend’s liked about “their” juice bar. With the first recipe I tried — their Almond Milk — I was hooked! Decadent and substantial is what was promised in the recipe’s head notes and the resulting milk completely delivered. To say that almond milk is almond milk simply isn’t true until you’ve tried their recipe. It had a lush, silky quality — not too sweet and with a hint of vanilla. It had both flavour and depth which is what many homemade recipes and almost all store-bought varieties lack.
This review is a little different because many of the recipes I’ve tried were on the advice of the author Emma Knight who I had the opportunity to meet while she stopped in Halifax on her book tour. Not sure what to expect (so few things that have to do with my reviewing happen IRL) I headed over to the Bayer’s Lake Chapters to attend my first book-signing. To be honest, she was very kind and gracious and when I mentioned that I was going to review the book she was excited. Which made me nervous. Most of the time I receive books in the mail from publishers, I try recipes, photograph the results, write a review and that’s how it goes. Emma on the other hand shared a list of her favourite recipes which made for the perfect starting point for my review.
Since this cookbook is part DIY juicing I was happy that they devoted a couple pages to explaining the types of equipment one could use to make juice. Since I don’t own a juicer I was able to use my Vitamix to make their recipes. When I made The Good my husband insisted on drinking his avec pulp but I carefully strained mine through the cloth I use to strain jam. The resulting green juice was beautiful — not swampy-tasting but vital and citrus-y. Very refreshing and quite different from the fruit-based juices I’ve tried. Rabbit, Run (pictured right) was really great too — the carrot-ginger-apple combo had a mild sweetness with that spicy ginger zing! Another juice on my list to try is Wake Up — what my friend heads down to The GJco. to get. I really appreciate the ease in which these recipes can be made at home (the only thing missing is that great bottle!). I also found the same thing with their smoothie recipes — delicious and easy to make. They’ve even included information on their juice cleanses and how to get started on them if you’re so inclined.
One of the things that makes The Greenhouse Cookbook so special is that it really is a community effort — all of the recipes in the book came not only from Emma Knight, but also from Hana James, Deeva Green, and Lee Reitelman. When I met Emma she didn’t speak of her book but of theirs. Maybe it’s because they all have similar views that the recipes work well together to create a cohesive vision. It’s interesting to me how their travels and experiences permeate the book — from the Very Veggie Curry w/ Exploded Yellow Lentils to the Scottish Oatcakes there is a world of flavour. While the juice and smoothie recipes are quick to make I found that some of the recipes took time, though not in a bad way. (If you’re curious to see what I’ve been up to check out my special Insta hashtag #greenhouseiseatworthy or visit my Facebook page. As I cook, I’ll keep sharing photos — at times I feel a bit miserly only posting once a day to IG but maybe it’s a bit more special to see them over a longer time period).
Plant-based eating can look and taste like a lot of different things. Sometimes it’s minimal or “healthy” in a flat and self-deprived way (not the case with this book) and sometimes there’s a beautiful complexity to the look and taste of a plant-based dish (totally the case with this book). Take the Spicy Mushroom Tacos w/ Crispy Tempeh (and Umami Spicy Sauce — pictured left) — so wonderful. Crispy, creamy, spicy, crunchy — all found on one plate (the corn tortillas were made by my daughter and I as a little side project but ended up really elevating the final photo and taste of the dish). I think people who don’t follow a plant-based diet (or juice cleanses) worry that in order to enjoy this diet it’s an all or nothing prospect. But as Emma points out in her introduction it’s all about balance and (b)alance looks different for everyone. So if you want to use dairy — go for it! Add chicken to the salad — why not? Dip those Scottish Oatcakes in chocolate for a little Maritime twist? YES! It takes the pressure off so that you can enjoy this book as you’d like. Their sole purpose in writing this book is to help people see that it doesn’t take living in Toronto to enjoy delicious food or juices but wherever you and your kitchen call home.
Normally this is where my disclaimer goes when I’ve been given a review copy but this is one book that I purchased — maybe this adds extra weight to my review? To see that I put my money when my mouth is. All I know is that I’ve enjoyed this book immensely.