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Want to cook vegan? Gowanda woman’s book can help

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“I’m a foodie. I love good food,” says Sylvie Cote-Nace, author of “The Pure Pleasure of Eating Vegan,” a cookbook she has put together with recipes she has developed or tweaked and converted to be vegan-friendly.

“I entertain a lot. I like nothing better than to share a recipe with friends.”

When she became vegan in 2009 she was only able to find two vegan cookbooks.

“I checked at Barnes and Noble. I reviewed every vegan book. The early cookbooks had bland recipes, the texture of the food was not appealing and there was not enough creativity.”

“Besides being for vegetarians or for people who suffer from celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, it (her cookbook) is also good for people who are lactose intolerant,” she says “I put my personal spin and twist (into the recipes). I cook with a little sherry and a little wine. I am tired of people thinking vegan eating is eating granola.”

Every recipe has an introduction telling from where the inspiration came and how the recipe will taste. There is a Cook’s Note with several of the recipes indicated by the picture of a Basset Hound in memory of her dog, Charlotte. These notes give helpful hints and/or make-ahead preparation suggestions. She has included a few blank lines after each of the 220 recipe submissions for the user’s notes. Every recipe was tested by a panel of non-vegetarians with only the best finding their way into the book.

“This is the only cookbook I will ever make,” says the Gowanda woman. “This was more work than getting my Masters. From April until October I spent eight to ten hours a day. I did not see summer.”

The Montreal, Canada native tells of the process she used to make this very big project a reality starting with research and even developing her own recipes.

“I have been collecting recipes in French and English since I was 16 from several culinary experiences. I have a gift to know if a recipe is good or not.”

Much thought was put into the initial selection process from her extensive recipe collection. After shopping for the ingredients came cooking, clean-up, mise en place and snapping pictures of the finished dishes. This could entail as many as 12 to 15 hours.

“The five ladies that were testers were here from 11:30 until 2 every two weeks for two years. I did not want any vegetarians for my testers,” she says. “The final part was reviewing every recipe to be sure every ingredient was there and to make English corrections. I was vegan for awhile, so I learned all of the tricks of the trade.”

“Processing a cookbook is one of the most expensive things ever,” she says of the publication she is selling at cost. “My testers all said just for the section of the vinaigrette, soup and gravy, you pay for the book.”

The entrees are flavor-packed, thus making it easy to overlook the absence of meat for those that think they cannot exist without it.

There is no section for bread, cookies and cakes. Instead there are 21 recipes made with fresh fruit. She has included a section called Vegan Pantry and Tools, which explains every tool she uses in the book, what it is and where it can be purchased. This section also tells where ingredients can be acquired.

“The success of your food will depend on the quality of the ingredients you use. A simple thing like the freshness of your spices and to know the technique will make the best meal you’ve ever tasted.”

There is a condiment section that includes recipes for cheeses, condiments and sauces. The recipe for bechamel sauce includes tips on how to tell if the sauce is done.

“Always make sure that your dried spices are fresh, the life of a bottle of spices is roughly 1 to 2 years. If you have old spices, know that this will affect greatly the taste of what you are cooking, and it won’t be good,” says the cook. “I always make sure that in my house I have a nice supply of fresh onions, garlic and shallots. It is a must, as I use them a lot in every recipe I make. That must be my French roots showing up here.”

“Eating vegan does not mean you will never eat the recipe you like. You will learn how to veganize them and still keep enjoying them. It’s even better than the original recipe. People come with prejudice against it, even if they’ve never tasted it.

Everything I take to a party or gathering is the first to disappear.”

“When you eat a plant-based diet, all the food you eat is well-balanced. The protein is found in quinoa, lentils, beans, etc. When you eat there is so much fiber and nutrients you are full and never hungry. You don’t have to weigh or measure the food,” she teaches. “People think when you go vegan it is restrictive, but what they don’t know is everything you remove has a replacement. If you remove dairy, the milk is replaced with plant-based milk. You can veganize your favorite recipes. So you don’t have to eat food you’ve never heard of.”

“When you eat healthy you nourish the brain and the body. When you eat a plant-based diet you have extra energy to be able to participate in life. If you have children you can play with them,” she insists. “When you adopt a plant-based diet, be organized and plan ahead. Add quality ingredients and do one day of cooking for the entire week.”

“When you go vegan, it doesn’t mean it is the end of celebrating with your friends and eating out. When you have a pizza, you ask for double tomato sauce and hold the cheese. I can go into any restaurant and create a meal. I never feel deprived. You can ask for whole wheat linguine at Olive Garden. I always carry my own dressing.”

Prior to getting a masters degree in criminology, she studied law for one year. She has been employed as a probation and parole officer in Canada and the United States. Her husband of 27 years, Reverend J. Michael Nace, is pastor of Java Village Baptist Church. They have a son who resides in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons. The couple also has a cat named Maggie.

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