Bianca Phillips brings a new twist to vegan cooking – a deep south, comfort food twist! This week Vegan Mainstream and Book Publishing Company are partnering to highlight Bianca and her fabulous cookbook Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South. (If you haven’t already heard about the Vegan Crunk Challenge, find out how to get involved HERE - prizes people – need I say more?!).
We had a chance to sit down with Bianca recently to find out a little bit more about where this cookbook, and her idea for a veganized version of deep south cooking came from. Read on…
Vegan Mainstream: What inspired you to write this book?
Bianca Phillips: I launched my food blog, Vegan Crunk, in 2007 as a place to share pics of all the delicious vegan food I was eating. But as time went on, I realized I was amassing a collection of recipes since I was doing more cooking because of the blog. And then I realized that most of my recipes were for veganized versions of the downhome food I grew up eating in small town Arkansas. So I enlisted the help of my mama and my granny, and we worked on veganizing all of our family classics.
VM: How is it being received?
BP: I’ve been overwhelmed at the positive response. Before the book came out, I worried that people might not like it or that the recipes that I’d tested over and over might just not work for anybody else. But so far, I’ve heard nothing but positive stuff! It’s so cool to see people cooking from my book and tagging me in their food pics on Instagram and Twitter.
VM: Southern food is traditionally rich, heavy on the meat, and not terribly healthy! How does Vegan Crunk make this food genre into something that is vegan and healthier?
BP: Simple swap-outs can turn unhealthy, meat-heavy soul food into a healthier cruelty-free version. Instead of bacon fat, I use Liquid Smoke and a touch of olive oil. I make my own ham using marinated tofu. I make my biscuits with non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening and Earth Balance. There are so many ways to make Southern food healthier and vegan. That being said, I do have a handful of fried recipes in the book (fried green tomatoes, Southern fried tofu chicken) because an occasional fried indulgence is good for the soul.
VM: How does Vegan Crunk help to debunk the myth that vegan food is boring?
BP: Is there a myth that vegan food is boring?! Vegan food is so exciting! I try to do fun and crazy things, like my Fried Tofu Chicken Wafflewich (a vegan spin on chicken and waffles) or Jalapeno Lime Watermelon Salad (to add a spicy kick to watermelon). Vegan food may have been boring in the hippie nut loaf era, but it’s so fun today.
VM: What has been the most surprising/exciting part of this journey for you?
BP: I think the most surprising thing has just been hearing from so many people who have purchased the book and have enjoyed the dishes they have made from it. I had hoped that it would be successful when I first started the project, but I try not to get my hopes too high for anything. That way, when the book actually got such a positive response, it was so amazing to me! I’ve also been really impressed by the response in my city, Memphis. My local booksignings have been well-attended, and so many people here who have purchased the book are actually omnivores. If my book can help even one person give up meat, well, that would just tickle me to death.
Bianca Phillips blogs daily at Vegan Crunk (http://vegancrunk.blogspot.com), and she’s the author of Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South. When she’s not busy stuffing her face with vegan biscuits and gravy, she’s an editor and reporter at the Memphis Flyer, an alt-weekly in Memphis, where she covers LGBT news, city council, police matters, and other fun stuff. She’s the mother of eight fur babies — two dogs and six cats — and she shares a home with her omni partner, Paul.