What berries she didn’t eat on the spot went to eager buyers at her father’s farm market store. But, as The First Mess Cookbook’s author Laura Wright recalls, none of those buyers ever had the pleasure of tasting them right off the bush:
“I was eating…those warm berries that tasted of jam, nectar and light. That all-sensory field experience is my first clear memory of connecting to food beyond the notion of hunger being satisfied.”
Equally vivid are her recollections of the home-cooked dinners she enjoyed every night:
We always had fresh, healthy food outside our door in the warm months and beautiful preserves in the colder times… My mother and Mama made wholesome dinners from scratch every night of the week.”
But upon learning about the “suffering, gluttony, factory farming, famine, societies that live and breathe with the land… and community feeling” from her environmental ethics courses at the University of Toronto, Laura decided to go completely vegan.
Culinary school and a stint with one of Canada’s earliest local-food chefs later? She had the credentials to begin writing The First Mess, her wildly popular plant-based recipe blog.
From there, it was a natural leap to writing The First Mess Cookbook, a compilation of 125 vegan recipes featuring the best seasonal produce. For novice cooks, it also includes a marvelously explained list of pantry staples, including:
healthy fats and oils
vinegars and citrus juices
and gluten-free flours.
Accompanying nearly every recipe is one of Laura’s own stunning, full-page photos.
Even if I couldn’t tell from their ingredients how good the dishes in this cookbook are going to taste, the pictures alone would have me salivating!