Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Moosewood Cookbook

It occurred to me that as I had recommended you try a recipe from a cookbook that is no longer in print, I should say something about it and actually *give* you the recipe.

The cookbook is, of course, The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  Originally published in 1974, the one in the picture is the 1977 Ten Speed Press edition.

In the early 70's, Mollie Katzen was part of the Moosewood Collective, which founded Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.  She put together a book of their recipes and illustrated it herself.  Today it is one of the best-known vegetarian cookbooks out there, and was named to the Cookbook Hall of Fame by the James Beard Foundation in 2007.

It's one of my favorites, and one of these days I will get myself a hardcover copy to replace the softcover that is getting more beat up every year.  It was in the gift shop where I was working and the illustrations were wonderful, and the recipes looked so good!  I love the Zucchanoes (stuffed zucchini), the Greek Pilaf, Vegetable Stroganoff, Polenta and Spicy Vegetables...but best of all, the Whole Wheat Macaroni--Russian Style.  So here it is.

Whole Wheat Macaroni -- Russian Style
6-8 servings, 1 1/2 hours to prepare (including baking)

1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 chopped scallions
1 chopped green pepper

Sauté in butter:
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2# sliced mushrooms
1 chopped carrot
1 tsp. caraway seeds

Boil in salted water till just underdone:
2 cups raw whole wheat macaroni
-- drain and butter

Combine everything. Add 2 Tbs. tamari sauce and lots of fresh black pepper.

Bake in a buttered casserole, covered, at 350 degrees 40 minutes.

Optional additions:
toasted cashews
toasted sunflower or sesame seeds
chopped fresh spinach

Serve with fresh tomato slices (sprinkle them with basil)

That's her recipe, verbatim from the page.  I'd add that it's very forgiving so far. Sometimes the cabbage has been red instead of the onion, I've never used whole wheat macaroni, and I love the sunflower seeds.  Oh, and extra caraway.  Yes, that's a lot of dairy, which is one of the reasons I make it less frequently than I would like.  But oh, it's tasty!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Part the third

During my next serious relationship cooking and experimentation were encouraged, and I started to try the occasional new thing.  I was working in a gift shop that sold a lot of books, and it was there that I fell in love with The Moosewood Cookbook.

That's the original dairy-loving full-fat version.  If you get a chance, try the Whole-Wheat Macaroni Russian Style.  I don't think I've ever made it with actual whole wheat macaroni, but that recipe alone was worth the price of the cookbook.  The revised version of the recipe (Mollie Katzen decided that she'd better make a lower-fat version of her book, and the revised one is, I believe, the only one available right now) isn't bad either.  I never thought I'd love a vegetarian cookbook the way I love this book.

I also picked this up at the gift shop:

It's not bad, but I'm not sure why we were carrying the cookbook for a California restaurant in our gift shop in Minnesota.  Surely there were other Scandinavian-American cookbooks?

At this point, I have a fair number of cookbooks.  Enough for anybody, right?  But....

It wasn't until that relationship began winding down that I discovered the two books that really doomed me to a lack of shelf space forever. I was feeling bad one day, and wandered into a used book store to see if I could find something to cheer me up. (Confession here -- buying books cheers me up. I was already a bibliophile, I just had less focus.) I found a cheap copy of MFK Fisher's With Bold Knife and Fork, and for the first time I discovered the world of food writing.

For those of you who aren't familiar with her -- no, I can't do her justice.  Go here and devour, and then come back.  I can wait.

For me, her writing is comfort food just as much as what she is writing about.  It can be warm and soothing, filling, or light and cool.  I devour it, and it goes down easily.  Previously I had just enjoyed looking at cookbooks for what I could do with the food. MFK Fisher made me realize that the food in itself was something to be considered.  And as the cover says "With Over 140 Delectable Recipes", but I can't bring myself to call it a cookbook. It is a book about food.

The other book is a little bit different. I'd gone back to school to work on a history degree, and by chance I found a remaindered copy of Dorothy Hartley's Food in England in the bookstore there one day.

It was full of history, and focused so much on the relationship of the food to the lives of the people cooking it that I fell in love with it immediately.  In fact, I was so in love with it that I latched onto the first person that I spotted that I even somewhat knew (a friend of a friend who I had played cards with on occasion) and babbled excitedly about it to him.  He looked rather confused at the time, but I must not have put him off too badly as eventually we changed partners (in the "grand dance of life"...*gag*) and now, decades later, he still tolerates my enthusiasm for cookbooks and is probably wondering what we're having for dinner, as I have been typing rather longer than I intended.

So that was it.  MFK Fisher and Dorothy Hartley showed me the joy of connecting people and their food and I fell for the food book, still my favorite kind of cookbook.  Give me a cookbook you can read, and I am happy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Moscow 'Shawarmageddon' averted by web campaign

Russian authorities threaten shawarma!

President Vladimir Putin was invoked in support of kebabs, and some warned of a "Shawarmaidan" along the lines of the Ukraine's Euromaidan uprising. Even state TV channel Rossiya waded in with an online story wondering whether it was "Do svidanya shawarma" - goodbye shawarma.

Full story here at the BBC

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Part the second

Where did I leave off?  Oh yeah...growing up and romance.  *cough*  Well....

In my late teens, I abruptly decided to get married.  Figuring I was going to need to cook, I wrote down a lot of my mother's recipes.  Also, along with the new husband, I got four new cookbooks.  One generic cookbook from one of his distant relatives and three that I had put down on the gift registry.

I'd been watching the Frugal Gourmet on TV and liked the show.  I needed cookbooks and he made it look easy.  So what if I've never cooked with wine before?

Why I put a Martin Yan book on the list, I don't know.  To add a little adventure?  I don't remember ever watching his show (back then), and my one and only adventure into a Chinese restaurant was pretty awful. (At some point later on in life, I realized that I really should have let my sister order for me, and I admit here of my own free will that my sister was right.)  But yeah, one copy of 

Aha! I hear some of you say. This is how she began to collect cookbooks.  Well, no.  I was young and inexperienced, we were broke most of the time, and he didn't much care what he ate.  So there were a lot of very simple things like Kraft dinner and more Hamburger Helper than I want to remember. And if I did try to put a little more effort into it, it was shoveled in with the same speed as everything else and as little notice.  I had no encouragement to stretch.  I still have all four of those cookbooks, though to this day I don't think I have cooked anything out of them.

I expect you can guess what happened to that relationship.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


I realize I haven't said much about myself (or anything else, if I'm being honest). I always hated those essay assignments in school where you had to write about yourself. But I thought of something I could share -- how I became a cookbook collector.

Growing up in the 70's and 80's I had a few cookbooks that I read but didn't do much with.  From my mother's childhood I inherited a couple of books.  One, from the 1930's was magazine sized and staple-bound, with soft, pulpy browned paper and line drawings on the inside and red-orange on the cover.  At least, that's what I think it was like.  It disappeared at some point and I would love to locate it again.  If you have any ideas what it might have been, please contact me!

The other was a book called It's Fun to Cook, by Lucy Mary Maltby, from 1938.  It was the story of twin sisters and their adventures in learning to cook. Along the way they learn nutrition, how to set tables for various events, and many other things.  They're teenagers, and I loved this book to bits.  Well, I loved the DJ to bits. The rest of the book is one one of the shelves in this house.  Here's a picture someone else has of it.

I had a couple of cookbooks that my sister outgrew, but later reclaimed.  I was fond enough of them that I did replace them.  The Peanuts Cook Book, with its yummy Great Pumpkin Cookies

and the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook

which had...isn't there a macaroni and cheese recipe that you put hot dog spots on?  I made that once. And this one is packed away somewhere.  I mostly remember the fancy cookies and desserts, none of which I ever made.

And there were a couple that were purchased for me. The Fun to Cook Book I remember as being cute, but it has disappeared into the mists of time and I have never replaced it.

The Nancy Drew Cookbook was purchased for me under the assumption that I would devour it as I did the original Nancy Drew series.  Nope.  But it has moved from home to home with me. One of the advantages of having it in hardcover?

That seems like a fair number of cookbooks for a kid. Surely I was cooking?  Nope.  Oh, I did on occasion -- rare occasion -- and I helped my mother in the kitchen sometimes, but mostly I was left to dream about the day when I would have my own kitchen and someone to cook for.... <cue soft focus, sappy music>  Sadly, that is at least partially true.  End part the first.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cooking With The Bard: We Suss Out Shakespeare's Forgotten Foods

A nice little piece from Anne Bramley over at You should check it out.
Argh.  Yesterday I was rarin' to go, all set to put something up here...and then Prince died.

I've never been a huge fan, but I've been a Minneapolis girl since 1987, and he was so much a part of the community that it has been devastating.  And it is a community in grief.  He was way too young to go.  First Avenue, the iconic local club that he made internationally iconic, and a local radio station, The Current, and the City of Minneapolis worked together over the space of a few hours to make it so there could be a huge party in the center of downtown to celebrate his life.  It started at 8 pm as a block party (although people had really been there in numbers all day, using his star on the wall at First Avenue as a shrine once the news had gotten out) and at 10 pm it moved inside.  A rotating group of DJs kept it going until 7 am.

I expect the public outpourings of grief will continue through the weekend.  I'm working on something to hopefully get me going properly on this blog (ha).  I'll try to get something up by Monday.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Bacon-wrapped hosta? Surprise, the perennial plant is edible

I had no idea! I've eaten day lilies. They taste like iceberg lettuce -- edible, but not terribly interesting, and they clash with my favorite salad dressings.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a copy of The Natural Breakfast Book (a Rodale Organic Living Paperback). It was cheap, my hopes were not high. 1973 + "Organic Living" frequently means what I tend to stereotype as "bad hippie vegetarian cooking", something I ran into in the 80's as prepared by college students with more high-minded politics than tastebuds or money. Tasteless beans and grains. Bleah! (This does not have to happen! Idea for a cookbook: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Lentil.)

Anyway, the books of that era are frequently also tasteless. But I was flipping through this last night and behold! Eggs! Meat, fish and cheese! And....

 "Another phrase to watch for is 'water-ground'. Millers who go to the trouble of keeping an old mill going under water power usually have the strength of character to use a good variety of corn to make their meal."

 "Corn pones are a quickly-made substitute for bread, with a flavor and eating consistency that hearkens back to pioneer days. You must have good teeth and strong jaws to eat corn pones. They quickly make you realize the sissy character of most modern foods." Authorial snark is a good sign. I think I'll check this one out a little more carefully.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016