Moosewood Revisited

How many of you remember the 70s and the organic/vegetarian/yoga movement?  No?  Very briefly, these concepts were a direct result of the “tune in, turn on and drop out” mindset from the 60s, but a little more realistic than the naivete that drove so many young idealists to believe the fantastic, plastic Madison Avenue Establishment was going to crumble with non-violent demonstrations (that turned violent when the cops or the National Guard showed up) and mind-expanding LSD.  The experiences garnered during this turbulent time brought about changes as banal as middle of the road music (remember The Carpenters?), as radical as experimental relationship options like open marriages and as big as heightened awareness for the general public about our eating habits.

Which brings me to my eating habits.  One of the things I briefly flirted with at this time was veganism.  I visited some local eateries that specialized in vegan food and experienced my first pita bread sandwich without any meat, cheese or mayonnaise.  I had raw banana-apple juice without and sweeteners.  I became aware that not all was right with the world, including where my food came from.  Mind you, I was already indoctrinated to the idea, and practice, of not eating so much meat because the way I was raised.  Our diet included dairy products, which is called ovo-lacto vegetarianism; however, my mother worked full-time to raise my sister and I, so sometimes frequently, she came home tired and didn’t feel like cooking.  That’s when we were “treated” to McDonald’s and the local greasy spoons and their wonderfully fatty, meaty fare.  Vegetarian drive-thru options after 5:30 pm in Bakersfield in this era were non-existent.  Now, that I think about it, they’re still pretty rare even today.

Anyway, life went on.  I married a meat-eater and together we raised a most serious carnivore.  Over the years, though,  I have had trouble with reconciling my animal love:

with this:

Not exactly appetizing in this form...

Not exactly appetizing in this form…

BTW, National Hamburger Day for 2016 is May 28.

Enter: The Moosewood cookbook I just recently purchased to help me with my nutritional changes.  This book was the seminal vegetarian cookbook of the 70s.  Originally published in 1974 to a local audience in response to the popularity of the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithica, New York, Mollie Katzen, one of the original founding members, handwrote and illustrated this collection of recipes.  Interestingly, none of the cooks were professionally trained as chefs.  They were a bunch of friends who wanted to share their love of vegetarian food.  Funny how these things happen.  As history goes, 10-Speed Press in Berkeley, California got wind of this culinary gem and published it for the rest of the world in 1977, when it became a huge best-seller.

Though I never purchased the book itself, I was affected by it because my sister and mother cooked from it, and it fit with the religious and nutritional beliefs held by our family at the time.  When my daughter bought an original edition on Amazon, we both pored over it for different reasons.  My daughter, Rachel, as mentioned throughout my blog posts, is a trained chef and works as one.  Her passion for food and dedication to learning the many aspects of it is an ongoing process.  Her cookbook library is extensive and includes such favorites as The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook to the obscure.  Unlike me, when I get a cookbook I’m just looking for the recipes, I’m not going to bother with the methods or the how and why.  She actually learns from them.  Imagine that.

Last night, I made my first adult foray into Moosewood and chose the Mexican Pepper Casserole.  Of course.  It was an easy recipe with, sadly enough, a few minor errors.  The first boo-boo I noticed was the fact that she has you mince 4 – 5 garlic cloves, and doesn’t tell you what to do with them.

Second, the amount of oil that is recommended is not sufficient for the flour she has you add later on.  Since it was dairy based, Rachel had to add about 1/4 cup of cream so I could continue cooking without scorching everything.  I cross checked this version with my daughter’s vintage version and yes, the garlic was supposed to go in with the onions – but I wouldn’t have done that anyway; garlic burns so easily.  I did like that when I pulled the dish out of the oven the eggs in the sour cream mixture had poofed up like a souffle; and like any souffle that I make, it went back down after a few minutes.  After that, I don’t know because Rachel and I were serving it up.

It was quite filling and very meatless.  I didn’t have to worry about how Flossie cow died for this meal.


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