The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without

The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without

Aug 03

Book Review

Since I have never been a vegetarian, and don’t know all that many, I hadn’t ever heard of Mollie Katzen. Until now, she’s been popping up in many of the books I am reading and her cookbook is here on the coffee table from the library.

Mollie was born in 1950 in Rochester, New York (My hometown, so its always nice to hear about things that go on up there!). She, with a group of like-minded others started the Moosewood Collective, and they started a restaurant. The Moosewood Restaurant is in Ithica, NY and has “operated successfully for thirty-three years and has been acclaimed as a driving force in the world of creative vegetarian cooking.” While the other members of the collective are not widely known, Mollie went on to produce numerous veg cookbooks, and her original Moosewood Cookbook has been called “one of the most influential cookbooks of our time.”

I just finished reading Mollie’s The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. And I am glad I didn’t know she was so famous in the Veg world until after I read it. I was pretty excited after reading it since some of the dishes look wonderful, but I think if I had known who Mollie was, I may have expected too much from this cookbook.

There is about 100 recipes in the book, which includes Mollie’s adorable, rustic hand drawn sketches of the vegetables in her dishes. There is every vegetable you can imagine used in the book, and some sound scrumptious. On my list of ones to try are, Asparagus Crepes with Mushroom Sauce, Potato, Turnip and Carrot Gratin, Oven Ratatouille, and Sweet Potato Hash. The best part about this book is it isn’t inherently vegetarian, any of the dishes would be perfect for a side dish to meat or would allow meat to be added to them easily.

The interesting thing I have found about Mollie, is even though she is known as this star vegetarian, a pioneer in eating only veggies, she no longer is a vegetarian! She has been quoted saying;

“For about 30 years I didn’t eat meat at all, just a bite of fish every once in a while, and always some dairy,” she says. “Lately, I’ve been eating a little meat. People say, ‘Ha, ha, Mollie Katzen is eating steak.’ But now that cleaner, naturally fed meat is available, it’s a great option for anyone who’s looking to complete his diet. Somehow, it got ascribed to me that I don’t want people to eat meat. I’ve just wanted to supply possibilities that were low on the food chain.”

I think that’s great and totally in line with what we are doing. When there is meat and dairy available to eat that fits our standards we eat it, but when there isn’t we eat vegetarian or vegan. Plus, since Mollie is this underground culinary superstar, hopefully her sharing her beliefs on meat will help others see the light too!

Unfortunately, since The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without (or ‘The Vegetable Dishes For Without Which I Cannot Live’ as John so kindly corrected Mollie’s grammar) is too new to be online anywhere, but Mollie’s original veg cookbook The Moosewood Cookbook is available for you all to view on Google Books.

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