Sunday, February 14, 2010
First glance: Get Cooking
When I learned that Mollie Katzen had released a new book, I had to get it, even though this queen of vegetarian cooking has crossed into carnivorous waters. Katzen, you may know, authored the original Moosewood cookbook in 1977 and it has become one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. She is widely credited with moving vegetarian cooking off the periphery and into the mainstream of American cuisine.
She doesn't directly address why this new book isn't vegetarian; actually, she doesn't seem to be talking to her former, all-veg constituency at all. Rather, she's reaching out to people who have been smitten by the images on the Food Network and in the glossy magazines, but don't know how to create them.
Her primary message is to enjoy food and to eat healthfully. And, as I had hoped, the book is top-heavy with simple recipes for vegetarian soups, salads, pastas, and side dishes. So far, I've tried only the all-American three-bean salad, but it was the real deal, almost exactly like my mom's, only better (sorry mom). I'm looking forward to trying broccoli-cheddar cheese calzones and hot fudge sundaes, so stay tuned for upcoming dispatches!
Katzen's unmistakable style shines in this book. She's that good friend or older sister in the kitchen with you, whispering instructions and encouragement over your shoulder. Everything about the book, from the typeface to the sepia-toned photos (of which there are many) says comfort.
Having used her cookbooks for almost 30 years, I feel like I know Mollie and that we're growing old together. To me, Mollie Katzen is a state of mind as much as she is a talented, creative person. To sample her aura, be sure to visit either of her web sites, get-cooking.com or molliekatzen.com. And get cooking!