Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mollie Katzen and Vegetables

Mollie Katzen is the author of many cookbooks and a founder of the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, New York.  We spent a week there in the summer of 2008 and ate at the Moosewood several times.  Katzen specializes in vegetarian cooking.  Her dishes include eggs and dairy products and are excellent.
The current Discover magazine says that it takes 240 gallons of fresh water to grow a pound of rice but more than 1600 gallons for a pound of beef.  The 1971 book “Diet for a Small Planet” emphasized the greater cost of meat over vegetables.  Somewhere I read that Asian rice farmers are used to growing their crop in a relatively small space, quite a bit smaller than it usual for beef or wheat.  I imagine the oil and fuel used to work rice is close to nothing as opposed to gasoline powered tractors we are familiar with.  A friend said that there are rice fields that have been in cultivation for thousands of years that are more fertile now than they were long ago.
Most of my friends who are older are interested in losing weight and many vegetables have fewer calories than meat.  To me, meat is a good food but it makes sense to skip it sometimes.  Of course, vegetables have no cholesterol and few additives.
This evening, I made a lima bean dish and a broccoli-mushroom casserole from two Katzen cookbooks we own.  The lima recipe called for both sage and savory, two spices I have never actually used before.  Katzen makes clear the value of good spices.  The casserole called for cottage cheese and sour cream, ingredients I rarely think of.
Recently, a friend said that restaurants could sell sawdust if they mixed it with enough seasoning and fat.  I do think that the most specialized cooking is in vegetables and not in steaks, roasts and chops.  I admit that we don’t seem to have an inner drive toward carrots, even well cooked and seasoned carrots like our response to the sight and scent of roasting meat.

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