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Cookbooks 4: Moosewood

4.     The Moosewood Collective of Ithaca NY. Mollie Katzen’s original Moosewood Cookbooks (1974 and 1977) are classics both of vegetarian and American cuisine, with their hippie happiness, ashram commune stews, and handwritten pages. My copies are written over in my own hand with changes to ingredients and levels. Her departure from the Moosewood Restaurant brought into play the collective composition, i.e. anonymous, of all subsequent titles under that name. We have several, but ‘Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant’ (1990) is our favourite. The book is divided into ethnic and regional cuisines, the outcome of their practice of testing new vegetarian dishes each Sunday at the restaurant. It is a product of the expanding adventure of Moosewood, though signs of its heyday are everywhere, for example, the weights and measures section is titled ‘What we mean when we say, “One medium onion…”’ The answer to that is one cup of onion, diced.

Recipe. To make Oden (Japanese winter stew) dashi stock, heat 4 cups of WATER with a square of KONBU. When bubbles begin, remove the konbu then soak DRIED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS for 20 minutes in the liquid. Remove the mushrooms and add 3 tablespoons of SAKE, 5 tablespoons of TAMARI SOY, and 3 tablespoons of MIRIN. The konbu goes into a large saucepan with all of the following: HARD-BOILED EGGS (I usually add one for each person at the table), 1 cake of TOFU cut into cubes, 3 CARROTS cut into rounds, 3 TURNIPS quartered, 2 POTATOES ditto, and the mushrooms. The dashi stock is then poured over the stew. You bring to a simmer and keep it like that for 30 minutes, partially covered. The Oden is then kept in a cool place like the fridge overnight. Next day, before serving, bring to a simmer then add SPRING ONIONS, LITTLE SPINACH LEAVES a big handful, and maybe a bunch of WATERCRESS though I find that can be too much sometimes. Serve with HOT MUSTARD or WASABI.


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