After almost 30 years of putting dinner together a few times a week, I turn to the same cookbooks again and again: the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks and cookbooks by Mollie Katzen, originally part of the Moosewood collaborative.
With the garden produce dying out, I wanted to make at least one last lunch from stuff picked fresh from the garden. Since a few cute baby eggplants were ready to pick, as well as cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, and since we had Kalamata olives and feta cheese in the fridge, I pulled out one of my most used cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, for its Greek Pasta Salad recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fresh dill (which really adds to the salad’s flavor) or scallions (which I meant to replace with red onion, but forgot) but the salad was still delicious.
The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, includes fish on its vegetarian menus, so a few recipes call for fish or shellfish, but most of the recipes are completely vegetarian. What I like about the Moosewood cookbooks is that they use only ingredients that can be pretty easily found if you’re anywhere near a large town, so you don’t have to make a special visit to a natural foods store before using the cookbooks. They also make great reading, with their entertaining recipe introductions and casual air of friends in the kitchen; Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks also have pleasing illustrations and a friendly design. The recipe directions imply confidence in your culinary skills, giving you enough information but not an overload of strict precautions and precise measurements. None of them have intimidating glossy color photos of meals that look like they were made by professional chefs or put together by food stylists.
Another old favorite, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, didn’t survive the transition from just-married to three-child family and Laurel’s Kitchen‘s didn’t survive the transition from country to city life, but the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks, as well as several by Mollie Katzen (especially Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest) have been the source of many favorite family meals over the years.
A neighborhood landmark, the Moosewood Restaurant has been owned and operated by a collective of the people who work there for almost 40 years, and was named one of the 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th century by Bon Appetit. (See Cornell Daily Sun article.) The Moosewood Collective also donated its papers, including some original cookbook manuscripts, to Cornell University’s Carl A. Kroch Library.