Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cooking with Mollie Katzen (again)

One of the fun things about vounteering for the REAP food group is that I am seeing more of 2 women that I first met over 20 years ago, because they are both involved with the group. too.

One of them is a cookbook author, who was the kitchen manager at a restaurant where I used to work, that is not even there any more. Her first book was a cookbook for the restaurant, the Ovens of Brittany. At its heydey there were four Ovens of Brittanys in Madison, and although its butter and quiche and pastry-rich style of cooking fell out of favor in the lowfat 80s and the no-carb 90s, it was still a restaurant chain that stressed fresh, made-from-scratch cooking - if you ordered a burger and a salad, the bun was made on the premises, the salad dressing was house-made, and the greens were fresh. Her later books are about eating locally, Wisconsin traditional foods, and food traditions.

The other woman is named Julie, someone who lived at a co-op womens' dorm where I was the cook for six years. It's a little concrete block building that is a university owned co-op - I was the only employee, and the students who lived there had to do their own laundry, help serve and clean up after meals, and one other houehold chore per week, since it was a co-op. I tried to make everything from scratch there, too - I baked bread, made soup, and used lots of fresh vegetables. I liked the opportunity to teach the young women (when I started working there, I was 25, and the girls were mostly 18-20, so I wasn't really all that much older) about food and nutrition, and it seems that with Julie, it took. She was very happy that the REAP group brought Mollie Katzen for this year's Food for Thought, because in her opinion, I fed her Mollie's cooking for two years.

Mollie's new book is more of a diet book than ever before, and recommends a way of healthful eating, that, not surprisingly, avoids sugar and processed carbs, and stresses vegetable and whole grains. I have been sort of trying to do it this past week, and you know, it really does work ....

These little halvah bites, made from tahini, honey, currants, and ground pistachios, are delicious, and if you eat one with a little yogurt on the side, you not only feel satisfied, but energized. And they took away the bad taste (for me anyways) of the last of Mollie's sesame flavored sweets that I tried - a sesame shortbread cookie from Vegetable Heaven, her glitzy cookbook from when she had a TV cooking show - the cookies, IMHO, were heavy, unpleasant and a waste of good tahini ...

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