Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moosewood Marathon

Several of us in the office today had a discussion about "hippie".  What's hippie?  What's hip?  Does hip hop figure in?  Ah, I'd run back to the dictionary (north-v-south again), but this one I know well and live and will attempt to explain.

I have a dear friend (and previous contributor to this blog) whom I've referred to in conversation as my "hippie friend".  Her parents have lived all over the world.  They settled in Vermont, and drove a VW bus.  We've been friends since Girl Scout camp.  She's a lot of things I'm not brave enough to be.  I value her choices, her passion, her restraint, her confidence, and the difficulties she's overcoming.  When I say "hippie", I mean it as a term of reverence.

Hippie is a lot more than tie-dye and whatever religion one proclaims, because I've known both tie-dyed Jesus freaks and tie-dyed atheists.  Hippie is not a cult, it's a culture.  Just as our American or Southern or Northern or Red Sox or Steelers or Baptist or Methodist or Tea Party or Occupy nations band together over a common idol/ideal, Hippie is also a nation.  You can be a hippie just by adopting a single un-traditional method. 

A good friend has referred to ME as HER "hippie friend" because I bake bread.  Bread from scratch.  From scratch occasionally.

Hippie is, clearly, non-conformism to some standard set by some individual or group at some random point.  Hippie is more a label bequeathed than adopted or embraced.  Hippie, I've decided, describes those who seem to be less-put-together-than-the-beholder.  Beauty, as we know, is in the eye of the Beholder.  So Hippies are the anathema to beauty. 

NOT!  Hippies are The Beautiful People.

To distill all this (and get to the recipes), I believe Hippies are simply brave.  These are the folks brave enough to do something, anything, a little differently.  From growing organic eggs to recycling to making peace necklaces for volunteers to baking homemade bread to leading peaceful sing-a-longs to marrying your love barefoot to participating in a co-op of any kind.  These are my friends who embrace not only life but also value the health of each other and our Earth.

Sometimes I'm brave, many other times I'm not.  I'm glad for my friends, for those who are and who aren't Hippie.

Today's recipes come from a duo of my favorite all-time cookbooks, the Moosewood Cookbook and it's follow-up, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  Both by Mollie Katzen.  The Moosewood Restaurant flourished in upstate Ithaca NY for many years.  Mollie, a cook (and visionary), captured their best and brightest recipes in these cookbooks which dominated our youth in crunchy-granola-northern-New-Hampshire in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Somehow, in our remote location, we had access to an order-only co-op which provided raw grains and nuts and wholesome bulk foods at extremely reasonable prices.  Every month my mom and her friends tallied orders and distributed goods.  I learned a great deal about wholesome foods, bulk ordering, and the value of an active group who worked together.  I live in a similar remote location now, and suspect there is a natural-food network out there, but haven't yet determined how to build it.  This is a "hippie" dream.

In the meantime, I make do with the ingredients I can find at the local grocery and these beloved cookbooks stolen from my mom many years ago.  Honestly, I gave her updated versions and made off with the older copies.  I love them falling apart and lovingly stained with food or comments on the best pages.

So here are a couple of winners from Mollie and the folks at Moosewood.  The first is a family favorite, full of mushrooms and great taste.  The second is one I've modified to fit our refrigerator challenge.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup
based on a recipe from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, 1977
Serves 4 richly.

12 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 c. onion, chopped
4 T. butter (I use 2)
3 T. flour
1 c. milk
2 tsp. dill weed (divided)
1 T. Hungarian paprika
1 T. tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tsp. salt (I leave this out and add later at table if needed)
2 c. stock (or water - if water, add the salt; if stock, leave it out)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
fresh-ground pepper to taste
1/2 c. sour cream (or plain yogurt or buttermilk)

In a large skillet, saute the onions in half of the butter.  Add mushrooms, 1 tsp. dill, 1/2 c. stock/water, tamari and paprika.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Melt remaining butter in soup pot.  Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, a few minutes.  Add milk.  Cook, whisking frequently, over low heat about 10 minutes - until thick.  Stir in mushroom mixture and remaining stock/water.  Cover and simmer 10-15 min.  Just before serving, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, sour cream, and if desired, extra dill.  Serve garnished with parsley and a loaf of crusty bread.

End of the Year Cauliflower-Cheese Soup
based on a recipe from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, 1977
marked "Yummy" in my mother's handwriting

We're in what-the-heck-why-not refrigerator emptying mode, so Substitution Queen has her crown on today!

makes 4-5 servings

2 c. potato chunks (Ha!  First Substitution right here.  No Potatoes).  I used rice.
2 c. cauliflowerets
1 c. carrot, chopped (Second Subs.  No carrots).  I used celery.
3 med. cloves garlic, crushed
1 c. onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. water or stock (I used water and vegetable stock concentrate)

Place these ingredients together in a pot.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Puree the entire mixture in the blender until smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a kettle (double-boiler if you have it).  Heat gently and whisk in:

1 1/2 c. cheddar, grated
3/4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. dill (left this out this time, see Subs #1 below)
1/4 tsp. ground dill or caraway seed (left this out)
1/4 tsp. dried mustard (left this out as well)
black pepper

Steam or saute another 1 1/2 c. cauliflowerets (skipped this; ran out above).

Just before serving, whisk in 3/4 c. buttermilk and stir in steamed cauliflower.  Serve topped with chopped scallions and extra cheese or a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

First Substitution:  The role of the potatoes, primarily, is to thicken the soup.  The veggies are cooked, then pureed in the blender.  This results in a creamy soup which doesn't rely solely on dairy products and fat.  Yes, we add both a little later, but in far smaller quantities than needed as the starch thickens so beautifully.

So instead of potatoes, we used rice.  The leftover rice from DH's porkchop dinner - remember that small country we had enough to feed (overcooked? no problem!).  This was a little out there as a substitution because the rice was spiced and had vegetables in it, but what the heck, why not!  We're using what we have!  As a result, I left the majority of the spice in the second part of the rice and chose to adjust just before serving.  All it needed (in my opinion!) was a little more pepper.

Second Substitution:  We're out of carrots.  We have an entire bunch of celery (because celery is ubiquitous with mayonnaise and salad, and we still have mayonnaise to use), and my Food Substitutions Bible says Do It!  So I chopped up two stalks of celery and threw it in.  Realizing the celery wouldn't provide that nice orangey-color to the soup, I threw in that tiny jar of pimentos hanging out in the fridge as well. 

The verdict?  Pretty darned good.  The absence of dill and presence of soy sauce (from the rice mixture) with the cheddar cheese flavor was a little off, so I added some dill and all was well.  DH loved it!

A picture of my copy of Moosewood Cookbook, purloined from Mom's house (my excuse was that I bought her new editions, with pictures, but the real reason was because I wanted all the notes inside!).  The binding's been "repaired" to little avail.  This is a well-used (=loved) copy.  I wouldn't part with it willingly.

1 comment:

Jane in N.H. said...

I need to pull out my dusty Moosewood cookbook :)