Monday, December 03, 2007

a plea at Christmastime: down with the Moose

If there is a special vegetarian in your life and you wish to buy that person a wonderful gift which reflects their incomprehensible vegetarian lifestyle, for the love of God don't get them the vastly overrated "Moosewood Cookbook."

As the holiday season rolls around, I know, sure as those motherfucking swallows return to Capistrano, I'm going to get another "Moosewood Cookbook." Why is it that this asinine book with its childish drawings is the only vegetarian cookbook any non-vegetarian has ever heard of? And why is it that the publishers keep tweaking it, so my carnivorous relatives think, "Oh, it's the Twentieth Anniversary issue of 'The Moosewood Cookbook'! It will look so nice on the Drunken Housewife's shelves right next to the Tenth Anniversary one and the regular one and the Sunday brunch one!"

Of course, what I write in the thank you note is along the lines of "Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift. Yes, I am still a vegetarian! I appreciated it so much", but as I write those lines this year, I'll be seething. Not just because I actually hate that cookbook, but because the author, Mollie Katzen, has not only taken up eating meat but had a preachy interview with "Food & Wine" about how carnivores are the new vegetarians. It turns out that Ms. Katzen has decided that now one can buy dead free range cows, only the prissiest of vegetarians wouldn't take up eating meat. (I think there should be a law against non-vegetarians trying to exploit the vegetarian market, kind of like the one which prevents murderers from profiting off tell-all books of how enjoyable the actual murder was). Thanks a lot, Ms. Katzen. Not only am I stuck seeing your stupid book under my tree every year, now I'll have the added joy of knowing that you're taking the profits to buy meat.

21 comments:

Vodalus said...

If there's a Barnes and Noble near you, think of it as a very thick and difficult to lost gift certificate.

So is it just insulting/insipid or are the recipes just not very good?

Vodalus said...

oh! And this is "the woman of science" now. I got sick of that moniker and couldn't think of anything better that my World of Warcraft character (in turn named after a supporting character from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.)

the Drunken Housewife said...

But since I don't get a receipt when I get the book, I can't just trade it in. I have sold copies of the Moosewood Cookbook at Green Apple, but I just get a few dollars for it (even though it's a never used new book).

Taste is subjective, and I used to notice (this is no longer applicable nowadays) that vegetarians fell into two camps, hippie cookbook-wise: the Moosewood camp and the Vegetarian Epicure camp. I'm so firmly in the Vegetarian Epicure school; how I love those books. The Moosewood books just annoy me. I dislike the handwritten recipes written so big (even me, a profoundly nearsighted person, finds it annoying). I hate the cutesy drawings (whereas the funky hippy sketches in The Vegetarian Epicure are just adorable to me). The recipes look stupid to me.

Nowadays I'm all about Jack Bishop, after having gone through a long De borah Madison phase (I still love Deborah Madison and Anna Thomas of Veg. Epicure). I learn so much from him. The Moosewood recipes just seem so boring and uncreative, and, well, sometimes just annoying. I do not want to make "cheese" from yogurt (and while I'm eating my yougurt "cheese", Mollie K. will be eating steak tartare with my money!) I'd rather be making caramelized endive a la Jack Bishop.

Freewheel said...

A Moosewood cookbook boycott! I'm down with it. I'll start spreading the word immediately.

Vodalus said...

Really?! I've always been able to wander into a national chain bookstore and say "I got this for Christmas but I already had it; can I swap?" (Except Waldenbooks, but those are dinky and have stock limits.) And you call this civilization. :P

And with the note about making "cheese" from yogurt (presumably to escape the rennet)... ick! Cheese is one of those things where there is just no acceptable substitute.

Anonymous said...

Here is a URL to the article where Molly Katzen admits she is an unapologetic meat eater:

http://tinyurl.com/yu6at2

Danielle said...

Three great cookbook authors: Sarah Kramer, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Robin Robertson,

Kramer's and Robertson's books don't have photos, but they're fairly easy to read. Moskowitz has a central section with pics of a few of the items. The only thing I don't like about Robertson's is that some have dairy and egg ingredients, but those are easily veganized.

Wonder if you can make yogurt cheese with soygurt?

But I'll steer clear of everything Moosewood from now on. Because there's no such thing as humane meat.

hughman said...

"Moosewood Cookbook". ugh, i just hate the name. it's so "our bodies, ourselves"/commune/hippy sounding. i'm not vegan but i hate that old stereotype.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Danielle, I have a cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz! I posted her vegan lemon cupcake recipe on this blog before. I'll keep an eye out for those other names.

Melissa said...

As pathetically ignorant of vegetarian ways as I am, even I have recognized two things about vegetarian recipes (I do have some interest in healthy cooking) that they either sound delicious, or they sound like terribly time consuming and horrid dishes. The give away is that the latter starts off with "make your own" whatever crap.

Hughman made me choke on my glass of wine with the "our bodies/ourselves" reminder. Oh, the visual images!

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thanks for the link, Anonymous commenter! Yes, that article caused me to end my subscription to Food & Wine (which I had treasured for years). I think I'm going to get a subscription to "Gourmet" instead. I just LOVE how the annoying author starts by whining about nothing in the world is worse than a vegetarian on a soapbox, how unbearable and horrific, and then she wraps up by talking about how important it is for everyone to browbeat vegetarians into eating meat. It's something she intends to put a lot of energy into!

Oh... so it's unforgivable when a vegetarians tries to influence people over meat, but it's a worthy, important cause when SHE goes around harassing vegetarians! Delightful.

Vodalus said...

gah, I had to quit reading after the stupid comparison of getting married, having kids and eating meat. Like changing your mind on the first two issues is even remotely connected to the third. (And as an even more annoying failure of parallelism, you can't really give up on being a parent/spouse without undergoing significant personal change. The herbivore/omnivore swap just involves growing some new intestinal fauna.)

Anonymous said...

Hughman, too true about Our Bodies/ Ourselves. I was thinking Free to be You and Me.

nan said...

Hi! I'm a periodic reader and love your blog. I have to post a quiet dissenting view to defend my beloved Moosewood Restaurant.(I actually recently did a post lauding the place). I live outside of Ithaca, NY, the home of the Moosewood Restaurant -- and it is really a wonderful place with delicious and simple foods and really great people running the place. They aren't fully vegetarian -- and incidentally, they have an outstanding bar! The cookbooks don't always translate, I'll give you that, but I will tell you the 2005 Simple Suppers cookbook (the only I own despite going there about once a month) is quite good - and no hand-written instructions or sketched drawings. If you get to the Finger Lakes of Central NYS, I hope you'll give the Moosewood a try! You can visit their site at this link. Cheers!

hughman said...

nan -

thanks for the link to the moosewood restaurant! the menu is, uh, interesting, i don't think bread and butter counts as a starter but i was surprised to see the salmon which sounds good. the prices were also a little high for veg meals (IMHO).

but again, thanks for the insight!

Nan said...

Hughman, trust me the bread is worth having as a starter and throughout the meal. It is not a pretentious place by any stretch -- simple, wholesome and yummy foods. The prices are decent for this area -- actually pretty modest for Ithaca. I am sure the place wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but I had to be the minority voice. They do some lovely vegan things - and always have one salmon entree - much to the dismay of some, I know. Peace all.

hughman said...

dear nan -

as a former BFF to a food critic in MYC, I still feel bread and butter in most restaurants is a given, not a starter.

the menu does seem unpretentious and not excessive. i assume it's local produce. still, for a local meal that costs 3.00 at most i think the prices are excessive. yes, you are paying for the "name" but i think 10.00 would be as reasonable.

all that aside, i would probably frequent it myself.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I'm willing to accept that the Moosewood restaurant must have something going for it; Lord knows, it has achieved fame and longevity. I have to side with Hughman about the bread, though. Even at restaurants which make their own artisanal breads, one doesn't expect to pay for it as a side.

Anonymous said...

they seriously need a new web designer.

Carla said...

(first.. cool to see Nan comment here - shes a friend!) And I have to concur with her. Being a local, and having dined there personally.. its my favorite restaurant, and one we reserve for special occasions. I also agree with Nan on the Simple Suppers cookbook, as it is one of the two I own (the other is New Classics.)
DH.. if you get another copy this year, let me know. I'll swap you a copy of Simple Suppers OR New Classics for the original, ok?

PS, I love Moosewood so much that my fave morning coffee cup is a matte blue big ol mug with the Moosewood Restaurant logo on it.

Also, do you read the blog Vegan Yum Yum? Or Vegetarian Meal Plans? Both are great. We're not a vegetarian family, but we still like the recipes! My 7 year old is nuts for the grilled polenta recipe at the Meal Plans blog.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dear Anonymous, I also need a new web designer! Heh. I would love to dish on other people's websites, but it would be truly hypocritical seeing as how I'm so lame with the web design myself.

Carla, I'll let you know if I get the anticipated cookbook. Thanks for your offer!

And welcome to commenting, Nan! Hope we'll see more of you!