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Mollie Katzen-Moosewood Cookbook.

Phaedrus | Oct 13, 201307:16 AM

Today, October 13 is the birthday of cookbook author Mollie Katzen, born in Rochester, New York (1950). She grew up in a Jewish home, where she learned to love food. "Being grateful for food, slowing down around food — that's what was sacred for me, and this was all in kashrut. [...] Even a bowl of popcorn in front of the TV, I love to 'behold' the popcorn, and not just mindlessly reach in and eat it."

She went to college at Cornell University, although she dropped out partway through, frustrated that all the student activism made it impossible to actually attend classes. She said: "I just kind of wanted to go to school. Everyone was like, 'Nixon invaded Cambodia, so we shouldn't go to school!' I was thinking, 'I don't completely see the connection.'" She moved to California, to the Bay Area, where she was inspired by the healthful-but-still-tasty food there. She returned to Ithaca to visit her brother, and he was on the verge of helping to launch a collectively owned restaurant called the Moosewood. Katzen decided to stay and help for a while, and ended up working at the Moosewood for five years. She collected recipes from the restaurant and published The Moosewood Cookbook (1977), with illustrations and hand-lettered recipes for dishes like Gypsy Soup, Tabouli, Vegetable-Almond Medley, and Zucchini-Feta Pancakes. She got a loan from a local bookstore and printed 800 copies, and they sold out within two weeks. So she printed 2,000 more, and they also sold out. The Moosewood Cookbook became a sensation. Recently, it was listed by The New York Times as one of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of all time. Since then, Katzen has published many more cookbooks, including The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (1982), Sunlight Cafe (2002), and most recently, Get Cooking (2009).

She said: "I love working at home. I rarely dress in anything fancier than a T-shirt and sweats. My kids often have dance and gymnastics classes in the evening (they are both serious dancers), so they often eat dinner on the run (frequently some variation of homemade pizza that I whip up for them. There is always pizza dough in my refrigerator!) and my husband and I eat late, usually a simple vegetable stir-fry. We love to go for evening walks in the park down the road. The most important leisure activity for me is just plain being outside in beautiful Northern California, where I am lucky enough to live. I even love it in the rain. And I adore my work."

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