Thursday, September 20, 2007

LAUREL'S KITCHEN by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey

The Book: Laurel Robertston, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey, LAUREL'S KITCHEN: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition. Bantam mass market paperback, 13th printing, 1982. Book is in good condition; spine is seriously creased, cover is creased and chipped but intact, pages are age-darkened and food-stained in spots.
First read: 1983
Owned since: 1983

This is the first cookbook I owned, aside from some Betty Crocker kids' cookbook my sister and I had as children. I asked for it as a Christmas gift in 1983, when I was sharing an apartment with a committed vegetarian. My own flirtation with vegetarianism didn't last past college, but I still go back to this cookbook.

As with any well-used cookbook, this copy falls open to my favorite recipes: Potato-Cheese Soup. Basic Whole-Grain Bread, whose pages have ancient scraps of dough crusted on them. Corn Chowder -- ooh, which I haven't made in way too long -- and Asparagus Soup.

I like soups. I like making them, I like eating them, and I like having them in the freezer in case of unexpected catastrophe. (And aren't catastrophes always unexpected?)

Laurel's Kitchen is more than a cookbook; it's a manual for a vegetarian way of life, and it's also something of a cultural artifact. I assume it's been updated for the 21st century, but I hope the latest edition didn't sacrifice any of its earnestness. Besides being the source of my easiest bread recipe, it is also the symbol of my first effort to live a mindful, irony-free life -- something I'm still working on.


Anonymous said...

"... effort to live a mindful, irony-free life ..."

I find it ironic that a vegetarian cookbook would offer recipes for things like potato cheese soup. Renin, one of the main ingredients needed for cheese making, comes from the stomach lining of cows. Only really one way to get those stomach linings.

Rather than choosing vegetarianism as a path to oneness with the universe, resign yourself to omnivorism as just one in the series of only slightly regretable compromises you need to make to cohabitate with the universe, or even just be nodding neighbors with the universe.

-- Ed

Anonymous said...

Banana bread: the page is stained with oil, maybe butter when I was not toying with veganism, bits of wheat germ have slipped into the binding...

It is still comfort food around here, and I think it's why Tim puts up with me.


AnswerGirl said...

I used to make that banana bread recipe all the time, too! The only thing I ever used wheat germ for...

Christopher said...

In an interesting twist of genetics, or perhaps merely disposition, soups are one of my favorite things. ever. I just bought a bunch of cans of chicken and beef stock so as to make some soup. eventually. Also, I will call sometime on Friday. which is today. right now.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed, that's not the only source of rennet.

That said, I am a hypocritical "vegetarian". I absolutely can not put any limits on my cheese intake. None. Never. No Way.

Perhaps the soup thing is genetic. I eat is almost every day for lunch.


Anonymous said...

Dang. I sit corrected. But there's still that milk ingredient in cheese that would give some vegans pause.

I hate whn my snideness is overridden by facts.

I'll just have to move farther down the block from the universe.

-- Ed