Tuesday, July 11, 2006
A Tribute to Phyllis Glazer
Hi, everyone; sorry for having disappeared for so long. I was out of the country, and just came back, still jetlagged and without much motivation for cooking beyond salads and omelettes. In such circumstances, the best I can do for us all is to use this opportunity to pay tribute to a wonderful lady - the "first lady" of vegetarian cooking in Israel: Phyllis Glazer.
Originally from Boston, Phyllis Glazer arrived in Israel and worked as an actress, gradually shifting to the world of vegetarianism. She started writing about healthy cuisine, whole grains and beans, and ecological issues, when none of these was anywhere near the Israeli mainstream. Recently, a festive 25th year anniversary edition of her book Vegetarian Feast was issued; she still writes extensively about vegetarian cooking and eating. Since writing this classic, she's written a second vegetarian book called Phyllis' Kitchen, which is also very good, and also a book about Jewish festival cooking.
I got acquainted with Glazer's work in my early twenties, as a student in Jerusalem. I learned to cook from two sources: my neighbor Frida and Glazer's book. I bought the book somewhere - can't remember well - and made each and every recipe in it, though I didn't follow it to the letter (I always like to invent and improve on written recipes). Glazer taught me the importance of combining whole grains and beans, the possibilities in vegetables I wasn't familiar with, and the secrets of quick breads, an American novelty I hadn't been exposed to. With her book, I made fruit custards, pureed soups, homemade granola, and bean casseroles. My first Irish soda bread came out of that book, as did my first muffins - real, genuine powerhouses of bran and fruit, not flavorless sweet treats. Much of my enthusiasm about healthy nutrition echoes the excitement conveyed by Glazer's writings, and her efforts to make vegetarianism more palatable to the Israeli mainstream.
If you read Hebrew, you'd do good to buy yourself a copy of the book. It's still relevant and useful. And if you don't, you can always wrap a banana in foil and freeze it (Glazer's simple and delicious ice-cream substitute) or make the following leftover dish - my take on one of her classics.
Brown Rice Patties
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2-1 cup grated vegetables, like zuccini or carrots
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1/3 cup whole wheat or brown rice flour
Mix all ingredients and make into flattened discs. Fry in olive oil, or, if desired - bake on a baking sheet until brown.