Sharing meals with friends and family is one of life's greatest pleasures. Featured here are some of the simple, yet wonderful, celebrations that take place in our home on Any Given Sunday throughout the year.
These are the last two tomatoes from this year's garden. They did their best to ripen but got caught in the frost we had two nights ago. I picked all the last of the green ones for a batch of fried green tomatoes, which we'll enjoy this weekend but then it will be time to pull out the plants and let the dirt rest until next spring. It's sad to see the garden go away for the winter but I am looking forward to the season of braising and deliciously satisfying soups!
This will be the easiest (and one of the freshest tasting) desserts you will ever make.
1 quart fresh apple cider
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pour fresh apple cider into a flat baking dish, approx. 9" x 12" (Pyrex works great).
Fill to the half-way mark.
Place dish in freezer for approximately 2 hours, or until cider begins to harden.
Take a fork and scrape the semi-frozen cider to "flake" it.
Allow cider to freeze another half-hour and flake it again.
Continue flaking frozen cider until it's a fluffy, icy substance.
Serve immediately in pretty glasses.
If you prefer, make whipped cream by pouring cream into a bowl, adding the vanilla and cinnamon, and whipping all together. Put a healthy dollop of whipped cream on top of each serving of granita and serve immediately.
A deliciously refreshing fall dessert (with very low calories and no fat if you avoid the whipped cream)!
This is a really long prelude to the recipe so you’ll have to bear with me. If you can’t stand my rambling, just skip this part and scroll down to the Basic Light Vegetable Broth recipe by Anna Thomas, which appears below (way below)!
My own paperback copy of The New Vegetarian Epicure was so stained with wine and vegetable broth that I searched the Internet a couple of years ago to find first edition hard covers of each of Anna’s books so that I could retire my old edition. I still have it, of course, because it contains her signature and an inscription I will always treasure, as well as a path of stains that are a visual scrapbook of the wonderful meals we’ve produced from her recipes over the years. In December of 2006, Anna indulged me by signing the new copies of her books, which have become some of my favorite personal treasures (ones that I am more careful not to stain so badly). Her latest inscription in The New Vegetarian Epicure reads: “Here we are, still cooking, still eating, and – don’t forget – still drinking! Isn’t it fun?”
For more of Anna’s recipes, open your well-used, broth-stained copy (you know you have one), or visit her website (http://www.vegetarianepicure.com/) and click on the link for “New Recipes,” which has not been recently updated but gives you a link to the archive, which is well stocked and abundant with recipes you will treasure for a long time to come. They are all delicious, easy to use and organized by season – enjoy them all – you will not be disappointed. If you’re diligent, look all the way back to December of 2003 for her savory biscotti recipes – truly amazing with a cheese platter and a bold red wine – you won’t stop until they are all gone.
At the “About Anna” page of her website, just a couple of paragraphs down, is live link that takes you to the article about Anna written by her friend, Roger Ebert, for the Chicago Sun Times in 1996. Ebert’s introductory paragraph reads as follows: Anna Thomas is exactly the kind of woman Martha Stewart would kill to be. Of course, Thomas would kill me for writing that sentence. But consider: Thomas has been married for more than twenty years to her college sweetheart, has two happy sons, has produced four movies and directed one, has been nominated for an Oscar, lives in a rambling ranch house on top of a ridge outside Ojai, Calif, and, when she was in her early 20s, she wrote the two most influential cookbooks in the history of modern vegetarian cuisine. Now she has brought out a third, with the emphasis on lower-fat recipes. And next up: a book of vegetarian soups from Anna that is now in the hands of her publisher and due out soon.
Okay, you’ve waited long enough…here is the recipe no kitchen should ever be without:
Tracey’s note: Anna calls this broth “light” and offers heartier versions in her book, but you should understand that this is light in the “fresh tasting” sense and not light in the sense of being weak. We use this broth for risotto and soups all the time and feel it tastes just as good (if not better) than some of the best chicken broths we make.
BASIC LIGHT VEGETABLE BROTH
From The New Vegetarian Epicure
By Anna Thomas
5 large carrots (1 ½ cups sliced)
2 large celery stalks (1 ½ cups sliced)
2 large onions
1 head garlic
green top of 1 large leek (2-3 cups sliced)
thick peels of 2 small potatoes
1 turnip or rutabaga
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns
4 branches flat-leaf parsley
12 branches cilantro
1 ½ tsp. salt
12 cups water
Wash all the vegetables thoroughly. Scrape the carrots and peel the onions. Thickly peel the potatoes, reserving the inside for another use. Slice or coarsely chop everything except the head of garlic, which can just be sliced crosswise and put in as is.
Combine all the vegetables, herbs, and seasonings with the water in a large pot. The water should just cover everything when you first put it all together. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, and let the broth boil gently for about 45 minutes. All the vegetables should be completely soft, and the flavors fully released into the liquid.
Strain the broth through a colander, then through a fine sieve to remove any sediment or cloudiness. Taste, and correct the salt if needed, but bear in mind that it’s best to leave broth undersalted until you know how you’re going to use it.
You should have 7-8 cups of mild-flavored, amber-colored vegetable broth.