Originally posted on 26 December 2007.
Possibly my favorite Christmas gift was Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables, an indispensible reference. I've been reading it non-stop: each vegetable (sorted alphabetically) is described, including how to judge freshness, how to store, how to prepare, and how to grow in a kitchen garden, and many recipes are suggested. Tonight and tomorrow we will be eating leftovers before leaving for a family trip to the Coast; tonight's dinner was lasagna. But dinner should include a fresh vegetable. A trip to the local organic grocer yielded a gorgeous and very fresh and sweet red cabbage. What, we asked Alice, should we do with it?
After removing the outermost leaves and washing the cabbage (I would only save cabbage for a beef stock; it's fine to compost this), remove the core and slice into very thin strips, a few inches long. Thinly slice a leek, and in the bottom of a heavy large saucepan, cook the leek in three tablespoons butter or duck fat for five minutes. Add the cabbage along with a large spoonful of sherry vinegar, a healthy handful of salt, some black pepper, a bay leaf, and half a cup of water. Stir, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and let the cabbage reduce for twenty minutes.
While the cabbage cooks, wash, peel, and grate (with a coarse grater) an apple. Toss with a little sherry vinegar to keep the apple from oxidizing, and eat the peel and core. When the cabbage has cooked for twenty minutes, stir in the grated apple and cook another five minutes. Serve hot.
In the days after Christmas, one should never be long without a good cookie. The following is from The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau:
Three cups flour should be combined in a large bowl with a quarter teaspoon salt, one and a half teaspoon baking powder, one tablespoon aniseed, and one cup pine nuts. In a separate small bowl, whisk to combine seven eighths of a cup of pure maple syrup with half a cup canola oil, one quarter cup water, two tablespoons anise extract, and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Combine wet into dry, roll by tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie tray, and bake twenty minutes in a preheated three-hundred-fifty-degree oven.
Addtionally, after Christmas we eat an endless supply of pfeffernusse, gingerbread, and the many cookies left with us after our annual Cookie Party, a wonderful potluck at which we have eggnog with and without rum, hot mulled wine, ciders, and homemade cookies with all our friends and neighbors.