Welcome to our weekly reunion. We begin with a request from what we might call the Soup School Department here at Fare Exchange. “Curious Cook” has discovered the roasted vegetable version of Better Than Bouillon. “I was surprised that a broth with no meat could taste so rich and flavorful. Could someone provide a recipe for a homemade vegetable broth as a base for soup?”

Mr. or Ms. C continued. “Also, I have tasted a light soup that contained both chickpeas and spinach, and I would really like some recipes for chickpea soup. I believe there is a Moroccan version that is either a soup or a stew, but have never tasted it.”

Cranberries have been popping on these pages of late, but here’s an anonymous request for raw cranberry sauce — “or should it be properly called Cranberry Conserve?”

PAN COOKIES

This dessert was in the last batch of goodies from Roseann Strazinsky.

Easy Chocolate Chip Blondies

2 (7.4-ounce) packages Martha White chocolate chip muffin mix

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of an 8-inch square pan.

In a large bowl, combine muffin mix and brown sugar; stir to blend evenly.

Add butter, egg and vanilla; stir well and add the nuts, blending well.

Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into 12 bars.

HOLIDAY CHUTNEY

From his home test kitchen, Tim Threadgill pronounced this one “our go-to cranberry recipe. Always gets raves. Aside from making a stellar accompaniment to roast turkey, this chutney is great for gift giving; pack in a ribbon-tied jelly jar. It also goes well with roast chicken, pork tenderloin or ham.”

(READ MORE: Chef Jonathan Valadez fuses flavors from the coast, the South and New Orleans at Cyra’s in Dalton)

Cranberry, Cherry and Walnut Chutney

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Orange rind strips (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cherries, and cook 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grated rind and extract. Garnish with orange rind strips, if desired. Cover and chill.

Makes 16 servings (serving size: 1/4 cup).

Nutrition facts per serving: 108 calories (25% from fat), 3 grams fat (0.2 gram saturated. 0.7 gram monounsaturated, 2 grams polyunsaturated), 1.5 grams protein, 19.7 grams carbohydrates, 1.8 grams fiber, 0.3 milligram iron, 2 milligrams sodium, 11 milligrams calcium.

CROCK POT CHICKEN

This recipe from Marilyn Soehl is part of her experimenting with feeding a big, hungry family every weeknight. She found it online, “with just four ingredients.”

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken (Keto Low-Carb)

2 pounds boneless chicken, about 4 chicken breasts

3 tablespoons butter

4 ounces cream cheese

3 tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix (1 packet; Hidden Valley brand is great)

Place chicken (fresh or frozen) in crock pot.

Cut up butter and cream cheese into chunks, and place on chicken.

Sprinkle the ranch dressing over the chicken.

Cook chicken in crock pot on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 5 to 7 hours.

Shred chicken before serving.

Serve ranch chicken over vegetables, noodles or rice.

Note: During last half of cooking time, check chicken for moisture. It may need 2 to 4 tablespoons of water added to it. This recipe may be doubled.

FEAST TREATS

Now that we are headed into December’s holiday feasts, Jean Moore offered two of her favorites, with the Moore family stamp of approval.

King’s Arms Tavern Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds sweet potatoes

3/4 cup light brown sugar, divided

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole.

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until done. Peel and mash. Stir in all remaining ingredients except 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.

Turn mixture into prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cranberry Cumberland Sauce

2 oranges

1/2 cup red currant jelly

1/2 cup port wine

1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar

2 sticks cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice (wrap in cheesecloth)

1 (16-ounce) package fresh cranberries

Cut peel of 1 orange in fine strips; simmer in water 2 or 3 minutes; drain and set aside. Combine juice of both oranges, jelly, wine, sugar and spices; boil up, then simmer 5 minutes. Remove spices (this is not necessary if you use ground spices). Add cranberries and reserved orange peel. Bring to a full rolling boil until berries pop. Cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

VEGAN OPTIONS

Our daughter-in-law, who lives far, far away, asked about our Thanksgiving menu as she prepared hers in Germany. When I recounted it — turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, onions, Lima beans, monkey bread and then dessert — it seemed, well, a lot. In balance, it is a colorful and gentle comfort to read these vegan recipes from Rose Secrest. As always, add salt and pepper to taste.

(READ MORE: Where to eat vegan food in Chattanooga)

Creamy Beet Soup

2 cups beets, boiled and peeled and diced

1 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons apple juice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dill

Puree ingredients, and heat gently for about 10 minutes.

Blood Orange Brussels Sprouts

2 cups Brussels sprouts, cooked

1/2 cup blood orange juice

2 blood oranges, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon mint

1 tablespoon tarragon

Combine all ingredients. Serve cold, warm or hot, depending on your taste.

You are good companions, gathering as we always do around the digital kitchen table together. We have four more 2022 Wednesdays in each other’s company, and I plan to enjoy them and translate them into food in the actual kitchen at our house.

REQUESTS

— Homemade vegetable broth

— Chickpea soup

— Raw cranberry sauce

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send, and know we cannot test the recipes printed here.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

• Email: [email protected]

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