Fare Exchange: Comforting banana nut bread and a tasty, customizable pasta salad

Fare Exchange: Comforting banana nut bread and a tasty, customizable pasta salad

August 7th, 2013 by Jane Henegar in Life Entertainment

Good morning, August readers. Summer wanes and school waxes, and hunger persists. Today's requests: old-fashioned fig preserves, recipes using sprouted ingredients, homemade protein bars, and more frozen fruit salads.

Patsy Lowman-Evitt wrote "in hopes that you and your readers can help me in my search for an easy, old-fashioned fig preserves recipe. My brother has a huge fig tree and we would love to be able to copy, or come close to, our mother's fig preserves."

Jennifer W. Cole, attempting to eat more healthfully, has been reading that "sprouted ingredients make the most healthful breads, drinks, etc. I'd like to know why this is so and also have some recipes. I would particularly like recipes for yeast breads using sprouted ingredients. I would also like recipes for homemade protein bars that I could send in my kids' school lunches."

Finally, an anonymous reader has asked for more salads that may be frozen.

I'm hoping you will continue sharing your memories of local establishments of long ago, and we would all be glad if you can throw a recipe into that envelope. This week, David Cooper picks up the reminiscence of Oscar's, where he "remembers going as a child when it was on McCallie Avenue, about where McCallie Avenue and Bailey Avenue converge at a stoplight above the old HealthSouth Hospital. ... The new Missionary Ridge Tunnel and Dodds Avenue overpass were installed around 1955, so that's when Oscar's moved to Highway 58, one of the very first commercial enterprises on a fairly new highway.

"At the McCallie Avenue site, I remember sitting on stools at a counter and the 'Friday Night Fights' would be shown on a television, decades before TVs in restaurants became popular. After many years, Oscar's on 58 was closed and the building sat empty. Oscar McCurdy had been the owner. His grandson, Dr. Meadows, now has a walk-in clinic there. Oscar's daughter and the doctor's mom is Bobbie Meadows."

This one just came to me: Bethea's Restaurant on Brainerd Road. Who has recipes from Bethea's?

Carol Sharpe had this one in her Brabson House collection. And add banana bread to the comfort food category; rather, add banana bread to the comfort aroma category. Our next-door-neighbor came home yesterday to the aroma of banana bread, baked by her visiting mother. "It made me happy just walking in the house," she reported.

Banana Nut Bread

1-3/4 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, soda and salt. Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs, bananas and sour cream, then flour. Beat well. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Just a Dash ...

Today it's one small hint from Jennifer W. Cole. "Pasta salad can easily make a whole meal, enough to feed my ravenous kids. Just boil any pasta or quinoa until barely done, cool, marinate with your favorite salad dressing and add anything you have in your fridge, any raw vegetable or cooked meat. It should keep for several days." She does follow her hint with a particular recipe, if the particulars will help you shape your original version.

BLT Pasta or Quinoa Salad

This recipe calls for romaine lettuce mixed in, but salad will keep better if lettuce is served alongside instead of stirred in.

12 ounces corkscrew shaped pasta or quinoa (kids love the shape of bowties)

1/2 cup milk or unflavored almond milk

12 ounces lean bacon (turkey bacon works, or salami strips)

3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced, or more

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise or unflavored Greek yogurt

1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons chopped chives (Fresh chives are best.)

5 cups chopped romaine hearts

Cook the pasta or quinoa in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme if you are using it, and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper.

Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.

Keep Dashing: We are hoping to get from many of you contributions to our Just a Dash ending. What ideas and hints and easy menus and how-to's are making your kitchen life tastier and easier? Your letters make all the difference. We will watch for you next Wednesday.