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.
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The time has come to cook with one eye on the promising garden, either your own or the greening plot of someone who has enough to share.
Today's first request comes from the garden - or rather, the Chattanooga Market. The challenge is how to use squash blossoms in salad, as well as hyacinth vine flowers. Add then the following requests: red-eye gravy and truly creamy grits as served at One Flew South in the Atlanta airport, where to find ground sassafras leaves, how to make Cajun Filé Gumbo and a frozen ginger daiquiri.
"It was my first trip to the Chattanooga Market," wrote an anonymous Exchanger. "I purchased some squash plants, and the vendor asked me, 'Will you be eating the squash or just the blossoms? You know the blossoms are very good in a salad. And here's a hyacinth vine; their blossoms are tasty, too.' So, says Anonymous, "What do I do next? Where do you find the blossoms and what do you do with them?"
Rhonda Haggard added a spicy question to the mix. "I am looking for some Gumbo Filé. It is ground sassafras leaves I use it to make a Cajun recipe called Filé Gumbo; it is made with chicken and a roux mixed together and cooked three to four hours and served over rice. I was raised on it in Arkansas and I can't seem to find it in Tennessee. If you can help I would appreciate it very much."
We will add as an aside to Ms. Haggard - and to you - that a recipe for Cajun Filé Gumbo would be most welcome.
Finally, from "World Traveler," here's a request for a "frozen ginger daiquiri that has salt and a spicy seasoning on the rim of the glass. I tasted this in the Caribbean."
For a Tennessean, a Georgian and an Alabamian, up-and-coming garden topics must rely heavily on corn. A recipe for baked corn on the cob brought several responses for other easy ways to cook this sweet staple of Southern kitchens.
Paula Crowell shared "a method that is even easier. I have a gas oven and putting corn ears into my oven unshucked might cause a fire. While having dinner with friends one evening, I was amazed to see that they microwaved their corn on the cob. And it was yummy.
"Three minutes per unshucked ear in the microwave and a few minutes until they are cool enough to touch makes a delicious addition to dinner that doesn't heat up my kitchen (or set the house on fire). I have a large microwave with a lot of power, so the corn actually cooks faster. Fifteen minutes in the microwave wrapped in a kitchen towel (so I could get them out without a steam burn) cooked six fresh ears of corn last night."
C.D. in East Brainerd weighs in with a similar response. "I think the microwave oven is the easiest and, more important to me, the fastest, at least for one or two ears. I zap one average size ear, with husk on, for two minutes and 45 seconds at high power. Flip the ear and zap for another minute and 45 seconds. Like the oven method, the silk is very easily removed."
Here's ordering information for rice wine vinegar, as requested. Judy Bellenfant noted that this wine vinegar may be purchased on Amazon for $2.95 per 10-ounce jar. "Unfortunately," she continued, "the shipping is $11."
Xanthum gum called for in gluten-free recipes, says Wanda King, is sold by King Arthur Flour on its website or in its catalog. Another reader messaged this: "Readers can find xanthum gum at Earth Fare and Nutrition World. I don't think they will be too happy with the Bob's Red Mill Baking mix, though. It is heavy and beany-tasting because it includes garbanzo beans. I suggest King Arthur if she wants a ready-made mix. Their bread mix is available at Fresh Market and already includes xanthum gum. Earth Fare has King Arthur All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix, and she will need to add xanthum gum or psyllium according to her recipe. A more inexpensive option is to create her own blend. I recommend America's Test Kitchen's 'The How It Can Be Gluten Free Cookbook.'"
One has to wonder about these gums discovered when consulting the ingredients on packages. Think of guar gum as seen on the cream cheese wrapper. Guar and xanthum: How tasty do they sound? Psyllium husks don't whet the appetite, either. Our gluten-free friend appeared at lunch today and tossed a small container of hemp seeds on her glorious green salad. The thought occurred, "Hemp is what you make ropes out of." Hardly an inducement. I throw my Costco-size bag of ground flax seed into the same category. But then I take them all out again, grateful for the substance they provide.
Barbara Mann read the request for simple lemon desserts, "and this is simple. It's Lemon Syllabub from Christy Jordan's 'Southern Plate.'"
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons apple juice
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat together with mixer until cream is whipped. Chill. Serve same day. This is also good with fresh strawberries.
That reminds me of a simple lemon dessert printed here in years past. In a glass sherbet dish put a generous helping of lemon sorbet. In a separate bowl slice strawberries and sprinkle with sugar and chopped mint. Stir until juicy and pour over sorbet just before serving.
In the rush and crush of a busy airport, an anonymous reader discovered the restaurant One Flew South in Atlanta's Terminal E. "The appetizer - Shrimp and Grits - gave me a great idea for light spring and summer meals. Their version was a large bowl with creamy grits topped with six grilled shrimp, some small chunks of Andouille sausage, flecks of mustard greens for color and bite, and kernels of corn. Everything was bound together with a thin red-eye gravy.
"So here is my idea. In a bowl put a little rice, orzo, grits or mashed potatoes. Add some chunks of sausage or fish or chicken, a little bit of anything green, then some chopped fresh vegetables like tomatoes, and any favorite sauce drizzled over. I was thinking of the white sauce served at Japanese restaurants. The possibilities are endless and easy, especially if you use some leftovers."
Next week? Let's.