Welcome to Fare Exchange on this welcome April Wednesday. We begin with unsolved mysteries.

First, there are some vegan soups on their way, but an anonymous Exchanger wants to begin simply with a tasty vegetable stock. "Chicken stock is easy to make tasty, but I haven't managed a tasty vegetable stock. I have a good many recipes calling for milk chocolate, but now that we know that 70 percent dark chocolate is good for you, how do you substitute in recipes?"

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Jane Henegar

Mrs. Odell Waddell had a neighbor in mind as she wrote. "I am looking for some vegan recipes so that we can entertain our used-to-be new neighbors. Please help since I'm way overdue to share our hospitality with them."



It was a simple thing for Lucy Boyd to produce help for the request for easy fish recipes. "Salmon is easy," she began. And then she gave the how-to.

Easy salmon with variations:

"Pick out a nice piece of salmon from your butcher. Bake in a 375- to 425-degree oven on a cookie sheet you've coated with oil or Pam. Experiment with adding spices and sauces when it is almost done.

"I like to go either sweet or spicy; for example: maple syrup or honey or a variety of spices, similar to Mrs. Dash. You can use barbecue sauce, teriyaki, butter, sour cream, Parmesan, brown sugar, garlic, oregano or pepper in any mixture you like. Alternatively, bake in a well-greased foil packet. If I cook with just spices, I add lemon as I eat it. Also, check out flavored salmon pouches; they have fun recipes on them such as baked potatoes and salads."



Frances Connor, who is a transplant to Chattanooga and Signal Mountain, found Benton's bacon as per your request. And she confirms, "By the way, it is far and away the best bacon on the planet.

"Pruett's Market on Signal always has it. They move the display around sometimes, so if your reader can't find it, just ask.

"Also, in the past I have ordered from Benton's online. It doesn't take too long to arrive and will last forever in the freezer. Another option as the weather changes to spring is to take a drive to Benton's Smokehouse, which my husband did last week. He came back not only with my stash of bacon but some delicious prosciutto, which is hard to find in local stores."



Dean Killebrew sent two original recipes that are favorites in her kitchen.

Dean's Chicken Salad

3 stalks celery, chopped fine

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 to 4 green onions (use tops if tender)

1 cup or more mayonnaise (Hellmann's preferred)

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans or both

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Black pepper as you like

Salt (use lightly)

1 can water chestnuts, cut up

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 cooked rotisserie chicken (or 4 large chicken breasts, cooked)

Mix all ingredients except chicken. Tear chicken into pieces, and place in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise mixture, and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

Dean's Beet Salad

6 cans regular beets (not pickled beets), drained

1 cup purple or yellow onions

1 small can water chestnuts, cut into pieces (or substitute almonds)

4 ounces Craisins (dried cranberries)

4 ounces sunflower seeds

1 cup celery, chopped

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

Mix all ingredients gently and well. Pour over the following dressing. You may serve immediately, but it is better to let marinate overnight.

Beet Salad Dressing

1/2 cup Italian dressing

1 cup raspberry salad dressing

Mix well.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.



Get ready: Cookbook author Rose Secrest has sent us a thick envelope of her vegan soups both cold and hot, printed in her precise hand. Let's stay in the beet department with an Eastern European and Russian specialty that is served cold.

(Side note: Years ago, my friend Elizabeth served borscht to delighted diners. I remember the non-vegan addition of sour cream dolloped on too. Ms. Secrest's recipe makes me want to recreate this colorful experience.)


1 cup beets

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1 cup beet greens

1 onion

2 tablespoons parsley

1/3 cup apple juice

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 cup water

Chop the beets, carrot, celery, beet greens, onions and parsley. Place chopped vegetables and remaining ingredients in a pot, and simmer until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes. Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator.

(Note: Ms. Secrest's recipes do not contain salt and pepper, as she trusts the diner to add to taste where needed.)



The culinary pair Mr. and Mrs. Sunday weighed in healthfully as well as helpfully.

"Some of our friends got to talking about 'healthy' snacks, and almonds came up. Off we went to the store to see if there wasn't something unique to try. We found cocoa-covered almonds in three brands: Emerald, Blue Diamond and a store brand.

"The group's taste-test results: In two of the three brands, the flavor was good, but the almond skins' dryness under the cocoa was a distraction. The surprise winner: Walmart's Great Value brand.

"Moral of the story: If you don't bet, you can't win; get outside your comfort zone once in a while.

"Be warned: Those almonds can be addictive."

There's an idea worth imitating, and a fun excuse for getting together — perhaps not even for an entire meal, but concentration on one category. You and your guests conduct a taste test similar to this one, and let us know the results.

As I survey the recipes printed today and in the recent past, it's notable that bread and desserts are becoming less popular topics. As in Just a Dash, it's salutary almonds that get the covering of chocolate. In your opinion, is this just Fare Exchange happenstance or proof of a definite shift in the way we eat? And if the latter, let's give thanks.



* Flavorful vegetable stock

* Dark for milk chocolate substitutions

* Vegan recipes



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.

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