Good morning, good readers. If you checked social media or recipe-searched on the web during December, you surely saw some carefully curated lives and kitchens. And then there is the homegrown record of real lives, perhaps a batter-spattered recipe card, inscribed in the loving hand of a friend or family member of generations past. Maybe even mysterious instructions like, "Cook in a moderate oven until brown on top." Dangerous business, that, but real and messy and full of life.

So what batter-spattered recipe card, what family treasure, did you pull out and use last month? Please give us what worked well, and was relatively easy, in your cooking hands.

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Jane Henegar

Odell Waddell of East Brainerd has tasted some excellent grits in recent travels. "I favor the creamy ones instead of the ones heavy with Cheddar cheese and garlic and would like a recipe for simple creamy grits. I would also like to know the best grits to buy and where."

Lynn Carroll wrote in praise of almond milk for cooking and, even better, told us of a free resource for healthy cooking. It happens monthly right here in Chattanooga, and you may have read about it in Fare Exchange before.

"The half dozen or so doctors at Dinner With a Doctor (held at 6 each third Monday evening at the North River Civic Center) got me hooked on the habit of only using almond milk. Sponsored by Memorial Hospital, Dinner With a Doctor is a monthly free event, and the doctors feed you a full four-course dinner and give each attendee the recipes used for the dinner. About 200 or so attend each month. No reservation needed — just show up. It's wonderful."

Here's what Ms. Carroll says about almond milk. "I substitute almond milk in every recipe I cook that calls for milk. I've been doing it about a year and never had a complaint. Some recipes have a very slightly sweeter taste like mashed potatoes and cream soups. But that would never be a problem."



A.E. searched for pudding recipes that feature almond milk. "The first recipe is adaptable to vegetarian and vegan diets. The second recipe came from a blog called Chocolate Covered Katie and suggests using canned coconut milk instead of the almond version, which might make it rich and creamier."

Almond Milk Chocolate Pudding

1 cup white sugar, or to taste

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

3 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon butter (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt together in a saucepan; whisk in 1/4 cup almond milk until foamy and smooth. Continue adding almond milk, 1/4 cup at a time, to cocoa mixture until mixture is smooth and foamy each time. Place saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in butter until melted and smooth. Add vanilla extract, and mix well. Pour pudding into serving bowl, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

2 1/2 cups canned coconut milk, divided (or use any milk of your choice)

Heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder (see note)

Uncut Stevia to taste or 1/3 cup sugar, pure maple syrup or honey

3 tablespoons cornstarch (I use non-GMO cornstarch) (see note)

3 1/2 ounces chocolate chips or broken-up bar, optional

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat 2 cups milk of choice in a saucepan with the salt, cocoa powder and sweetener. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup milk of your choice in a small bowl until dissolved. When milk in saucepan is warm, add the cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Lower to a simmer for an additional minute, then turn off the heat. Once the heat is off, stir in the broken-up chocolate pieces and vanilla until the chocolate melts. Transfer the pudding to the refrigerator to thicken. It gets thicker the longer it sits and will be ready to consume after a few hours or overnight.

* Dutch cocoa note: I've only tried this recipe with Dutch cocoa powder so can't vouch for the taste if regular unsweetened cocoa powder is used in its place.

* Cornstarch note: Readers have reported success with arrowroot instead of cornstarch, although I have not tried arrowroot.



Roseann Strazinsky of Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, found the link to purchase the old-fashioned cereal Ralston. "I also enjoyed Ralston when I was a child. You can order it through the Vermont catalog. Try"



Jo Trimble provided the first answer to the first request in this column. "I am enclosing a copy of the recipe for Gingerbread and Lemon Sauce from the late Lou Trimble (a fabulous cook), who raised five children on her great cooking. I have used this recipe and can attest to how tasty and good it is. Very moist."

Gingerbread and Lemon Sauce

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

3/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup sorghum or molasses

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut shortening into the dry mixture. In a separate bowl, mix molasses, buttermilk and eggs; add to flour mixture. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minute. Serve with Lemon Sauce (recipe follows).

Lemon Sauce

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups cold water

2/3 cup sugar

Juice of a large lemon

1 tablespoon butter

Grated lemon rind (optional)

Nutmeg to taste (optional)

Mix together cornstarch, water and sugar in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it turns clear and thickens. Add lemon juice and butter; cook a little longer. Add grated lemon rind and nutmeg if desired.

Jo Trimble added to the recipe she sent, "I read Fare Exchange every Wednesday with scissors in hand." So here's to a newspaper clipping in your hand as well this morning — batter-splattered or perfectly cut.



*  Family treasure recipes

* Simple creamy grits



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