I sit down to the computer with anticipation, to emailed recipes as well as ones that actually came in the mail, the usual convivial chatting over food. This week a local pastor told a story about the three sentences people most want to hear. The first two are no-brainers: "I love you" and "I forgive you." The third: "Come to dinner."

Now, that one makes sense too.

Today's opener is a topic raised in recent missives and visits — starting with a 24-year-old man who has just begun to keep house. This is what each person was asking in various ways, for various reasons: How can I cook healthfully ... simply ... with recipes that are scarcely even recipes and just a few ingredients? An image comes to mind: sugar snap peas. As they say, easy peasy. Open package and eat.

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Jane Henegar

Tell us your Wednesday night fare, your busy-day plans.

And then, please share your favorite way to use strawberries of the season. Here's one printed before: Slice strawberries and sprinkle sugar on them, let sugar dissolve into a syrup, then add chopped fresh mint. Put lemon sorbet in individual bowls, and top with the strawberry mixture.



L. Roberts of McMinnville begins the conversation about edible flowers.

"The May issue of Better Homes & Gardens has a brief article and a recipe for Lemon Verbena Ice Cream Pie. There is also a link to a guide for edible flowers."

There is a great variety of recipes in this resource, and there are a lot of creative ideas. Here's an example: "Pinks and other dianthus have a sweet, clove-like taste. Do not eat whole — remove individual petals. Infuse petals in water for tea, or top a cracker and cheese with several petals. This flower also makes a delectable sorbet."

And here's the pie spied by L. Roberts, who has only researched, but never experimented with, edible flowers.

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream Pie

We topped our ice cream pie with phlox and roses, plus a few lemon verbena sprigs, but any edible flowers will work. Remember: Not all flowers, including most florist flowers, are meant for consumption.

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves or 4 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and verbena or zest just to a simmer over high. Remove from heat; let steep about 30 minutes. Stir in salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks until thick and pale. Return milk to a simmer. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup milk mixture into egg mixture. Continue whisking until smooth.

Slowly add egg mixture to saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium-low until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and just starting to bubble.

Stir in cream. Press through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in vanilla. Set mixture in an ice bath to chill, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a 2-quart ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Ginger Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Herbs and edible flowers, such as lemon verbena, phlox and/or roses

Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add flour, sugar, candied ginger, ground ginger and salt. Beat until a soft dough forms.

Press dough evenly into prepared pie plate. Line with a double thickness of greased foil. Fill to top with pie weights. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 10 to 12 minutes more or until dark golden brown. Let cool completely. Freeze at least 1 hour.

Spread ice cream into crust. Freeze at least 4 hours or until ice cream is firm. Let stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Top with herbs and edible flowers. Makes 8-10 servings.



There are kale lovers, and their opposites. Today Mr. and Mrs. Sunday took sides.

"We support Rose Secrest's version of how to soften kale. We'd only add that if you want to give nasty ol' kale a spa treatment, the usual recommendation is a salt scrub; rub the leaves (deveined as Ms. Secrest says) with salt and let them wilt before using. Rinse if you're salt sensitive.

"Y'all can have our share of kale; we think it's irredeemable. Far better cooks than we are have tackled it and failed. We have yet to taste an attractive dish made primarily of kale."

So there. Agree or disagree?



Elsie Keith, longtime correspondent, wrote next. "I read that Ann Nelson was wanting the recipe for Armstrong's barbecue. I don't have the recipe, but I do have some information that might be of interest to her.

"One of the Armstrongs has opened the Lyerly Drive-Thru in Lyerly, Georgia, just south of Summerville. The ad was in the Summerville News today: home of authentic Armstrong's barbecue. She might call them and see if she could get a bottle of the sauce. They used to sell it in the restaurant. Their phone is 706-287-0087."



Rose Secrest spoke from her expertise with vegan foods. "A vegan substitute for ranch dressing is easy. Vegenaise is vegan mayonnaise, just like regular mayonnaise. Buttermilk is even easier: stir the juice of 1 lemon into 1 cup soy milk. I have tried to make homemade mayonnaise, but it does not come out looking like store-bought mayonnaise. I have also tried making ranch dressing, but with fresh herbs and dried herbs. It never tastes like the original."

There's a reminder that homemade isn't always the best. Sometimes we just have to trust a label, and the recommendation of others always helps with that.

So thank you all for recipes, questions and all-important opinions. We will watch for you all next week.



* Beginner recipes

* Ways with strawberries



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