As the days grow longer and the hope, well, stretches, food seems to be more discussable and evermore welcome.

Daisy LaNieve has found herself in a distant kitchen without her trusty cast-iron skillet, so she hopes you can tell her "how to make beef tips with a good browned look and taste without a cast-iron skillet."

AKB is longing for her favorite dessert, which she describes as "Golden Graham S'mores." Can you tell her how to make them?



Rose Secrest recalled a recipe "from memory," and this is one of those recipes that can vary according to the flexibility of the cook's memory. "My mama used to make a dish just like the stewed tomatoes described in your last column. I don't have an exact recipe for it, but I can tell you how she did it."


Mama's Maters

1 large can stewed tomatoes, chopped if you like

A few pieces of stale white bread, torn up

1/2 cup (more or less) granulated white sugar

1 stick (more or less) margarine, diced

Pour the tomatoes into an oven-safe casserole dish. Cover the top with torn-up pieces of bread. Sprinkle with the sugar, and dot with the margarine. Bake at 350 degrees until it is warmed through, the bread is browned (maybe even a little burnt in places?) and the butter has melted. For 30 minutes, I guess. If it isn't warm enough, use a microwave to heat it up right before eating.

Edna Carpenter of Decatur, Tennessee, chose her recipe from "The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking." She reminds me of another comfort food, or comfort ingredient, that has been stirred into a number of quarantine skillets by the spoonful: bacon grease. Ms. Carpenter's recipe calls for just one tablespoon, which ought to do the trick.


Stewed Tomatoes

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained

2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

1 tablespoon bacon grease

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

Salt and pepper

3 to 4 slices white bread

In a medium-size saucepan on medium heat, put the tomatoes with their juice. Mash the tomatoes with a fork. Add the bacon, bacon grease, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil. Tear the bread into strips, add to the tomatoes, and stir. Remove from the heat, and serve over rice or creamed potatoes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.



A recent request was for easy recipes with few ingredients — somewhere in the neighborhood of five. From Mrs. Nicholas Aspen, who commended "Cake Doctor" and other cookbooks from Anne Byrn, came this one from "The Dinner Doctor."


Angel Hair With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Salt (optional, for cooking pasta)

8 ounces angel hair pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 medium-size onion)

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 jar (10 to 13 ounces, about 1 1/2 cups) roasted red peppers, drained

1/2 cup half-and-half

Pinch cayenne pepper

Basil leaves, or 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto, for garnish

Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add salt, if using, and stir in the angel hair. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook uncovered until al dente, 4 minutes. Drain angel hair well in a colander, shaking it a few times to remove any water that might still cling to the pasta. Return angel hair to the pot, toss it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and cover the pot to keep pasta warm.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring until the onion softens, 3 minutes.

Place the onion and garlic mixture and the red peppers, half-and-half and cayenne in food processor or blender, and puree until smooth, 30 seconds. Spoon sauce over angel hair, and stir to coat it well. Serve at once, garnished with basil leaves or pesto.

You can stretch sauce over a pound of pasta if desired. It is good served with skewers of grilled chicken or shrimp alongside. Eight minutes to prep (includes water boiling) and 4 minutes to prepare. Makes 4 servings.

And while Ms. Aspen is standing at the stove, or the culinary teacher's lectern, or whatever, let's listen to her follow-up. "There were some good, fast pasta dishes in The New York Times on Wednesday, April 15, as well. Some were very unusual with vegetables, and a simplified Bolognese recipe I might try this week that has very few ingredients. (The sauce is 1/4 cup tomato paste and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce with water and pasta water.)"



Linda Morris dug into her Lookout Mountain treasure-trove of recipes, and turned up several we will be sharing with you in the next few weeks. Today's recipe definitely falls into the comfort-food category.


Candy Bar Cookies

1 Snickers bar (regular size)

1 Hershey bar (regular size)

1 family-size brownie mix

3 tablespoons water

2 eggs

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 bags M&M's plain (regular size)

Chop Snickers bar into small pieces. Break or chop Hershey bar. Mix brownie mix with water, eggs, flour and oil. Then fold in nuts and candy. Place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Do NOT overbake.



A time-sensitive request from a reader named Juanita involved a banana that had spent a year in the freezer. "I am short one banana for banana bread," she mused. "Could I use that frozen one?"

Have you, reader, used long-gone bananas in making banana bread? Overripe bananas do hold sweetness. I thought it was worth a try, but then Juanita peeled it and it looked pretty frightening. So here is her clever solution. "I decided to substitute 1/2 cup applesauce, and the banana bread was delicious." And here is her recipe.


Banana Nut Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs, well beaten

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

2 mashed "ripe" bananas — may use frozen bananas or substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for 1 banana, if you are short

1 cup nuts

Mix sugar, butter and beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture. Next add mashed ripe bananas and nuts.

Bake in a prepared loaf pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Makes 1 large loaf or 3 small loaves. If baking small loaves, they will not need to bake an hour. Check for doneness at 30 minutes.

We have arrived at the last word. I am glad to know you and to sit at this virtual table, in a virtual world, until we can finally see face to face.



* How to sear without a cast-iron skillet

* Golden Graham S'mores



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


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Jane Henegar