It's good to sit down with you (we are sitting down, are we not?) this May Wednesday, first to consider the challenges.

Yeast of the Ridge writes, "Long nights watching bad movies has led us to cooking shows instead. Last night we heard about cooking with rock salt and wondered if your readers could give ideas for rock salt and all kinds. Also, has anybody around here made Piri Piri sauce for meat or a Portuguese bread with cornmeal?"

Here we sit at the end of canned tomato season, on the cusp of fresh tomato season. And you seem very much interested in all things tomato. As Merritt Adams and her mother worked alongside Fare Exchangers on the mystery of a family recipe for cooked tomatoes, they came across a Tomato Jam that seemed similar but too sweet. For 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes and one onion, there was 1 cup of white sugar. Other recipes include basil or ginger, honey or brown sugar. And of course there was vinegar to give the delicious combination of savory and sweet. Keep up the tomato conversation, telling us how you are combining them with your family's favorite flavors.



Renata Stone sent a letter with a Tullahoma, Tennessee, postmark. "You've been looking for recipes with fewer than five ingredients. I have a perfect one for you. About 20 years ago, I attended a function on Jekyll Island, and at a reception this onion cheese casserole was served with corn chips and (tortilla chip) Scoops. I just had to have that recipe. The hostess shared it with me, and I have used it dozens of times. Many times people asked for the recipe, and my family always requests the casserole at family get-togethers.

"Right now the Vidalia onions are in season — a perfect time to try to make this recipe. It's easy and delicious."

Onion-Cheese Casserole

4 cups chopped Vidalia onions

4 cups shredded cheese (3 cups Swiss, 1 cup Cheddar)

1 cup mayonnaise (I use Kraft)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Press into an 8- by 8-inch baking dish (I use glass). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Serve as a side dish or with corn chip or tortilla chip Scoops.



Betty Domal sent this Cracker Barrel favorite to answer the request for a recipe without a canned cream soup. "I always make it for the many potlucks I attend (before the pandemic, of course) and have given out copies of the recipe. It came from Fare Exchange April 16, 2008."

Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

1 (26-ounce or 30-ounce) package country-style hash browns (or any style hash browns)

2 cups shredded Colby or Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup minced onion or 1 tablespoon onion powder

1 cup milk

1/2 cup beef broth (you may freeze rest of can in 1/2-cup containers)

2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)

Dash garlic powder (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9- by 13-inch dish with cooking spray. (I have used glass and disposable pans both.)

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat until cheese is melted. Pour into the sprayed dish.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes Watch carefully; you may have to put strips of foil around the edge of the dish if it starts to get too brown around the edges.

Variation: I usually sprinkle more cheese over the top when it comes out of the oven.



It's easy to date some recipes you send by the frequent inclusion of "butter or margarine" in the ingredients. Beverly Rutledge wrote about margarine but began thus: "Wednesday is a good day in my kitchen, looking forward to the Food section."

And she continued. "I feel obligated to share this tidbit of information with you regarding oleo. Our children, much more savvy than we, shared info they found about margarine: It is one molecule away from plastic. If you recall, McDonald's was ordered to change their bread because of this very issue."

Our brief investigation noted that the fast-food chain switched from liquid margarine to real butter. This was in 2015-16. What can you food scientists add about margarine?



Nancy Ruby addressed the quiche requests with this crab and shrimp delight. She explained, "This will make two deep-dish pies. I have never mastered making great pie crust, and I prefer to use the refrigerated boxed crusts that I can put in my own pie pans. (Aldi carries their own brand that costs much less than even the store brand in other stores.)

Crab and Shrimp Quiche

6 ounces crab meat, thawed and drained

1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp, chopped

8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, including the green part

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 cup dry white wine

4 eggs

Combine crab meat, shrimp, cheese, green onions and celery. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, flour, wine and eggs. Mix all ingredients together well, and divide the mixture between the 2 pie shells. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Notes: I see no problem in increasing the amount of crab. I have made this mixture and frozen half of it to be used later for the second pie.



Thanks to John Brindle Tucker of Signal Mountain for offering two answers for gluten-free bread made with Pamela's gluten-free bread mix (or bread of a similar quality). He reported, "I have been buying from Amazon. This is the brand the Bread Basket (Signal Mountain) uses for gluten-free bread. I have been buying there every Friday, but they stopped this week. I bought the last six loaves."

One of today's contributors ended a letter, "I love to cook even though I am almost 80 years old. All the holidays are still spent at my house to taste Mama's cooking." That's precisely why certain cooks cannot work themselves out of a job. Nobody can beat them in loving excellence.



* Cooking with rock salt

* Piri Piri sauce for meat

* Portuguese bread

* More tomato ideas


To Reach Us:

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