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Good morning to you as the year slips out of our grasp — for some of us, with great gladness. It's an amazing fact that, after the celebratory meals of December, we actually have to go back to the grocery again right away. E.E., a South Carolina holiday visitor, wants meals with the simplest and smallest of desserts, and vegetables that are not cream-sauced and crumb-topped. Will you help?

Madeleine D. is a fan of Korean recipes and wants to know where to find raw ingredients locally "and a few good recipes. Two I would really like are Korean Seaweed Soup, and a noodle dish called japchae. Also, does anyone know where I could find gluten-free ramen noodles?"

As a 2021 cleanup, we still need any recipes using goat cheese, a tomato pie with a custard-style filling and chopped tomatoes and cheese on top, roasted cabbage and Black Bottom Pie.

 

RECIPES AND MEMORIES

In the hopes that memories are welcome reading for you all, in addition to recipes, I have saved two savory stories for this week, from readers who wrote right before Christmas.

Roseann Strazinsky of Fairfield Glade was spending her first Christmas without her husband of 52 years. How did she manage? She sang in the church choir at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic and waited for family to visit. Her late husband's daughter Stephanie, who happened to be Roseann's flower girl at that long-ago wedding, brought her daughter, who was born in the Ukraine, "Jillian Victoria with beautiful blue eyes. God brought Stephanie and Jillian together, and they have been a joy to each other. They will help me celebrate: the three of us, not blood related with lots of love between us. Steve will always be here too. Thank God for memories."

And Mary Catherine O'Kelley continued her reminiscence of the legendary local cook of more than 100 years ago, her "dear Aunt Trude Oehmig. She was my great-aunt, very much revered. What an amazing woman she was, going to culinary school in the mid-1910s, running her own business along with her sister, dear Aunt Bess, gently teaching scores of nieces and great-nieces her recipes. I never had a birthday that she did not bake and ship me a caramel cake. This made me very popular in college. She did that for all her family. She must have made a dozen every month and wrapped them and walked them to the post office, as she never drove. The cake always arrived in perfect shape. My mother, Frances Oehmig Collins, has a wonderful loose-leaf cookbook with dozens of Aunt Trude's handwritten recipes, a treasure my sister and I both covet."

I see these two letters as inspirations for mates and progeny, in-laws and grands, aunts and uncles. Go and do likewise — in your own inimitable ways, of course.

 

STEVE'S SOUP

Roseann Strazinsky's husband, Steve, always made this recipe. "It serves 25, freezes well or gives extra for sharing."

Vegetable Cabbage Soup

3 1/2 pounds beef, cut into 1-inch pieces

Crisco or oil for browning

Soup bones — be sure to cut off any fat

1 (46-ounce) can of tomato juice or V-8

2 (46-ounce) cans of water, using the can from the juice to measure

2 regular onions, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 bay leaves

1/2 stalk celery, diced

4 medium potatoes, diced

2 turnips, diced

1 medium head cabbage, chopped

1 (2-pound) bag frozen mixed vegetables, your choice

1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

Brown meat in small amount of Crisco or hot oil; do not burn. Drain on paper towels.

Place the browned beef into a large soup pot; add soup bones, juice, water, onion and seasonings. Cover. Simmer 2 hours. Check to make sure it's not scorching. Add raw vegetables. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours more. Add mixed frozen vegetables and stewed tomatoes last 20 minutes. Remove bones and bay leaves.

 

NANCY'S CASSEROLE

Bob Bires' family cookbook includes this holiday favorite from his mother-in-law.

Nancy Miller's Asparagus Casserole

The current trend in cooking is that everything be made with the freshest ingredients possible. But that doesn't always work. Case in point: my mother-in-law's asparagus casserole. It has to be made with canned asparagus. This side casserole has become an expectation of every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal she makes. Even if you don't like asparagus, this is an incredible combination of flavors.

2 cans asparagus

2 cups white sauce (recipe follows)

4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Saltines, crushed unevenly

White sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Make white sauce first: Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. When bubbling, whisk in flour. Stir 30 seconds to combine thoroughly. Add milk all at once, and stir until lumps are gone. Cook until thickened, stirring fairly often. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Assemble the casserole: Drain the asparagus. In a 1 1/2-quart casserole, layer half the asparagus, top with half the white sauce, half of the eggs, and half of the cheese. Repeat layers. Top with crushed saltines, and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and browned, about 40 minutes.

Notes:

Nancy uses 1/4 cup of asparagus juice from the can to 3/4 cups milk to make her white sauce for this recipe. If you don't ever make white sauce, or cream sauce, as Nancy calls it, the proportions of 1 + 1 + 1 (tablespoon butter + tablespoon flour + cup of milk) always hold true. Once you start adding cheese, you're on your way to making macaroni and cheese or a savory filling for crepes. If a recipe calls for a medium white sauce, then the proportions are 2 + 2 + 1 (2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons flour + 1 cup of milk) You could, of course, toss the crackers with a bit of melted butter.

My wife, Robin, says [about the assembly], "Layer it. Don't stir it."

 

BELLE'S TENDERLOIN

The Bright School cookbook "Knife Fork Spoon" was a gift that contained a supply of local favorites. This double-pork recipe was submitted to the cookbook by Belle Burger. This recipe makes me think pork tenderloin might be a fine Christmas dinner selection — or a New Year's delight.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins, 2 pounds

6 slices bacon

2 teaspoons grill seasoning or a similar seasoning blend

Glaze (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with foil; lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Trim excess fat and silver skin from the pork; rub with the seasoning blend. Wrap bacon around the pork tenderloins, and arrange in the baking dish.

Bake the pork 30 to 40 minutes, or until temperature registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat. Brush the pork generously with the glaze mixture, and continue baking about 10 minutes, or until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Glaze:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon Dijon or grainy mustard

Dash cinnamon

Blend glaze ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and set aside.

 

GORDON'S MERCH

Here's an update on the search for Gordon's Hollandaise Sauce mix, which a reader recommended. Hungry Husband reported, "It may be found at the new Gordon's Food Service store on Broad Street, and it makes a dozen batches."

 

FINALLY

Here's a forecast of the year to come: It will hold blessings, and surely an unforgettable meal or two with even more unforgettable people. For such we will hope, along with you.

 

REQUESTS

— Simple, small desserts

— Plain veggie dishes

— Korean recipes and ingredients

— Recipes with goat cheese

— Custardy tomato pie

— Roasted cabbage

— Black Bottom Pie

 

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

Email address: chattfare@gmail.com

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Jane Henegar
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