Seeking lettuce-filled and lettuce-free spring salads, more of your favorite cookbooks and food blogs

Good morning, reader. Your first challenge is an ongoing request to add to the Fare

Good morning, reader. Your first challenge is an ongoing request to add to the Fare Exchange collection of spring and summer salads, “not all lettuce-based, please.”

Consider also a repeat request for The Loopy Lemon cafe in Camden, South Carolina, “a zucchini, pea and basil soup garnished with green chili oil and goat cheese.” My guess is that, if you can produce a similar recipe, the general formula will be easy for the requester to adapt.



We continue the discussion of favorite cookbooks and blogs with some recipes that offer proof of the source’s excellence.

Valerie Bowers recommended two of her favorite blogs, and we will give you the first today. “I have tried several recipes from Jenn Segal’s blog and never been disappointed. Try the homemade ranch dressing from”

It is described as “cool, creamy, garlicky and delicious over a green salad. You can also serve it as a dip for crudités or chips.”

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s

2 garlic cloves, minced (see note)

1 scant teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Few dashes Tabasco sauce, optional

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: The dressing will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The garlic flavor gets stronger the longer it sits, so you might want to cut back if you’re planning on making it in advance. The dressing will thicken up to more of a dip consistency as it chills.

Gluten-free adaptable note: To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you’re following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.”



Edith Parker Middleton’s 300-page authoritative cookbook, first recommended by her granddaughter Suzanne Newton, is a tribute to the expertise in Mrs. Middleton’s Dalton, Georgia, kitchen. This easy recipe is ideal for strawberry season.

Strawberries With Brown Sugar Sour Cream

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 quarts strawberries, washed and stemmed

Combine sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Divide berries among 6 individual dessert dishes. Top each with a dollop of brown sugar sour cream.

If serving as a snack, place strawberries in a large bowl and sour cream mixture in a smaller bowl. Dip strawberries into sour cream.

When washing strawberries, always wash under running water and place on a paper towel to dry. Do not leave strawberries in water to cover. They will absorb the water.

Peggy Bookout added to your favorites list. “Sometime around 1980 my husband’s company printed a cookbook for the Opp, Alabama, Historical Society. We acquired a copy, and it remains my go-to for easy-to-make, on-the-shelf items and family favorites. This can be found online.”

Patty Ray Marler Hopkins comes from the homeland of many cookbooks and spins some lovely connections.

“Mama, my grandmother and my mother-in-law were all wonderful Southern cooks and hostesses. Mama and Daddy spent 10 years as missionaries in Nigeria (I was raised there and my siblings born there). While we had an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs, we were a little limited on other foodstuffs. She did a tremendous job at coming up with delicious meals with limited resources. She was well known in our mission community as a wonderful hostess and cook, often cooking for and entertaining both small and large (50 to 60) groups.

“Back here at home, Mama and my grandmother often cooked for both family and church groups. One of my fondest childhood and teenage memories was of many Decembers; we would bake a huge variety of Christmas cookies during the month, storing them on our enclosed back porch. Then, the week of Christmas, we would make huge platters of cookies and deliver them to dentist and doctor offices, our pastors’ families and relatives.”

Ms. Hopkins says the memory-making time she now spends with her mother, Martha Marler, still involves food.

“Due to age (she is soon to be 93) Mama is no longer very mobile but still loves to go out for drives and to eat. I spend at least one day a week with her, and we almost always go out to eat. Due to COVID, it has mostly been ordering food and eating in the car while Mama watches traffic and people (she is an avid people person).

“While at her house recently, I read your column and started wondering how many cookbooks she has. So I counted: 820 cookbooks in her dining room and bedroom, seven file boxes of recipes and approximately 12 more boxes of cookbooks in the garage because there is no more room for them in the house. She can’t cook any more, but she loves looking through her cookbooks and dreaming of cooking for her family.

“My collection is not as vast as hers; I have only 311 cookbooks.”

Ms. Hopkins uses “Joy of Cooking,” Miss Daisy’s books, Paula Deen’s books, Southern Living books and the like, but not as often as the following four.

1. “The Chattanooga Cookbook” by Helen Exum. “This was given to me back in late 1971 for my hope chest and is easily my most-often-used book,” she says.

2. “Taste and See,” put out in 1999 by Brainerd Baptist Church members.

3. “Let’s Mix Food and Friends,” published by “the ladies of Bible Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Georgia, in 1976,” she says. “This was given to me by my mother-in-law.”

4. “Family Recipe Collection,” which she describes as “a loose-leaf, typed collection of family recipes I put together several years ago for my daughter, my mother and sister, my daughter-in-law and two nieces. Each owner can add her own favorites.”

It’s enough, this list, to make a reader take a look at his or her much smaller collection and head to the bookstore. Please keep your ideas coming, and please keep coming for the conversation.



* Spring salads

* Zucchini soup



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: [email protected]

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Jane Henegar

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