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I had some time to scout out new cookbooks at the library recently and am happy to report back with some great findings that I plan to share over the next few weeks.

This week, however, I'm focusing on one cookbook dedicated to a single ingredient: buttermilk.

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Yes, I picked up "The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook" by Diane St. Clair because I too wondered, "a whole cookbook about buttermilk?"

But as I flipped through it, I started marking a half-dozen recipes that I wanted to try. And since buttermilk seems to only be sold by the quart, then it actually is really helpful to have multiple recipes ready to use it in over the course of a few days.

Of the three recipes I'm sharing today, I only made the red cabbage slaw. As you may remember, my husband and I are not fans of mayonnaise, but buttermilk, with its natural tangy taste, seemed like a great replacement. It is a little too thin, however, so you mix in some plain Greek yogurt, and I thought it turned out great. My only critique was I thought it could use a little salt, so if you are used to putting salt in your coleslaw, follow suit and do the same here.

The second recipe is for buttermilk creamed Swiss chard, which I was prepared to make for a dinner on Saturday, however the grocery store I went to Friday night had really expensive chard that didn't look so great, and I decided to put that off rather than braving another grocery store on the eve of a snow storm. After all, I had the milk, bread and toilet paper covered, so fresh greens seemed like a bit of a luxury.

The final recipe is for mint-lemon buttermilk ice pops. I know it's crazy to be talking ice pops this time of year, but clip it out now and in five months you'll be happy you did. I've made buttermilk ice cream before, and it comes out thinner than a custard-style ice cream, but it's kind of more refreshing, and both lemon and mint are great refreshers in the heat.

I know this sounds crazy, but I have three more buttermilk recipes to share that I haven't had time to make yet, but hope to in the next week ... after I buy another quart of buttermilk.

Enjoy!

Red cabbage slaw with apple and raisins

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 scallion, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

3 cups shredded red cabbage

1 large carrot, coarsely grated

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1 large tart apple, cored and diced

3 tablespoons golden raisins

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, scallion and Dijon mustard.

Add the cabbage, carrot, apple and raisins to the bowl and stir to coat well with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. The cabbage may give off some liquid, so be sure to stir again to blend everything together before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Buttermilk creamed chard

2 bunches Swiss chard

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Trim any thick ribs from the chard. Roll 4 or 5 stacked leaves at a time and slice the chard into 1-inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the garlic for 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add the greens, chicken stock, nutmeg and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently until the chard is wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the greens into a dish.

Pour the buttermilk and cream into the skillet and raise the heat. Boil until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir the chard back into the pan to heat through and coat the leaves in the creamy sauce. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning as needed, and serve hot.

Mint-lemon buttermilk ice pops

2 1/2 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup sugar

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice and zest, mint and salt in a bowl with a pouring lip or into a large jug. Stir vigorously until the sugar dissolves.

Divide among the ice pop molds and freeze for a few hours, or until firm.

Makes eight 6-ounce or 12 4-ounce pops.

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