I never actually visit a search engine to initiate a search, I always use the search engine plug-ins from Mycroft Project: Search Engine Plugins - Firefox & IE8
from the URL bar (actually I use the Omnibar
extension, which combines the search and url bars) This way I can quickly select the engine I need for a specific task.
I do use the google plug-in from time to time, but I have a number of greasemonkey scripts installed, which remove the tracking capabilities (amongst other things). I also don't allow any search engine to set cookies. From time to time, I also spoof the headers. If you use firefox you can also try OptimizeGoogle
For the most part I use the Scroogle Scraper plug-in, followed by Ixquick Search Engine
both of which run over SSL.