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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about vegetarian food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.

Ninth in a series of articles


Well, darlin's, it's sure lookin' like recession time's gonna be 'round fer quite awhile, so put a smile on yer face an' git some good cheer ready fer the tasty eats you'll be a-fixin' in yer own home kitchen. It's mighty important ta be fixin' yer vittles at home, 'cause sure as God made little apples, I knows you'll be savin' a heap o' dollars 'stead o' eatin' in a restaurant. I knows, too, that you'll be eatin' more of what's good fer ya when yer cookin' at home, so let's git yer mind turned on the kitchen.

If'n yer needin' some cookin' tools, why you kin find 'em dirt cheap at them dollar stores. Start buyin' some nice dried herbs n' spices fer makin' yer fixin's good n' tasty, an be sure ta start yer dinner or supper with a heapin' big salad o' greens 'n sinkers (that's them chopped veggies that always sink ta the bottom o' the salad bowl.)

Now I surely don't know yer likin's, but I kin tell ya true what's dern good fer ya an' how ta cook it. One o' my favorite things this time o' year is yams an' sweet potatoes, an' my oh my do they taste good when they's baked an' stuffed with Country Sausage an' Gravy.

Why, you kin even roast up some thick strips o' green bell peppers an' thick sliced onions in the oven at 375 degrees fer 'bout 25 to 35 minutes an' add them to top off yer sausages an' gravy. I know, I know, that's gittin' mighty fancy, but 'tis right good.

Now the trick to them fixin's is havin' some cooked barley on hand, or jes plan ahead an' fix some the day before. Then yer all ready ta mix up a batch o' sausages that taste so good you'll want ta stand up an' holler at the top o' yer lungs.

With so many folks worryin' 'bout their weight these days, I been fixin' ta tell everybody that my dirt cheap grub recipes is all low calories an' low fat, so's ya needn't worry 'bout countin' calories or measurin' yer servin'. Jes go ahead an' enjoy yer supper an' you'll be feelin' mighty full on lots fewer calories than you was before cookin' Recession Grub.

Stuffed Yam with Country Sausage


Yield 5 to 6 servings

    5 to 6 large yams

    2 medium onions, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, divided

    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked pearl barley
    1 cup (240 ml) old fashioned rolled oats
    1/3 cup (180 ml) peanut butter
    3 tablespoons water
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon maple syrup
    3/4 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke flavoring
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder

    Paprika (optional)

    Country Gravy
    3 cups ((720 ml) vegetable broth
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons water

    Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (Gas Mark 7) and have ready 2 large jellyroll pans lined with parchment paper.
  2. Scrub the yams and place them on one of the prepared jellyroll pans. Bake them for 45 to 60 minutes or until softened. Set aside and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) for baking the sausages.
  3. TO MAKE THE SAUSAGES, combine the onions and garlic in a large, deep skillet and add 1 cup (240 ml) of the water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to medium. Water-sauté gently for about 30 to 35 minutes to caramelize the onions, stirring frequently. Add water continually as needed to cook the onions thoroughly and prevent burning.
  4. In a large bowl combine the barley, rolled oats, peanut butter, the remaining 3 tablespoons of water, salt, maple syrup, hickory smoke flavoring, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne, and onion powder. Add the caramelized onions and garlic and mix well to blend the flavors and distribute all the ingredients evenly.
  5. Using your hands, form the sausage mixture into miniature patties or balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2 to 3.5 cm) in diameter and place them on the remaining parchment-lined jellyroll pan. Dust the surface of the patties lightly with paprika, if desired, and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the patties over and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn once again and bake 5 minutes longer. Prepare the Country Gravy while the patties are baking.
  6. TO MAKE THE COUNTRY GRAVY, combine the vegetable broth, onions, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, poultry seasoning, and pepper in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then, reduce the heat to medium and simmer 2 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl or cup, combine the cornstarch and water and stir well to form a thin paste that's smooth and creamy. Add the paste to the gently bubbling broth and stir for about 1 minute, or until the broth is thickened. Season with salt and pepper
  8. TO SERVE, reheat the yams if needed. Cut a long slit in the yams and fill with 3 or 4 Country Sausages. Top with a generous serving of Country Gravy and eat hearty.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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