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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 more 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.



RECESSION GRUB:
Black Bean Soup Tex Mex Style

Twelfth in a series of articles

BY AUNT NETTIE


Seein' as how I been talkin' 'bout puttin' a heap o' good eats on your table, eats that's darned cheap an still good fer ya, that is, seems I never do run outta good grub idears ta feed yer family. Now I knows that sometimes folks think vittles that's good 'n healthy fer ya jes won't taste good. But that jes ain't true. No siree.

Good ole fashioned foods like beans an' vegetables got a heap o' flavor all by theirselves. An' you kin still use all yer favorite ways ta perk up the flavor with the same spices yer used ta fer cookin' meat 'n chicken dishes.

When I went a-shoppin' at the grocery fer this deeelicious kettle o' soup, why I was feelin' mighty good 'cause the bill hardly came to much at all. An' I nearly kicked up my heels an' hollered yee haw 'cause I kin see this pot o' tasty soup is the kind that sticks ta the ribs, feeds the family good 'n hearty, an' still don't use up all yer week's earnin's.

The important thing 'bout cookin' 'n eatin' ole time food like beans an' vegetables is that they fills up yer body with plenty o' energy an' makes ya feel so good yer gonna start a-cravin' more. An' that does my heart good. This is the kinda fixin's I growed up on an' I kin testify that these ole bones o' mine is still workin' without a hitch. An' I got more stayin' power 'n lots o' younger folks I knows.

Now, if'n beans is somethin' yer not used ta feedin' yer family, it jes might take a li'l time gettin' yer young'uns ta take to 'em. Yer family kin be mighty understandin' when y'all set 'em down at the table an' tells 'em this is no time fer fussin' 'bout food. Do some explainin' 'bout needin' ta watch the dollers an' save the fancy food fer speshul times. They gits the idear purty quick.

Cookin' beans from scratch means y'all does a bit o' plannin' ahead, but they's really no trouble at all. Jes put 'em up ta soak in the morning' an' by the time yer ready ta put yer dinner fixin's together, why the beans only take 'bout an hour ta cook.

But if'n ya prefer ta do the cookin' in the mornin', jes start them beans soakin' before ya hop inta bed night before. Now that's not hardly any trubble--though it might take some gittin' used ta.

I got good feelin's 'bout this kettle o' soup. It's got the good flavors everybody likes. Now mind, you git yerself ta the store an' cook up some good grub.



RECESSION GRUB:
BLACK BEAN SOUP TEX MEX STYLE

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    2 cups black beans

    7 cups water
    2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    2 medium onions, divided

    2 medium carrots, diced
    1 stalk celery, chopped

    1/2 pound tomatillos, quartered
    1 jalapeno pepper, minced
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    1 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  1. Pick over the beans carefully and discard any small pebbles or twigs or beans that are spoiled or broken. Place the beans in a deep bowl and rinse and drain them. Cover the beans with three inches of water and soak for eight hours or overnight. Drain the water and rinse the beans.
  2. Place the beans into an 8 to 10-quart stockpot and add the water and garlic. Coarsely chop one of the onions and add it to the stockpot. Cover the pot partially and bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Watch carefully to prevent a messy boil-over. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, or until the beans begin to soften.
  3. While the beans are cooking, chop the remaining onion and place it into a large, deep skillet. Add the carrots and celery and water-sauté in 1/2 cup water for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Add additional water if needed to prevent burning the vegetables and set aside.
  4. When the beans begin to soften, add the tomatillos, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook 20 to 30 minutes longer.
  5. Just before serving, add the sautéed onions, carrots, and celery and top each soup bowl with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.


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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