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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 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.

Bet-Yer-Boots Barley Salad

Seventeenth in a series of articles


Well, darlin's the sun is a-shinin' mighty fine here an' I kin see it's time fer yee-hawin' an' hoot nannyin'. An' I kin tell ya true, it shure feels good ta see summertime an' all them nice veggies the garden grows. Why my tomater plants is up ta my nose already an' I'm seein' them nice l'il blossoms that means tomaters is a-comin' soon.

Fer the meantime, I russled up some fresh fixin's that's purfect fer them summertime potluck parties or jes plain ole good eatin'. This here nice salad's light in the belly an' not such heavy eatin' like we do when it's bone chillin' outside.

I cooked up some nice pearl barley that goes such a long way an' don't cost a heap. It's one o' my favrite grains 'cause I jes loves the way it tastes an' it give me some good chewin' exercise too. If'n yer wonderin' did I lose my marbles goin' on so much 'bout barley--well, darlin' jes don't git yer knickers in a knot. That barley is darned good fer ya 'cause it's gonna give y'all plenty o' fiber. Did y'all know that one cup 'o cooked barley has 6 grams o' fiber in it? That's plenty ta crow 'bout! An' barley even has vitamin K! Now, did y'all know that? I learnt 'bout that today an' now I wannna tell everbody.

Now, all's ya do is git yer salad started with a cup o' barley an' cook that up. Then cook up some green beans or use yer leftovers. Once the barley is cool, why jes put all them nice fresh veggies together in a big bowl with the barley an' you got somethin' you kin bust yer buttons 'bout.

Nice thing is it's not gonna take all day ta git yer fixin's together an' it don't take no speshul pots 'n pans neither. You don't even have ta cook the corn 'cause it tastes mighty good jes plain raw.

'Nother thing I'm gonna tell ya 'bout is this nice salad is gonna keep ya fit as a fiddle an' won't make ya fat. It's got no oil in it. Oil jes plain adds calories an' don give ya much o' anythin' else. You won't miss that oil ''cause them fixin's is mighty good tastin'.

I surely hope y'all enjoy this salad--it's purty good eats, if'n I say do so myself.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie


Yield: about 6 servings

3 cups (720 ml) water
1 cup (240 ml) barley
1 teaspoon salt

Kernels cut from 4 ears of raw or cooked corn
1/2 pound (225g) chopped, cooked green beans
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 bunch fresh mint, minced
1/2 cup (120 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1 lemon, finely minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine the water, barley, and salt in a 3-quart (3-liter) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 50 to 60 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the barley to cool.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the cooked and cooled barley, and mix well.

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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