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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.

Country Style 'Tater Pie

Eighteenth in a series of articles


When times is tough 'an gits ya ta worryin', jest settle down fer a spell 'an put on yer thinkin' cap. Why, there's plenty ways ta stretch them dollars when yer needin' ta feed yer family an' that paycheck don't cover what it did in times past.

There was times when my pocket money was mighty slim. I used ta jest head fer the 'tater patch, grab a shovel, an' dig up as many 'taters as I needed fer supper. That was when I was young an' spry an' could whip that shovel 'round the garden. But nowadays, I see 'taters on sale fer jest a tad more 'n' a dollar fer a ten-pound bag. That's a dern good price an' that's when I gits me ta the grocery store an' carry that big sack home straight ta the kitchen.

Now, you kin bet yer boots that ten-pound sack o' 'taters kin make more 'n' one meal--even with folks what got an appetite like my Uncle George. My, my, my, that man could eat mighty big. Quick as a wink, you kin turn them 'taters inter a heap o' deeelicious fixin's like this 'Tater Pie recipe or make a big kettle o' 'tater soup, a whoppin' big 'tater salad, or even a heap o' mashed 'taters 'n' gravy. 'Taters is mighty hearty eatin' an' kin make a nice homemade stew for feedin' a heap o' hungry mouths.

This here 'Tater Pie is a good dish fer everday family eatin', but you kin feel proud ta put this out fer company, too. It looks like fancy fixin's when yer expectin' special folks fer dinner. It looks mighty purty a-settin' on the table an' I kin tell ya true, it's downright finger-lickin' good.

Now, there's a heap o' taters that need ta be grated, so git the family ta help out, 'specially them young'uns. It's important ta git 'em learniin' ta cook fer themselves. Why I'm shocked that young folks nowadays don't even know how ta peel an onion or cook up a batch o' brown rice.

Once them 'taters is grated an' them veggies is chopped, why this 'Tater Pie is easy ta finish up. An' when them 'taters starts a-cookin' why the kitchen starts a-smellin' soooo good--you know, the way it oughter.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Country Style Tater Pie


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
    3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

    2 1/2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.5 kilos) potatoes, unpeeled and coarsely shredded

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    6 tablespoons water
    2 tablespoons whole flax seeds, golden or dark

    1 bunch fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, or your choice)
    1 medium tomato, sliced, slices halved

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5) and have ready a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan lined with parchment. To line the springform pan, detach the collar from the base. Cut a piece of parchment paper about 3 inches (7.5 cm) wider than the base and place it over the base. Snap the collar back on and use a scissors to cut away the excess parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a deep, 12-inch (30 cm), heavy bottom stainless steel or nonstick skillet or heavy bottom 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10 liter) stockpot combine the carrot, onion, red and green bell peppers, green beans, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add the shredded potatoes and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened.
  4. Season with the salt and pepper and mix well. Combine the water and flax seeds in the blender or mini blender and process about 30 seconds, or until the mixture becomes thick and viscous. Add the blended flax seed mixture to the potatoes and mix thoroughly to distribute it evenly.
  5. Pack the mixture firmly into the prepared springform pan and bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand about 20 minutes. Use a knife to carefully loosen the edges of the 'Tater Pie and place the springform pan on a serving platter that is about 2 inches (5 cm) wider than the pan. Remove the collar and garnish the edges with herbs and sliced tomato halves.
  6. To serve, cut the 'Tater Pie into wedges using a sawing motion with a serrated knife.
I used Russet potatoes, but red or white potatoes will work just as well. To shred them quickly, I used my food processor, but with a basic, old-fashioned kitchen tool like a hand grater and a little elbow grease, you can get the job done easily.

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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