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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.

Beans and Barley Hash

Twentieth in a series of articles


'Bout this time o' year yer probably thinkin' "I'm so dang tired o' beans I don't give a hoot if I never sees another one o' them thangs til come January." Well, darlin's, ya needn't fret. Them beans is still gonna come ta the table, but in this here recipe they's so derm deeelicious you won't be pushin' 'em away. 'Stead, you'll be reachin' fer another helpin', I kin promise that fer shure.

I come across lots o' folks ain't never cooked pearl barley before. I'm always surprised when I hears that 'cause that's one mighty fine tastin' grain that's really good fer ya. Why, I bet y'all didn't know barley has a heap o' soluble fiber that kin help to lower yer cholesterol. Now ain't that mighty fine news!

I been eatin' barley long's I kin remember. Even when I was a young'un I shure did like them chewy li'l ole grains 'cause they were mighty good feelin' in my mouth an' they kept the whole family purty reg'lar, if'n ya take my meanin'.

Now, all's ya do is cook up that barley in one pot, cook them veggies an beans in a great big skillet, an' puts 'em together. Quick as a wink, dinner's ready, it didn't cost an arm an' a leg, an' it fills them bellies til they say Uncle. Why, it even makes 'em happy.

If'n y'all prefer ta cook them beans from scratch, be sure ta give them garbanzos plenty o' cookin' time. They kin take 'bout 1 1/2 hours ta get 'em nice an' softened up.

Well now, child, here's my recipe. You jes git yerself ta the market an' stock up on beans an' pearl barley fixin's. Then, when y'all come ta the table with this fine tastin' hash, you'll git some mighty fine compliments from yer folks. I jes knows it.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Though the thought of hash may seem somewhat inelegant, this homey medley of familiar, inexpensive ingredients is rich in flavor, satisfying in texture, and downright attractive. Traditionally, hash was created in an effort to use up leftovers and involved re-cooking the leftovers together and punching up the flavors with bold seasonings. While this dish starts with fresh ingredients, the theme remains the same-simple wholesome foods assembled in one dish with great taste and an eye--appealing presentation. To complete the meal, serve with a salad, a green vegetable, and some hearty whole grain bread.

Barley and Beans Hash

Barley and Beans Hash

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    3 1/2 cups (840 ml) water, divided
    1 cup (240 ml) pearl barley
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

    2 cups (480 ml) finely chopped green cabbage
    2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 medium zucchini, diced
    1 green bell pepper, chopped

    1 15-ounce (425g) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
    1 15-ounce (425g) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1 cup (240 ml) raisins
    1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
    Pinch cayenne

    2 tablespoons finely minced parsley

  1. Combine 3 cups (720 ml) of the water, barley, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam the barley for about 50 minutes, or until the grains are tender.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, combine the cabbage, carrots, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water. Water-sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add small amounts of water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent them from burning.
  3. Add the garbanzos, kidney beans, raisins, lemon juice, soy sauce, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne and mix well.
  4. When the barley is cooked, add it to the skillet and stir it into the vegetables and bean hash. Adjust the seasonings, if needed, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

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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