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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.

Savory Christmas Limas

Twenty-First in a series of articles


Well darlin's, jes 'cause it's tough times right now and them few dollers have ta go a long long way, it don't mean y'all cain't enjoy yer Christmas dinner with a heap o' mighty fine tastin' fixin's. Sure ya cain't be a-wastin' yer money on fancy foods like gourmet mushrooms, but that don't really matter a hoot when it comes right down to it.

When ya don't have lottsa money ta throw around, why ya puts yer attention on them things that's really important, like gittin' the family together 'round the table an' talkin' 'bout what's beautiful an' speshul in yer life. An' I'll bet my purty pink knitted booties everbody's gonna say it's havin' each other an' bein' together that means more than a new car or a fancy dress.

An' this here speshul lima bean recipe is perfect fer the holidays 'cause it makes enuff ta feed yer entire kin, kissin' cousins, an' all. Why it's so satisfyin' it's bound ta bring y'all some Christmas joy with ever' spoonful.

Nice thing is this dish is hardly any trubble at all. First off, be shure to boil them beans in a pot o' water fer at least 10 minutes. This is mighty important 'cause the boilin' gits the beans good an' hot an' takes away them bad toxins that gits in the way o' digestin' proteins. Then, I pour off that water an' puts the beans in a casserole with a heap o' good fixin's an git it started early in the day. Why, you kin make this casserole the day before an' it's even better tastin' next day.

This is one o' them dishes I jes let the oven do the magic work so's I don't have ta stand at the stove half the day an' stir an' stir. Not that I'm lazy, mind ya, 'cause I'm not, an' that's a fact. I jes don't wanna miss all the family talk on Christmas day. Why, sometimes there's even a few family spats, but that's OK, too. It makes the holiday mighty excitin' an' it don't really mean a hoot 'cause they's still the best family I got an' I loves 'em, I do truly.

Now, I'm partial ta servin' this deeelicious bean dish in a l'il ole soup bowl that's small enuff ta sit on yer plate 'cause it looks mighty purty that way. But you kin serve it up different, if'n ya like.

What else is mighty purty on the plate is some steamed broccoli and baked butternut or kabocha squash. It's easy, too. An' seein' all them bright colors a-settin' on the plate jes says it's Christmas. An' there's plenty o' natural goodness on a plate piled high with food like that so you cain't be frettin none!

An' from the bottom o' my country heart, I wanna wish ever' one the best holiday ever!

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Savory Christmas Limas


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    3 cups (720 ml) dried lima beans

    2 large onions, cut into 8ths lengthwise
    1 28-ounce (795g) can diced or crushed tomatoes
    1 3/4 cups (415 ml) water
    6 cloves garlic, halved
    2 cinnamon sticks
    2 bay leaves
    1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika or 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoke flavor
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne

    1 14.5-ounce (412g) can diced tomatoes

    3 tablespoons minced parsley
    1/2 cup (120 ml) veggie bacon bits

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (Gas Mark 3) and have ready an 8-quart (8 liter) stockpot and a large covered casserole.
  2. Pick over the lima beans and discard any spoiled beans. Rinse and drain the beans and place them into the stockpot with water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm).
  3. Bring the beans to a boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer them to the casserole. Add the onions, tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) of the water, garlic, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, smoked paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt, and cayenne and mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Cover the casserole and slow bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour, lower the temperature to 300 degrees (Gas Mark 2) and stir the casserole ingredients. Replace the cover and slow bake another hour.
  5. Stir the beans, re-cover the casserole, and slow bake for a third hour.
  6. Fork-test the lima beans for doneness. Some of the beans may not be fully cooked. Add the 14.5-ounce (412g) can of tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 cup of water, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix well. Cover the casserole and slow bake for 30 minutes to 60 minutes longer. All the beans should be soft and easy to chew. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  7. To serve, spoon the Savory Christmas Limas into small soup bowls and garnish each bowl with a cluster of minced parsley in the center. Top the parsley with a spoonful of veggie bacon bits.

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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