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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.

New Year Veggie Stew Pot

Twenty-Second in a series of articles


Howdy there y'all,

Well, darlin's, now's that speshul time ta take a look-see ahead, 'cause I knows in my heart it's the start of a shiny bright new year. Why, it's 2011, now, an' that's gonna take a little gittin' usedta, but I got a dern good feelin' 'bout this new year. Why, it's a new time, so git those winter blues gone, put a smile on yer face, an' y'all git sippin' on a nice hot cuppa tea while yer gittin' yer fixin's together. We're 'bout ta cook up one helluva good stew.

But before ya start cookin' y'all need ta do some food shoppin'. So, set awhile an' let's do a bit o' jawin' 'bout some idears on dirt cheap shoppin'. Dependin' on where y'all do yer food shoppin', prices kin be mighty different fer fresh veggies. Since yer jes gonna put these veggies inta the stewpot, why y'all needn't pay fancy prices fer them fancy veggies. See if there's other markets in yer neighborhood, like Mom 'n' Pop stores or foreign markets where they's got mighty decent prices.

If'n these lower-price markets is close-by an' you kin find most of what ya need, why you kin talk to the owners an' ask fer veggies they don't have fer the next time yer shoppin'. Mind yer manners an' ask kindly. Remember yer please an' thank yous that yer mamma tole you. An' ask with a smile on yer face--that's important, mind ya. If'n them stores want yer business, why they'll be happy ta git whatever veggies yer askin' 'bout.

Are ya back in yer kitchen now an' ready ta' start yer stew? Now, keep that smile on yer face an' sing a happy song while yer choppin' an' stirrin'. An' remember, every stewpot needs a pinch o' yer speshul love from yer heart ta make it taste just right.

I really like wishin' y'all a mighty fine New Year 'cause I knows it's high time fer a good New Year ta come along, ain't it now. So, 'stead o' raisin' a cup o' brew ta toast the new year, I'm gonna raise my spoon an' toast yer deeelicious an' wholesome veggie stewpot.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Delicious down home winter comfort food, this hearty, no-fuss stew is just right for serving with a thick chunk of whole grain bread to mop up the tasty pan juices. The stew even tastes better when made a day ahead. While winter squashes are often just baked and mashed, these beautiful chunks of squash lay the foundation for this robust home-style family dish.


Yield: about 6 servings

    4 cups (1 liter) peeled, bite-size chunks butternut squash
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 large carrots, sliced
    1/2 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
    2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, and cut into bite size chunks
    1 28-ounce (795g) can diced tomatoes
    1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth or water
    2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

    1 pound (450g) firm tofu, crumbled
    1/3 cup (80 ml) veggie bacon bits, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
    Salt and pepper

  1. In a 10 to 12-quart (10 to 12 liter) stockpot, combine the butternut squash, onion, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetable broth garlic, oregano, and fennel seeds, if using, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stew for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Add more vegetable broth as needed to keep the stew well moistened.
  2. Add the tofu and the 1/3-cup (80 ml) bacon bits, season with salt and pepper, and simmer about 5 minutes longer to blend the flavors.
  3. To serve, place a heaping quantity of stew into individual soup bowls and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of bacon bits over the tops.

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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