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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.

Red Lentil Sweet Potato Chowder

Twenty-Fourth in a series of articles


Well, if'n yer thinkin' along the same mind as I am, why yer gittin' mighty tuckered out from all this dern cold weather. Fur as I kin remember, it's been some time since I had ta shovel this much snow an' keep such a big wood pile handy fer the fireplace. Well, I knows you cain't do nothin' 'bout the weather, but sure as the good Lord made l'il green apples you kin stay fit 'n' sassy with a pot o' good 'n' tasty cheap grub.

I tell ya true, what keeps this ole gramdma goin' is a nice pot o' chowder you kin cook up without goin' clean broke. I keep hearin' on the news that prices fer yer eats is goin' up. I see it come true just a tad at the store. But if'n yer able ta turn yer eye away from the fancy foods an' git right down to the real good solid "stretch-them-dollars-grub," you kin save a heap o' money an' still eat hearty. Lentils

What y'all need ta fill them l'il bellies is a good pantry full o' onions, carrots, sweet p'taters, an' cabbage. Them's good fer starters. Then keep plenty o' beans, split peas, an' lentils on hand. An' don't fergit them good grains like brown rice, barley, rye an' wheat berries, buckwheat, 'an' them such. If'n ya got them staples, why you kin cook up practically anything fer almost nothin'.

When my eye set upon the bag o' red lentils in the store, why I near kicked up my heels jes thinkin' 'bout the hot bowl o' chowder with sweet p'taters that was gonna set on my table come suppertime. Nice thing 'bout lentils is ya don't even have ta soak 'em. Jes put 'em inter the kettle with the vegetables ya likes an' start a'cookin. Purty soon, afore ya knows, why there's supper!

Now here's some real honest ta goodness things y'all might want to know 'bout lentils so's you kin feel good 'bout puttin' 'em on yer table: they's mighty low in calories and low in fat. What they's best at is given' ya plenty o' soluble fiber ta keep ya regular an' help take down high cholesterol. Lentils got a heap o' minerals, 'specially iron, potassium, zinc, an even selenium. Can you imagine, lentils even got vitamin K that helps yer blood clot. But vitamin K is a mighty important vitamin 'cause it makes the special protein that regulates calcium. That's mighty good ta know.

Because them l'il red lentils cooks up mighty fast, why you kin have that bowl o' chowder ready in 'bout 40 minutes from start ta finish. An' when it's time fer cleanin' up yer fixin's, there's only one pot ta clean. I knows you'll jes love this kettle o' chowder.

Red Lentil Chowder


Yield: about 8 servings

    2 medium onions, chopped
    2 large carrots, diced
    7 cups (1.75 liters) water, divided
    6 cloves garlic, finely minced
    2 sticks cinnamon

    2 cups red lentils

    4 cups (960 ml) chopped green cabbage
    2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
    1 28-ounce (795g) can diced tomatoes
    2 teaspoons lemon pepper

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    2 green onions, chopped
    3 tablespoons minced parsley

  1. Combine the onions, carrots, 1 cup of the water, garlic, and cinnamon in a heavy 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10-liter) stockpot and cook over high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent.
  2. Add the remaining 6 cups of water and lentils, partially cover the pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the lentils have broken down.
  3. Add the cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and lemon pepper, and simmer gently with the pan partially covered for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender
  4. Season with salt and cook 1 minute longer to blend the flavors. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of green onions and parsley,

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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