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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.

Two-Potato Hootnanny

Twenty-Fifth in a series of articles


Howdy there Y'all,

Spring's a-comin' an it's mighty purty seein' all them nice, bright colors in the flower patch. So I been lookin' 'round ta see what else Mother Nature done brung us. An' darlin's, I'm mighty happy ta tell ya that taters is still purty cheap. Why I jes bought a 10-pound sack on sale fer only $1.50. Now, that surely ain't so good fer them poor farmers, but it's mighty fine fer folks with an almost empty billfold. Why, them cheap taters is helpin' lots o' folks get by with a good meal an' still have somethin' left ta pay the bills.

Now y'all don't have ta do anythin' fancy with taters to enjoy 'em. Fer the easiest fixin's I jes bake 'em, cut 'em open, an mash 'em in their skins with a tad o' soymilk, salt. an' pepper.

But one o' my favrite taters fixin's is the mighty fine casserole I calls Two-Potato Hootnanny that puts white taters together with yams, onions, an' garlic baked in a real nice soymilk sauce. Some folks might-could call it scalloped 'taters, but that jes don't sound as chipper as the name I done give it. Why it's so deelicious it's a hootnanny dish in my kitchen, it is. An' it's no trubble puttin' it together, if'n ya don't mind spendin' a little time in the kitchen. The recipe's down yonder but don't scurry away jes yet.

Now that nice tater dish is mighty fine jes like it is, but it's even better if'n ya serve it up with a nice tossed salad. I jes loves romaine lettuce--it's my one o' my very favrite greens. Now I don't know 'bout yer family, but my kinfolk likes lots o' chunky vegetables in the salad, like celery, radishes, purple cabbage, carrots, an' cucumbers.

An' when they's affordable, them nice red bell peppers makes a salad look bright an' fancy. But y'all better ferget about them fer now 'cause they'll cost ya yer week's salary.

Fer supper tonight, I'm a-gonna serve up some beans an' steam up some nice broccoli ta go with my Two-Potato Hootnanny. Maybe you'll like that, too. Give it a try an' let me know what y'all think.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Two Potato Hootnanny


Yield: 5 to 6 servings

    2 cups (480 ml) chopped onions
    3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    Pinch of cayenne or Cajun seasoning

    1 pound (450g) yams, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
    3/4 pound (340g) Russet or White Rose potatoes, skins on, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    8 sun-dried tomato halves, snipped into small bits

    Creamy Sauce
    1 1/2 cups (360 ml) vanilla soymilk
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons water

  1. Have ready an 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4).
  2. Combine the onions and garlic in a deep skillet. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water and water-sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until they are transparent and softened. Add small amounts of water as needed to prevent burning. When softened, lightly sprinkle the onions with salt and a pinch of cayenne or lightly sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, and set aside.
  3. While the onions are cooking, place the yams and potatoes into separate sections of a steamer and steam for 5 minutes, or until they are just tender.
  4. Place one-fourth of the onions on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer the casserole as follows:
    • Single layer of white potatoes
    • One fourth of the onions.
    • Single layer of yams
    • Another fourth of the onions.
    • Remaining potatoes and remaining onions

  5. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomato bits over top, set aside, and prepare the Creamy Sauce.
  6. To make the Creamy Sauce, combine the soymilk, salt, and oregano in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Watch carefully to avoid a messy boil-over. Reduce the heat slightly but keep the soymilk simmering.
  7. In a small bowl or cup, combine the cornstarch and water and stir to form a runny paste. Add the paste, a little at a time, to the gently bubbling soymilk, stirring constantly for about 1 minute until the sauce is thickened to desired consistency.
  8. Pour the sauce over the top of the casserole and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

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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