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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 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 an/or get her cooking advice, .

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.


Thirty-fourth in a series of articles


Howdy there darlin's,

Well, the way I sees it, gittin' by with little money is not gittin' any better yet, an I keep seein' prices goin' up an' up an' up. Even food prices is climbin' up, but I do have my ways o' eatin' mighty good-fer-ya food an' only spendin' a tad o' what lots o' folks spend at the grocery.

The secret is findin' them markets with good prices. Sometimes y'all jes gotta go huntin' fer them places, but they's there and you kin save a bundle o' cash an' come home with a heap o' vegetables fer cheap.

'Nother o' my ways o' cookin' up cost-savin' meals is ta use lots o' root vegetables, like carrots, onions, rutabagas, an' such, 'cause they's usually cheaper 'n' most other things. They's not fancy, but they put wholesomeness in the belly.

Many a year ago, I used ta live in a place that had a root cellar where we could put all them vegetables like 'taters, turnips, rutabagas, onions, an' beets down in the cellar under the house. An' my, my, they would keep jes fine all winter long. Any time my mama needed an onion or a 'tater, she would say, 'Nettie, darlin', go an' git me an onion,--an' I would go down them stairs with a flashlight, 'cause there weren't no light down there, an' I would come back up with that onion fer mama.

You don't need no root cellar ta cook up a pot o' this delicious stew--all's you do is take yerself shoppin' an' come back with an armload o' them root cellar vegetables. Put 'em in a big pot an' start a-cookin'. It's as easy as that. An' when you git that stew all cooked up, why give me a holler an' I'll mosey on over fer a spoonful.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Root Cellar Stew


Yield: 4 to 5 servings

    3 1/2 cups (840 ml) water
    2 medium onions, cut lengthwise into 8 sections each
    2 stalks celery, chopped
    1 28-ounce (790g) can diced tomatoes
    1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
    1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
    1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced
    1 small beet, peeled and diced
    1/2 cup (120 ml) lentils
    1/2 cup (120 ml) whole grains (brown rice, buckwheat, oat groats, or coarse grind bulgur)
    1 teaspoon dried marjoram
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 teaspoon dried tarragon

    5 medium red or white potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite-sized chunks
    Salt and pepper
    1/4 to 1/2 lemon

    3 tablespoons minced parsley, dill, or cilantro

  1. Combine the water, onions, celery, tomatoes, carrot, rutabaga, parsnip, beet, lentils, whole grains, marjoram, thyme, and tarragon in an 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10 liter) stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Decrease the heat to medium or medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils and grains are soft and the vegetables are fork tender. Add a small amount of water if needed to keep the vegetables just covered in liquid.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before serving, add lemon juice to taste. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

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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