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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-fifth in a series of articles


Howdy there darlin's,

I knows none of us ordinary folks is gettin' any richer these days 'cause jobs is hard ta find, an' that means squeezin' all ya can outta every dollar. An' if'n yer lucky enough ta have a job, why yer probably not gettin' raises or bonuses. We all jes gettin' by best we can.

Now, mind, you still gots ta eat good, healthy food that fills up yer belly an' keeps yer good viger rollin' on an' on. Y'all mustn't ferget that!

You jes gotta be a wise-owl shopper when yer at the grocery. There's plenty o' mighty fine vegetables at dirt cheap prices. Jes put yer eyes in the direction o' them bargains an' you kin find some whoppin' big surprises.

Beans an' taters is always good fer starters an' there's at least a hun'erd ways ta serve 'em up. They's wholesome an' kin promise ya plenty good vitamins an' minerals an' a heap o' that important fiber.

Land sakes! I'm jes now thinkin' 'bout sweet potaters an' come up with a dandy way ta fix 'em--I got a feelin' in my bones yer gonna like this here recipe.

These 'tater cakes is mighty good! Wonderin' what makes 'em that way? Why y'all don't need nothin' fancy to put up a good meal--jes some beans an' sweet potaters put together with a tad o' good ole salt 'n pepper.

The secret here is that Japanese panko. That's nothin' but some real crispy breadcrumbs that puts a nice coatin' on them patties so's they git crisp on the outside and stay nice 'n soft on the inside.

There's all sorts o' ways ta dress up them patties, too--tomater sauce is one idea, barbecue sauce is 'nother. You kin even use Tofu Sour Cream with a homemade recipe. Them fixin's is so easy it comes together in the wink of an eye.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Sweet Potato Cakes


Yield: about 10 patties

    2 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

    1 15-ounce (425g) can cannellini or Great Northern beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed
    1 cup (240 ml) baked, mashed sweet potatoes or yams
    1/2 cup (120 ml) diced onions
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper

    1 cup (240 ml) panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

    5 cherry tomatoes, halved

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Gas Mark 5) and line a large jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal and stir well to moisten the meal completely. Set aside to thicken.
  3. Put the beans in the food processor and add the sweet potatoes, onions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until well combined. Add the flaxseed meal and process briefly until incorporated.
  4. Put the panko in a large, shallow bowl and have a spoon ready. Use about 3 to 4 heaping tablespoons of the bean-sweet potato mixture to form patties. Drop each one into the panko and spoon the panko over the top and sides. Carefully transfer the patties to the prepared jellyroll pan and use your hands or the back of a spoon to flatten them slightly.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully turn the patties over with a metal spatula and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer. Transfer the patties to an attractive serving platter and top each one with a cherry tomato half.

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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