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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.



RECESSION GRUB:
HOPPIN' JOHN

Forty-second in a series of articles

BY AUNT NETTIE

Well Howdy there darlin's,

This shure is a whole month o' special celebratin' what with all the holidays tucked inter jes 31 days. Seems every year gits just a tad more fussy. First there's Hanukkah, then Christmas, Kwanzaa, an finally New Years. An' I shurely cain't help noticin' Christmas music playin' everywhere I been shoppin', fancy decorations everywhere I look, ever'thing so bright an' cheery, an' folks talkin' 'bout what they's gonna fix fer good eats from now till the end of the year.

Now, y'all know by now I'm not inclined ta cookin' up fancy foods. I most prefer homey cookin' that's not too fussy and still makes ya feel fit as a fiddle. An' this time o' year with all the cold, rainy, snowy, and windy weather ahead, I jes hanker more 'n more fer them simple fixin's - long as they's nice 'n warm goin' down, why that's my kinda dish.

That's why I'm cookin' up a pot o' black eyed peas. It's not a fancy dish but somehow it done up an' got a fancy name long time ago. They calls it Hoppin' John. What in 'tarnation made 'em call black-eyed peas Hoppin' John, I shure don't know, but they done it, they did. If'n yer not shure what fixin's ta serve up with yer Hoppin' John, why nothin' beats a pot o' cooked mustard greens.

An' they say them black-eyed peas got a tad o' magic in 'em, too. Why lots o' folks believe deep in their heart that eatin' black-eyed peas on New Years would bring 'em good luck in the new year. I cain't promise anyone would win the lottery by eatin' black-eyed peas on new years, but it shure cain't hurt none.

I knows my holidays is always special 'cause bein' with my family is what makes it so happy an', o' course, special. My wish fer ever'one in this country an' in the rest o' the world is fer peaceful, lovin' and mighty tasty Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, an' New Year's celebrations.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie



New Year's Day holds special promise in the Southern part of the U.S. An old tradition brings many diners to the table to eat black-eyed peas with the hope of good fortune in the coming year. Cookbook author Jessica Harris suggests adding a dime to the pot. The one who finds the coin in his or her dish is sure to have good luck in the coming year. Some Southerners say the black-eyed peas represent copper, while turnip greens symbolize money. In some families, each pea eaten equals a penny's worth of good luck, while others say a dollar's worth. Black-eyed peas are a humble food that also symbolizes humility. If a person eats one black-eyed pea every day of the year, will he or she have 365 days of good luck? Perhaps!

This is one of the tasty recipes in Zel's cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays.

HOPPIN' JOHN


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    2 cups (480 ml) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
    6 1/4 cups (1.5 liters plus 60 ml) water or vegetable broth
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or hot sauce
    1 3/4 teaspoons salt
    1 cup (240 ml) brown basmati rice
    1 sweet onion, chopped
    1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 1 tablespoon imitation bacon bits
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. Pour the peas into a 10- to 12-quart (10 to 12 liter) stockpot. Add 4 cups (1 liter) of the water, garlic, pepper flakes, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the peas thoroughly and still leave 1 cup (240 ml) of liquid in the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 1/4 cups (1.5 liters plus 60 ml) of the water, the rice, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.
  3. Put the onion and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water in a large skillet. Cook and stir over medium nigh heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the onion begins to turn golden. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning. Set aside.
  4. Add the cooked rice and onion to the peas. Stir in the imitation bacon bits and liquid smoke and mix well. Adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley if desired.





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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