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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.


Forty-seventh in a series of articles


Howdy there darlin's,

Well, wouldn't ya know, this swelterin' heat is makin' me think ahead 'bout one o' my favorite summer vegetables--beautiful plump okra. An', when them okra's nice an' ripe, farmers sells 'em fer mighty good prices that don't break yer billfold in pieces.

An' can you imagine what fussin' I hear 'bout what ta do with okra once it's ready fer pickin' from the garden or bringin' home from the market. So I'm mighty pleased to help y'all through the okra season with couple o' ways you kin enjoy some deeeelicious okra without frettin' or lettin' it go bad.

The quickest an' easiest recipe fer fixin' okra is ta wash 'em an' trim off them tough l'il ole caps. Jes throw 'em away an' don't bother 'bout 'em. Then, jes put them okra in a nice deep skillet with 'bout 5 or 6 tablespoons o' water. Cover the skillet an' bring it all to a hearty boil. Quick as a wink, turn down yer heat and steam them okras fer 'bout 3 ta 4 minutes an' they's jes as tender as kin be an' mighty scrumshous, too.

'Nother thing you kin do with okra is trim off them tough caps an' slice the okra crosswise 'bout 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick. Toss 'em in the skillet with jes a tad o' yer favorite vegetable oil an' a tad o' water and cook 'em fer 'bout 4 to 5 minutes. Now, don't ferget to give 'em plenty o' stirrin' while cookin'. Give 'em a sprinkle o' salt and pepper an' yer all set fer a mighty fine vegetable dish.

One o' my very favorite fixin's fer okra is picklin'. Why, you kin even use this same brine fer picklin' jes 'bout any vegetable ya likes. Yer gonna love this recipe 'cause it makes a mighty purty dish ta serve at the table an' tastes jes grand with all them nice summer fixin's.

So, darlins', I surely do hope yer feelin' a tad more acquainted with okra and ready fer cookin' up a nice batch when it comes ta market. An' I'd be mighty pleased if y'all would set some aside fer me, too, OK? I like them okra pickles jes fine.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Pickled Okra

Yield: about 6 servings

Pickling Brine

    2 cups (480 ml) water
    2/3 cup (160 ml) rice vinegar
    12 cloves garlic, minced
    2 1/2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons pickling spices
    1 teaspoon organic sugar
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Okra & Vegetable Mixture

    1 pound (453g) fresh okra, untrimmed
    1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) long matchsticks
    1/2 small onion, vertically sliced into half moons

  1. Combine all the Pickling Brine ingredients in a 5- or 6-quart (5- or 6-liter) saucepan and set aside.
  2. Wash the okra and prepare the carrots and onion. Add the Okra & Vegetable Mixture to the saucepan with the pickling brine and cover the pan.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then, decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the okra is fork tender. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  4. Spoon the mixture and pickling brine into a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.

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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