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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.


Fifty-fifth in a series of articles


Howdy there darlin's,

Well, it's turnin' out ta be a mighty fine spring with such nice weather and a heap o' deeelicious vegetables poppin' up in the garden. An' this time o' year, ain't nothin' better'n fresh asparagus fer good darned eatin'.

They's beautiful ta look at all nice an' bright green and lookin' perky as kin be, an' they's even better when ya pick 'em or buy ''em fresh an git ta taste that first crop o' the year.

Most o' the time I don't even do anything more than steam 'em fer only 'bout 3 minutes and they's just as nice as they kin be fer dinner or supper. When they's fresh, why they don't need nothin' added.

Sometimes, I even warsh 'em up an' cut 'em into pieces an' add 'em to a nice fresh salad. Fresh an' raw--cain't be easier'n that. But if'n yer lookin' ta turn them nice plump asparagus inta somethin' speshul, why yer jes gonna love my easy recipe fer roastin' 'em with some mighty fine tastin' spices.

Y'all might want ta buy more'n one pound of fresh asparagus when they's come ta market at good prices this time o' year. An' yer probably gonna notice they even taste better this time o' year--that's 'cause asparagus is a vegetable that takes a long snooze most o' the year and comes alive in the spring fer 'bout two ta three months.

Now you let me know how y'all like this mighty easy recipe. I think it jes might put a smile on yer face.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

You simply can't beat steamed, stir-fried, or plain roasted asparagus when it's spring fresh and so good tasting. But if you want to add a little perk to this lovely green vegetable, give this tasty spice-infused recipe a try. You'll be happy to know that asparagus is low in calories, only about 13 calories for four spears, but they pack impressive levels of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium. Plus, asparagus is such an easy sell--practically everyone loves it and finds it a delicious addition to almost any meal.

Spicy Roasted Asparagus


Yield: about 3 servings

    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Pinch cayenne (optional)

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    2 teaspoons maple syrup

    1 pound (453g) fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off
    2 wedges fresh lime
    3 cherry or grape tomatoes
    2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Gas Mark 5) Combine the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne in a small cup or bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the vegetable oil, lime juice, and maple syrup in a small bowl, mix well, and pour onto a large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Wash and asparagus spears and pat them dry with paper towels. Add the spears to the baking sheet and roll the sheet from side to side to coat the asparagus completely.
  4. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved spice mixture and roll the baking sheet from side to side to coat the asparagus.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes, or just until tender. Transfer to a serving dish and squeeze the juice from 1 lime wedge over the asparagus. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the herbs onto the exposed areas of the dish.

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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