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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.


Sixtieth in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Now that autumn's comin' on fer sure, I'm a-hankerin' fer a nice warm sweet tater that's jes been harvested from the field. Ain't nothin' sweeter than the new crop I'm seein' at the farmstand--all ready fer dandy fixin's at suppertime on a cold night.

Nice thing 'bout sweet taters an' yams is y'all don't have ta hardly do nothin' to 'em. An' this time o' year, they's purty good prices, too, so y'all kin make yer dollers stretch a good bit.

One o' my favorite fixin's fer sweet taters is ta cook up a nice pot o' veggies an' lentils 'til they's nice an soft when I poke my fork inter the pot. Nothin' fancy here, just a heap o' veggies that taste good to ya. An' when they's all cooked up nice an' soft, all's ya do is spoon up a heap an' tuck it right inter that tater. That's all there is to it.

An' a supper like that does more 'n' jes fill the belly. Why, all them veggies and lentils gives y'all a heap o' vitamins an' minerals an' fiber, too. An' darlin', them lentils is famous fer fiber, I tell ya true.

I hear folks complain 'bout constipation all the time, 'specially folks my age. I'm positive it's 'cause they ain't discovered lentils. Land sakes! In all their years, some folks ain't never tasted lentils--imagine that! Well, one thing I knows fer sure--ain't no constipation goin' on in my house!

I surely do hope y'all like my fixin's fer yer sweet taters. Now, y'all let me know what ya think, will ya?

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Veggie Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


Yield: 6 servings

    6 sweet potatoes or yams

    4 cups (1 liter) water
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) brown lentils
    2 large carrots, peeled and diced
    1 medium onion, chopped
    6 cloves garlic, minced

    2 large tomatoes, chopped
    1 medium zucchini, diced
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Freshly ground pepper

    Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
    1 medium head cauliflower
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) water

    2 green onions, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Gas Mark 6) and put the sweet potatoes on a baking pan. Bake the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft when gently squeezed.
  2. TO MAKE THE STUFFING, put the water, lentils, carrots, onion, and garlic in a 5 or 6-quart (5 or 6 liter) saucepan. Partially cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium or medium-high and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, salt, cinnamon, and pepper. Partially cover the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the lentils are softened. Adjust the seasonings if needed.
  4. TO MAKE THE SAUCE, cut the cauliflower into florets and put them in a 3-quart saucepan with the water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediatelly decrease the heat to low and steam for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender and add enough of the cooking water to blend the florets into a smooth, creamy sauce. Add small amounts of additional water if needed. Season with salt to taste.
  6. When the sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from the oven and cut them open lengthwise. Spoon the cooked filling into the potatoes and top with the cauliflower sauce. Garnish with the green onions.

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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