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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.


Sixty-first in a series of articles


Howdy there Darlin's,

Well, waddiya know, it almost Thanksgivin' time--that's the time when I likes ta say a few words to show appreciation fer the heaps o' good fruits 'n veggies I been able ta provide fer my family.

I surely am thankful fer them veggies 'n other good things we eat durin' the whole year an' 'specially at holiday time. An' I know all the really hard work that goes inter makin' them purty veggies grow so's we kin eat 'em.

My family was planters, plantin' somethin' different ever' season. An' ever' season they kept hopin' fer enuf rain to make them l'il ole seeds grow. An' when they did grow, why some had ta be transplanted an' the ground needed ta be weeded. An' my them weeds do get pesky--guess they likes good soil jes like the veggies does.

So fer Thanksgivin' I'm a-gonna share a mighty speshul appetizer made by my niece, Zel--stuffed tomaters that you kin jes pick up with yer fingers an' start chompin' down without needin' a fork er spoon.

The recipe's easy and if'n y'all don't want ta fuss with scoopin' out them l'il ole tomater halves, why you kin jes put the stuffin' in a purty bowl and serve with crackers er them long skinny breads you kin slice nice an' thin.

I want ta wish you an' yer family a mighty happy Thanksgivin' and hope you enjoy this fine tastin' recipe ta start yer celebration.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Spanish Tapenade Stuffed Tomatoes


When guests arrive for a holiday gathering, invariably they come hungry and ready for a nibble. As a host you'll want to have something ready that you can retrieve from the fridge and bring to the table in an instant.

Ideal party fare, this easy-to-make chunky relish becomes the filling for a flavorful stuffed tomato appetizer. The relish draws its assertive nature from pimiento-stuffed green olives. Adding flavor balance, pine nuts and Roma tomatoes tame the relish and give it perky colors. In this recipe the relish is spooned into tomato shells, but you can also serve the relish as a bruschetta with little rounds of toasted baguettes or rye bread. Alternatively, you can spoon simply spoon the filling into a bowl and serve it with crackers. It's also delicious spread over polenta or heaped into baked potatoes.

This is one of the delicious recipes from Zel's The Nut Gourmet cookbook and makes a tasty, attractive, and non-messy starter guests can enjoy as finger food. But just in case, do provide napkins

Yield: about 3 cups

    10 to 12 small tomatoes

    1 pound (453g) ripe Roma tomatoes

    3/4 cup (180 ml) pimiento-stuffed green olives, well drained
    3/4 cup (180 ml) pitted black olives, well drained
    3 green onions, chopped
    1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1/4 cup chopped parsley

  1. Cut the small tomatoes in half, and carefully scoop out the insides using a grapefruit knife. Place the insides into a storage container set aside for a future sauce recipe. Set the tomato halves aside.
  2. Cut the Roma tomatoes in half and seed them. Add the seeds and juice to the storage container and refrigerate. Coarsely chop the Roma tomatoes and put them into the food processor.
  3. Add the green olives, black olives, green onions, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pulse-chop until coarsely chopped.
  4. To serve, spoon the Tapenade into the tomato halves and sprinkle the tops with chopped parsley. Arrange on a serving platter.

Note: If not using the Tapenade immediately, transfer it into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Refrigerated, the Tapenade will keep for two days.

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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