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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. Since 2009 Aunt Nettie has known people were struggling to stretch their dollars during the recession. So she focused her tasty recipes on low-cost ingredients that would still offer delicious, healthy, stick-to-the-ribs foods, yet were affordable.

With the economy improving and more people back at work, Aunt Nettie felt the time was right to ease up a bit on strict bargain-bin shopping and gussy up the menu with a few small splurges.

Aunt Nettie is still happy to answer questions that come her way, but what she loves most is offering seasonal fixin's that inspire her while shopping at the farm stand.

Howdy there darlin's,

Well, now, I must say this weather's turnin' an' twistin' my ole head 'round in a tizzy. One day it's a-feelin' like summer's on its way and next day, why it's purty darned snappy an' I'm coverin' up in layer on layer.

What I do know fer shure is no matter what the dern weatherman sends us, it's time ta bake up some mighty deeelicious bread that's gonna bring on the sunshine quick as a wink.

Now this is not a recipe that needs a whole day of fussin' an kneadin' 'cause it's not one o' them yeast-raised breads. Some folks calls this a quick bread an' that's jes fine with me. But yer gonna have ta think about this bread the day before ya bakes it, 'cause them l'il ole wheat berries needs 'bout a day ta soak an' soften up before bakin'.

All's ya do is put them wheat berries in a bowl, cover 'em with water, and set 'em aside overnight ta soak. Then, in the mornin', yer ready ta make yer recipe--an' while that bread is bakin', why the whole house smells like the kind o' bakery y'all wanna spend all day jes a'tastin' every one o' them goodies.

If'n y'all likes soft an' juicy raisins, crunchy nuts, an' a tin full o' spices--why this is yer kind o' bread--an' my oh my what a treat it is!

'Nother thing I know fer shure is once ya taste this nice an' spicy bread, one piece ain't gonna be enuff--that's why there's two o' them mighty fine breads1

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Conveniently made in the food processor, this dense, nutty, and highly textured bread is an irresistible treat that lends itself to numerous variations. Slice it thickly and enjoy it as is or top it with nut butter or your favorite jam. This recipe does not require lengthy rising or kneading because it's yeast-free.

Raisin Walnut Bread


Yield: 2 small loaves (4 to 6 servings per loaf)

    5 1/4 cups (1.25 liters) water
    2 cups (480 ml) whole wheat or spelt berries

    2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

    2/3 cup (160 ml) black raisins
    1/4 cup (60 ml) golden raisins

    1 cup (240 ml) coarsely chopped walnuts
    1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine 4 cups (1 liter) of the water and the whole-wheat berries in a bowl and let soak for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (Gas Mark 2) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the water with the flaxseed meal, mix well, and set aside to thicken.
  3. Combine the black and golden raisins in a small bowl, cover them with warm water, and set aside until they are plump.
  4. Put the walnuts, sunflower seeds, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss well and set aside.
  5. Drain the wheat berries and put them in a food processor. Add the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) of water and process for about 2 minutes, until the wheat berries are ground into a moist, coarse meal. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. If your food processor has a small capacity, process the wheat berries and water in two batches.
  6. Add the thickened flaxseed meal to the processor and process it into the wheat berry mixture.
  7. Transfer the wheat berry mixture to the bowl with the walnuts and spices. Drain the raisins, add them to the wheat berry mixture, and mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  8. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in two equal piles. Use your hands to form two 5 x 7-inch (13 x 18 cm) oval loaves.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. For a crunchy surface, bake the breads uncovered. For a softer crust, cover the loaves with aluminum foil and remove the foil the last 15 minutes of baking.
  10. Cool the loaves completely before serving or storing. To store, wrap each loaf in a separate zip-lock plastic bag and freeze for up to three months.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with megabytes 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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