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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, my tomaters is startin' ta look mighty purty, all purky and bright red on the vines. Guess it's time ta git ta work an' turn them nice ripe beauties inta somethin' speshul. So, now I'm gonna put on my thinkin' cap an' see what come up.

Why, it took no time at all ta figger out how ta make them handsome-lookin' tomaters shine like the sun. My thinkin' cap tole me I oughter git some mushrooms from the farmstand an' mix up some fixin's ta stuff them nice fresh mushrooms. Now, that sounds like a fine idea!

It's been too hot fer big fussin' in the kitchen, so I think I won't even cook them mushrooms--just enjoy 'em nice an' fresh. Now that thinkin' cap goes back on ta see what sorta fixin's ta stuff 'em with besides my nice ripe tomaters.

Oh, Yes, some bread an' ground up walnuts make a good start. Then I'll add my speshul country touch with a pinch o' this an' a pinch o' that.

So, I rustled up some onions an' Spanish green olives an' chopped 'em all nice and fine with the tomaters. Then I mixed 'em up with some nice fresh-baked whole wheat bread an' seasoned 'em up. My Oh, My! It was a mighty fine tastin' bowl o' stuffin'. It come out tastin' like it was from a far-away kitchen in Spain or Italy, an' lookin' purty good, too.

After takin' out them little mushroom stems, I jes scooped up some of the fillin' an' packed it right inter them mushroom holes. Why I didn't even cook one bit o' them fixin's--not even the mushrooms. An' my kinfolk snapped 'em up like they was hotcakes with maple syrup!

I surely hope you love 'em much as my folks did.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Capture the flavors of Southern Italy and Northern Spain in one tasty, no-cook appetizer that instantly beckons with its good looks. Combine whole wheat bread, walnuts, and pungent Spanish green olives with red wine vinegar. Season to taste and stuff the combo into a fresh mushroom. You'll love this easy starter and you've got one delicious morsel full of pungent flavor. These irresistible mushrooms are best eaten the same day they are prepared.



Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    12 to 18 large button mushrooms, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) in diameter

    2 slices whole wheat bread

    1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
    1/2 cup (120 ml) walnuts coarsely ground in a nut mill
    1/3 cup (80 ml) diced sweet onions
    1/4 cup (60 ml) minced Spanish olives
    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 or 2 leaves green leaf lettuce
    1 or 2 sprigs parsley or cilantro

  1. Wash the mushrooms and pat them dry with paper towels. Apply gentle pressure with your thumb to remove the stems and set them aside for a future recipe.
  2. Break the bread into small pieces and place them into a medium bowl. Moisten the bread by pouring warm water to cover over the pieces. Then drain thoroughly and squeeze the bread dry.
  3. Add the diced tomato, walnuts, onions, Spanish olives, vinegar, garlic, and salt to the moistened bread and mix well. Stuff generous portions of the bread mixture into the mushroom cavities.
  4. To serve, line a serving platter with the lettuce leaves and arrange the mushrooms on top. Garnish each mushroom with a tiny sprig of parsley, and enjoy a nutty good starter.

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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