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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, .

Recently Aunt Nettie had an amusing exchange that resulted from a question that she received by e-mail from Tim in Colorado. We thought you, too, may at some time encounter the same challenge and would be well prepared with Aunt Nettie's response.

Dear Aunt Nettie,

I have a vegetarian soup recipe that calls for 1 cup (237 ml) of dry cider. Can you please tell me what "dry cider" is?



Howdy Tim Darlin',

That soup recipe sounds mighty good already! I'm a'comin right over fer a taste!

That dry cider dilemma ya have on yer hands is actually good ole fashioned, imported English hard cider. Like a dry wine, it's dry, too, and has 'bout 6% alcohol. The very best brand is Blackthorn - it's the dryest. Then comes Cross Bow Cider, and the sweetest of the dry ciders is Woodpecker. Ya see, I had my share o' tastin' in my day.

Findin' the dry cider might be a little hitch. Look fer a liquor store that sells lots o' imported beers - that's probably where ya kin git yer hands on some.

Now don't git talked inta Wyder Cider - that's much too sweet fer yer wants, and it usually has fruit flavors like peach, pear, and maybe raspberry. Well, Tim, if that soups turns out as good as it sounds, would y'all send me some? well, the recipe, then.

Take care, sweetheart.


Aunt Nettie

Tim was so ecstatic with Aunt Nettie's information he responded with praise and appreciation.

Dear Aunt Nettie,

Thanks so much for your cooking advice. I posed this same "dry cider" question to folks at the supermarket, at high-tech Web food sites, and even to a highfalutin chef at a local cooking school. But, leave it to Aunt Nettie with her good ole fashion cooking smarts, and obvious extensive cider-tasting experience, to come through with the answer. Thanks Aunt Nettie; you are a true gem.

I visited my local liquor store and picked up some Woodchuck dark and dry cider - maybe not the best brand, but it came in a big ole bottle that afforded plenty of tasting opportunities with generous amounts left for the soup recipe. In fact, I still have some to spare, and if you are ever in the area, feel free to stop in for a belly-warming blast of this "naturally fermented draft cider."

After several cider taste tests, to assure the quality of the ingredients, I began in earnest to make my "Vegetable Medley a la Grecque" taken from the "Food Lover's Guide to Vegetarian Cooking". Mmm-mmm, I don't know if it was the cider in the soup or the cider I had before making the soup, but it sure came out to my liking. I owe you a big thanks, Aunt Nettie. One respondent to my question suggested that I try cider vinegar. I am so glad I took your advice over his - belting down several glasses of vinegar wouldn't have been nearly as much fun as the cider you suggested!

Anyway, here is the recipe and thanks again for sharing your cooking wisdom Aunt Nettie.


Our Aunt Nettie felt compelled to respond.


You lil' sweetheart, yer a man after my own ever lovin' heart, and yer a man of good taste, too.

I'm so glad you chose the hard cider over the cider vinegar! And ya sure had more fun with that cider than a bottle o' cider vinegar! And thanks so much fer the recipe. Did that recipe have some directions attached to it. The ingredients sound mighty fine, but now I needs to ask fer yer help. What do I do with those nice veggies and the sauce?

Yer ever lovin'

Aunt Nettie

Tim provides the full recipe as follows:

Hi Aunt Nettie,

Here is the full text of the recipe you requested for "Vegetable Medley a la Grecque" from "The Food Lover's Guide to Vegetarian Cooking" (Thunder Bay Press).


2 small celery hearts, outer stalks removed, cut into1 inch slices
12 oz.(340 g) carrots scraped and cut into julienne strips
1 cup (237 ml) snowpeas
4 oz. (113 g) small onions or shallots peeled and left whole
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or mint.


4 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup (237 ml) dry cider
1 cup (237 ml) water
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 tsp. mustard seed, lightly crushed
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf

Put all the sauce ingredients into a pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add celery, carrots, snowpeas and onions, bring the sauce to a boil. Cover pan and simmer for 10 min. Remove bay leaf and stir in 1/2 chopped herbs. Serve warm or cold - Sprinkle with remaining herbs before serving.


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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