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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, .

Dear Aunt Nettie,

I've encountered a heavenly dish called Lettuce Wraps at a Chinese restaurant recently and wondered if you had a recipe for this fabulous appetizer.


Howdy there Melissa,

I been hearin' 'n hearin' 'bout Lettuce Wraps so much I deecided t'was time I rustle up them fixin's in my own kitchen. A l'il o' this 'n a l'il o' that 'n I come up with some mighty fine eatin' if'n I do say so myself. Then I had 'n idea. Them fixin's would be real fine a'top some nice brown rice er some other healthy grain sech as quinoa, wild rice, er even buckwheat.

Now, if yer a'wondrin' why I got coconut fixin's in a Chinese dish, it's cause I been a'thinkin' 'bout my friend, Neal, who lives in a Polynesian paradise on the island of Oahu so's to explain the coconut. Now, mind, coconut ain't real important in this dish, so's you kin leave it out if ya please an' still have a mighty fine appeetizer.

Well Melissa, if'n y'all got the time, do write back, darlin', 'n tell me if this l'il dish was pleasin' ta yer taste.

Yer Ever Lovin' Aunt Nettie


Romaine Butter, green leaf, or romaine lettuce leaves

1 T. cornstarch
1 T. water

2 T. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. (453 grams) extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes

1/4 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 C. (49 ml) water

1 1/2 t. evaporated cane juice
2 t. sesame oil
1 T. water
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. (59 ml) Bragg Liquid Aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
1/4 C. (59 ml) rice vinegar
1/4 C. (59 ml) dry red wine

1/2 C. (118 ml) shredded fresh or dried coconut (optional)

2 or 3 T. chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Separate lettuce leaves, cut very large ones in half crosswise, wash, pat dry, arrange on a serving plate, and set aside. Combine water and cornstarch in a small cup or glass to form a thick paste, and set aside.
  2. Combine the 2 T. Bragg Liquid Aminos and 1 T. olive oil in a wok or large, deep skillet and turn heat on high. When mixture begins to bubble add tofu cubes and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until cubes are golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to a dish and set aside.
  3. In same skillet combine cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, ginger, and 1/4 cup (59 ml) water, and cook over high heat, stirring frequently until softened and transparent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl while preparing sauce.
  4. In same skillet combine the evaporated cane juice, sesame oil, water, olive oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, rice vinegar, and dry red wine and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir cornstarch mixture briefly and add to bubbling liquid, stirring until thickened, about 1 minute.
  5. Add cooked vegetables, browned tofu, and shredded coconut, and stir until all ingredients are coated with sauce and warmed through.
  6. Spoon the mixture into an attractive serving bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro if desired, and serve at the table with the platter of prepared lettuce leaves. Have each person put a little of the tofu vegetable mixture into a lettuce leaf, fold or roll the leaf, and enjoy a tasty first course. Serves 5 to 6 generously.

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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