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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, .

Dear Aunt Nettie,

I'm a sort of new to vegetarian cooking and I sure could use a little help. Passover is coming at the end of this month and I'm feeling stuck about what to serve. Please, please, do you have any suggestions for a main dish to serve about 6 or 7 people, or possibly 8.



Brenda darlin',

Now don't you go frettin' 'cause I'm right here an' I'm gonna give you a recipe that oughter catch a heap o' compliments right quick. Fer some extra fixin's that go real fine with yer curry, cook up some mashed 'taters and some steamed vegetables in a nice variety o' purty colors. When cookin' yer 'taters, add a little salt n' pepper, a clove o' garlic, and an onion chopped up. Then, when ya git ta mashin' yer 'taters, jes use some o' that tasty cookin' water 'stead o' the butter most folks use.

One more thing, darlin', this recipe is fer 4 people, so sure as shootin' yer gonna need ta double it. Now y'all let me know how it turns out, won't ya!

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

While seasoning this family-style dish, the whole kitchen becomes enveloped in the lusty, inviting aromas of an Indian spice market. To complement the curry, serve it over brown or wild rice, and accompany the dish with some steamed vegetables and a tossed salad.

Hazelnut and Mushroom Curry is one of the delicious recipes from Zel Allen's cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.


Yield: 4 servings

3 Japanese eggplants, sliced 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick, or 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
2 zucchinis, sliced 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound (225g) cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) nonalcoholic dry red wine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup (240 ml) whole hazelnuts

  1. Combine the eggplant, zucchinis, tomatoes, mushrooms, water, wine, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, and turmeric in a large, deep skillet.
  2. Cook and stir over high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and broken down. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, coarsely chop the hazelnuts in the food processor. Transfer the hazelnuts to a dry skillet, and toast them over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
  4. Add the hazelnuts to the vegetables, and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve.

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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