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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 vegetarian 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,

Do you by any chance have a recipe for vegan cholent? It's an old-fashioned kind of stew with Eastern European origin.

From Rose

Howdy there Rose, darlin',

I didn't ferget 'bout yer wantin' a cholent recipe an' I done come up with one deelicious, easy oven stew. It's mighty tasty, if I do say so myself, an' I shure hope y'all likes it much as I do. My kinfolk helped me out with them fancy words 'bout the recipe an' the directions, too.

When I was a tot my mama done made this outa beans 'n barley. It ain't no fancy food but I remember it was mighty fillin' 'specially with some homemade whole wheat bread she baked up on her wood stove. That's a heap o' years ago an' I near fergot them days.

My recipe is a tad fancier 'n my mama made, but still, ain't nobody gonna call it a gourmet recipe. Nice thing is that once ya boils them beans fer jest ten minutes, everthin' goes into the pot, y'all tuck it inta the oven, an' practically ferget about it. Thems mighty easy fixin's I think you'll appreciate.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

This historical Eastern European Sabbath stew typically prepared by Jewish women consisted of a simple, earthy combination of beans, grains, vegetables, and meat. The women would seal the pot with a paste of flour and water, and carry it to the village baker. By Friday evening, the large baker's oven was brimming with many Cholent-filled copper pots that slowly stewed overnight. After Sabbath morning prayers, the men would stop by the village bakery, collect their aromatic stews, and carry them home for their afternoon meal.

This wholesome vegan medley of lima beans, red beans, barley, and buckwheat gleans its flavor from a galaxy of vegetables heightened with maple syrup and Dijon mustard. To serve this dish for dinner, plan to soak the beans the night before. Boil the beans in the morning, assemble the stew, and then tuck it into the oven to bake all day.


    1/2 C. (120 ml) dry lima beans
    1/2 C. (120 ml) dry red beans

    3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
    3 stalks celery, sliced
    2 onions, coarsely chopped
    3 medium potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
    1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks
    1/2 C. (120 ml) barley
    1/2 C. (120 ml) buckwheat
    1/2 head of garlic, chopped
    1 t. salt
    Freshly ground pepper

    1/2 C. (120 ml) maple syrup
    1/4 C. (60 ml) Dijon mustard
    1 t. salt or to taste

  1. Pick over the lima and red beans, and discard any spoiled beans, debris, or tiny stones. Rinse the beans, put them into a large bowl, and add water to cover by 2-inches (5 cm). Soak 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. (Gas Mark 4). Drain off water and rinse beans. Put them into a large, open stockpot with water to cover, and bring them to a boil. Turn heat down slightly, and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain off all water.
  3. To the beans in the stockpot, add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, sweet potato, barley, buckwheat, garlic, salt, pepper and water to cover by 1 1/2-inches (3.5 cm).
  4. Cover the stockpot, and put it into the oven at 350 F. (Gas Mark 4) for 2 hours. Check to make sure the water is sufficient. Then, lower oven temperature to 225 F. (Gas Mark 1/4), and cook for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. In the morning, combine the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Stir vigorously, and add to the stockpot, mixing well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Serves 6 to 8.

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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