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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, .


Hi Aunt Nettie,

I really went crazy and bought a ton of pumpkins for Halloween and other than looking pretty as autumn decorations, what can I do with them? Can I cook them?

Suzie, the Pumpkin Horder


Howdy there Suzie,

Well, I'll bet yer house looks mighty purty with all them punkins ta brighten up the rooms. But don't you fret--you kin do lots with 'em. An' the nice thing is you don't have ta cook 'em all up at once. Them punkins will keep jes fine fer 'bout 3 or 4 months b'fore they go bad on ya.

Here's some ideas. You kin bake a whole punkin' fer 'bout 30 minutes. Take it out and stuff it with yer favorite veggie casserole fixin's and put it back inter the oven fer another 30 minutes or so. Then when ya go ta serve it, why jes scoop up some of the punkin along with the rest of the casserole.

'Nother idea is ta bake the punkin fer a whole hour or longer if it ain't soft. Then y'all decide if yer gonna mash it up with salt an' herbs or sugar an' spices.

Now, down yonder is one of my favorite ways to cook up a punkin. The tricky thing is gettin' that peel off. Here's what works fer me:

First, take a big, very firm chef's knife an cut the punkin in half. Scoop out the seeds that you kin bake if ya like or jes chuck 'em. Then lay the punkin half, cut side down, on yer cuttin' board. Take yer knife an' hold it horizontal-like, an' lay it on the middle of the tallest part of the punkin. Now start peelin' by pushin' the knife away from you an jes foller the curve to the bottom of the punkin. Takes a little time, but think what yer gittin'--a mighty delicous homemade dinner--an' that's a fact.

Yer ever lovin,'

Aunt Nettie


Perfect veggie comfort food, this light, autumn inspired stew is just right for serving with a hearty chunk of whole grain bread to mop up the tasty pan juices. It even tastes better when made a day ahead. While pumpkin is closely associated with pumpkin pie, this beautiful squash can also lay the foundation for a hearty homemade family dish.


VEGGIE BACON PUMPKIN STEW Pumpkin

    1 large onion, chopped
    3 cups (720 ml) chopped tomatoes
    1 pound (450g) firm tofu, crumbled
    1/3 cup (80 ml) veggie bacon bits
    4 cups (1 liter) peeled, chopped pumpkin
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water
    Salt
    Pepper
    Garlic powder
    Crushed oregano

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) and have ready a 7 x 11-inch (17.5 x 28 cm) glass baking dish.
  2. Prepare the ingredients and place them in individual bowls in preparation for layering the stew.
  3. Arrange 1/2 the onions and 1/2 the tomatoes on the bottom of the dish. Season generously with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed oregano.
  4. Next layer all of the tofu followed by half the bacon bits.
  5. Arrange the pumpkin over the bacon and season generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed oregano.
  6. Top with the remaining onions and tomatoes and season again.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top and cover the dish with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, lift the foil and spoon the pan juices over the top, adjusting seasoning if needed. Re-cover and bake for another 20 minutes. Spoon the stew into bowls and include some of the pan juices. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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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