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,
My family is coming over for a Hannukah party and I really need an easy dessert. I'm not much of a baker--is there something really simple I could make? Also, what would you suggest for a vegetable dish besides steamed veggies, which I always overcook.
Howdy there Melanie,
Well, darlin' in my kitchen there's always somethin' goin' on the stovetop or tucked inter the oven. Most times them fixin's is easy as pie an' mighty fine tastin' if I must say so myself.
Here's a compote recipe that's so speshul yer family will think yer a gourmet cook. To top it off, this l'il ole compote is made with pears an' cranberries, so it's perfect fer this season.
Now I figgured I had ta do somethin' extra ta make the compote really out of the ordinary, so I come up with a recipe fer Chocolate Toasts. Now, they's not really toasts. They's acshully a kinda soft skinny bar cookie, but I sure liked that name, Chocolate Toasts. An you tuck two o' them Toasts inter each bowl o' compote an yer family's gonna holler an' shout like you done won the door prize at the Hoot Nanny!
Now fer that vegetable dish. Yer gonna cook up a veggie stir-fry in 5 minutes flat an' I betcha it won't be overdone. Jes before servin', y'all put them veggies inter the skillet, turn on the timer fer 5 minutes, and start a-stirrin'. When the timer stops, why you stop too! An' them veggies are gonna be beautiful--you'll see, darlin'.
Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie
The convenience of this delicious cranberry-season compote is that it can be prepared in stages. The Chocolate Toasts, which are actually soft, thin bar cookies, can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The compote can be made two days ahead and refrigerated. And to make this dessert extra special and give your guests that pampered feeling, gently warm the compote just before serving.
PEAR CRANBERRY COMPOTE WITH CHOCOLATE TOAST
1 cup (240 ml) walnuts
1 cup (240 ml) pitted dates
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup (60 ml)plus 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons toasted, coarsely ground walnuts or hazelnuts
A stunning, picture-perfect vegetable medley with bright green colors and an accent of intense orange is a no-fail dazzler. Guests are often impressed and frequently ask how it's possible to keep the vegetables looking so bright. The secret is the brief stir-fry technique that keeps the veggies looking brilliant and appealing. By cutting and chopping the veggies a day ahead and refrigerating them in heavy-duty plastic bags, you can easily serve an enticing array of farm-fresh vegetables along with special-occasion fussy dishes.
VEGETABLE MEDLEY STIR-FRY
1/2 pound (225 g) French green beans
1/2 pound (225 g) Brussels sprouts, quartered
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems discarded
1 carrot cut into thin matchsticks
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large, deep skillet and cook and stir about 5 minutes just until crisp tender. Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Note: As a winter medley, add 1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped cooked fresh chestnuts. Other seasons, vary with 1/2 cup (120 ml) sliced water chestnuts, 1 cup (240 ml) chopped cauliflower, or 1 cup (240 ml) diced yellow summer squash.
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.