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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, click on Aunt Nettie below:

Aunt Nettie

Hi, Aunt Nettie,

Every Christmas my family gets together for a big dinner that we start with a special toast. Do you have a really good toasting beverage we could surprise our group with?

I'm also trying to make my Christmas dinner really colorful. I would like to include a cranberry dish but not just the same old cranberry sauce that everyone serves. Have you got something special up your sleeve?


Well, Howdy there, Anita,

Now that's really nice ta hear that yer family gits together fer Christmas. 'An o' course ya need a speshul somethin' fancy fer toastin' the holiday.

I fixed up jest the purrfect nog ta start yer family dinner off in good spirits. I jest knows that with this deeelicious recipe I kin promise you'll have some happy folks at yer table this Christmas.

Now fer that cramberry dish, you kin bet yer bag o' cranberries I got somethin' good up my sleeve. Why, darlin', I'm gonna give y'all a recipe that oughter make yer family stand up an' sing Halleluyah right there at the table! An' that Halleluyah will be jes fer you 'cause yer gonna give 'em a beeeeautiful cranberry dish that's got colors so bright that none o' them fancy new light bulbs kin match up.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Festive holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas beg for a celebratory cocktail with spicy personality that measures up to the spirit of the season. Though there is not a drop of chocolate in the recipe, a hint of chocolate flavor greets the taste buds with the first delightful sip. Give credit to the chestnuts for this unexpected flavor blend.


Yield: six 6-ounce (180 ml) servings

    2 cups (480 ml) vanilla soymilk
    1 cup (240 ml) broken pieces cooked and peeled chestnuts

    1/2 cup (120 ml) white grape juice
    1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
    1/4 cup (60 ml) brandy
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    Nutmeg for garnish

  1. Combine soymilk and chestnuts in the blender and process on high speed for one full minute until the chestnuts are thoroughly broken down.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend to a creamy liquid. Pour into glasses, sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg, and serve, or prepare ahead and chill thoroughly.


Yield: about 3 cups (720 ml)

    2 cups (480 ml) fresh cranberries

    3 ripe Fuyu persimmons

    1/4 cup (60 ml) evaporated cane juice
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water

    1/2 cup (120 ml) toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
    6 pitted dates, minced
    1/3 cup (80 ml) black raisins
    1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

    2 dashes ground cinnamon
    Dash ground cinnamon
    1 cinnamon stick

  1. Pick through the cranberries and discard any that are spoiled. Wash and dry the cranberries and place them in the food processor. Pulse-chop until they are chopped but not pureed. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Remove and discard the persimmon stems. Cut 1 slice of persimmon, cut the slice in half, and set both halves aside for the garnish. Cut the remaining persimmons into eight wedges. Place them in the food processor and pulse-chop until they are chopped. Transfer them to a medium bowl.
  3. Remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) each of the chopped cranberries and chopped persimmons and place them in the food processor. Add the evaporated cane juice and water and process until completely smooth. Pour into the bowl with the chopped cranberries.
  4. Add the chopped persimmons and the cashews, dates, raisins, pine nuts, cinnamon, and cloves, and mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Spoon into an attractive serving bowl and garnish with the reserved persimmon slice and cinnamon stick.

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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