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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. Since 2009 Aunt Nettie has known people were struggling to stretch their dollars during the recession. So she focused her tasty recipes on low-cost ingredients that would still offer delicious, healthy, stick-to-the-ribs foods, yet were affordable.

With the economy improving and more people back at work, Aunt Nettie felt the time was right to ease up a bit on strict bargain-bin shopping and gussy up the menu with a few small splurges.

Aunt Nettie is still happy to answer questions that come her way, but what she loves most is offering seasonal fixin's that inspire her while shopping at the farm stand.

Howdy there darlin's,

This month I got a mighty funny story ta tell. I was visitin' some o' my kinfolk in a part o' Los Angeles I ain't never got to before. We was walkin' along the sidewalk an' purty soon I was mighty surprised ta see some folks cookin' up a hootnanny on a barbecue grill right on the sidewalk.

They was cookin' up fresh ears o' corn on the cob with all sorts o' sauce an' flavorin's they was brushin' an' shakin' on top o' them purty yeller kernels. Imagine that, cookin' right on the sidewalk! My nephew says ta me, "Now Aunt Nettie, you ain't never tasted anythin' this good before so I'm gonna buy you one o' them ears, an' yer jes gonna love ever' bite." They was callin' it Mexican Street Corn, they was.

Well, I tell ya true, he was right. The few bites I took was mighty good tastin', but I jes did not feel right 'bout it 'cause I knowed it weren't at all vegan. I did git a good taste of it, though--just 'nuff so's I could figger out how I could make it taste like that in my own vegan kitchen.

Well, darlin's I must say it took some fussin' an' mixin' in my kitchen an' purty soon it jes turned inter a mighty fine lookin' salad that tasted lots like that gussied up ear o' corn I was tastin'. Why, it tasted so fine I almost et the whole bowl.

I was thinkin' this corn salad would make a mighty deelicious dish when company's a-comin' fer a barbecue.

I surely hopes ya likes it as much as I did, an' ya keeps on makin' this salad all summer long.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

Fresh sweet corn is one of the summer treats the whole family enjoys. Often, we grill or roast extra ears just to have leftovers for next day snacking. While traditional Mexican street corn has all the seasonings slathered right onto the ears of roasted corn, it can be very delicious but rather a messy endeavor. I thought this summer delight would be easier to eat if it were served in a bowl. It's simple to prepare for a pot luck and makes a terrific side dish to serve for a summer BBQ.

I've added the touch of red bell pepper and replaced the sour cream and mayo with vegan versions. Another veganized touch is replacing the crumbled Mexican cheese with a homemade vegan Parmesan. The result is a very delicious side dish that can be made a day ahead and still retain its irresistible savor.

Mexican Street Corn


Yield: about 4 to 5 servings

    2 large ears fresh corn on the cob in the husk

    1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
    3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (Recipe Below)
    3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
    3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
    2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan (Recipe Below)
    2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
    Zest of 1/2 lime or lemon
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    Pinch cayenne
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Fresh cilantro or parsley sprigs, for garnish

  1. Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (Gas Mark 6). When hot, put the corn in the husks into the oven, laying them on the lower oven rack. Roast for 30 minutes; then using long-handled tongs, remove the corn to a large platter. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the husks and corn silk.
  2. Barbecue Grill Method: Preheat the grill. When hot, use long-handled tongs to put the ears of corn on the grill. Close the cover and set the timer for 5 minutes. When it rings, open the cover, turn the corn 1/4 turn, cover, and grill 5 minutes more. Repeat until all four sides are cooked. Remove to a dish. Peel when cool enough to handle.
  3. Stovetop Method: Use a serrated knife to strip the kernels from the fresh corn. Put the kernels in a large skillet. Add 3 or 4 teaspoons vegetable oil and cook and stir frequently over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes until the kernels are softened and just beginning to brown. Remove and cool.
  4. If you cooked corn in the husk, stand the corn upright in a deep bowl and use a serrated knife to cut the kernels off the cobs. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle lightly with paprika and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Vegan Sour Cream (Makes 1 1/2 cups/360 ml)

    1 (12.3-ounce/424g) box extra firm silken tofu, well drained
    1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Use immediately or chill for an hour or two to thicken. Refrigerated, Tofu Sour Cream keeps for 1 week.

Homemade Parmesan (Makes 1 1/4 cups/300 ml)

    1 cup (240 ml) almonds
    1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid over-processing or it will turn into almond butter.)
  2. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with megabytes 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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