Friday, August 14, 2015

summer cooking and a giveaway

In this hot, muggy weather, I have to make an effort to have good food on hand, ready to eat in almost no time. Otherwise, I fear my healthy diet could deteriorate into nothing but gatorade and potato stix.

I try to cook two or more things at once - minimizing the amount of heat added to the kitchen, and making enough "ready to eat" food to last for several meals and snacks. This week, for example, I put a layer of bacon in a pyrex baking dish, covered it completely with chicken thighs, and added a layer of bacon on top. Then I took a picture:

Probably my first photograph of bacon.
I rarely buy it. Seemed like kind of an event.

I covered the dish for baking in a slow oven. And since the oven was going to be on, it was a good time to fetch in a great big gorgeous straightneck squash - the Very First Harvest from the Very Raised Bed! - slice it the long way and clean out the seeds and core, then put it in a second covered pyrex baking dish with a little water to gently cook the squash without drying it out.

I know why I photographed the squash.
It's beautiful.

All week I've been eating moist, flavorful chicken with little shreds of bacon, along with a variety of "sides"...yellow squash, farro, sauted mushrooms, etc. When I see really fresh mushrooms at the grocery store I buy a package, eat some raw and cook the rest all at once, to add to meals for several days.

I love mushrooms.
I really ought to grow them.
Do any readers grow their own mushrooms?
Please advise!
And, oh, did I mention my first yellow crescent beans of the season? Grown from seeds I saved from last years plants! I wish I had taken a "before" picture but these beans were lightly steamed and in this dish with a little bacony chicken less than 15 minutes after being carried in from the garden.


Of course, another way to cook without generating a lot of heat or using a lot of energy - and to cook in multiple-meal quantities if desired - is to use a crockpot or slow cooker. I find them pretty darned useful. And I think slow cookers are popular both within and outside the US - correct me if I'm wrong about that! - so that's why I'm going to do a little cookbook giveaway:

This is Stephanie O'Dea's first cookbook - I think she has written four now! - and you can Left-Click to embiggen her description below, or here's a link to the Amazon page. But since I know it is important to many people, I just want to point out right now that all the recipes in the book are Gluten Free.

Would you like to put your name in the hat for a shiny new copy of this book? Easy peasy! Leave a comment on this blog post telling me one thing you like to make in a slow cooker. (If you haven't used a slow cooker before, please share a tip for cooking multiple things in the oven, or any other food-related way to save energy - we can use more ideas!)

I will do a random drawing at noon on Monday, the 24th, and will post the winner's name on the blog that night. Please check back. The winner will have three days to contact me with mailing information; if I don't hear back by Thursday night, I will draw another name on Friday.

Anyone, anywhere is very welcome to enter.
Feel free to share the giveaway.
Good luck!