Monday, May 11, 2015

Corn in the Crock

 Today is the third day I've used my crockpot to make dinner a painless task, and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon!

 Whether I'm throwing asparagus in there with a drop of oil and some sliced peppers, or cooking potatoes, green beans, lemon, zucchini and wine into an easy stew that makes its own sauce, I'm happy to have a way to cook a main dish vegetable that doesn't make my kitchen hot. It's early May, but our temps here in Buffalo, NY have climbed into the high 80's already, and that makes me lose all interest in the stove. But now that I'm in slow-cooker mode, the ideas for more fuss-free, veg-centric dishes just keep coming, and that keeps me interested in cooking, and eating, well.

 When I cooked asparagus yesterday, I had thought at first of just letting it roast awhile, and then making a salad and putting the roast veg on top. As the day wore down, I no longer felt like making a salad, but what about throwing some red pepper chunks in with the asparagus just long enough to soften a little? Then, at the last minute, I stirred in several cups of baby spinach leaves, which made a tasty blend. I'd seasoned the whole with celery salt (I have a weakness for that stuff), and some orange peel, but you could use rosemary and fennel, fennel and lemon, thyme and garlic, or any combo you like. Put it right in with the asparagus, so that you can use less and have it infuse the vegetables with flavor as they slowly cook. Put it on high for two hours, checking in after an hour, or on low for several hours. I like mine just done, barely cooked, but you can make it as tender as you like.

 The day before, I was just in a green veg mode, so first I had to use my fresh green beans, then chunked zuke. I parboiled some potatoes, as I hadn't thought to put them in first, as would have been the smart way; but I added lemon wedges, salt and fennel with the beans, a splash of wine when the potatoes went in, and by the time it was all cooked to the right tenderness, that salty lemon and wine had melded with the potato to make a creamy lemon sauce that we were happy to sop up with some French bread. The next time round, I may add artichoke hearts and garbanzos to the mix.

 Today I'm putting corn on the cob into the same crock (washing the insert every night makes it easier to think about cooking the night morning!) and I think I'll use my favorite flavor duo from last year's corn feasts-- orange peel and basil, with a tsp of oil in the pot. You just pile it all in there, add a tiny splash of water or broth, and cook on high for a couple of hours, or on low for four-five, though when I make straight-up veg in the crock, I like to start it on high no matter what, turning to low for longer cooking after the first 25 minutes. The best part is, no stirring is required. You can turn and rearrange the cobs if you like, but it isn't critical as they'll cook through no matter what, given enough time; and they'll be juicy, not soggy, bursting with intense flavor from your seasonings. They won't need salt or butter, either. With a green salad and veggie burgers plus corn, we'll be living the good life tonight.

   I don't know, yet, what vegetable blend will be cooking tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure, it's going to be made in the slow-cooker.

  Peace, Mari

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