Thank you Irving Naxon, for inventing the Crock Pot. Your cooking wonder found a place in our kitchens in 1940 when you won the patent for it, and we’ve never given it up. In fact, slow cooking is as popular as ever, especially when it produces such delicious meals like the Crockpot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Bacon Slaw. (Perfect for next day pork sandwiches!) Also, if you ever wanted to know a bit about the iconic Crock Pot, here’s an excerpt from a Huffington Post article:
“Naxon called his devise the Naxon Beanery. He said his mother, Tamara Nachumsohn, inspired him. She had told him stories about a bean-based stew she used to make in her village bakery at home in Lithuania. The stew, known as cholent, is a traditional Jewish dish that cooks all day. It’s rooted in the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest in which observant Jews aren’t supposed to work. The stew goes on the heat before sundown Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, and cook all the way until the end of Saturday services the next day. As the ovens were turned off for the Sabbath, the pot of cholent would be put in the oven, and that slow residual heat over the course of the 24 hours would be enough to cook the cholent.”
Naxon sold his design to Rival Manufacturing the 70’s, which rebranded his Beanery as the Crock Pot. It was marketed toward working mothers with the slogan, “Cooks all day while the cook’s away,”
It’s the universal law of food. Everything always tastes better at someone else’s house. I don’t know why that is. It just is. So when we were visiting long-time family friends in
Nayarit, Mexico a few years ago, we spent the first part of the meal gobbling up a scrumptious Pan-Seared Pork Chop Casserole and the remainder of the time sitting at a tiny wooden table writing down every detail of every delicious morsel. The pork chop casserole has been a regular weeknight meal in the Montez Family for decades and makes for a deliciously flavorful fall dish. Unfortunately, it went the way of many recipes scribbled down in the “gotta-have-this-recipe-right-now” moment. It got forgotten about and lost in life’s shuffle. That is, until this weekend when un-cluttering and re-organizing the kitchen cabinets were on the agenda. Wahoo! Long lost and now loved again. You’ll be lickin’ your chops over this one!
The kids are finally back in the classroom, and when they come home from school or sports they are generally ravenous, right? It’s a pretty good bet that if given a choice between chicken nuggets and anything else, my guess is it’s going to be the nuggets. So, why not make them delicious and perhaps healthier than the fast food version? Plus, kids love to cook these days, and if your young ones are old enough to be safe around the cook top and oven, this might be a great meal that they can make themselves! (Studies show that when kids take the initiative to cook a meal, they enjoy not only eating the food, but are more apt to want to learn how to prepare meals more often.) I discovered that on a field trip a few years ago to a Boys & Girls Club where I was teaching a cooking class. About fifty kids huddled around as I taught a hands-on cooking demonstration. They were mesmerized. Many shared their at-home cooking experiences with Mom and Dad. I was, quite frankly, stunned at their interested in every aspect of cooking, whether chopping and dicing, sautéing and of course, sharing what they had prepared. Back to the chicken nuggets. This recipe is fairly simple and super delicious, and it’s the kind of recipe that may flesh out whether you have a budding Jacques Pepin or Julia Child just waiting to cook up something fun for the family!
Right about this time of the year in Arizona, we look at big, heavy meals and well, they just don’t look appetizing because of the heat. That’s when charcuterie boards and light bites are a welcome meal or appetizer. Caponata is the perfect choice for days like that; when noshing is the most satisfying. This dish called Caponata, a sweet and savory fresh vegetable sauté comes from the Sicilian side of my family, my father’s side. I’ve share with you before that I grew up in a civil war zone of sorts, between the North and the South. Momma is from Venice, (northern Italy) and Dad came from Trapani, the southernmost tip of Sicily’s “boot.” Friendly battles raged at the kitchen table all of my life, with the northern contingency (Mom) insisting that food from the north, like Risotto, Polenta and Osso Buco are much preferred over southern Italy’s Arancini, Calzones and of course, Caponata. Guess who was the big winner in the plate wars? Me! I loved it all, and didn’t mind the friendly fire of food one bit! Caponata is delicious either as an appetizer on toasted baguette slices or as or a light afternoon meal served over pasta or steamed rice. If you’ve heard the term “Agrodolce”, Caponata’s sauce is the perfect example. Its name comes from “agro” meaning sour and “dolce” meaning sweet. The sweetness comes from sautéed yellow onion and a little bit of sugar, while the sour is derived from the capers and vinegar. There are a whole lot of delicious flavors in between, and the best part is, you can make up a big batch and enjoy it all week long in various recipes. This week, Dad’s side wins the battle, but the Italian food war is far from over!
Potato salad is always a summertime favorite. But how about if we kick it up a couple of notches and build a tasty Twice Baked Potato Casserole fully loaded with all of your favorite fixings? This hearty recipe was sent in from Sun City resident Linda Smith, and it’s a rock star side dish that she’s been making for years. Linda includes it in all of her special gatherings.
“I had a humongous four-day bash where friends and family from Omaha, Kansas City, Tucson and the Valley partied hearty on the fourth of July. My Twice Baked Casserole is always a hit because it’s so much easier to make than traditional stuffed baked potatoes. And it feeds a crowd. I always serve it with some type of beef.”
The minute you start building this sassy side, you can see why it gets devoured. It starts with the sweetness of cubed red potatoes and then layered with chopped crisp bacon, sour cream, cheese and green chiles with a burst of colorful scallions. Linda says she doesn’t often have leftovers to enjoy the next day, but it’s just as tasty if you’re lucky enough to save a little! This recipe can be made ahead and frozen (baked or unbaked) and re-heated when ready to use. Thanks Linda, for a great dish! I made a giant casserole of your Twice Baked Potatoes for a gathering recently and you’re right. Leftovers are hard to come by.