Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What a crock: Slow cookers do all the work

Slow cookers, as crock pots prefer to be called now, go beyond cheese dip, but it’s hard to resist the variety of dips that open “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook,” Phyllis Pellman Good’s revised and updated offering of 700 recipes.
You don’t have to get fancy to get supper on the table. If you can stock Velveeta, cream of mushroom soup and cans of beans, you are on your way to slow cooker heaven. Some cooks who share theirs recipes and tips say they keep a couple going for various stages of meals. They must host a lot of parties.
I thought Ham ‘n’ Cola would be an easy one to share. You rub a cooked ham with a mixture of brown sugar, dry mustard, prepared horseradish and cola-flavored soda , then cook for 2 to 10 hours.
A few pages down I found something even more easy, which can go with mashed potatoes and applesauce or cranberry sauce:
Chops and Kraut
1 pound bag fresh sauerkraut,
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
6 pork chops
1. Make 3 layers in well-greased cooker; kraut, onions and chops.
2. Cover. Cook on low 6 hours.

Deen is doin’ it
Ground cinnamon is the only ingredient in Paula Deen Collection spice bottle, and it smells remarkable. Why does it sound so clever that sea salt is featured in the Cajun seasoning? Louisiana is on the coast, and we are flavoring entrees fished out of the water. Her smiling face is also on the label for black pepper corn and sea salt grinders. Aromas from both are memorable. I know because I opened the lid to snatch crystal chunks of salt for the new salty and sweet trend. I was going for the sensation of crunchy salt atop a gourmet chocolate cupcake, but made do just as well by topping part of a doughnut I found in the break room.

Nori nirvana
I wonder if harvesting nori is as easy as collecting the algae that rolls in with the sea. I do feel abundantly healthy when enjoying a sheet of nor, made from the sea veggie, tucking a sushi roll together. I don’t know if I’ve eaten a whole lot of seaweed in my life, but I am feeling that Navitas Naturals has packaged the best raw nori sheets I’ve ever kept in my home. I could actually crave this stuff that packs an “umami” punch. Read the label to know it’s good for you, too. I also have Navitas Naturals wakame flakes to serve with rice.

Glazed over
Feeling trendy or healthy? Either way, there’s a fruit with your name on it. I’ve been telling readers about AgroLabs’ Naturally Pomegranate, a juice with amazing flavor and color that provides what makers call a healthy, flavorful and anti-oxidant-rich addition to any meal. I’ve made it an addition to mixed drinks and desserts. Bananas and ice cubes thank me.
One ounce of AgroLabs Naturally Pomegranate has the antioxidant equivalent of eating 15 whole pomegranates. Another version packs Resveratrol. This bottle keeps in the pantry and you don’t even have to peel the fruit. This recipe has something of everything I like: Something sweet, tart and hot:

Maple-Pomegranate Glaze
1/4 cup Naturally Pomegranate™
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Breathe it in
Aura Cacia has gone beyond Relaxing Lavender in its air freshening spritz line to offer Uplifting Bergamot & Orange, Refreshing Lime & Grapefruit and Comforting Spices & Clove. Made with 100 percent pure essential oils, these don’t smell artificial or give me a headache. Remember, they’re not to eat: keep them handy to make linen closet, car or sick room more palatable. This is a brand you’ll love, if you don’t already.

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