Time for cooking

I seem to be in one of those periodic moods where I just feel like cooking.

Part of it is, clearly, having a new stove that I can play on. I am really loving the induction cooktop, which can bring a pot of water to a boil faster than my electric kettle. Also, the oven is a dream. Neither of my gas ovens (here or in L.A.) cooked very evenly at all, and I always had to juggle things to make sure that everything cooked through at approximately the same time. This one, because it’s very well insulated and has a convection setting, gets everything done to the same degree of browness at the same time; for a baker it’s a true pleasure.

Something else that I bought and am really enjoying is my new Thermal Cooker. This is a relatively recent, Japanese take on the slow cooker. I had never heard of these before seeing one in a cooking catalog a couple of months back. Basically, it is a slow cooker, however it’s one that works without electricity. There is an inner, stainless steel pot. You put the food inside and put it on the stove where you bring the ingredients to a boil and cook them for between 5 and 15 minutes (depending on what you’re cooking). Then, you take that pot and put it inside the super-insulated outer pot and close the lid. The idea is that the insulation retains most of the heat from the inner pot and the food continues to cook in its own heat.

At first I was a bit skeptical, because I had never had any type of insulated container that had not lost a fair amount of heat quickly. But I’ve now made several meals in it, and it works great! I made a pot roast the other day that was one of the best I’ve ever made. It came out of the cooker falling apart tender, and because you do not have a lot of continuing heat, there is almost no shrinkage of the final product.

If you don’t have a lot of time to stand over a stove, or want a meal ready at the end of a long day, I really recommend looking into one of these. Unlike the current crop of electric crock pots, you don’t have to worry about it cooking at too high a temperature, and because the actual cooking is done in stainless steel, there is no transfer of taste to the food.

Another reason for lots of cooking is that my neighbors finally have all their tomatoes going ripe at the same time. I had so many tomatoes suddenly appear at my door that I haven’t been able to make enough sauce to use them all, so I’ve had to get some ready for freezing and later cooking during the winter months. JM will be eating tomato sauce and tomato soup all winter long at this rate.

And, the final reason for cooking is that my potluck idea is now on social event 3. We’re having another one on Friday night at a different neighbor’s house, so I will have to come up with something creative before then. I think I’m going to have to use my thermal cooker for that, as it’s also perfect for taking food to someone’s house. I wonder if BBQ pork sandwiches will strike the right note on a cool October night?

Ciao for now.


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