19 December 2011

Casa Fiore #63: Published, Posted, and in the Mail!

This month's offerings include:
  •  From the Realtor:  Valuable Real Estate Links for You
  • From the Chef:  Easy Standards, Part II ~  Crock Pot! 
  • Invitation to Attend "Casa Fiore's Cucina" Cooking Class
  • 2012 Planning, Referral Thank-yous, Letters to the Editor 
Stay tuned to CasaFioreOnline.com for the web release of selected articles.  Care to join the hundreds who receive the old-fashioned, snail mail version of Casa Fiore at their door step?  Send along your address and let me know!

Crock Pot!

From the Chef ~ Easy Standards, Part II 
Crock Pot!
Great any time of the year for “no fuss-no muss” ease and economy, the crock is a star just as the weather turns cold and the days get short.  Prep your meal the night before, plug it in when the coffee percolates the next morn, and enjoy a hot and nutritious one-pot meal the moment you walk through the door (and if you get to stay home, enjoy a wonderful aroma all day long!)  The combos are innumerable, but I start with a cut of meat—a humble cut at that, as slow cooking will render it tasty in time.  These days I am tending toward pork, but beef and lamb are great as well.  Then load up on any combo of fresh veggies, legumes, herbs, spices, sauces and condiments.  You’ll be out just 10 minutes for a weeknight masterpiece—cozy, comfort food at the end of a cold day.  With your leftovers at work, you’ll be re-fortified and the envy of every co-worker. 

For tonight’s 10-minute masterpiece, I chose a 2 lbs. roast of better-than-average pork shoulder butt from Whole Food.  I trimmed off excess fat and cut into large chunks and set aside.  Next, I layered the crock pot from bottom to top, first with firmer ingredients (chunks of potatoes and carrots) and then softer ingredients (chunks of celery, onion, poblano peppers—so good with pork—and a can of precooked beans with the liquid drained off).  Salt and pepper everything.  My herb for this batch will be bay leaf, one of my favorite aromas in the plant kingdom.  I prefer fresh, but dried would have to do this time.  I added bay leaves at various junctures so as to completely infuse the dish with its aroma.  Over goes some tomato paste diluted with a good-sized dose of red wine.  Plug in and you’re done.  Just return 8-10 hours later and enjoy with hardy bread, a green salad, and maybe some cheddar on the side.