Slow home cooking best when it’s cold out 

Hearty, local dinners are tasty and good for the earth

I had a huge response to my column about litter. It seems I am not alone in my disgust with the folks who throw tons of fast food wrappers to the wind. Do you think if we start a movement back to the days when we ate together as a family around the dining room table, we could get them to join us?

I am willing to do my part, so I climbed the ladder in my pantry, blew the dust off my large crock pot, and started digging around for great slow cook recipes. Even though I work out of my home office and could easily take the time to cook dinner every day, there is something about the aroma of dinner slowly seeping through the house that warms the cockles of my heart.

What could be better than throwing another log on the fire, dishing out homemade stew along with hunks of great bread, and catching up on the day with the family?

Judith Finlayson wrote a great cookbook called The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. Who can resist her Roast Chicken in Tarragon-Cream Sauce, or Shepherd’s Pie with Creamy Corn Filling, all served up when the wind is howling and the temperature drops?

Years ago, I was given a cookbook called Fat Free, Flavor Full by Dr. Gabe Mirkin and Diana Rich. You can tell how often I use the book by the battered and splattered pages. I make gallons of One-Step Split Pea Soup, Primo Minestrone and Carrot and Chick Pea Soup, ladle into containers and freeze for the days that run long and all you want is a hot bath, flannel pajamas and a steaming bowl of soup.

I have requested, from my local library, two interesting books, Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Nevi, and Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg. I know I am not alone in researching fabulous home cooking because there is a long waiting list for each book.

One of my favourite cook book authors is Australia’s Donna Hay. All Donna’s recipes are simple and fabulous. My current passion is her Off the Shelf, Cooking from the Pantry. No exotic ingredients here — all simple and at hand. In each of her cookbooks there are sections called “tricks and tips” which are shortcuts and “short order” her instructions for such things as balsamic-roasted red onions or garlic roast asparagus. Simple recipes that lift the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Remember it is very important to buy as many local foods as possible so we cut back on trucking fruits and vegetables across the country. Our new mantra is to buy local!

I am writing this on Sunday morning and all this chat about food has created a ravenous appetite... mmm, should I make Hearty Ribs with Rigatoni or Great Goulash with Potato Dumplings for dinner?

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