I am still loving the recent hot, hazy and humid weather, although I could do without the tiny flying gnats and mosquitos that have turned me into their personal smorgasbord.
As I write this, the weather forecast for Saturday calls for a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and then a cool down to the upper 70s for Sunday and Monday. Having lived in our pool for the past two weeks, I guess I can sacrifice one day and spend the afternoon reading -- and napping -- on the house deck.
My son sees the predicted cool down as a good thing -- he can be assured of getting a regular meal rather than one of my it's-too-hot-to-cook specials. Plus, in the hot weather, neither one of us really eats meals, opting for a sandwich, crackers and cheese, or a pizza delivered to the door.
On 3-H days, I refuse to heat up the house any more than I have to and that includes using the oven or sweating over the stove -- and there's always room in the dishwasher for a few extra dishes so I don't have to run it and heat up the kitchen.
I love to come home after work, sit down on the deck and have something cool to drink -- tall, ice-filled glasses of sun tea are working for me lately. And if I don't have to think about cooking or getting up to cook, it's an added bonus. When the going gets hot, this woman turns to her Crockpot.
But who do I thank for this wonderful device?
A blog posting dated April 8, 2013, "My Dad, the Inventor of the Crock Pot," by Lenore Naxon, reports:
"My Dad, Irving Naxon, invented the crock pot, the then-called Naxon Beanery. He retired in 1971 and sold his business to Rival Manufacturing. They streamlined the design, renamed it the Crockpot, and the rest is American culinary history. But what was his inspiration for its creation in the first place, you might ask?
"My grandmother Tamara Kaslovski Nachumsohn, grew up in a small ‘shtetl' in Lithuania. When she was growing up back in the old country, each Friday afternoon her mother would send her to the local bakery with their pot of prepared, but yet uncooked "cholent." There it would be put into the oven for a full day, while the family observed the Sabbath and the hot oven cooled to warm while not in use for that same period. At sundown, she would go to the bakery and bring the family their delicious pot of steamy stew.
"Dad remembered the story and was inspired to find a way to create a heating element that surrounded the pot in the same way that an oven would have. He wanted to find a low-cost, low-electricity use solution."
In past columns, I've shared my Crockpot recipes for beef stew, pulled pork and other tailgating or winter supper meals. Today, I offer a few for summer dining -- with little or no cooking.
Fabulous Cheese Fondue
1 tablespoon margarine
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup milk
1 8-ounce package shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese
1 8-ounce block Gruyere cheese, cubed or shredded
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
Assorted vegetables, breadsticks or cubed crusty bread
Combine all ingredients in a Crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring a few times, until the cheese is melted and smooth. Serve with fresh vegetables and bread.
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 14 1/2-ounce can Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
Brown the chicken cubes in a skillet with the oil. Remove chicken from skillet and add onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeño peppers and sauté until slightly cooked. Place chicken, onion mixture, tomatoes, cumin and oregano in Crockpot and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve on warmed tortillas.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of celery soup
1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 cup long-grain rice
4 large chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless)
1/2 cup celery, diced
In Crockpot, combine the soups, water and rice. Place the chicken breasts on top, then add the celery. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to email@example.com.