Monday, March 15, 2010

Energy efficient

One of the most practical tips I’ve heard for frugal cooking is “fill your oven.” If you’re setting the oven to a particular temperature to cook one thing, slide in a couple of other things that will cook at the same heat. It doesn’t require any extra fuel, so it saves some money that way; plus it might get you ahead on another meal—also potentially a money- and time-saver.

This, like many other frugal practices, requires a bit of forethought and lateral thinking. I often remember it when I’m firing up the oven to bake a cake or a loaf of bread or something else that only uses one rack. Of course, by then it’s usually too late, and I don’t have the ingredients, the time, or a good reason to cook something else.

So I was quite pleased that I managed it for once this weekend. I had been planning to try my hand at a pot roast for the first time; normally I would have done this in my slow cooker, but since I am still bereft of my beloved appliances, that option was out and a long slow cook in the oven was in. Then, with that in the back of my mind, I read something that reminded me of these slow-roasted tomatoes, so I picked up a bagful of romas along with the chuck roast. And while I was at it, I picked up some Anjou pears to tuck in to the last available corner. About an hour’s worth of prep all together, and I had not only that night’s dinner in the oven, but the start of two more dishes, all amenable to cooking at the same low temperature. And I got to take the rest of the afternoon off. All sorts of efficient.

Slow-roasted spiced pears
I’ve been having these for breakfast, along with some blueberries and Greek yogurt, but I think they’d be equally good for dessert with some ice cream or a nice plain cake. (Or both.)

4 Anjou pears
cinnamon sugar*

Preheat the oven to 275F/135C. Peel, core, and chop the pears, and toss with 2-3 Tbsp of the cinnamon sugar, until all the pieces are evenly coated. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until soft but still holding their shape. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

* I use this basic recipe for cinnamon sugar, and then spice it up with a mixture of what I have on hand—nutmeg, ground ginger, and cardamom are all great additions.


Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy, I'm sure I've read a recipe somewhere for meringues that you make and then put into the oven once it's off and leave them there all night to cook in the residual heat.

The slow roasted pears sound delicious!

You'll be pleased to know I indulged myself with a new copy of Farmer Boy - my original one was so old that the pages were falling out.. :D

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Celia, I've actually made meringue like that more than once! Nigella Lawson has a couple of great recipes for it. If I ever see my cookbooks again, will find and post one.

Congrats on your upgraded Farmer Boy! You may be pleased to hear that I found a recipe online the other day for birds'-nest pudding. Tempting, very tempting....

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said... Best Blogger Tips

Bird's nest, as in the Chinese bird's nest soup? (shudder)

Better you than me, Nancy, I have memories of being force-fed that as a child. And that was before I watched the David Attenborough special on how the nests are made! :o

But maybe you're talking about something else, and I'm being a bit dense? :)

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said... Best Blogger Tips

Hahaha...I've just googled and realised there was a bird's nest pudding made with apples in the Little House books! Excuse my first comment, the minute I read "bird's nest", I had flashbacks...LOL

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm laughing over here....This is exactly why I Googled it, because when I read it in Farmer Boy, I thought of bird's nest soup too, and then couldn't figure out a) why Almanzo would be eating that and b) why he would be pouring cream over it! Having found the recipe, I think I'd *much* rather eat the pudding than the soup.

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