Pioneers knew how to conserve energy. Multiple trips to the shed to gather fuel for woodstoves inspired awareness of every energy unit consumed. Modern cooks, who access heat with a touch of the dial, don’t have to haul wood–but we do have to pay utility bills. We could take a lesson about efficient cooking from our ancestors.
The following recipes conserve your oven’s heat because they can cook together. If you’re already turning on the oven to roast a chicken, you can make the entire meal with that heat.
When roasting meats and vegetables, you can slightly alter cooking times and temperatures to accommodate more than one dish. A rule of thumb: Increase cooking time by 5 to 15 minutes for every 25-degree decrease in temperature–but ovens vary, so watch cooking items closely. If you cook dishes on two racks, reverse their position halfway through cooking time to ensure even cooking.
Harvest Vegetables en Papillote
Individual packets of steamed vegetables infused with butter and herbs are a breeze to serve. Prepare them the night before and pop them in the oven at the last minute.
Roasted Red Potatoes
Celery seeds, garlic and white pepper season this classic to perfection.
Toasted Rice Pilaf
Just a few minutes on the stovetop give plain rice a toasty flavor.Cooking slowly in the oven makes it tender.
Leftover apples or pears? Wash, cut up and stuff one into a chicken before you roast it. The flavor change is subtle, but the cooking fruit’s steam makes your roasted chicken tender and moist from the inside out–and the kitchen will be filled with the fruit’s heavenly fragrance.
Ken Hoyt spends most days creating delicious candies for his small company, Willamette Valley Confectionery. He regularly smells of sugar, butter and chocolate.