Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Electric Table Top Roaster: Too Valuable and Too Cheap to Pass Up

Our oven , already way-ancient, "gave up the ghost" just as we were arriving at our home in NY state to ready for Thanksgiving supper that we were hosting several days hence. Fortunately, before leaving our home in Florida and having realized that the oven might likely be inoperable for Thanksgiving, we spotted an electric, table-top roaster on sale at a fabulous price, 29 bucks. We scarfed it up and stored in the car's roof-top carrier for the trip north.

The roaster saved the day and we swear by them now. We popped it out of the box, bought the turkey, brined it, and away we went to a fine Thanksgiving meal. I over-estimated the cooking time, but was able to nurse the bird along and it came out moist and tasty.

Due to another miscalculation (all part of the joy of collaborative holiday cooking), we ended up with a second turkey that had been purchased too close to Thanksgiving to defrost adequately (shhhhh!). Fortunately, I never tire of turkey so we cooked the second turkey several days later and it too came out beautifully. The 20 pound bird took about 3 hours to cook. We did not brine it and it came out of the roaster quite moist and delicious. All is well that ends well.

The beauty of this device is that for a small amount of money, you essentially end up with a second oven freeing the main oven for other dishes or, our case, saving the day by being a prime baking vessel. The roaster has other uses: a steam table to serve from; large soup cooker, etc.. This week we are roasting a tenderized ham in it for seven hours and I expect (hope) that it will come out savory and falling off the bone.

I thought I had everything, but this is a device you should buy. It is too valuable and too cheap to pass up.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009


Last summer, while passing through Chapel Hill, NC, we stopped at Crook's Corner restaurant (operated by Bill Smith). It was the depth of summer and the air was hotter "than your mama's stove." We had our dog, Kody, with us and we were dying to try out their two signature dishes: the tomato/watermelon salad and the shrimp and grits. We had read about each recipe in that month's Southern Living.

We needed to figure out how we both could eat and take care of Kody who was not allowed in the restaurant. To accomplish this required a creative strategy. I asked for a table for two by the window and asked that our orders come in series, not at the same time, but one immediately after the other. Our plan was to each have dinner in succession with the other sitting outside the window with the dog. We flipped a coin as to who would go first and I won!

My wife sat just outside the window with our dog and I received my order of the two famous dishes. The dinner was fabulous though I was sure to eat without undue dawdling. As soon as I was finished, we swapped places and my wife enjoyed her meal (and the air-conditioning). Our dog survived fine with cold water brought by the waiters to fill his water bowl and the affection of customers leaving the restaurant who diverted his attention away from the blazing heat.

The staff seemed touched by our efforts to enjoy their food and recommended the proprietor's cookbook to us. It included the recipes we had just enjoyed.

Needless to say, Bill Smith's cookbook is now front and center in my massive collection of books on Southern cooking. The recipe for Ham for a Crowd is an essential part of my repertoire. Easy and the perfect dish to serve for guests.

Thanks, Bill. Your book along with Moreton Neal's rememberance of Bill Neal sit near the door. If the house catches fire, I save my wife, my dog and those two cookbooks!

CFF designated as a Featured Blog on WHERE THE LOCALS EAT!

I am honored that Cross Florida food has been made a featured site on WHERE THE LOCALS EAT. I hope all will visit both my blog and their site for more food info around the US. I invite visitors from WHERE THE LOCALS EAT to explore my archives and links to access the several years of articles I have posted. Thanks again for featuring my blog.